As technology progresses, the ways in which we save money progress as well. Case in point is the used cell phone market. When buying a phone, you have many options. You can decide to get a subsidized phone with a contract from a major cell carrier, but these phones are priced very deceptively and often end up costing you much more in the long run. You can also buy a brand new phone from a retailer. This is an attractive option but there is one major drawback: the upfront cost.
While buying a brand new top-of-the-line phone can cost many hundreds of dollars, buying a used phone can cost a mere fraction of that price. But buying a used phone is not without its risks. You can end up with damaged phones, or phones which are still tied to other cell carriers rendering them near useless. If you want to save money on a phone without falling into a trap, read on for our tips on buying used phones.
Assessing Phone Condition
Naturally, when buying a used smart phone, you will want to verify that the phone is in decent working condition. There are a number of inspection points you will want to investigate. Check the length of the battery life. Most phone’s batteries perform noticeably worse after being used for a year or longer. You would be well advised to buy a phone where replacing the battery will not be an issue. If you have to replace the battery, use this as a bargaining chip when negotiating with a seller. You will also want to examine the screen carefully to ensure there are no permanent marks, cracks or scratches.
You can also get indications of the quality of the phone by the way the seller describes it. If a seller describes the phone as ‘nearly new’, the phone should arrive in good condition with minimal indications of prior use. ‘As new’ means the phone has never been used (just passed around) and should come in original packaging.
Assessing Phone Compatibility
Whenever you buy a used phone, it is important to make sure you are able to use it. Many phones in the atmosphere are tied to carriers, and cannot be used with other cell service providers, which makes them useless to a wide section of the population.
The most flexible phones to buy used are ones which are ‘unlocked’. These are phones which are not tied to any carrier. You can also decide to buy a locked phone, and unlock it yourself if there is a service nearby which will do that for you.
Assessing Phone Legitimacy
Unfortunately, when buying a used phone, we have to ask ourselves, is this phone stolen? This is important for a number of reasons. First, buying a stolen phone supports phone thieves around the world and perpetuates the committing of this crime. No one wants to live in a world where we have to worry about our phone being stolen 24 hours a day. But even if you lack the moral compass to care about discouraging phone theft, you should still avoid a stolen phone. Why? Because the phone’s rightful owner could have instructed his network to blacklist the phone, which renders it useless on that network and possibly other networks as well.
Stolen phones can be identified by checking the IMEI (International Mobile Station Equipment Identity) number against some online databases.
Where to Buy
There are plenty of options available online for those in the market for used phones. Here is a quick rundown of some of the best used phone dealers.
Ebay is a great way to find a used phone, especially a specific one which can be hard to find elsewhere. However, Ebay has risks. You can end up with a phone filled with problems and defects if you are not careful. For this reason, you should only ever buy from Ebay sellers with good reputations. Make sure to peruse the seller feedback section and see how others have fared with sellers.
Swappa is a site dedicated to helping people buy and sell phones with safety and convenience. The phones undergo something like a ‘background check’ which verifies that the phone isn’t stolen or tied to an account which owes money. Swappa also ensures that screens are tip-top, and does not allow the sale of devices with water damage or other severe defects. Payments are made through paypal, and there is even room for negotiating in many cases.
Gazelle is a site which sells certified used devices. This retailer conducts very detailed inspections of their phones to ensure their quality. You won’t be getting a stolen phone here. And for even more peace of mind, they offer a 30 day return policy.