How to buy a used or refurbished iPhone?
When it comes to finding a cheap phone that is fantastic value for money, purchasing a used or refurbished iPhone has proven to be the way forward for millions of us. iPhones have been around for over a decade now and have transformed the way we browse, connect, and communicate. The only drawback is that their high cost can be prohibitive to many of us.
Luckily for you, there are plenty of people out there who trade in their iPhones every year for the latest model. That has created a booming economy all of its own with millions of us shopping around for a cheap used iPhone that saves us time, money, and effort.
Because buying second-hand devices can feel like a bit of a minefield we’ve put together our tops tips of what to look for and packaged everything into our easy to follow How-To Guide!
Let’s take a look at how you’ll be able to acquire the used iPhone 7 you’ve always wanted at just a fraction of the cost of a brand-new handset…
Why buy a used iPhone?
#1 There’s plenty of value out there!
iPhones are some of the most desirable and sought-after handsets on the market, and the main reason so many would-be Apple fans haven’t yet made the jump to iOS is the significant cost involved in purchasing a new handset.
If you do your research, check all the basics, and negotiate well then you can get an absolute bargain that will function as good as new. This is an excellent way of saving yourself a significant portion of your hard earned monthly pay so that you have plenty left over to spend on the other things in life that matter.
#2 You’re not tethered to a contract
We’ve all seen those people in the shopping mall on a Saturday who’re walking around with the latest iPhone, but it has a giant crack right across the screen. All too often you’ll see this rather sorry sight, and the truth is that to replace the glass adequately can be too expensive for many of us.
Shopping around for a good quality used iPhone is a great way to replace or upgrade your handset for a fraction of the price…and you won’t be tied to a long-term contract with your network provider if you follow the advice in the rest of this article!
#3 You’ll have a lot of freedom to choose a refurbished handset that works for you
Network suppliers and phone stores always focus on pushing the latest handsets because that’s where they make their money. Take a step back and read the online comments from Apple fans about the newest raft of releases and updates and you’ll see plenty of voices of dissension which tells you that newer does not necessarily mean better!
By shopping around amongst a much bigger selection of handsets, you’ll be able to find an earlier model that is more to your liking. If have seen a good quality used iPhone 6 then remember that you’re unlikely to get anything of that generation as part of a package deal with your monthly phone contract. Don’t get caught up in searching sole or the latest models; find something that’s right for you.
How much do they cost?
Prices for iPhones are quite stable, with the general rule being that the older the model, the less you’ll pay.
Take a look at the latest prices to give you an idea of what you can expect for your money in the current market:
- iPhone 6S………….Starting from $120
- iPhone 6S Plus……Starting from $175
- iPhone 7……………Starting from $200
- iPhone 7 Plus………Starting from $250
- iPhone 8………..Starting from $345
- iPhone 8 Plus……Starting from $415
- iPhone X / XS / XS Max ……Starting from $530
Where can I buy a used iPhone?
There are a number of online marketplaces where you can buy a second-hand phone, but you need to be aware that if something sounds too good to be true, then it often is.
Let’s take a look at four of the most common places people shop so that you have a clear idea of where you need to be looking if you’re to find the bargain your wallet deserves.
What sets Swappa apart from the larger buy-anything marketplaces is that they specialize in selling used iPhones, as well as other handsets and devices. This is great because straight away it gives you the peace of mind that you’re dealing with a team that knows their market and will stand by the quality and integrity of every device that is sold through their website.
They offer competitive pricing across all handsets, and best of all, in my opinion, is that they allow you to search, by the provider. That is a really important option because sadly what you’ll find with less established selling platforms is that iPhones that are listed as ‘Unlocked’ will often require you to pay to unlock them upon arrival before you can actually use them on your chosen network.
By being able to search for unlocked iPhone handsets, and for a network, Swappa removes one of the biggest headaches when shopping for a used iPhone with the click of a button. When you add to that that every handset is checked for quality and functionality, you can sleep easy knowing that you’re shopping in the right place as there’ll be no nasty surprises hidden behind what at first looks like a super low price.
- Each handset is checked for quality and functionality
- Each handset is unlocked for use with any carrier
This online giant will be the name that first comes to mind for many of us. You can buy anything and everything on there, including a used, refurbished iPhone at a competitive price. Because there are so many sellers on there, you may see prices that appear far below those on other platforms, but when you see these apparent deals of a lifetime, I would always suggest proceeding with caution. There are some great vendors that offer refurbished unlocked iPhones but check their seller ratings and comments.
One thing to consider when approaching Amazon is that because they offer many vendors who sell on Amazon. Your buying experience mostly be the same from seller to seller. While there many talented and professional sellers, there is always room for that small number of people who spoil the experience for the rest of us. As mentioned before, double check that they are certified phones, unlocked and comes with a some assurance. The nice thing is Amazon has a solid return policy which is typically 30 days (double check the return policy with with product).
- Lots of vendors to get competitive pricing
- Fast delivery with Amazon Prime
- Great refund policy with Amazon
OTHER USED OR REFURBISHED PHONE OPTIONS
As with eBay, there are some great sellers, but unfortunately, there is always room for a small number of people who will make the buying experience less than your hard earned money deserves. With that in mind always consider if the deal you’re being offered sounds too good to be true.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that should you encounter a nightmare seller is blatantly out to make a quick buck then you may find it very difficult to recoup even a fraction of your outlay. Personally, this puts me off and is a reason why before shopping around for a phone, it’s definitely worth shopping around for the right online store
The last entry to consider is social media, and honestly, it should be the last place anyone looks. Anyone can post an ad on Facebook and ask you to wire them some money for a handset. Because it isn’t a properly established buying and selling platform you have virtually no protection should something go wrong. You’ll see all manner of ‘too good to be true’ offers on social media that offer iPhones for $50 but they simply aren’t worth the risk.
Ask yourself this: if someone really were able to find a uniquely cheap source of iPhones would they only be selling them through their Facebook profile?
How To Evaluate Your Phone
Evaluating your prospective phone is something that’s really important, and there’s a little more to it than merely checking the uploaded photos for any signs of scratches and cracks that run right across the screen.
Don’t worry though, this section of our handy How-To Guide covers everything you need to know and even goes through the questions you need to ask when buying online, in the exact order you need to ask them. That way you can be assured of making the right choice before you head to the checkout!
Step 1: Ask for the IMEI
Simply put: NEVER enter into a negotiation on price or delivery time until you have been given the IMEI. It’s the unique 15-digit code that is tied to that particular handset, and it’s what allows you to unlock it from its original network and use it anywhere you choose.
Forgetting to ask for the IMEI is like not asking for the keys to use it as you wish, and guarantees that you’ll be limited to a couple of high tariffs from the original network provider. If you’re in the market for a good quality used iPhone, then make sure you allow yourself the freedom and flexibility to shop around and find the right monthly contract for you, once your new handset arrives!
What if the seller can’t provide the IMEI? Don’t be fooled or feel pressured into going ahead anyway with vague promises of receiving it later on. Something is wrong with the phone, so you are best moving on to something else. After all, there’s plenty of choice out there, and you have no reason to feel rushed or pressured into finding something right there and then.
Step 2: Make sure it’s unlocked
If you’re buying a phone that’s advertised as being ‘Unlocked,’ ’Contract Free,’ or anything similar that the buyer wishes to call it in their listing, then you must make sure that’s the reality before handing over your hard-earned money.
While you can always unlock a phone at a later date, the most important thing here is to get what you’re paying for. Think of it this way: you’re paying a premium for an unlocked handset. If it turns out to be locked after all, then you’ll have paid a premium, and then you’ll have to pay again for it to be unlocked. Paying twice for the same thing is certainly not something you’ll feel good about.
Ask for proof from the seller. If you’re buying online, you could ask for screenshots with the handset functioning on the SIM cards from two or more networks. If you’re buying in person from a friend or someone you’ve found locally on social media, then take a SIM along with you and check the handset that way.
Alternatively what I like to do is save myself a headache right from the start and use Swappa. By searching their list of unlocked handsets, you can have the peace of mind that you’re getting exactly what you paid for.
Step 3: Make sure you know how to unlock your handset
If you’re buying from sites like Swappa.com, then you can just skip over this section. However, if you’ve decided to buy from somewhere else, or have opted to buy a locked phone, then read on…
Unlocking your iphone takes a few different steps, can typically take 48 hours to go through and can cost you money. If in doubt I would recommend always opting for an unlocked handset, even if the price difference does make the locked handset look like the better deal on the surface. If not, I have an article here to learn about the safe ways to unlock your phone.
The first thing you need to do will be to contact the current network provider and request that your handset is unlocked. They may ask for your IMEI. Alternatively, there are a large number of online businesses that will use your IMEI to unlock your iPhone by editing Apple’s database of handsets so that it appears to be unlocked to every carrier. What I would say about these services is that they can be hit and miss, so I would always opt for speaking directly with the current carrier in the first instance.
If you no longer have the original SIM card, then you’ll need to power down your handset before it can be unlocked. While it’s powered off insert a SIM issued by the network you want to use it on, and then power it back up.
If everything has been processed by the carrier, and they were happy to do so in the first place, then your handset should now be operational on your new network. What I would say is that the cost and time of this process can vary dramatically across different networks and devices. When you first get in touch make sure to ask how long it will take, how long it will cost, and get a direct number in case you encounter any delays or difficulties.
Step 4: Don’t Forget the Activation Locks
Activation locks can be a real headache if you buy your used handset from someone off eBay or social media. So, what is an activation lock and why do they cause so much hassle?
Your iPhone has a handy piece of software called ‘Find My iPhone’ that allows you to see where it is from any other iOS or Apple device. Its primary purpose is to assist you in getting your phone back should it be lost or stolen. It also allows you to remotely lock anyone else out of it until the handset is returned to you.
What some users find when shopping for used handsets is that they go through the unlocking process only to find that they’re prevented from using the phone due to the presence of the activation locks. This can be a real nightmare and often indicates that the phone you’ve bought has been stolen or inappropriately sold on. To read about ways to unlock your activation lock, click here.
Once again a quick and easy way to ensure you never encounter such issues is to use a reputable specialist seller like Swappa. Because they personally stand by the quality and integrity of everything sold on their platform you’ll have the security of an entire customer support team to fall back on in the event that your handset isn’t what you expected it to be. If you choose a potentially lower price option off of a random one-off Facebook seller, then you probably will never hear from the seller again, and your money will be long gone!
There is plenty of value out there if you’re looking to invest in an old phone, but do exercise caution when presented with deals that seem too good to be true.
If in doubt, choose the security of a reputable specialist seller who will provide the experience, range of choice, and customer service that your hard earned money deserves.