Tips for Buying Used iPhone or Android Smartphone : Smart Guide to Second Hand Handset Purchase

Nothing beats the thrill of unboxing a fresh, newly purchased Apple iPhone or Android smartphone; Touching the shiny plastic cover, holding the crisp box, removing the stickers, and smelling the brand new device. Ah, the feeling never gets old. I don't think anyone - even tech bloggers who unbox and review gadgets for a living - can ever get tired of it.

However, I am not one to look down upon mobile consumers who prefer to spend their hard-earned cash on a second hand handset. After all, given the state of the global economy, it does make a lot of sense to be practical in making gadget purchases -- provided it is done with wisdom and caution.

Tips for Buying Second Hand iPhone

If you get lucky, you can actually buy a used, beastly flagship-level handset released several months to a year ago for the price of a brand new, moderately powerful midrange smartphone. So yes, it can be seen as very practical and rather smart.

One should note, though, that buying a used iPhone or Android smartphone these days is not ask risk-free as we all would want it to be. The truth is, there are potentially a lot of problems and issues that you may have to deal with and if you are not careful, you can even get yourself in deep trouble simply for getting a second-hand device. This is exactly why a huge percentage of mobile consumers still prefer buying brand-new smartphones over ones that are already used.

In this light, for those who are still determined to spend their money on a second-hand iPhone or Android handset, allow me to give you these smart tips and guidelines that may want to consider  when making such purchase.

1. Make sure you are not buying a stolen gadget.

Here in the Philippines, under Presidential Decree no. 1612 or The Anti-Fencing Law of 1979, you can get imprisoned for buying a stolen item.

Fencing is defined as the act of any person who, with intent to gain for himself or for another, shall buy, receive, possess, keep, acquire, conceal, sell or dispose of, or shall buy and sell, or in any other manner deal in any article, item, object or anything of value which he knows, or should be known to him, to have been derived from the proceeds of the crime of robbery or theft.

There values penalties for fencing, which includes the penalty of prision mayor, if the value of the property involved is more than 12,000 pesos but not exceeding 22,000 pesos. If the value of the item in question exceeds the latter sum, the penalty provided in this paragraph shall be imposed in its maximum period, adding one year for each additional 10,000 pesos; But the total penalty which may be imposed shall not exceed twenty years. In such cases, the penalty shall be termed reclusion temporal and the accessory penalty pertaining thereto provided in the Revised Penal Code shall also be can get imprisoned for buying a stolen item.

Yes, it is definitely scary -- so make sure you are not buying a stolen handset, you can do the following:

1. Ask for receipts and make sure the name of the seller matches what's written on the papers.
2. Ask if the seller still has the box and the included accessories for the iPhone or Android phone you are buying. Then check if the IMEI number on the box matches the handset's IMEI number.
3. If you want to be extra sure, ask for a notarized certificate of ownership -- but be prepared to spend more on the purchase.

2. Get to know the seller.

Avoid entering into any deal with a shady character who tends to operate from the shadows. A legit seller shouldn't have any issues disclosing his or her full name. Try to check the social media accounts of the person and trust your 'gut feeling' before you make up your mind.

It's also important for you to be able to still get in touch with the seller after you've purchased the unit in case you have questions or if you run into problems after a couple of days using the smartphone.

3. Don't be afraid to ask questions and don't just rely on photos.

Don't be shy in asking relevant inquiries to the seller about the device that's up for purchase. After all, you worked hard for money so it's but right for you to be cautious before spending it.

Ask if the unit has any superficial or functional damage. Is the body or the screen scratched? Are the cameras working? Does the unit require internal repair?

You might want to ask the seller to submit actual unit photos of the device. However, you shouldn't come to a decision based solely on the images that were shown to you.

Many sellers are actually good with just meeting up with potential buyer to show the unit that's being sold with no commitment to finalize the deal.

4. Research about the exact iPhone or Android smartphone model that you are buying and make sure that its key features are working on the used unit that you're buying.

Be familiar with the main characteristics and technical specifications of the handset that you want to buy. If you won't do that, you can easily be tricked into purchasing anything but the genuine article.

For instance, the Apple iPhone 6 and Apple iPhone 6S look rather identical. But the latter is available in Rose Gold, has a faster processor, and comes with 3D Touch screen technology.

Also, the Samsung Galaxy S6 and Samsung Galaxy S7 have almost similar design language. However, the newer model has IP68 Water Resistant, has less protruding camera bump at the back, comes with a microSD card slot, and has a more powerful processor.

See? You have to know the features of the smartphone that you want to get -- and you can do that by reading tech blogs, watching videos on Youtube, and talking to tech experts about the model.

When the seller hands you the unit, inspect it and make sure that the key features of the handset are working flawlessly.

Here's a step-by-step inspection process that you can on the device after you've made sure that it's not stolen:

1. Check the shell of the handset for scratches and dents.
2. Use a piece of cloth to remove oil or grime on the touchscreen and inspect it for scratches and cracks. Is the oleophobic coating intact?
3. Click on the hardware buttons and make sure they are 'clicky' and not 'depressed' or 'sticky'.
4. Turn the device on and take note of the boot time. If the seller has reset the unit, set it up. This will also give you a good opportunity to test if the fingerprint scanner or facial recognition features are working.
5. Once you reach the home screen, swipe through the interface to check if the touchscreen is working flawlessly. If your iPhone is supposed to have 3D Touch, check if it's working.
6. Launch the rear camera, snap photos, and record short videos. Make sure that the LED flash is working. Check the quality of the images and clips.
7. If the phone has a multiple rear camera module, check if the features that it supports are present like zooming or portrait bokeh effect.
8. Launch the selfie camera and try it out. Check if the supported features are there like AI Beauty or Portrait Bokeh if those are available.
9. Connect to WiFi or install your SIM card to the phone and turn on mobile connectivity. This also gives you a chance to test if the connectivity features of the unit are working and if the SIM card tray doesn't have issues.
10. You should be able to log-in to Apple Store or Google Android Play Store.
11. Download and install Antutu Benchmark Test app, check for the hardware listing of your phone, and run the test. Compare the result that you got with the average score for the smartphone model. It has to be close.
12. Download and install Touchscreen Test app, check if the entire display doesn't have touchscreen problems.
13. Take note of Battery Drain in the amount of time that you tested with the handset. It shouldn't be tremendous or out of the ordinary.
14. You can ask the seller to install your favorite game on the unit ahead of time and try playing it on the device. Check for lags or stuttering.
15. Launch Maps app and check if location services are working.
16. If the handset is IP Certified Water-Resistant, ask the seller if he or she has run into problems as regards water entering the phone. Testing this might be tricky because if the unit is not entirely sealed you may end up damaging it even before buying it.
17. Open the web browser and try surfing. The experience should be flawless.
18. Try transferring photos or connecting another gadget like a pair of earphones or a speaker via Bluetooth.
19. Bring a pair of wired headphones on the day you test the unit. If the handset has a 3.5mm audio jack, plug it in and listen to music. The audio experience should be smooth.

Side Note: You might also want to bring someone knowledgeable about the handset who can help you test if the device is working well. Being with someone you know can also give you added protection and security when you meet up with the seller -- just as a precautionary measure.

5. Ask for 1-week personal warranty from the seller.

You should be able to get full refund from the seller in case the iPhone or Android smartphone that you purchased acts up after a day or two. Just be sure you're not the one who inflicted damage on the device because that's bad.

6. Is the handset still under manufacturer warranty?

If you're lucky and handset that you're buying is still covered by official warranty, ask the seller to give you the required documents - like warranty certificate, warranty card, or official receipt - for enjoying after-sales service at authorized repair centers.

Alright! There you have it.

I guess the most important thing to keep in mind when buying used stuff is that you can always say no or walk away from the deal if you notice something wrong in the unit while you are testing it. Never be forced into buying something that you know won't be right for you.

That's it for now. I hope you found this TechPinas blog post useful and informative. If you did, I hope you can share this with your friends in social media. I'll try to add more tips soon. 

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