Tips When Buying Second Hand Phones
We’ve all been there. A mobile phone company unveils something new and fantastic and you have to have it, but the retail price is a bit out of your reach. You go and browse an online classifieds and lo and behold, there it is, the same handset just second-hand. Here’s where you need to stop.
Before you hit ‘buy it now’ or contact the seller and promise them everything, you should do some homework. Mobile phones are complicated and valuable pieces of technology, and you should take care when buying them second-hand to make sure that you’re getting the real deal.
Make sure you’re getting an Apple, not a lemon
Whatever phone you’re after, it’s important to be able to inspect it before you buy it. To this end, we warn against buying second-hand phones from individuals entirely over the internet. There are a number of online services that encourage buyers and sellers to meet (in a public place, for safety) to ensure that everything’s on the level.
Make it clear to the seller that you’re not buying if you can’t take it out of the box (if it comes with one) and play around a bit. Ensure that the screen is free of cracks, stuck/dead pixels and discolouration, and the wi-fi, the mobile data, the camera and any other features work. Bring an old SIM card and call your existing phone to check the microphone, sensor and speaker. This is something you’ll use every day, so take this opportunity to put the device through its paces and discover any problems now instead of two weeks from now.
Lost, Stolen, Blacklisted and Barred Devices
Being able to use the mobile data and call features will also reveal if the phone has been stolen. In Australia, stolen phones can be reported to the carrier and the handset can be blocked from accessing the network. This means that no matter how many SIM card changes and full restores the phone goes through, it will never fully function.
Buying a stolen phone can even land you in legal hot water. If there is suspicion that you knew or reasonably suspected the phone to be stolen and carried on with the sale anyway, you could be charged with receiving stolen property and face up to 10 years imprisonment. The rule of thumb is if it comes without any accessories, is still sealed in box and they won’t let you check it or simply sounds too good to be true, don’t touch it.
When checking if it’s stolen you can even save yourself some time and request the International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) of the handset and check it against the Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association database. If it says blocked, it’s been lost by or stolen from the original owner. Before you even meet them, request that they provide a picture of the IMEI displayed on the phone’s screen (easily done on any device) so you can verify it’s kosher. If it’s been recently stolen and it’s only just been reported, the AMTA database may not have been updated yet. Request that you meet a few days in the future and check regularly to ensure that it’s not been blacklisted.
If the device is in recovery mode, make sure you activate it first. If the device is an iPhone and has been synced with an Apple iTunes ID, the handset will not work without the original passcode and ID.
Best place to buy second hand iPhones
Many phone stores that offer second hand iPhones operate without a second hand dealer licence, creating a breeding ground for buying and selling stolen devices. Make sure that the retailer has been authorised by the Australian Fair Trade Commission. The company must be an authorised pawn broker and second hand dealer. This information should be clearly displayed in the store stating:
- the name of the licensee
- the licensee’s number
- the category of licence
Buying your iPhone from a licensed company ensures that the device has been checked against the national police records and will come with a valid warranty.
With a bit of planning and a whole lot of caution, you could be walking away with that shiny new handset for a fraction of the retail price. Be careful, do your homework and ask a lot of questions and you’ll be happy. If anything ever happens to it or if it’s in good but not great condition, bring it to the team at FoneFix and we’ll get you sorted.