What to check for when buying a used smartphone

Shopping for a new smartphone can be a real headache when you consider the technical specs sheets, scores of brands, models and even ecosystems one has to choose from.  It can prove even more daunting a task if you are considering purchasing a used device where even more things must be factored in before sealing the deal.  Hopefully the information presented below will take some of the headache and guesswork away and guide you to making the best choice possible.

Things to consider before purchasing a used smartphone:
  1. Is the device network locked or unlocked?Can the phone work with SIM cards from different service providers?  A network locked smartphone may be cheaper initially, but you will have to spend additional money to have it unlocked; it’s also possible that you won’t be able to get it unlocked. If possible be sure to try YOUR sim card in the phone before purchasing.
  2. Compare prices – A good price may not always be good value.  It is possible that you may be able to get something better for a better price, or even get the same device for a lot less elsewhere.  Consider asking someone knowledgeable for assistance.  You may even want to consider spending a few dollars more to get a new device instead.
  3. Factory refurbished and user refurbished are two different things – Consider the former if you must buy refurbished, especially if shopping online.
  4. Check out the main software on the device – Errors are bad for business. If it is an iPhone, ensure that it is not connected to an iCloud account or you may not be able to activate it later.  Find out if the phone is rooted or has been modified in any way.  While custom ROM are cool, they can pose problems for novice users when it comes to updates and so forth later on.
  5. Look for physical signs of defect or excessive wear and tear – 
    • The display should not be falling away from the chassis.
    • A scratched camera lens will result in blurry pictures. Take a picture or two to ensure that the camera works and that the pictures are acceptable.
    • A swollen battery must be replaced and will not keep its charge.  Is the installed battery OEM or generic?  While generic replacement batteries are not all bad, having an original battery should be preferred.
    • Check how tactile and responsive the buttons are – volume, power, home (if the device has one) etc.
    • Check the digitizer and ensure that it registers your touches with no “dead” areas.  While getting a replacement digitizer may not be expensive, getting it installed could prove costly.
    • Open what can be open or removed – this includes the back cover, battery, memory card, SIM tray etc..
    • Try your headphones and the built-in speaker.
    • Try a memory card and see that it’s working.
    • Place a call and have someone call you to check the cellular radio and microphone.
    • Ports are not supposed to be loose, so connect the phone’s charging cable and give the device a gentle shake – the cable should not detach.
    • A phone with nicks and dents may have fallen; this can reduce the reliability of several internal components.
    • Look out for fakes.  Just because the logo looks real, does not mean the device is genuine or authentic.
  6. Check the accessories – original charger, cable, SIM tray ejector, manual etc.  This may even help you to determine whether the device was stolen or not.  It is important to note that just because a charger works, it does not mean that it should be used or won’t harm the device.
  7. Verify that the IMEI number printed beneath the removable battery is the same number you get after entering *#06# in the phone’s dialer.
  8. Find out why the seller is selling his/her beloved device.  As the old adage goes, if the price is too good to be true, it probably is and you may be looking at a stolen or faulty device.

Did I leave anything out?  Is there something else you think persons should consider before parting with their cash?  Leave your comments in the comment section below and do share this post with your family and friends.