Looking for a great smartphone as your daily driver, but the brand new ones out of your budget? Here are our 7 great tips on how to buy second hand mobiles to save some cash, without making compromises on the quality of the device.

To all the geeks out there, the thought of owning the latest piece of tech out there can be exhilarating, but your tight budget might get in the way. The capitalist world we live in demands newer and better devices, which is why we see Android manufacturers rolling out a flagship smartphone every year.

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While the thought of buying second hand mobiles may not be the most inviting one. But that fact that the premium range of Android devices starts at $600 and upwards can convince you to look into other wallet-friendly options without making major compromises.

Whether you’re in the market for the current flagship smartphone that comes with a decent price cut or a refurbished Android phone that is marked hundreds of dollars less, here are the 7 best tips to buying second hand mobiles without getting screwed over.

1. Finding the right phone

For most of us looking to buy a used smartphone, the choices are sorted out beforehand and it’s all about just finding the right phone. However, if you aren’t sure of how much your money’s worth, the first step you need to take towards your next purchase is some much-needed market research.

  • Start things off by deciding the minimum hardware and software specs that you’re looking for. For instance, getting yourself a Google/Nexus device guarantees good specs and prolonged software updates, but it brings up the cost as well.
  • The second area of consideration is where compromises come in the form of device condition. Chances are that your $300 can fetch you either a beaten up Galaxy Note 5, or a mint condition Galaxy Note 4 – the choice is yours.
  • When it comes to buying second hand mobiles, the price is perfect when the phone is at least six months old. This way you might still get to milk out a few months of warranty from the device while enjoying the price cut that most smartphones get months after their release.

For instance, if the Galaxy S7 Edge seems pretty tempting, waiting until the Galaxy S8 is out will improve your chances of bagging in a great phone at an even better price. At the end, a smartphone is only as good as its software, so getting the flagship from 2012 isn’t going to offer a better experience than a mid-range smartphone from 2016.

2. Know the right place to buy

The whole point of getting a used smartphone is saving a few bucks, so the first thing you need to do is do some price hunting and find out where the best deals are. The most convenient way to find out the right price of buying second hand mobiles is going online and finding out the prices at which people are selling their smartphones.

  • Regardless of whether you’re buying the used phone from an online seller or a local one, you can depend on the web to find the standard price of the device.
  • Online marketplaces such as eBay are great for finding the median price of a used smartphone. However, make sure that you check the Buy It Now prices and not the Bids since current bids depend completely on the buyers and not the sellers.
  • If you’re looking for a bit more secure platform than eBay to buy second hand mobiles, try out Swappa or Glyde that cover your transactions with some sort of safety net policy.

Albeit you’ll always find used phones for a lot cheaper if you buy directly from the seller and not through a third-party website. You can find a bunch of used electronics on Craigslist and get a deep discount on even slightly used smartphones, but all of it comes without any guarantee.

3. Be a pro gadget inspector

Whether you’ve decided to go in for a Craigslist seller’s posting or picking up an item you bought on eBay, inspection is key to it all. This is probably one of the safest ways of getting a used phone since you’re not tied down to depending on seller’s pictures and their “word” on the phone’s condition.

  • Before you meet up with the seller, make sure you inform that you’d like to use the phone with your SIM card and test out the basic features of the device.
  • Make sure you meet up in a public setting and during the day not just for safety purposes, but where’s it’s easier to inspect the condition of the phone.
  • Be sure to bring along a portable battery pack along with your power cable to inspect that the phone charges properly.

While most smartphones today come with a non-removable battery, you can still do a quick check on the quality of the battery and the hardware with useful apps. For instance, maybe get the AnTuTu Tester app installed on the phone you’re hoping to buy an perform a quick diagnostics test of the battery, display screen and touch digitizer in one go.

4. Return policy is your safety net

The general rule of thumb suggests that you’ll be paying most for second hand mobiles when using an online service since they’re trying to make some bucks off as commission. While this may not seem like the best deal, having the assurance of a middle-man to facilitate your transaction can make all the difference.

  • Online selling services come with some sort of return policy or guarantee claim system that handles disputes that may arise in a fixed period of time since your purchase.
  • You can not only claim action after inspecting the physical condition of the smartphone but test out the hardware and software over the course of a few days.
  • Even when buying from an online platform, double check to see the previous track record of the seller and how well they’ve been rated by buyers in the past.

Since the word of a stranger isn’t worth much, don’t expect to land a great return policy when you buy a used phone personally.

5. Network connectivity is key

A simple search on eBay will show you a clear picture that network carrier-locked smartphones sell for cheaper than the unlocked ones. While an unlocked smartphone is always the first option you should go for, why not save some money on a Verizon-restricted phone if you don’t plan to use it with any other carrier?

  • Generally, avoid getting CDMA devices since there’s no way for you to unlock them down the road.
  • When it comes to CDMA devices, eBay is filled with smartphones with “bad ESN”. These are usually locked devices or even worse (stolen), so avoid them at all costs.

If you do choose to go for carrier-locked second hand mobiles to save big, remember that there’s always another way. Updato offers a mobile unlocking service for the very purpose of helping you save money on unnecessary network carrier costs and break free of all restrictions.

6. Negotiate a better deal

Just the way you’re trying your best to save some extra bucks, the sellers are out there to get top dollar for their second hand mobiles. This is where the art of negotiation can help you cut a better deal for yourself, once the buyer knows that you mean serious business.

  • Online buying platforms give little to no room for negotiating the price that is set by the buyer, but the price on the line is open when it comes to buying personally.
  • Even though websites like eBay, you can choose to contact the seller directly through email and try negotiating a fair discount on the price of the phone.
  • For the personal buyers, once you’ve inspected the device and pointed out a few scuff marks and dents, all of it could be worthy of a price cut.

Having the original accessories and all of the accessories that come with a new device is always a bonus, and also leave room for price negotiation if absent. If the buyer is offering the smartphone without the pair of earphones it came with, getting a slightly better deal is definitely on the table.

7. Second hand mobiles vs refurbished phones

For those who aren’t often sifting through the tech market for used devices, a second hand phone and a refurbished phone may look and feel like the same. That’s because there’s no physical way of differentiating them other than the fact that one is backed by its manufacturer and the other one isn’t.

  • A used phone usually comes directly from a private seller who purchased the phone themselves and has used it over a period of time.
  • A refurbished phone, on the other hand, is certified to be in proper working condition by the brand manufacturer of the device.
  • The warranty of a used mobile phone depends on the original buyer, whereas refurbished devices usually come with at least 6 months of manufacturer warranty.
  • Apart from online retailers like Amazon, you can find original certified refurbished smartphones of all brands sold at your local Target, Walmart, Best Buy and others.

As you’d expect, refurbished smartphones are usually priced only a subtle amount lower than original, brand new devices. While refurbished devices can’t compete on the price with second hand mobiles, they’re surely a safer deal since you get warranty protection directly from the manufacturer and no middleman.

Wrapping it up

At the end of the day, you’re always going to be a little suspecting when it comes to getting yourself a second hand phone. If you plan to use the smartphone as your daily driver for at least a year to come, make sure that you scan through the pictures or take a good look at the physical condition of the phone before buying it.

For instance, water damage is one annoying details that are hardly noticed but can build up severe issues over time. Be sure to check the battery of the smartphone for bloating or if the liquid damage indicator has been tripped, which is usually visible through the SIM-slot on devices with a non-removal battery.

The last layer of safety comes with knowing that the second hand mobiles you own is legitimate and there’s no funny business involved. To make sure that the phone is not stolen and official licensed, look up the IMEI and ESN of the device by dialing in *#06#* on the dialer of the smartphone and cross-check it with IMEI.info.

Hopefully, you’ll have a smart and educated experience at buying second hand mobiles with the help of this guide. If you have something to add to this guide on buying used tech, be sure to drop in a word on the Updato Forum.

And as always, we end with an invite: don't be a stranger and join our community - be a part of the conversation where we help each other out, discuss the latest and greatest, and make the best of our tech.



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What's my model number?

There are several ways to locate your model number:

Option 1
On your device, go to Settings, then "About device" and scroll down to "Model number"
Option 2
Often times you can view the model number inside the device, by removing the battery
Option 3
Using Samsung's model/serial number location tool