Used iPhones are always in hot demand, and they’re a good option if you’re looking to save some money on an Apple smartphone. Like any second-hand purchase, there are some things you should check before you hand over your money.
It may seem like buying second-hand iPhones online is like playing a game of Russian roulette. However, it doesn’t have to be that way. There are several things that you can check with the seller before committing to a purchase.
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Here’s a quick checklist to help you out.
Table of Contents
Does the iPhone Turn On?’
Perhaps the most important thing to check is whether or not the iPhone powers up. This seems obvious, but some sellers may try and pass off an iPhone that won’t boot as having a dead battery. Don’t fall for this, and make sure the iPhone boots to the lock screen or “Hello” prompt.
Is Activation Lock Still Enabled?
Once the iPhone boots, you should hope to see a lock screen that invites the owner to enter a passcode. If you see a message about entering a password to activate the iPhone, the iPhone is possibly stolen. Even if it hasn’t been stolen, you can’t make use of it in this state so you’re best walking away. Insist that the seller activates the iPhone by entering their password. Activation Lock can be removed from an iPhone by disabling “Find My iPhone” under Settings > [Owner’s Name] > Find Me.
If the iPhone Has Already Been Erased
When meeting a seller, the iPhone may have already been erased, ready for sale. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it stops you from being able to test the device fully. You might notice a “Hello” or “Swipe to Begin” message if this is the case.
When checking for authenticity, ask the seller if there have been any previous repairs on the device and whether they were completed by an Apple-authorized service provider. Repairs in unauthorized centers can mean that the parts of the device may no longer be authentic.
How’s the Battery Health?
Lithium-ion batteries degrade over time, and any used iPhone is bound to have a battery that isn’t going to hold 100% of its original capacity. You can head to Settings > Battery > Battery Health to check two important metrics: maximum capacity and performance capability.
Maximum capacity will give you a rough idea of how much charge the battery now holds. Anything above 90% is good, but the lower the number the less time you’ll be able to go between recharges. What’s more important is the battery’s performance capability.
Next, determine if both the physical keys and screen are working. On a live video, ask the seller to press each physical button while paying attention to the iPhone response. Then ask the seller to demonstrate the basic iPhone hand gestures such as swipe, zoom, and tap.
Many older iPhones tend to have problems with their Home or Touch ID buttons. So, if you’re buying a phone with a physical button, don’t forget to ask the seller to demo these buttons while paying attention to the responsiveness of the device.
Aside from the absence of cracks on the iPhone’s camera, it’s important to also check if it works up to standard. In some instances, third-party repair centers have been known to swap out authentic iPhone camera parts with unauthorized ones.
When testing the second-hand iPhone camera, ask the seller to take photos with the device and show you the photo right afterward. Next, make sure to ask them to take photos using the front and back cameras. Then, check if the image looks clear to make sure that the iPhone camera is still working.
Do the Speakers and Microphones Work?
You can easily test the microphone recording something using Apple’s built-in Voice Memos app. Test the speaker playing back the recording, previewing a ringtone under Settings > Sounds & Haptics.
It’s also a good idea to check the earpiece volume, and the only way of doing so is by making a phone call. It can be really hard to use your iPhone if this speaker becomes damaged since the person on the other end of the phone may be too quiet or muffled. If you don’t have a SIM card in the iPhone for this, consider connecting to public Wi-Fi or a personal hotspot and using FaceTime instead.
With various open ports, iPhones are prone to water and dust damage, especially in earlier models. Ask the seller to test the ports by charging with a chord or, if applicable, plugging in speakers through the headphone jack.
Check the Other Buttons Too
Check to make sure the mute switch works correctly, located on the left side of the iPhone. Beneath this, you’ll find volume rockers. These buttons are useful for turning up call volume and taking photos, plus you’ll need to use them if ever you want to force restart your iPhone. The side button on the right side of the iPhone is used to wake and sleep your iPhone, invoke Siri, force restart, and access Apple Pay and other Wallet functions. Make sure everything works as expected, and feels good to press. A “mushy” button may be on the way out.