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Over time, smartphones have become somewhat of a paradox: they have ranked up so high in everyone lifestyle habit that they have become essential devices for our day-to-day communication. So much essential that almost no one holds a landline anymore. But those little things don’t come cheap… However, going down the “used” route for a new smartphone comes with some risks and sometimes does not make up for a good investment… In this blog, we will discuss 6 things to consider when you buy a used smartphone.

What are things to consider when buying a used smartphone?

As they nurture more and more technology, they are actually getting more and more expensive! Wether looking at the IPhone or flagship Android brands like Samsung, Sony or LG, one can find themselves quite outbid in regard of the prices of new devices. And as it happens, the concept of second hand has gained the smartphone market and it’s now possible to one  of the latest IPhone devices for a fraction of the price…

1 – Focus on the functionality that you are looking for in your next smartphone

The very first things to consider is the functionality, or feature(s), you are after instead of a specific device. Indeed, when shopping for something, we always tend to lock our interest based on conversation we might have with others, or media heard or read in the media… That functionality or feature is all that we need, but the device we’re set on comes with a brand and other characteristics that we don’t necessarily have any use of. Maybe we don’t care that much about the brand… All that (really) matters is that we get that specific feature on our new phone!

In such an instance, it is beneficial to dig a bit deeper and enlarge the scope of our research to see there could be a more lower-range device with the same specifications. Sometimes, picking a slightly older device (one or generations up) could be sufficient to get what you’re after. These models will likely be cheaper than the latest one, and you will get a warranty on something that you are buying as new. 

2 – Don’t buy a smartphone that is too old

Usually, even the most reliable smartphones will wear off past the 4-5 years of age mark. Therefore, when you buy a used smartphone, it is important to perform some thorough background check on the device. You should also gather as much information on it, especially the time it has been used. Buy something that is too old and you could soon be in for a new battery, screen or any other costly component that could cost way more than what you saved in the first place… Plus you’ll still have to buy a new device in the end.

3 – Beware of the trade-off of buying a used smartphone

Sometimes, we’re so keen to get what we are after: that new smartphone that we think we are ready to cope with any possible trade-off that might occur from buying a used smartphone. Still, like with any other used item, it is very important  to consider the fact that there will be any warranty available in this instance something is wrong with the device. Therefore, you could incur additional costs to have it repaired or buy some missing accessories that would have been included with any new smartphone.

Also, it’s important to remember that this used smartphone had a life before you, and most of that history will likely remain unknown to you (unless you are buying it from someone you know). Maybe the device ended in the water at some point. Maybe it was exposed to extreme temperatures and has gone through several repairs already… Or it might still be locked for specific carrier…

Chance are the device will have a few cosmetic “normal wear and tear” marks… You will have to be OK with this.

4 – Gather as much history as possible on a used smartphone, ask details, and avoid stolen goods

Obviously, it doesn’t cost much to enquire a bit about the device before buying it second hand… You will want to know about its history but also when did the seller purchased it initially (ideally with some sort of proof), like you would for a car! It the seller is not showing as transparent on that, it might a sign that the opportunity isn’t much of a deal after all.

It is also a safe move to do a bit of research beforehand. In particular, check if software updates will remain compatible for that device long term, especially for Iphone.  

Alternatively, in order to stay clear from the risk of buying stolen goods, it always a good idea to run a quick search on the device IMEI number (aka the identification number) of the device. You will find it on a device packaging (if available) or by dialing *#06# on the phone itself. Make a note of this number and run a search on if you are in Canada. 

5 – Pay attention to the look of that used smartphone you would like to buy

Again, It does make sense to keep an eye on those dents and other kind of marks. These will probably be actual “normal wear and tear”. But sometime it is be the sign that the device has been poorly attended to. Therefore, it may not be worth the investment.

Think about it. If the smartphone has too much scratches and dent, maybe at some point it has ended up scattered on the floor, and has undergone one a several major repairs already… This history can be a down factor to buying a used device. Indeed, some repairs like the screen can impact the integrity of other components. That could cost you more money down the road.

6 – Consider refurbished smartphones

Although it can seem like a more sustainable (and economical) choice, buying a used smartphone doesn’t always make sense. The decision can leave us exposed for further expenses due to underlying issues, missing accessories and contractual conditions (locked devices)… And it seems safer to lean towards buying a new device instead… Actually, refurbished smartphone are an alternative to that.

What is a refurbished smartphone?

Refurbished items are reassembled with parts from other devices and made like new. Manufacturers test the devices before putting them back on the market and these come with warranty. When you buy refurbished, you still enjoy some savings on your purchase and you have assurance that the device has been mended-to and it is reliable. Plus, you’re helping recycling existing component and didn’t involved more mining, manufacturing and shipping. So you are making a purchase that is eco-friendly. That’s counts for something, doesn’t it!

7 – Consider budget-conscious new smartphones

Buying a new smartphone doesn’t necessarily needs to feel like you are taking a new mortgage. Nowadays, there is a decent offer for low/entry budget devices that don’t sacrifice on feature and/or performances! Check out our selection on the best smartphones under $500 for more details.

Wrapping it up

Should you buy a new or a used smartphone?

When buy a smartphone (new or used), there are several points to consider in order to decide wether it is a good choice to buy your phone new or used:

  1. Focus on the functionality that you are looking for in your next smartphone.
  2. Don’t buy a smartphone that is too old
  3. Beware of the trade-off of buying a used smartphone
  4. Gather as much history as possible on a used smartphone, ask details, and avoid stolen goods
  5. Pay attention to the look of that used smartphone you would like to buy
  6. Consider refurbished smartphones
  7. Consider budget-conscious new smartphones

Considering these will help you to make an informed decision as per your own expectations for your new device, your budget and your values as a consumer, while avoiding caveats (if you go with a used device) or overspending (if you go new).