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What to look out for when buying a second-hand phone

Published 6 November 2015 by

With technology moving as quickly as it does, new smartphones now come out once every few months. As it can be hard to keep up with this constant cycle, choosing to opt for a second-hand model could a good budget option. Buying second-hand can work out much cheaper and you could nab yourself a decent phone in the process – after all, for every top of the range model there’s a previous version that works just as well.

With any second-hand product, there are certain things to look out for before making a purchase. To make sure you’re not duped, here are a few basics to check:

Security checks

When buying a second-hand phone from an independent seller, one thing to prioritise is to check the history of the phone before purchasing it. You can use CheckMEND to do this – they are an online searchable database for stolen phones (as well as other electronic goods).

For the cost of £1.99, they will provide you with a full report history of a product. This will detail whether the phone is currently or has ever been blocked, is lost or stolen or still has finance on it from a previous owner (e.g. if there’s 12 months left on a contract). The information provided should give you a better idea of whether you’d want to purchase the phone or not.

All in the detail

Let’s face it – certain smartphones look very similar. For example, would you be able to tell an iPhone 5 from a 5S? If not, make sure to arm yourself with enough information about the model beforehand. If you want to purchase an iPhone, you can use this website to check the model number is correct for the particular phone you’re looking for.

To check a Samsung Galaxy phone, remove the battery and the model number should be listed beneath. You can then just type this into Google to confirm the model. General information about the model should help you make your decision as well – for example, the iPhone 4 does not come with Siri but the iPhone 4S does.

If you’re buying online from sites like eBay, these details will be harder to check but you should still question the seller by asking them specifications about the phone.

Buyer protection

Even if you do all of the appropriate checks on your end, you could still fall victim to a dishonest seller. To make sure you’re protected against this, go through reputable sites like eBay, as you’ll receive protection under their Money Back Guarantee. If going through another site, insist on paying via PayPal so that you can take advantage of their Buyer Protection.

Alternatively, using your credit card to pay for a purchase over £100 will mean that you’re protected under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act. By law, the seller and your credit provider are equally liable if anything were to go wrong with your purchase, meaning that you could claim your money back from either of the two.

If you’d prefer to buy a new smartphone but want to stay within your budget, read our guide.