How to Buy a Used Phone – The Complete Guide

Are you looking to buy a new phone any time soon? If you’re a smartphone connoisseur or would call yourself tastefully economical then used phones are your thing. Pre-owned phones are the new black. Anybody and everybody that wishes to save a few extra hundred bucks on a new, in this case pre-owned, phone will most certainly consider this option even if they’re not firm believers in good quality second hand phones.

Smartphones these days – be it Android, Apple, Windows or Blackberry – are extremely expensive and will most probably require you to save up in order to get a new phone. These phones range from $800 all the way up to $1600 on top variants. Gone are the days when you could get a great, all-round phone for under $800.

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A lot of these phones carry immense processing power, improved camera abilities and a whole band of new features that most of us don’t even use. Such features are so high-tech that only people who know their way around such devices and those who have a real NEED for such high-tech phones and use them thoroughly.

For the most of us, these phones are underutilised and overexpensive for the amount of apps or features we actually access on them. Therefore it is best to buy what you need and not what’s new or popping. Refurbished cell phones are just as good, if not better, since you get them at slashed rates while they perform the same functions a new one would. So now, without further ado, let’s dive right into it.

When to buy a used cell phone?

Since you’re here reading this article you are probably wondering when would be the right time to buy a used phone… Well, take it with a grain of salt that you’ll probably have to wait on a new release to buy the phone you’re currently eyeing. Let me break it down for you.

Apple usually releases their new line-up in the fall, around September through November. So, for example, if you’re eyeing the current latest iPhone 12 Pro Max then my advice to you would be to hold out until Apple drops their next line of iPhones – the 13 series – before you begin researching the second hand market for the best iPhone 12 deals. At this very moment the iPhone 12 Pro Max 128 GB model is holding a value of $1050 in the pre-owned market.

Safe to say, you must have a budget if you’re trying to get your hands on a high-end phone. Even the iPhone 11’s top variant, i.e. the Pro Max with 512 GB memory is going for nearly $900. As for Android, you don’t need to eye the latest phones per se because most of their phones, be it Samsung, Oppo, Vivo or OnePlus, have predecessor models that are just as good as their current latest models.

Of course they also have a high-end section that caters to professional mobile requirements so if you want a used Android phone the best time would be in the early months of the year when these companies release their new phones. Keep an eye out for price drops on your favorite phones February through May.

Inspect the Smartphone

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I think it goes without saying that you must inspect your phone before you buy it. When buying a new phone, or an old one in this case, make sure to check all its functions before paying the seller. A lot of phones will appear perfect on the outside but might be lagging or not processing data optimally. You won’t come to know of it until you actually open and run all the apps on it.

Many phones that are resold, are made to look great externally but might have serious problems such as overheating or loss of data. These issues are not something you will come to know about from a quick glance and a well-lit selfie at the store. Most buyers have this notion that they’ll browse through the particulars of the phone later but this thought can be detrimental to your pockets if the phone you just bought won’t even make a call without shutting down a couple of times.

When buying a used phone run diagnostics on the hardware by looking up your phone’s manufacturer and model number online and use that to conduct a thorough hardware check. Follow this up with carefully going through all the major apps and features that you are most likely to use such as the camera, touchscreen, voice recorder, video function, music playback, notepad, the keypad (if any) , the timer, all the major social media apps, the storage, the battery life and more.

You are under no obligation to buy the phone the first instance you lay eyes on it. So take your time to thorough inspect every little detail because at the end of the day you are paying for it out of your own pocket so make sure you’re not robbed off a good deal, especially when there are so many great phones and great deals out there.

Check the Phone’s Exterior and Battery Life

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Make sure to check the phone’s body for any sort of hidden damages. The real problem lies in the fact that we don’t know how these damages were caused or how bad they are. Minor scratches here and there are fine but don’t buy a phone if it has a cracked screen or a lose body cover.

Such damages usually mean that the phone has seen its fair bit of accidents and might have incurred internal damage which will cause the phone to malfunction at some point in the future. If the back has a couple of scratches, it works since you’ll probably have a back cover for that. But if the earphone jack or the charging port is damaged, it’ll render your phone useless. Therefore it is important to check for any and all cosmetic damages and battery life before settling on a phone from a given seller.

Buying an Unlocked Phone – What you need to know

When you buy a new phone you are most likely to get an unlocked phone, especially if you choose to buy it from the Apple store or any Android phone outlet for that matter. When you buy an unlocked phone you get the option to pick and choose which carrier you want on your phone based on past experiences and preference.

Unlocked phones give you the freedom to use Dual SIMs in one phone. This is great for people who network extensively and need more than one number. It helps keep social groups separate and bring order to the way one chooses to use their phones. Unlocked Dual SIM phones are gaining more and more popularity by the day due to their obvious superior functional benefits.

Buying a phone from a carrier though, is a whole different story. Many, or rather most carriers lock the phones they sell in order to ensure their customers don’t switch to a different network for as long as they don’t pay off the phone or to lock down on their consumer base. This has its own benefits however – carriers offer a lot of schemes and plans to lure consumers in to pick them over other carriers. This helps the buyer save a few extra bucks and. Some major carriers such as Verizon and T-Mobile often have many offers on and about so make sure to check those out before settling on a carrier.

Determine the right Carrier for your Phone

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Buying a used or a new phone for that matter, that isn’t compatible with your carrier or network provider isn’t the greatest idea. When you buy a used phone it is important to note which carrier is being used in it. Many used phones that are up for resale won’t have a pre-loaded carrier. In which case it becomes easy to put whatever carrier you want in it.

For instance, if you’ve got a Verizon SIM on you and wish to buy a used phone it is best to look up phones that are compatible with Verizon. The best place to find that is with Verizon itself. Carriers take care of the whole process since it also benefits them. This way, carriers can retain and grow their customer base, and you – the customer – won’t have to get a new carrier or end up with a toy phone without service.

To make things smoother, if you’re the type of person that favors a certain carrier over others, it is best to head to the network provider store and purchase a refurbished cell phone from them. This saves you the trouble of having to find compatible phones and carriers and you can get done with the process a lot quicker.

Check Network Compatibility

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The phone you buy with a carrier will have a certain level of signal strength where you live or buy it from. Before you finalize on a phone make sure to check the signal strength in your area. For example, AT&T has been shown to have good network all across the United States except for a few states down South but in the North Western states it is completely overhauled by Verizon.

Sprint has been shown to have decent network coverage in very few states most in the central region and completely losing hand on the East Coast states to AT&T and T-Mobile. Therefore it is important to look up different network provider standings in you r location before you buy an phone with a carrier. Basing your purchase on this will go a long way to provide you great service for however long you choose to use the phone before switching over a new one.

Make Sure the Phone Wasn’t Reported Stolen

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Many-a-times stolen phones will end up on the resale market since many dealers are looking to make a quick profit and won’t bother to find out if the phones are reported stolen or not. This does not affect them per se, since you, the buyer, are responsible for using the phone at the end of the day.

It goes without saying that any article that is or may be tied to a criminal investigation reeks of trouble. A stolen phone may bring with it many problems and if you don’t have proper certification of the phone you buy, which includes the date and location of purchase, you might have to have the consequences. Taking on such a huge responsibility is truly not worth it.

In order to be certain you’re not falling prey to a stolen phone, check for things like the original box, the user manual and all connecting cords. Having all of these present is a good sign since thieves will not have had the opportunity to pick up the whole set while trying to pick pocket a phone at random.

Sellers much also go the extra length to verify the authenticity of the phone by cross checking the IMEI number with database records to check for stolen and or reported phones. The authenticity and credibility of a seller will play a huge role and making sure you don’t commit a blunder.

Buy From a Trusted Seller – Where to Buy From

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Which brings is to the next point – buying from a trusted seller/reseller. When buying a used or refurbished phone is it important to employ discretion.

There are two ways to buy a second-hand phone. You either walk into a brick and mortar store and browse the shelves for the perfect phone or shop online from (preferably) one of the trusted online marketplaces such as SmartphonesPLUS, eBay Gazelle or Swappa. Buying a phone from a physical store is much easier and leaves less up to fate.

Purchasing a phone online, however, isn’t that simple. You will be sharing your payment information, bank routing number and address with a stranger on the internet which carries a certain level of danger value with it.

In order to make sure you don’t let hundreds of dollars go to waste, do your due diligence and check for certain pointers before making a purchase. If your online seller has gotten one too many bad reviews or their website looks dingy, trust your instincts. Do NOT go ahead and gamble your hard earned money on something you can’t control after. Always make sure to check for image reviews from previous buyers. If anything seems off you are under no constriction to continue on that particular website.

Feel free to take some time to research the market, locally and online, before you go ahead and pay someone for a phone. If you do happen to buy a phone from a store, check its reviews online before doing so. This is all to ensure you don’t get duped since electronics are easily manipulable and might stop working after a certain time, given it’s a pre-owned phone.

Consider the Software Updates

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With the rapid progression in mobile technology, new software updates are being released every other day. When buying a used phone check the software that is pre-installed in it. Most older Android phones will not be able to support the newer system updates as the competition in the Android market in fierce and all phone companies are trying to one-up each other continuously.

As such a phone that is 2 or 3 years old is practically just that, an old phone. It will probably not be able to support the newer OS hence you might want to look for something that isn’t more than a year old. Prices on such phones also come accordingly so you’ll be getting a great out of it. iPhones on the other hand are able to not only support and run newer OS’s but also maintain a certain level of brand value that Androids don’t due to the market saturation, so if you wish to sell it after a year of use you are more likely to get a better deal on an old iPhone XR than on a Samsung Galaxy On Series phone.

When buying a phone it is also important to keep the resale value in mind and knowing how well the software is going to stack up against phones that will be in circulation a year after you purchase your phone, will go a long way in determining which phone you buy.

Check the Return Policy

This may sound frugal but the money you spend on buying a phone is yours and you must have the right to get it back if you find yourself dissatisfied with your purchase. Most trusted sellers will give you a timeframe of 2 to 3 weeks to check out your phone and see if you really wish to keep it.

A seller that doesn’t provide you with a decent return policy is probably not too sure about the quality of the device and is only looking to make a purchase and get the device off their hands. In such cases, do not bend to the whims of the seller and immediately call it off. You must be able to go through each and every function of the phone and decide for yourself whether to keep or return it so you can buy a different phone – something better suited to your needs.

There must be a reason behind you opting for a particular phone due to a certain feature or an emotional attachment to a certain model. So if you find that lacking you should be able to continue your search. Hence, it is important to buy the phone from a seller with a flexible return policy.

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Compare Prices

Any sensible consumer knows to compare prices before buying a phone from a specific seller. Know the going rate on the phone that you want and look for a seller that is willing to give you a good deal on it. You do not have to buy the first phone you see so take your time and research prices on different online marketplaces before paying a heavy sum of cash that you might not get back. Some of the most popular sites to buy refurbished cell phones from are Swappa, Facebook Marketplace, Amazon, eBay, Gazelle, Declutter, SellCell and SmartphonesPLUS.

Buy Used Cell Phones at SmartphonesPLUS

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At SmartphonesPLUS.com we cater to whole array of smartphone needs. Whether you wish to sell your iPhone or Android device, or buy one for that matter, we are happy to assist you in your search and help find the best phone for you.

We have a whole line-up of high quality used, pre-owned and refurbished cell phones that have undergone stringent quality checks to deliver the best smartphones to you.

Buying a second-hand phone has never been easier so click here to know more about what we have to offer. Happy Shopping!!

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What is an IMEI Number?

What is an IMEI Number?

When people buy a new smartphone they usually get so involved in the features and applications that they overlook an important part of their phone – the International Mobile Equipment Identity, IMEI for short. It is a special number assigned to your phone and acts as a unique identifier. You will never find two phones with the same IMEI. This number comes to the rescue when the most dreaded thing happens to us: our phone is lost or stolen. The IMEI is an extremely useful tool for tracking a lost or stolen phone. Depending on which phone you use, there are different ways of locating and identifying your IMEI number. It can also help to identify a device’s model and serial number.

How many digits does an IMEI number have?

An IMEI has 14 digits with an additional 15th digit for verifying the entire number. At times you might also come across a 16-digit variation which usually gives information on the phone’s software version as well. This 16-digit IMEI number is known as the IMEISV. If you have a dual SIM phone, you’ll see two IMEI numbers, one for each slot. These numbers are hardcoded into the phone and are almost impossible to change them without damaging the device itself.

The IMEI follows the AA-BBBBBBB-CCCCCC-D format. The A and B digits which form the Type Allocation Code (TAC) help in identifying the manufacturer and model of the device. The C digits indicate the device’s unique serial number and the D digit ensures that the IMEI meets the appropriate guidelines.

When a mobile network carrier finds out that a certain device has been stolen they can blacklist that IMEI code and block it out of that network. However, there is also a downside to this IMEI affair, if a hacker wants they could possibly track your location through your IMEI.

How Do I Locate The IMEI Number?

1. Use your phone’s dialing pad

  1. Open the dialing pad on your phone, as you would do for a normal phone call.
  2. Input *#06# in the dialing pad. You will typically not have to dial it.
  3. A fifteen-digit number will appear on your screen automatically.
  4. This is your IMEI/MEID number. You won’t be able to copy or paste it. You will have to write it down for future use.

CDMA phones have an IMEI number while GSM phone will have a MEID number. MEID stands for Mobile Equipment Identifier. It is simply a different format of phone identification.

2. Look on the back of the phone – Only for iPhone (6 Plus and earlier models)

If you are an iPhone user (6 Plus or earlier), just flip the phone and you will see the IMEI number engraved on the lower back panel.

3. Under the battery

In case you have a phone with a removable battery, some brands provide IMEI number under the battery. So just open your cover and remove the battery to locate the IMEI number.

4. Look at the SIM tray

Some brands like Apple provide the IMEI number on the SIM tray as well. Just remove the SIM tray according to the prescribed procedure. You will be able to locate the IMEI number engraved on the side of the SIM tray.

5. Look in the Settings menu

IPHONE/IPAD

  1. Open settings.
  2. Go to general.
  3. Tap on “About” in general.
  4. Tap on “IMEI”. This will display the IMEI number. You can copy the IMEI number from here if you wish to.

ANDROID

  1. Open setting.
  2. Tap on “About phone”.
  3. Tap on “Status” and scroll down to your IMEI number.
  4. You might find multiple IMEI numbers if you have a dual SIM phone.

6. Check the device’s packaging box

  1. Look at the box and you will find the IMEI either written it or on the sticker that’s usually stuck on the box.
  2. Sometimes the sticker is put on the opening to act as the seal so be careful not to damage it!

Are all phones made without an IMEI number?

No. Technically and legally all the phones should have an IMEI number. However, some devices do not carry an IMEI number to avoid identification and tracking which makes them illegal.

How do I check the IMEI number?

Now that you know all about IMEI numbers, you can go on checkesnfree.com or stolenphonechecker.org to verify your IMEI number to make sure it is clear. Also, if you are buying a used phone it’s always good to double check online if the IMEI is blacklisted or not. The link above can be used for that purpose.