Used cell phones are an excellent way to avoid the high cost of the latest handset. But like anything used, there are always potential issues. Before handing over your money, you need to know what you’re paying for.Always research your phone seller, the phone’s condition, and fair prices before you make your purchase. If anything seems too good to be true, it probably is. Sellers with no or low ratings should also raise red flags. Stolen phones and scammers are lurking everywhere, so protecting yourself is vital to prevent buying an expensive paperweight.Before you buy a used phone, make sure you use a comprehensive cell phone test to ensure everything is as it seems.
The ESN or IMEI of the phone is the phone’s identification number. ESN and IMEI numbers are essentially the same, with each representing only slight formatting changes. With these numbers, you can check a phone’s lost or stolen status, or if it’s locked to a network.Phones locked to a network are only available for activation on that singular network. Though you can compel a carrier to provide you with the unlock code. Lost or stolen phones will exist in a database that flags their identification number. Carriers that see flagged ESN and IMEI numbers won’t activate the phone on their network.The good news is, there are plenty of places online that search ESN and IMEI databases to make sure your potential new phone isn’t flagged as lost, stolen, or activation locked.
Special mention should be made of Apple’s iPhone and their iCloud lock service. iCloud lock lets users remotely lock their phone if it’s lost or stolen. Though sometimes, sellers forget to unlock their device before selling it. This leaves the device useless. If you’re buying an iPhone, make sure the phone isn’t iCloud locked before you make your purchase.
Beyond carrier locks, you’ll also want to ensure the phone is in acceptable physical condition. Buyers should look for the following at the bare minimum before handing over any money. Always look for:
Always plug the phone into a charger to ensure the battery works properly. Sometimes battery ports go bad, and batteries lose life quickly when they start to expire. Buying a new battery isn’t a deal-breaker, but it should definitely figure into the total cost of the phone.
Water damage devastates phones. Many components inside a cell phone are vulnerable to rust or other effects of moisture, and this damage isn’t always apparent on the outside. Though some phones do have indicators of water damage you can see from the outside.Many cell phones have moisture sensitive paper inside the headphone jack or charging port. Look inside these ports and if you see neon colored paper (often pink), the phone likely has water damage.Buying a used cell phone always comes with risks, but with the proper knowledge, they’re risks worth taking. Take the time to protect yourself with a simple cell phone test and you’ll save tons on your next used phone.