Tips Tips for Buying Used iPhone

September 10, 2013

Will you be one of the first in line to snap up the new Apple iPhone 5C or 5S? Or will you be looking for bargains on the older yet still popular devices?

While the new iPhone 5C will cost $99 to $199 on a two-year plan and the snazzy 5S up to $399 on a two-year plan, smartphones not on a plan can cost up to $700 or more. This makes makes the used cellphone market especially attractive to those wanting to save money. Used cellphones are widely available online at reCommerce sites and via classified and auction sites.

Whether you’re trying to unload your old iPhone or acquire a used one, do your research before jumping at what seems like a great deal. It may not be.

If you’re buying a cellphone from an individual, you’ll want to make sure the phone has not been reported lost or stolen. You can do this by asking for the  phone’s unique identification or serial number and checking it at free online services. By doing this, you’ll also learn if the phone is blocked due to an unpaid bill. Refurbished phones sold by the carrier or reseller, however, should already have been vetted to ensure they’re clear.

Before making the purchase, check the phone from all angles for potential damage, make sure the screen is uncracked and works, check all physical buttons and look for discoloration near the charging port and battery, which could indicate water damage.

BBB also advises:

  • If you're purchasing or selling a phone from an online reseller, check out the company’s BBB Business Review at You’ll see it’s rating, possibly customer reviews, and if there is a pattern of complaints.

  • If you’re going through an online auction site to purchase a phone, check the seller’s history and rating. Pass if the seller has a low score.

  • If you’re buying a phone via an online classified ad, insist on making the transaction in person to ensure there is indeed a phone and that it’s in acceptable condition.