Tips when buying used phone

Here are some tips

  • Write down on the paper what you expect from your new phone
  • Check the market to see which phone suits your needs (maybe you will need to decrease your needs if you want cheaper price :))
  • Check some online classified ads or local paper ads
  • Ask if phone is locked to some network
  • Ask what comes with the phone (even if ads write everything, double check that it is right) (memory card, charger, guarantee list, box, data cable, headphones, car charger…)
  • Recognize the scam
  • Ask for IMEI number
  • Check if phone was stolen or lost (by IMEI number in phones database, )
  • Negotiate for price
  • Meet in public (check IMEI again, check the scratches, check total calls counter, make a phone call to see if everything works as it should and that phone has good signal, good speaker, microphone etc…)

Buying a mobile phone more detailed

Buying used cell phoneNowadays everyone has cell phone if not even two or more. Once you decided to buy new or used cell phone,  it often happens that you first need to get rid of your old cell and then buy a new one or newer then your current. Here are some tips with more details and you can check what is important and even what can you expect when selling your cell.

What kind of cell phone do you actually need?

Ask yourself why you need a new cell phone…

Functions with your new phoneMostly people buy a new or used cell becase old is for trash or because they saw a nice “must have” phone or because their contract with operator ended and now they have a chance to sign new multi years contract for a new cheaper cell phone.What functionalities do you really need?- calls (calling)
– messaging (SMS, MMS, E-mails)
– camera (photo, video)
– big screen (touchscreen?)
– data transfer (using email checking, surfing the web while your are moving)
– wireless access to internet (when you are near hotspots)
– long battery lifetime (big displays need a lot of energy)
– a lot of memory for pictures and movies
– and more…

Check all options and try to minimize your list of must have options. After this you should visit some web portals or read some other classified ads. Find brand which you like and choose cell phone model that you really like and that suits your needs and your pocket 🙂



What to ask the seller when you call him?

Call sellerA lot of those hints are on you to decide what kind of phone you are looking for… cheaper, expensive, just working, with camera, pink color or anything. Read this and make your own list what to ask.Double check ad details
When calling a seller, check if everything what is written in ads is really true. Ask for every detail (not technical specification but about phone condition). Sometime they write that everything is great and it couldn’t be better, but reality is much worse. Ask who used this phone and if the phone has scratches and maybe broken display or housing or anything.Ask what comes with the cell phone
Every phone nowadays comes with some equipment like memory card, charger, guarantee list, box, data cable, headphones, car charger… ask the seller what their phone comes with. Sometime they also sell some stuff from package separately.

How old is the cell phone?
Somebody is looking for more expensive phone which is almost new and somebody is looking for a working phone no matter how old it is… just to be cheap and working.

Tell the seller that you want to check if phone has blocked/stolen or lost status
Tell to seller that you want to check if the phone is stolen or lost. If seller don’t know how to find IMEI number tell him or her to press *#06#.  If seller starts looking for all kind of excuses think twice if you want to deal with this seller. Maybe seller will tell you that he don’t have it right now ask him to send it by SMS or call you when he/she checks it.

Locked or unlocked status
Some phones were bought cheaper with signing a contract and those phones can be branded by operators settings and could be also locked to work with only this operator. If you want to use this phone with other operator you need unlocked or not locked phone otherwise you will need to pay for unlocking.

Ask for guarantee list
Some sellers don’t have it but don’t believe on the first word that he lost it or that he/she will send it to you later and so on. Again it depends on what price range you are looking for.

Battery lifetime
Ask how many days in stand by or talking time can battery last.

Fresh images in original size
Ask to send you some fresh/new images of the phone pictured all around in original quality.

Recognize scammers
Also if you don’t have a chance to meet seller personaly, tell him that you will come to their city this week for some meeting and that you will have time to meet them. If they try to tell you that they are on vacation or business trip, that can mean that they want to scam you.

Some scammers will tell you to pay them first and that they will send you the phone afterwards… don’t pay! If they ask you for credit card number or any personal information don’t give it to seller. That could also mean that they are planning to make some identity theft!

Negotiate for price
A lot of sellers are ready to lower the price (at least a little). Ask and check what will happen. If you don’t ask you will not get lower price.

SIM cards
Some phones comes with SIM cards (in some countries) so you need to get more information about contract, plan, fees and other details. Some phones have data (internet) plan, but you will need basic (calls) plan so you will maybe need to pay for changing the plan. If you wan’t to downgrade the plan, you will possibly need to pay some cancelation fee. That means additional costs.

Electronic serial number (ESN)
Some companies (in some countries) use the ESN to see if the phone was stolen or lost and some of them also connected ESN with charging. If previous subscriber (you seller) did not pay all the expenses with this company, you will need to pay it before using the phone.

If you remember any other thing please write a comment on this lens and I will update the list that other users can read this.


Meet localy

If possible try to meet the seller while buying phone

Check your phones age

  • Check total calls counter
  • Check if phone has scratches or if it is somewhere broken
  • Check the IMEI number again if it is the same in the phone and on the phones back and the most important thing that the IMEI number is the same as the seller told you by the phone!!!


Check if the phone is unlocked

How can you know if the mobile phone is locked or not?

Locked mobile phone can be unuseful for you if it is locked to other network operator then you use.Best way is that you put your SIM card into the phone and try to make a call. If this works than it is fine to you. Mobile phone could still be locked but it is somehow fine. If you want to check if it is locked, than you should try to make a call from your SIM card and then to make a call from other SIM card but not from the same operater.Anyway sometime seller write down that phone is locked to operator, but they try to hide this information because they know that they will shrink buyers list with this info.

Some mobile phones can be unlocked online for FREE.


Buying phone online (eBay and others)

What to be aware of…

Write email to sellerWhen buying on eBay you need to check more things.

  • what kind of ad you are looking at (auction, regular ad)
  • check sellers feedbacks and don’t buy from those having 10 feedbacks or less
  • check location of seller
  • check shipping costs and where is seller ready to send the package (local, EU, USA, Worldwide…)
  • send email with questions to seller and see if it replies at all


What is IMEI number and how to check it

Where to find IMEI number

IMEI number is International Mobile Equipment Identity and it is something like serial number but for mobile phones and other stuff.

It can be found on the back of your mobile phone (under the battery) and it can be found in the phone. You can type *#06# and phone will show you IMEI in the phone. Both IMEI numbers must match. If they doesn’t match then somebody changed motherboard of the phone or somebody want to scam you.


IMEI number contains only numbers, so if it shows ans slashes (“/”) or any other character (*, -, ?, +) ignore it!

Watch some video about how to find IMEI number in/on your phone