Do you want to buy an iPhone to see what’s all the fuss about but don’t have the money?
Or do you just like to go on a scavenger hunt and pick out gems no one else has caught?
Maybe you already own an iPhone 6S but its condition is beyond repair which has left you with two choices: either buy a squeaky new iPhone without a contract for $650 or get out in the real world (online world inclusive) and get yourself a used iPhone.
Whatever the case may be, this guide will help you in your quest to buy a used iPhone without getting scammed.
First things first. As with buying any second-hand device, buying a used iPhone can be risky. There are no government laws to protect you from being scammed and no regulators to make sure that customers aren’t being taken for a ride.
Here are the things you need to watch out for before you go out and try to buy yourself a used iPhone.
Let’s start with the three ways you can buy a used iPhone without ending up in Guiyu, China, (we’re going to assume here that you don’t have any family members or close friends who are ready to sell you their used iPhone on the cheap without anything in return)
- You can pay a visit to a reputable seller (for example you could go to Gazelle) and ask for a certified pre-owned iPhone. After that seller has shown you the used iPhone and you’re happy with the price of that used iPhone, you can purchase the used iPhone. Pretty clear right?
- The second method is that you go to a website like eBay (which is a popular auction site) and bid for a pre-owned iPhone. Of course, you’ll have to make sure that the seller on eBay can be trusted and has excellent reviews.
- Or you can contact a local seller near you from a site like Craigslist and pay cash for a used iPhone. You could also go to a pawn shop to buy a used iPhone but again, there is no guarantee if you wouldn’t get mugged on your way home.
And to be honest, the method you chose to buy your used iPhone doesn’t matter that much. What does matter is how much risk you are willing to take for a used iPhone?
The amount of discount that you can get for a used iPhone can sometimes make it rather tempting to buy the one with the lowest price.
But the game goes a bit deeper than that.
For example, at a site like Gazelle, the used iPhone models are thoroughly inspected and are guaranteed to be in proper working condition when they are displayed to you for purchase.
Although they don’t come cheap but are you willing to take more risk for a lower price?
At Gazelle, you can easily find an iPhone 6S 16GB model that is marked as ‘in excellent’ condition but that will cost you around $499.
Considering that the iPhone 6S is almost 12 months old now, and also taking in the fact that Gazelle is a reputed seller that will more likely sell you working and genuine iPhone smartphones, the price tag of $499 is still a bit too much.
Still not convinced that Gazelle’s pricing is a bit out of order?
Then how about the fact that you can purchase that same iPhone 6S 16GB model that is in brand new condition from a reputed seller on eBay for just an extra $50.
In short, Gazelle does provide you with legitimate and working used iPhones but they charge too much money for their services.
Is it really any wonder why people stay away from buying used iPhone sets?
Because first, you have to look out for scammers online who sell you fake iPhones or genuine iPhones that are barely in working condition and then you have to look towards the high premium cost websites like Gazelle demand for their “excellent condition” used iPhones.
In the end, it is your choice. You are in control and thus you can decide for yourself which method you want to go with in order to get yourself that elusive used iPhone that would last you a decent amount of time before breaking or bricking.
Follow the four steps that we’ll mention below in order to make sure that your “new” used iPhone is a stunning piece of hardware and is as without problems as a brand new iPhone.
Always Take into Account Your Carrier Before Buying a Used iPhone
You need to buy the right kind of used iPhone that is compatible with your current carrier service.
For those who need a primer on this issue, read on.
In the early days of buying used smartphones from Apple, things were simple and straightforward. You had two types of iPhones. One was the GSM variant and the other was CDMA variant.
The iPhones that fell in the GSM variant category worked only on networks that were GSM supported. GSM networks, back then, were companies such as AT&T and T-Mobile.
The other category of iPhones that were the CDMA versions, were made to only work on CDMA networks such as Sprint and Verizon.
These iPhones were actually regulated in order to ensure that specific iPhones worked only on specific networks.
Then iPhone 5 (and the LTE technology that came with it) happened and the landscape got more problematic.
At the present moment in time, the iPhone 6S comes in two versions. One is A1633 and the other is A1688. Well there is another, third, version but that model is only available in China and right now, we’re only concerned with the free-world used iPhone models.
Apple’s iPhone 6S Plus comes with another two models (which takes the total number of iPhone 6S models to five or six if we count the third iPhone 6S Plus model that is only available in China) which are namely A1634 and A1687.
Before you get too confused, just remember that all these iPhone models work with all carriers that are available in your area. Well, the major ones only if you want the truth. These iPhone models are likely to work with networks such as Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint, and AT&T.
However, things start to get interesting when we notice that the iPhone 6S A1633 and the iPhone 6S Plus A1634 are both able to support an extra LTE band. That extra LTE band is the 2.3 GHz spectrum.
It is widely known as the Wireless Communications Service band. The problem with WCS band is that it is currently licensed by AT&T along with some other non-wireless companies.
The WCS band that only two models of iPhone 6S support is considered to be the band that has the lowest amount of users.
That means that people who communicate using this band have a better chance of experiencing faster speeds when they are in densely-populated urban areas.
Therefore, even though all are iPhones, the better choice among them are still the iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus models that are specifically manufactured for your wireless carrier or service provider.
For example, T-Mobile users along with Sprint and Verizon users should always look for iPhone 6S A1688 and the iPhone 6S Plus A1687 while AT&T subscribers should go for iPhone 6S A1633 or iPhone 6S Plus A1634.
However, if you’re not on these networks then check out this Apple’s LTE page to know which iPhone version is better for your network.
Always Make Sure That the iPhone You’re Buying is Not a Stolen One
Never make the payment for a used iPhone before using Apple’s Activation Lock status tool to check whether the used iPhone you’re trying to buy is a stolen one or not.
You may be buying the used iPhone from a trusted seller on eBay, or paying in cash hand-to-hand to a Craigslist user, but it is always better to ensure that your used iPhone is not a stolen one.
In order to use the aforementioned tool, you must find out your potential new used iPhone’s IMEI number. IMEI number is basically another name for the serial number to check the status of any given iPhone.
Don’t worry about a seller not providing you with the serial number, if that particular seller is genuine and not a scammer, he/she would have no problems in providing you with the serial number as handing over information like IMEI number doesn’t put the seller’s product in any danger.
Make Sure the iPhone You Buy Can be Activated on Your Carrier
If you buy a stolen used iPhone and then activate it, you automatically get blocked on the network.
Don’t get too excited if the Activation Lock for your device is turned off. Even if you have followed the instructions in step one to a tee, you need to make sure that your carrier accepts your new iPhone.
To do that simply get a hold of a phone and give your carrier a phone call and check if everything is in the right place.
You will need the IMEI number for the seller’s iPhone if you’re on AT&T or T-Mobile. If you’re on Verizon or Sprint, then you’ll need MEID number for the device in question.
After you have that information, call your carrier and ask them if the said iPhone can be activated under your account.
Never Buy a Used iPhone Before Checking it For Damages
This step might seem obvious, because, after all, you only need to have one good look at the used iPhone in order to know if it is damaged or not, but trust us, that is not the case.
Dents and scratches on the casing or body are acceptable when you’re buying a used iPhone but anything more should raise alarm bells.
The phone shouldn’t look like it had an argument with Mike Tyson in the parking lot.
Prepare yourself to accept minor damage to the sides or edges of the screen. That isn’t considered a major problem in the used iPhone market.
There might also be small cracks present there but cracks, that may be as thin as a hairline, that run across the whole width of the screen are troublesome because they lead to the screen getting progressively more damaged as the iPhone gets older.
Needless to say, always check the buttons to see if they function properly and respond well. Don’t forget to check Home button’s fingerprint reader if your used iPhone has one.
Other standard procedures include plugging in some headphones into the iPhone to check if the sounds alright, checking the screen for dead pixels.
You can use this tool to check for iPhone dead pixels.
Don’t forget to check for water damage markets. In iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus, these indicators are present on the inside of the SIM card slot.
By looking at these indicators you can easily check if the owner of the iPhone tossed it into his toilet a week ago or not.