Many smartphone-savvy consumers might argue that the joy of purchasing a second hand phone is nothing compared to the excitement of unwrapping a brand new mobile device that packs in the latest technology & features and looks unbelievably irresistible with its scratch free and gleaming body smartly encased in a stylish box!
However, buying a new phone may not be a viable option every time, more so if you are a self-proclaimed gadget freak who is always on the lookout for the latest models that are creating waves in the mobile phone market.
Indeed, there are times when buying a second hand mobile or a pre-owned phone is far more economical than embracing a new one, particularly when you do not intend to splurge on high-end mobile phones. This could be either due to the fact that you are cash-strapped or because you realise that it is only a matter of time before you lay your hands on yet another hi-tech device that makes a splash in the market.
You should also know when it is time for an upgrade to a new smartphone. Whatever be your reasons to opt for a used smartphone, you must remember that purchasing a used or second hand device can be a tricky affair, what with the market flooded with plenty of faulty and fake cell phones.
Considering that second hand mobile phones can also have their fair share of wear and tear and often do not boast any warranty cover, due diligence of the used handsets becomes non-negotiable if you do not wish to bring home a device that’s nothing but a rip-off.
So What Should You Check Before Buying Second Hand Mobile Phones?
So, how do you ensure that you are up for a good deal that is sheer value for money? Here are few effective tips that can lead to a positive buying experience for you with less likelihood of a second hand or refurbished purchase gone horribly wrong.
1. Stay Away from Stolen Phones
Even if you are being lured to a deal that’s simply a steal, buying a stolen phone is a strict ‘no-no’. After all, why get into a trouble with the authorities at a later stage for spending your money on a device that has been reported as lost or stolen or for buying a second hand phone that may have been misused in the past for execution of unlawful activities?
To safeguard yourself from such unnecessary hassles, always insist that the seller provides you with a soft or a hard copy of the original bill that shows his or her name as the buyer of the device along with other nitty-gritties such as date and time of the original purchase, name of the store from where it was purchased, warranty details, etc.
Next, look around the second hand phone’s battery compartment area for an IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) sticker or type *#06# (universal IMEI code that is compatible with almost all GSM mobile devices) to retrieve its unique IMEI number and match this serial number with that mentioned on the bill and on the packaging box. The above code works on both iPhones and Android phones. Note that dual SIM mobiles will have two IMEI numbers as opposed to one IMEI number for a single SIM mobile. If the details match, then you can be rest assured that the phone has not been robbed from someone.
2. Watch Out for Fake Phones
It is a fact that the market today thrives with a plethora of fake Chinese or Korean phones that are mere replicas of their original models and are quite hard to discern with the naked eye. Knowing that the phones’ internal stickers contain important information such as their IMEI numbers, model numbers etc, at times, fraudsters tend to alter these stickers with counterfeited ones that portray sham model numbers with no resemblance to the actual ones.
To ensure that your seller is not fleecing you, you can execute the following checks. Make sure that the model being sold to you is a genuine one by exploring the phone’s ‘Settings’ menu to find its model number and other hardware specifications. Compare the model number with that printed on the sticker behind the back of the phone or its battery. You can further leverage the hardware specifications to investigate if they match with those that have been outlined for that particular model by the manufacturer.
Despite the above, if you are still in doubt, consult your nearest Authorised Service Centre to decipher the genuineness of the phone in minutes.
3. Undertake an Exhaustive Physical Inspection of the Phone
Now that you have established that the phone at hand is neither stolen nor fake, it’s time to unlock your spying skills and dig deeper into the used smartphone’s or tablet’s physical well-being. Did we raise few eyebrows for stating something too elementary?
Well, as basic as it may sound, the matter of fact is that many a times, consumers forget or do not invest adequate time to visually examine a used phone from all possible angles.
Now, it’s not that every second hand phone that is doing the rounds is faulty or in want of a repair. However, there are hordes of them that are available in various brick and mortar stores and physical inspection is one of the easiest and most effective ways to keep them at bay. Even if you are buying a second hand phone online, asking for a physical demonstration from the seller is a must.
Explore the used phone from every possible quarter to detect dents and broken/bruised edges. If the device has a keypad, then watch out for broken keys, if any. Discern if the physical keys are in working condition by pressing a few of them randomly to check if they click well and if they allow you to type and navigate effortlessly. For mobile phones with touch screens, assess the functionality and the sensitivity of the phone’s touch by swiping your fingers across the screen and tapping few menus and apps to get a feel of the response time and the ease of navigation.
Many a times, fine scratches are not so evident when viewed superficially. However, they become more prominent when the phone’s screen is lit up. Hence, you must make sure that you always switch on a second hand phone to detect such subtle cracks that will stand out as bright lines against the well-lit display of the phone or will appear in the form of backlight bleeding.
Remember that presence of too many scratches and cracks could indicate that the phone has been subject to frequent falls which could be a cause of concern for you as it could indicate internal damages to the phone as a result of multiple drops.
Apart from falls, water damage is a common injury that is associated with mobile phones. To ensure that your chosen phone has not been exposed to water damage, undertake a careful evaluation of its charging ports and its battery. If you are purchasing a phone with a non-removable battery, then look out for the water damage indicator in its SIM card slot as that’s the place of the indicator for most unibody phones.
If the phone comes with a removable battery, then turn the device off and remove the back flap to take out the battery for a quick scrutiny of its visible bulges and obvious signs of damage. Observe the colour of the charging ports and that of the sticker attached to the back of the phone or pasted on or below the battery. Any discolouration of the ports or a change in the colour of the sticker from white to red/pink could mean internal damage due to liquid leakages which may have caused or can lead to slow corrosion of the phone’s internal elements.
A quick outbound call or a text will help you verify that the mobile phone’s mic and speaker are working just fine. Finally, do take out time to click few photos and selfies to ascertain if the mobile device’s front and rear cameras are in spick and span condition or if their lenses have lost their precision.
4. Execute a Service Code Test
These days, both GSM and CDMA phones are enabled with service codes that allow users to unlock their special menus that are normally accessible via the phone’s dialler. Such codes can be searched online and are used to undertake self-test routines to find out if different aspects of the phone like its receiver, vibration, sensor, touch, dimming, LED, RGB, camera, speaker, battery etc. are functional and in sound order.
To learn a lot of service codes and other mobile repairing tips, you can join the mobile repairing course offered at Prizm Institute’s training center in Kurla.
5. Examine the Usability of the Ports and Accessories
If you are buying a used phone along with its accessories, then you must also scrutinize the latter carefully. For starters, determine if the charger is operational by charging the phone for a few minutes while keeping a tab on the time taken to charge the phone.
Watch out for abnormalities with the battery e.g. is it getting heated too soon and too often? Also check to see if that the battery is draining fast. Next, analyse if the earphones are functional by plugging them into the device and indulging in a round of any audio file while you inspect the sound for its clarity and volume. Conclude with an evaluation of the second hand phone’s USB port by performing a quick data transfer check to confirm that port is in good working condition.
6. Settle for the Best Price
Even as you engage in all the elaborate checks listed above, don’t forget the key motivation that drove you to decide upon a used phone in the first place – its price!
Over time, the price of a particular model can drop steeply as upgrades make their way into the market. In such scenarios, you are better off buying a new phone as opposed to one that has exchanged hands. You should also know how to select and buy a new smartphone in case you are planning to buy a new handset.
In the event that a second hand phone still turns out to be cheaper, then negotiate wisely, keeping the present condition of the phone in mind and closing the deal if it is fairly placed and earns you neat savings. Lastly, it pays to look for an optimally priced refurbished phone that has been tested and fixed by an expert technician and comes with a warranty to ensure that you don’t run the risk of having to go hunting for another mobile device anytime soon!
Scour the internet and hunt the local stores to spot the hottest deals that are on offer on the model of your choice – both for first-hand and second hand phones.