First time buying an iPhone - things to look out for?

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by indypacer, Mar 27, 2011.

  1. indypacer macrumors newbie

    Mar 27, 2011
    I'm buying an AT&T iPhone 4 tomorrow from a person on Craigslist. I just have a couple questions to make sure I don't get, um, hustled. As someone who is on Verizon and not due to upgrade for another 8 months, I have no experience in either iPhones or GSM phones. The phone is a gift for my girlfriend, so I can't bring her along to test it out or anything.

    I know that with Verizon if a phone is reported lost/stolen, they blacklist the ESN and it can't be activated. I know AT&T uses sim cards, but is there anything similar that would keep the phone from being activated once a card is popped in? Since I don't have AT&T, I can't just put in my own card to see if it works, that's why I want to be sure.

    Also, if the phone powers on, am I free to assume that as long as the buttons and sound and everything is functional, then it's good to go? Occasionally I see broken iPhones being sold that say they won't sync to iTunes or something else that I would assume could be fixed with a hard reset (assuming iPhones have them?). I may or may not be getting a sync cable with the phone, so I won't really have a way to test this out.

    Basically, is there anything I really need to watch out for beyond making sure the phone itself is functional?

    Sorry for the highly novice level of these questions. I know I could just Google for the answers, but I always see conflicting bits of data. Since I'm getting the phone tomorrow, I felt it would be more useful to get advice directly from people who are familiar with the the iPhone and able to help me out.
  2. Pink∆Floyd macrumors 68020


    Nov 21, 2009
    Up There
    If anything turns out to be faulty, you can always make a Genius appointment and have it replaced
  3. Reach9 macrumors 68020


    Aug 17, 2010
    In America
    Dude, why not wait for an iPhone 5, or wait until it's out and the price for the iPhone 4 will drop big time.

    Anyway, just make sure the screen and the phone itself is functional, and switch it on in front of him if you can and check the phone out before paying!
  4. wordoflife macrumors 604


    Jul 6, 2009
    No, AT&T will not blacklist your phone.
    Make sure that all the buttons work nicely.

    Also, check the moisture sensors on the phone. That way if anything is wrong with it, you can take it to Apple and get it replaced. If the moisture sensors are red, it means that the phone might have been exposed to water, and Apple will not cover it if there is a problem by chance.

  5. ap3604 macrumors 68000

    Jan 11, 2011
    Watch out though! This weird experience happened to a friend of mine :eek:

    Sometimes people will have insurance on their iPhone, claim it lost to insurance to get a new one, and sell the "lost" one on Craigslist.

    If that happens and you buy the "lost" one and take it to an Att store they will look up the IMEI # in their system. If they see that it was claimed lost they will actually take it from you and return it to the "original owner."

    I remember my friend was like "WTF are you talking about?! I bought this off of Craigslist!!!" and the manager was like "Nope sorry, you bought stolen property and we are keeping it and returning it to its rightful owner." :(

  6. X2468 macrumors regular

    Mar 21, 2011
    You are taking a HUGE RISK with your hard earned money. There's so much that could be wrong with a used phone. Especially if it's been taken apart.
    I'd avoid buying any used phone from a total stranger.
  7. ajohnson253 macrumors 68000


    Jun 16, 2008
    +1 this
  8. AndrewR23 macrumors 68040

    Jun 24, 2010
    Plus, be careful. Craigslist is a scary place/depends where you live. When I used to live in Sacramento, it was very dangerous but not at all in Orange County.
  9. Zermelo macrumors regular

    Nov 18, 2010
    I use craigslist all the time. To both buy and sell items. And I live in NYC. The key to using using craigslist is like buying anything else used: COMMON SENSE. If the person you're buying from has any type of integrity, they will be more than willing to test the item out in front of you. I have bought: two iphone 3gs, my iphone 4, my PS3, my Wii, lots of car audio equipment all from craigslist. They are all still working and I have had no problems with any of them.

    Of course, it is possible to get hussled. But this is much more likely if you're greedy and impatient. If someone isn't willing to test it out, then don't buy it. If it looks different than in the picture(s) then don't buy it. Use your intuition about the seller and the item. I would rather use craigslist than Ebay. I'd rather see the items and test them hands-on than hope that the seller is making an accurate statement, and if not, file a claim.

    It depends on what type of person you are. If you're generally paranoid or have honestly gotten swindled in the past because you didn't take the time out to do your homework or were impatient or were too trusting or didn't judge the character of the seller right, then you probably shouldn't use craigslist.

    Finally in using common sense judge the situation. When I bought my PS3, the I guy I bought it from let me in his house, turned it on with his kids there, let me use the controller and play a game. I mean, the guy trusted me and went out his way before I showed him any cash. The same thing when I bought my 3gs, the guy still had his setting and sim card in it right up until he sold it to me, and before that he let me put my T-Mobile sim in it to show me that it was unlocked. That is the most you can expect from people. The rest is on you to figure out if something smells fishy or not.

    The people I see who fear buying stuff on craigslist are usually people who have never bought stuff on craigslist themselves, and listen to the horror-stories and believe that is the norm. It's like believing that pedophiles are every other person on the internet.
  10. iHeartapple2 macrumors 6502


    Jun 29, 2010
    I personally would not give my girlfriend a used phone for a gift. Why not just get her the iPhone 3GS for $49? It will be a brand new phone and if she likes it then maybe upgrade to the iPhone 4 or iPhone 5 this summer. Most girls are not into tech like us guys so she would probably be more than happy with the 3GS and you wouldn't have to worry about get scammed.
  11. indypacer thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 27, 2011
    All, thanks for the responses. Wordoflife, I really appreciate you pointing out the moisture sensors. I knew they were there, but I hadn't even thought to check them.

    ap3604 - Your post was exactly what I was worried about. I contacted the seller and requested we meet at an AT&T store.

    Generally, I'm not too worried. I deal on Craigslist a lot and I've never had a bad experience. But with a high-value item like this that I'm not totally familiar with, I thought it would be beneficial to do my homework. You guys really helped a lot. Also, to those questioning why I don't wait for the iPhone 5 or just get her a 3GS - just trust me, I've explored all options and I know what I'm doing. :)

    One last thing - even if I buy the phone used and something's wrong with it, I can set up a Genius appointment? Would I have to pay since I'm not the original owner or is the warranty transferable? That just seems like insanely good customer service if it's the latter.
  12. sbddude macrumors 6502a

    Sep 27, 2010
    Nor Cal, USA
    My advice:

    1. Check the serial number online at
    2. Bring a laptop so you can get past the "connect to itunes" screen.
    3. If it's a 3G or 3GS, avoid firmware 06.15.00 because it might not have working GPS.
    4. Agree with the others to meet at an ATT store. either ask the seller to make a test call with their existing SIM card, or ask a employee to borrow one to make a test call.
    5. Since you are buying on CL, you can sign up for an ATT account with no commitment. You might even get the activation fee waived.
    6. Check for scratches, all buttons working, water damage indicators as already mentioned
    7. if the original box is missing, ask why. A stolen phone is likley to be missing the box.
    8. check the SIM card tray which is stamped with the IMEI, match that number against the IMEI in settings - general - about
    9. If you plan on jailbreaking, get 4.2.1 or earlier
    10. if you plan on unlocking, get 4.0.2. or earlier
  13. EvilEvil macrumors 6502a


    Jan 8, 2007
    New York City
  14. sbddude macrumors 6502a

    Sep 27, 2010
    Nor Cal, USA
    How is this helpful to the OP?

    It's for his girlfriend who already has AT&T.
  15. alent1234 macrumors 603

    Jun 19, 2009
    i salute you OP, people like you paid for my iPad 2

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