The market of electronic gadgets like cell phones is extremely dynamic, with newer models replacing the older lot very frequently. However, the latest models with upgraded features are far more expensive and may not suit everybody's pocket. This is the primary reason why people opt for used or 'pre-owned' phones. Secondhand phones can be bought online (through auction and other websites), through reliable phone dealers, or individual sellers. Buying gadgets from a stranger is not usually recommended as chances of being duped are high. A genuine seller guarantees a place to approach if issues arise after the purchase.
So what is it that you must keep in mind when scrutinizing various secondhand models for making the purchase? Let's have a look.
You Need to Look For
Several aspects must be kept in mind when selecting a cell phone. It is tough to find all the features that you need in a single phone. However, making the choice becomes easier if you prioritize your requirements. Do you need it only as a means of communication, or are you more interested in additional features like the camera, music player, a large screen, data transfer, etc. Think of the functionalities you want in your phone and accordingly check out the models. To make your selection easier, we have listed the aspects you must look out for when making the purchase.
Aspects Related to Service
Compatibility with Your Carrier
Specific phones are activated by specific wireless carriers. Every carrier has its own set of requirements for activating the service. Check with your carrier representatives to know if their service is compatible with Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) or Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA). A GSM model requires a Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) card, whereas a CDMA model is activated by providing the Electronic Serial Number (ESN) to the service provider. So pick a phone that will be compatible with your carrier to enjoy uninterrupted service.
Locked or Unlocked Phone
A locked phone is one which is locked by a particular service provider for a certain period of time, during which the subscriber is bound to use only their service and cannot switch to any other service even if he wishes to. Too offset this condition, the service provider either provides the handset for free, or at a hugely subsidized rate. On the contrary, an unlocked phone can be used with any service provider without any restriction. If you want to use the service of your choice of carrier, get an unlocked phone, but if you wish to use the carrier that is already associated with the phone, you can pick a locked model too. You will have to also keep in mind that unlocked phones will be more expensive than locked phones.
Check the coverage of a particular phone in the geographic location where you reside. Some models may not be compatible with a wireless carrier in a specific geographic region. This will help in avoiding unnecessary hassles later on.
Aspects Related to Functioning
A phone is subjected to wear and tear with continuous usage. When buying a brand new phone, one does not have to worry about this, however, a used phone must be checked properly for damage. The degree of damage speaks a lot about a phone's working condition and how it has been used. Look for peeled paint, scratches on the screen, improper fitting of the stylus in the slot provided, etc. Examine thoroughly and then decide the worth of the model. As a general rule, if the wear and tear is extreme, avoid buying the phone, even if the other aspects seem to be fine.
Keypad and Moving Parts
The keypad is essential to carry out all functions. It is therefore essential to test each and every key beforehand. Press keys several times and observe if any of them are running faulty. Some models have flaps, while some have sliders. These movable parts are highly susceptible to damage. A few drops and these parts can easily fail to function. So better take a look at these during the scrutiny.
Features like the camera, bluetooth, etc., are also things to watch out for. Do not forget to check the functioning of the phone's camera and the quality of images clicked by it. An old phone sometimes develops problems with the camera due to which the images clicked are not clear. Bluetooth is a feature which helps in data transfer. If you are likely to use this feature, make sure it is functioning properly. Try to send a file or two to some other mobile device to ascertain this aspect. Also, check installed software to make sure it is not outdated.
There is often a problem with batteries in secondhand phones. Though this aspect is difficult to test, a rough estimate would be the phone not using higher than ten percent of the battery at the time of testing. To be on the safer side, it is advisable to ask for a brief warranty period from the seller so that you can test the battery later.
Sound Reception and Quality
Improper sound reception during a conversion is a really bad experience which no one likes to experience. Therefore, try making a call from the phone you are wishing to finalize so that no doubt is left on this aspect. If possible, you can also ask a friend to make a call on the phone to check incoming call quality. Also interested in a nice music player? Then don't forget to plug in those earphones and listen to the sound quality.
A phone is usually supplied with several accessories like a charger, additional battery, mobile cover, connecting cables, earphones, etc. Ask for the ones that are supplied with the model of your choice, and do not forget to check their condition and functioning.
Aspects Related to Genuineness
IMEI stands for International Mobile Equipment Identity. This code is present on the phone as well as the pack and the receipt. It can be viewed by removing the battery from its place, as it is mentioned below it. This is a unique number which is assigned to a particular phone. No two models will have the same IMEI code. It must tally at all the three instances to ascertain two things. One, that the phone has its own main board in place and does not have a replaced one, and second, that it is genuine and not a stolen mobile.
It is also wise to ask for the Electronic Serial Number which is used by carriers to activate the service in CDMA models. By obtaining this number, you can verify whether the phone belongs to the seller (in case you are buying from an individual) or is reported as stolen. It also helps to check if the previous subscriber has pending bills, which you will have to pay in case you decide to continue the service.
When buying a secondhand piece from an unknown person, ask for an original copy of the receipt and other documents which were provided at the time of purchase. Ensure that the receipt is genuine and not fake. By going through these documents you will know how long it has been since the purchase, and whether the phone is still covered under the warranty period or not. If the warranty period is over, you can have a tough time getting it repaired if the phone develops problem after you buy it.
Other Aspects to Watch Out For
Give a thought to the offer price of the phone. Is it too good to be true, or is it far exceeding the price that you think is apt for it. Think on these lines and you will know if it is a fair deal or not. Reputed sellers intermittently offer discounts on used phones. Keep an eye for such deals in and around your area so that chances of getting a good deal are increased.
Year of Launch
Continuous improvement in electronic goods is the reason why new products are launched very often. With the advent of new and improved technology, older versions get outdated very soon. So when buying a secondhand phone, look for models that are launched not more than three years back . Purchasing something that is more than 5 years old has higher chances of getting outdated in the time to come.
It is safe to get a phone that is still covered under the manufacturer's warranty period. This would mean that the piece is not very old, and can be repaired free of cost if any problem arises. However, it is a bit tough to get such phones on the counter. So what you can do is ask the seller to provide a short warranty period, say around one week or ten days, so that the phone can be tried and tested properly.
This was a long list indeed. An alternative to used phones are refurbished phones which are sent back to the manufacturer to be rebuilt mostly due to incurred damage or technical issues. Exploring these phones can also get you a good deal. One last suggestion is to go through reviews on the Internet if you have finally decided on a specific model. This will help you in knowing what users have to say about it. Studying each and every point mentioned above will definitely help you in picking a phone that is good value for your money.