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What should you look for when buying a used phone?

Actually if I am being honest the only reason I post a blog is to help my website's SEO (search engine optimization). It helps to show up in google search results for searches such as "iPhone Screen Repair Lincoln Ne" or "phone battery replacement lincoln ne". It's not that I don't think that I have any good info to share, it's just simply that I assume most people aren't going to use utilize their valuable time by reading a blog some local techie guy wrote. That being said I don't want to post anything if it doesn't have the potential to help someone out there. So here's my quick guide about what to look for when buying a used phone.

I don't know about you but I can't justify spending $1,000.00 on the newest iPhone that comes out, yet I want to have a device that loads quickly and operates smoothly because if I'm honest I spend a lot of time on my phone everyday. A older, laggy phone can add a lot of extra wasted time into your day, especially if you use it for work. So if you are on a budget but desire a device that keeps up, then buying a more recently released used phone is a great option. The problem of course, as with any used electronics item, is how can you be sure you are getting a fully functioning, undamaged item. Without opening the device and looking inside there really is no way to be sure, and even then there can be hidden problems. As someone who refurbished and resold phones quite sometime I learned over time what to look for, what questions to ask, what precautions to take, etc. These are my tips.

This first blog post I am going to address the aspects of the phone that you should check once you have the phone in your hand. Next week I will add a blog about how to go about buying off of eBay, Swappa or another online forum for buying used phones.

If you are buying off of craigslist or facebook it is more straight forward than eBay. You have a chance to inspect the phone in person before handing over your money. Even though the phone is used you are still likely paying good money, so take your time. Even if there are aspects of the phone that are not functioning that to you are unimportant, still you should consider that one thing not functioning might indicate there are other unseen problems that can show themselves over time. At the least, if you fully inspect the phone and find some issues, you can use that information to ask for a lower selling price. Also keep in mind a fully functioning phone resells for significantly more when the time comes that you want to upgrade and sell your old device.

In order to test most functionality the phone must be setup of course, so you can ask the seller before meeting to either leave the phone fully set up until the sale is agreed upon or ask them if you can go through the phone's setup yourself before the purchase. You will need a SIM card and something to pop the SIM card tray for setup.

These are all the aspects of iPhone functionality that I test.

-Screen - Look at the LCD under the glass. Are there any dark or light colored spots? Make sure to look at it on a black and white screen. Are there any dead pixels, lines, spots, pieces of debris under the glass?

-Brightness - Is it functioning? I have never seen it not, so more importantly does the screen reach the desired max brightness level. If the screen has been replaced by a cheap aftermarket screen it can be much dimmer. It is helpful if you have another iPhone to compare it to. It's obviously important that you know what type of screen is on your own phone that you are using for comparison. Are you the original owner so you know the screen is original Apple? Or you had it replaced with an OEM Apple screen? Or you had it replaced with an aftermarket screen that was dimmer than your original display. In any of these cases you can use your phone for comparisons sake. The brightness across all of the models of iPhone has remained virtually the same, so you can compare one model to another.

-Touch functionality - Check every area of the screen. Sometimes there can be dead spots. It is useful to turn on the AssistiveTouch function on iPhones in Settings>General>Accessibility. Move the AssistiveTouch Home Button around the entire screen and make sure there are no dead spots. Or you can hold down on an icon until the option to move around the icons appears and simply drag the icon around the screen. If your device has 3D touch (iPhone 6s through X) then check all areas of the screen for 3D touch functionality.

-Front and back cameras

-Earpiece and loud speakers (Sometimes the speakers can be gunked up and impede the sound but can be easily cleaned. You can usually see the crud if this is the case.)

-Microphone - Use the voice memo app to record and then play back sound from either speaker.

-Headphone jack (No headphone jack is present on the iPhone 7 and newer models) - Of course you would have to bring a set of earphones with you for the meet up.

-Flashlight functionality

-Volume and power buttons and functionality

-Mute switch and vibrate (you should feel the vibration when ringer is put into silent mode)

-Call functioning (if possible) - Bring your sim card and a way to pop the sim card tray and then use it in the device you intend to purchase. For certain carriers and services you simply need to pop in the SIM and service will be immediate. Others you have to go through additional steps with the provider. If you can't check the phone's functionality with your own sim card before purchase I suggest asking the seller if you can use the phone with their SIM card to place a call. Don't forget to pay attention to in-call volume, signal strength and also check if the proximity sensor is working while you are on the call. The screen should go black when the proximity sensor at the top of the screen is covered while on a phone call.

-Touch ID and home button functionality - If the iPhone home button is damaged then there is very little chance of ever restoring Touch ID functionality unless the damage to the button is very minor and can be "rigged". You cannot simply replace the home button. It is encoded to the motherboard of the original phone. On iphone 5s, SE, 6 and 6s you can regain homebutton functionality in the event of a damaged home button, but not Touch ID. On the iphone 7 and 8 home button functionality and Touch ID is lost forever if the original home button is damaged beyond repair. If the seller has yet to wipe their phone completely before the purchase you can simply ask them to enter the "add a fingerprint" section in Settings>Touch ID and Passcode and have them add a fingerprint while you watch. All you need to see is if the home button is reading the print. If so it's good, no need to complete the print. Of course, home button functionality should be immediately apparent when depressing the button.

-Accelerometer (the system that controls screen orientation) - Just open the browser and turn the device sideways and make sure it changes orientation.)

-GPS - Open maps and ensure that location services are enabled and check that the app is displaying your proper location.

-Compass - There is a compass app that is pre-installed on iPhone.

-Wi-Fi - Ask the seller to meet somewhere there is free Wi-Fi available

-Bluetooth - Make sure to bring another phone or Bluetooth device to pair to the phone you are considering purchasing.

-General Functionality - During the course of all this testing you should notice if there are any glitches. Many phones that have had screen replacements with aftermarket screens do some very glitchy things like stop responding to touch frequently, freeze or lag frequently off and on. Of course many of these things can happen if the phone needs an update, is an older phone running newer software or just happened to respond negatively to a recent update. That being said, I would be wary of buying any phone that is exhibiting these issues while you are using it. Better safe than sorry in my opinion. You likely won't get your money back after a Facebook or Craigslist initiated purchase.

That's a whole lot of info, most of which most people already realize, but maybe it will help you to have a list you can print out. I know I have so many things going through my head I easily overlook something if I don't have it written down for quick reference when the time comes.

If you found this info useful please check out my next blog which I will do next week. Hopefully it will be much shorter, but it might just be more important. There are a whole lot of people out there trying pull a scam on someone, on eBay in particular. You have to be very careful about who you buy from and do your due diligence in researching the phone you intend to buy beforehand. Until the next time.

May the Force be with you.

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