Buying a used phone is a great idea to bring yourself into the smartphone world at a super low price. Many of the brand-new entry level phones are not that much more powerful than that used budget phone from a couple years back. These older phones also do not have annoying contracts to go along with them, leaving you with the independent to shop around with carriers (assuming it is unlocked).
Although the word ‘used’ has a bit of a shameful sound to it, consider that all phones will be ‘used’ eventually. Once you buy a used phone in good shape, nobody will be able to tell that you bought it from a random teenager through an auction website. In fact, you may be able to enjoy the phone when it is still in-season and resell it for little to no loss. Keeping in fashion with brand new phones will also force you to lose a significant amount of money considering that phones quickly drop in value.
A problem with used phones is that you are not protected by the carrier or manufacturer. If something goes wrong, it is your responsibility to perform maintenance, repairs, or just replace the thing. If you frequently run into issues with your used phones, it may just end up costing you more money than what a brand-new phone would have cost.
However, if you plan your purchase wisely, you may end up with a real bargain that will last for months or years. Changing phones frequently is an expensive habit, so you will at least be able to save some money by going the used route. This article will detail certain facts that you must be aware of to avoid purchasing a lemon of a phone.
Know the correct price!
Using Amazon or Ebay completed listings, you should get an idea of what the fair market value is for the phone that you had in mind. If a phone is listed well below the average price, make sure that the listing is not really for accessories or a broken phone. If it otherwise appears normal, there is a chance that it is a scam or a stolen phone.
You should also do deep market research to make sure that there are no cheaper phones on the market. Some phones will have a higher price simply because of the brand name. In fact, some phones will have the same CPU, GPU, or screen as the expensive Samsung Galaxy but may end up being half of its price. Chinese companies also produce budget lines of phones that may be considered as a replacement alternative.
On auction type websites like Ebay, it is normal for prices to start very low, but then they will usually return to the mean price. If you would like to score a phone in an auction at a significant discount, hunt for auctions that end in late or early hours on weekdays to decrease competition.
Know how to sniff out shady sellers.
The internet allows us to have a layer of anonymity that we had never had before. Because of this, there are many slimy people on the internet who have no problem scamming or lying to you.
The first red flag would be if the seller has little to no feedback on the website. Anybody could use photos from another listing to create their own listing to scam your money. The seller may also simply just refuse to post pictures because they are ashamed of something and want to sell their damaged phone as-is.
Speaking of pictures, you will want to make sure that they are legitimate. Save the pictures and use them with the reverse search in Google Images. If the search produces results from other websites, you know that the seller must have copied them from another source. If this is the case, simply report their account and move on to the next listing.
Inspect the phone.
If you are buying a phone off of Craigslist or other local classifieds, make sure that you meet up with the person and have a thorough look at the phone. Asking questions may help, but ultimately a scammer may just be lying to your face since this sort of transaction is not regulated.
Bring your own charging cable and a source to charge the phone. Sometimes a seller may be trying to hide something if they do not bring along a charging cable. Perhaps the charging port is broken. It is possible that the battery is starting to fail. If the user brings the phone after the battery had died, you now have the opportunity to charge the device to see what secrets he is hiding.
Bring a laptop with to check its ability to sync via USB. The laptop will also serve as a power source if an outlet is not available in the meeting area.
Bring your own microSD card with. To make sure that there is no issue with the card reader, have the phone read your own card. It is not uncommon for a seller to bring phones without an inserted SD card since they want to save their old photos. It should still be considered that this is yet another thing faulty with the phone.
You may also bring a working pair of headphones to make sure the audio is still functional. Even if the internal speakers still work, the headphone jack may still be destroyed.
Bring a third-party SIM card to make sure that it is working for your carrier. If the phone was advertised as unlocked, this will now your opportunity to call them out on it. If the phone is from the same carrier as your SIM, you can use friend’s card to test it out.
Evaluate The Cost To Fix It
A way to capitalize on broken phones is to fix them up into working devices. You must evaluate the damage to see if it is worth fixing or if you will just have an expensive paper weight. Broken phones are widely available on Ebay and certain models will have very low competition when it comes to bidding.
Before putting in bids, Fully evaluate the types of damage done to the phone. If the damage is not clear, message the buyer and ask if he knows what is still working on the phone. If the phone can charge and can turn on but just has a cracked screen, it may be a bargain. If a phone refuses to turn on, there is a high probability that this phone would bee too expensive to repair.
Just do basic math with market research on how much it would cost to repair the extent of the damage. For example, if a cracked screen phone cost $50 and the screen repair was $50, then you will have $100 total in this phone. If the used price of this phone is normally $150, then you would have saved a great deal of money. If the market value of the phone is $90, then you would have just wasted your time. If you are confident in your own skills, you can save even more money by purchasing parts and doing the labor yourself.
It is highly recommended that you use a service like TelcoWorld since smartphone internals are extremely easy to break. Just opening up one of these phones has a high chance of breaking internal components and connecting cables. The iPhone, in particular, is an extremely delicate phone that is very difficult to open up without the proper parts.
Keep in mind, buying a used phone is highly unlikely to retain any possible manufactured warranty. If you buy a used phone through an authorized dealer or as a manufacturer refurbished phone, you will retain the warranty with certain manufacturers.