Used iPhone Buying Tips | Ultimate Guide

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To free you from spending hours doing this research yourself, we’ve constructed the ultimate guide on how to buy a used iPhone.

From our years of experience with tech (new and used), we’ve decided to compile every useful test we could think of that can make you feel safer when buying a used device.

Whenever we go and buy something used, we follow this list diligently. It has helped us get away from scams and find some amazing deals too. We hope this guide helps you as much as it has helped us over the years.

These tests also don’t require you to be an expert hacker or anything like that. These are tests that anyone with minimal phone knowledge can perform. The list is compiled for the average phone user!

Whether you want to buy a used iPhone 7, iPhone 8, iPhone X, or iPhone 11, this is the ultimate guide you should be looking at and here we will walk through some key steps to make sure you know the process to verifying a used iPhone.

There are essentially 6 main things that you have to look out for when purchasing a used iPhone:

  • Check the device on Apple Coverage
  • The device isn’t Activation Locked
  • The device is not blacklisted
  • The device has minimal physical wear
  • Check the seller’s reputation
  • Stress tests give normal scores

Used tech deals can be amazing (when done right)

There’s no shame in considering buying a used product. We’ve all been in this boat at some point in our lives and it’s completely fine. Not having the cash to buy a shiny new product should not deter any of us from trying to experience something new.

But what usually happens is that we tend to miss out on performing due diligence. This is absolutely necessary for whenever we want to get something in a second-hand state.

Apple products are obviously a bit more pricey than similar products in the same range. This is also true for used Apple products. Considering that, you don’t want to pay good money for something that isn’t as advertised.

While this guide is designed to be as detailed as possible, you should still remain vigilant. Maybe there are some red flags unique to your situation that haven’t been discovered elsewhere.

Check iPhone serial number on the Apple coverage center

One great thing about the iPhone is that Apple has a log of every iPhone ever made in its inventory and this feature is not just limited to iPhones but all Apple devices ever made.

If you have access to the iPhone that you are about to buy, you can head over to Coverage Center by Apple, enter the Apple Serial Number for the iPhone and you will get accurate information from Apple on when this iPhone was first purchased and in case this device has any AppleCare coverage.

This is just one way to verify if the buyer claiming any info about the iPhone is actually valid and true.

Quick Tip: In the best case scenario you would want to have access to serial number before even purchasing the device so you can verify the date of purchase and ownership.

Activation Locked used iPhones mean they are typically stolen

Activation Lock is an anti-theft technology implemented by Apple that is so powerful that the FBI couldn’t even crack it. While that article relates to an iPhone 5C, it’s obvious that Apple has improved further upon from that in the later years.

Activation Locked devices require the associated Apple ID credentials to unlock it. Without them, there is absolutely no hope you can have of getting it done. If the seller is willing to provide you with login, move on to checking other things. Otherwise, it’s the biggest red flag you could possibly find in the deal.

Another thing to note is that a genuine seller will never advertise a device that is Activation Lock enabled since its an anti-theft system. Even if they are providing the username and password to unlock it, there’s a good chance that the device is stolen.

Quick Tip: If you want to know how to activate this security mechanism on your Apple devices in case they ever get stolen, check this guide.

Make sure the used iPhone isn’t blacklisted by carriers

If the device is stolen but never had the Activation Lock enabled, there’s still a good chance that the original device owner had it blocked through a carrier service. This process also makes the device completely unusable. The only possible way to get around this barrier is to provide original purchase receipts to the concerned departments.

Without that information, the device will not unlock. Another thing to consider is the whole unlock process. It can get very difficult to prove the purchase in certain situations. The possibility to waste time on this is very high. Therefore, never buy a blacklisted phone.

If you can confirm it is not stolen, continue to check its physical condition.

Quick Tip: Does your iPhone say “no service”? Our detailed guide will help you figure out why your iPhone is giving “no service” sign and how to fix it.

How to check the physical condition of the device

There are many things to check for in a used device (Apple or not). Here’s a list of some very obvious things you need to go through before making that purchase:

  • Check the front and back of the device for scratches
  • Insert a SIM card and test signal strength
  • Check WiFi strength and range
  • Check the charging port to see if it works fine
  • Make sure the charging cable is not bent
  • Confirm if the charger is Apple certified
  • Use the device to see if the battery drains too quickly
  • Check the responsiveness of the screen to make sure it’s original
  • See the phone screen from all angles to find any cracks
  • Check if Bluetooth works, try pairing with a device
  • Test speaker and mic by calling someone
  • Confirm if the device has been jailbroken
  • Check all other sensors of the device
  • Take a few pictures with the camera to see if it works fine
  • Run some heavy application on the device to test its speed
  • Make sure all buttons press properly and respond

If you can, bring a friend along. Sometimes we may not see things that the other person might.

Quick Tip: Every phone has some kind of wear and tear, scratches, blisters or bumps across the edges so in case your used iPhone does not have any sign of those, it might be a good idea to check with the phone owner if any of the phone body parts have been repaired or replaced.

Check the reputation of the seller

If you’re buying the device online, check the reviews of the seller. Chances are, if they tend to scam people, someone will have already experienced that. If there are negative reviews available, look at them thoroughly.

If the seller does not have a solid reputation to consult, it might be better to avoid the deal. Unless they can prove themselves that they are not trying to scam you, move on. See their reaction if you mention getting a refund. A genuine seller won’t hesitate in offering you a refund in a decent amount of time.

Also be vigilant with the seller’s offer. Are they selling it for too cheap? What’s the catch? Don’t hesitate in asking questions that you you’re unsure of. Do your research and see how the overall prices are in the market. You don’t want to buy something too expensive, nor do you want a faulty device that may be cheaply priced.

Quick Tip: Always make sure you reference check the seller just to be sure if they are not known for any scams. In case you have their full name, you can Google it or ask them for a copy of their ID just to run it via government website and make sure everything is in order

How to stress test a used iPhone with Geekbench

Stress testing is an amazing way to check the hardware capabilities of your device. Stress tests are designed to put maximum pressure on your device. This way, it is easy to tell whether the device has performance issues or not.

Geekbench 5 is critically acclaimed tool in the market that gives pretty decent results. For that reason, we are going to suggest you to use it.To test the iPhone you plan on buying, download Geekbench 5 from the App store and run it.

Caution: Make sure the device is charged properly before starting the stress test. Low batteries can falsely indicate a low score.

After the test is completed, note the score down somewhere because you will need to compare it later.

Quick Tip: Go to this link and compare your score with the benchmark scores. A difference of about 100-150 less than the scores on the website could mean that there is something wrong with the device.

Consider buying a used iPhone from authorized Apple sellers

If you really want an Apple device but are not willing to put in the required cash for whatever reason, consider refurbished devices. Apple stores sell them and they are the best deals you could get quality-wise.

You can bet that Apple won’t resell devices that can’t be put into usable condition. For that reason, they are a good choice to go to. You can purchase something from there for around the same price they go for in the market so it’s a win-win situation.

Wait for sales

If a refurbished device isn’t you’re thing and you’re worried about buying a used device, wait for sales. Tech sales happen all year round and you can get some amazing deals on Christmas, Black Friday, and similar sales. You might just have to act soon because they run out quickly as everyone wants to have a piece.

Are you looking for a used device because your iPhone 11 Pro Max is giving you a horrible battery life? If so, look at this guide on how to fix it.

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