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Before you buy a used phone
by Fly Buy Phone Fix                                                                                                                                           
December 10, 2014

So you want to buy a phone but the high price of buying a new phone without a contract seems too steep or getting in a two year contract doesn’t sound like a great proposition.  After all, if you don’t like the phone or the carrier, you are stuck in a two (2) year contract.  And the fees for getting out of the contract are not attractive either.

So now you are in the market for a used phone but one that is in great condition and fits your needs.  Here at Fly Buy Phone Fix we want to make sure you are in the know when buying a used phone.  As we have discovered over the years of buying phones, we have compiled a list of tips to do a complete check before you buy.

Make sure the phone you are looking to buy has a clean ESN.

What do we mean by clean ESN?  Phones can be reported as lost or stolen and carriers can blacklist the phone (due to the contract was terminated without the early termination fee being paid), which basically makes the phone a paper weight.  You won’t be able to activate it.  And depending on how you bought it, you may be out the money you paid for it.

Before you even meet to buy the phone, ask for the IMEI/MEID number depending on what type of phone you are buying and check that number to see if it is clean and you can activate it. So how do you check the phone’s IMEI/MEID number?  There are a number of websites that you can check to see the status or you can call the carrier and ask them. Also, ask the seller if the phone is listed as stolen, lost, or otherwise listed as restricted that would prevent activation.  If what they say and what you find out are not the same, move on.  Why deal with a dishonest seller.

For future iPhone owners, make sure the phone is off the owners iCloud account.iCloud Activation Status
If the iPhone is on the owner’s iCloud account, it will just become an expensive iPod and you will not be able to activate it.  With the IMEI/serial number in hand, go to Check Activation Status.  This will tell you if the phone is iCloud locked and whether you need to ask the seller to remove it from their account.

Make sure the phone they say they are selling is actually the phone they are selling. 

iPhone capacity

So many times have we run across someone selling a 4 and it’s a 4S or the complete opposite.  They say it’s a 4s and it really is a 4.  Know how to detect what you are buying.  Check by going to settings or hold t

he home button to see if Siri comes up if it is supposed to be a 3s, 4s, or 5s. 

Also, check out what capacity the phone has by going to Settings, General, About, scroll down to Capacity to make sure if they are telling you it is a 16 GB, it will be less than 16 GB but greater than 8 GB.  This holds true for whatever capacity you are buying with the phone.

Check the phone completely out first before buying.  

If it doesn’t have enough power to power on, request to plug the phone in so you can look at it.  Here are a few more tips on checking a phone when you have it in your hand:

Make sure the phone is not water damaged.

The phone will have either a red dot or will show red x’s in the dock connector housing or the headset jack. Aim a flashlight into the jack. If there is red, there’s water damage.  To check the various spots where specific indicators are, check out: Apple Support. Also, ask the seller while you are looking at the phone, if there is any other damage to the phone, aside from any cosmetic/water damage.  

Check for dents and major scratches.
Dents could mean more than cosmetic damage.  It’s possible it could mean internal damage as well.  If there is a dent, ask the seller about it and ask questions if anything is not working correctly. 

Check the ports for any damage.
If there is damage to the port, it’s possible it may not charge properly.  Again ask questions. 

Camera check

Take a picture and a selfie.  If either picture is blurry, the camera could be damaged.

Check all the buttons to make sure they work properly and do what they are supposed to do.
This may sound silly but phones can be sensitive.  If a phone gets damaged in any way things may not work the way they are supposed to. 

Check the headset port.
Look in the headset port, if it shows red there is water damage.  If it doesn’t show red, still plug a headset in to check if the sound is good.  If there is static or it doesn’t sound right, there could be internal damage.  

Make a test call
Call yourself, or have someone call the phone.  Also it would be a good idea to make a test text message to make sure that feature works too.

Be leery of a jailbroken phone. 
Jailbroken phones can bring a lot of issues with it.  Make sure to ask the seller if they jail broke the phone or if the phone had a previous owner if the seller knows if that person jail broke the phone.

Check the WiFi
Go to your settings, if your WiFi is greyed out, then there is damage to the phone.


The main key is to protect YOU.  Always do the checks on any phone you buy.  When meeting, meet in a well lit, high traffic public area.  That way you will be able to really look at the phone and see any damage it may have.  And trust your gut feeling, if you don’t feel comfortable with the transaction just walk away.  There will always be another phone out there that meets your specifications.  

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