What to look for before buying a used iPhone?

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by Denis54, Jul 14, 2012.

  1. Denis54 macrumors member

    Mar 24, 2011
    I do not use my phone much but I would like to have an iPhone. I plan on buying a used 3GS or alternatively an iPhone 4 if I get a good price.

    What should I look for before I buy? I do not want to end up with a stolen phone. I plan on making sure the seller has the original box and all original accessories. Anything else I should ask for?

    Physically, is there any weak point (like the Home button) I should check?
  2. RocketRed macrumors 6502a

    Jan 25, 2012
    1. Clean IMEI serial - Make sure it isn't stolen!

    2. Can receive and send calls/texts - The main functions of a phone!

    3. Can access internet (wifi and 3g) OK - The main function of a smartphone!

    4. Warranty (if any) - Support is better than no support

    5. The screen - Any Yellow tints/dead pixels?

    I'd also check for the sensitivity of the touchscreen and the battery but those require more.. technical skills.
  3. sharpycl macrumors 6502


    May 25, 2009
    Gaithersburg, MD
  4. charlieegan3 macrumors 68020


    Feb 16, 2012
  5. batting1000 macrumors 604

    Sep 4, 2011
    The most important thing you can do is, if at all possible, to meet the person at either a carrier store (the one you'll be activating it on; an AT&T store, etc) so they can verify it is not stolen or any of that.

    Also make sure it's in good condition / usable condition. Don't pay the person till it is activated on the network and you have verified it works properly.
  6. nikot macrumors newbie

    Jul 20, 2010
    ALWAYS always always check for water damage. There are white sensors in the headphone jack and dock connector that will turn pink when water has touched them.

    I have been flipping iphones on craigslist and ebay since the original. So many that I lost count. I went to buy a 4s for my girlfriend and pretty much broke all of my rules for transactions. Met at night in a TGI Friday's parking lot, didn't thoroughly check the phone. In this case I ended up spending 50 bucks replacing with shipping & extra parts to fix her phone. It would charge but would lose the connection on and off so you could sit there and listen to it chime away...

    Bring a pentalobe screw driver if you are so inclined and open up the back. Sometimes there is a little water residue inside that is noticeable.
  7. Denis54 thread starter macrumors member

    Mar 24, 2011
    "Clean IMEI serial - Make sure it isn't stolen!"

    What does "clean IMEI" mean? Is there any way I can check the IMEI to make sure it has not been stolen?
  8. RocketRed macrumors 6502a

    Jan 25, 2012
    A clean IMEI means the phone has not been reported as stolen. Imagine if John Smith lost his iPhone in a club from party rocking too hard. The next morning he goes to AT&T and reports that his phone has been stolen. AT&T will blacklist his IMEI serial number so if Mary Jane uses John Smith's phone, it will not be "clean". If Mary Jane brought the phone to AT&T and they check the serial number, they'll know it is stolen.

    As another poster above has mentioned, when you're buying a used iPhone, make sure you do it in your local carrier store (e.g Sprint/AT&T/Verizon/Cricket/Virgin). A representative can help you check if the IMEI is clean.
  9. noteple macrumors 65816


    Aug 30, 2011
    I'm partial to buying a phone that is currently on a carrier and can be demonstrated making and receiving calls and text messages.

    Buyer beware of phones not charge, no longer being used.

    May not even be an iPhone check for current iOS

    Not interested in jailbreaks or funky unlocks on wacky carriers.

    Nothing against that stuff but buy it the way you plan to use it.

    Screen, camera, speaker phone, volume, home and power keys should all work.
    Mute vibrate function should be checked.

    Serial number check on Apples site for current warranty and AppleCare is a plus.

    I would check for water damage and indicators the best I could, but sellers do cheat.

    If I was selling a phone there is no way I would let anybody take a screw driver to it for any reason.

    At the minimum I want the Apple charge and sync cable.
    Earbuds or box missing not a deal breaker. Don't need someone else's earwax and won't be using the box to make calls.

    The serial number should be the same across box, phone, and receipt, or better have a Good story why not.

    Safety is a concern, bring a friend and use a very public place.
    Don't get mugged for phone or your cash if the sale goes south.
  10. henriknorem macrumors member

    Mar 11, 2012
    Haugesund, Norway
    Check the home button as well. I know a lot of people who are having trouble with their home buttons.
  11. mattopotamus macrumors G5


    Jun 12, 2012
    Back to the whole clean IMEI...if you can pop your SIM into the phone and send/receive texts/calls, would that mean it is clean?
  12. AbeFrohman macrumors 6502


    Mar 18, 2011
    To add my $0.02

    If the seller has the original box (with matching serial numbers), there's a much, much, much greater chance it's not stolen. The phone alone, even with a currently clean IMEI, could be a recently stolen/found one that could be reported as stolen in the very near future.

    Having the box is also an indicator of how the person takes care of their stuff.
  13. tgi macrumors 65816


    Aug 29, 2012
    Don't mean to resurrect an old thread but I didn't want to start a new one. This is directed towards AT&T.

    What's the best way to determine if an IMEI is clean? Visit an AT&T store and find out from them? If so, should meeting at a carrier store be the standard when buying a used phone nowadays?

    What if everything checks out ok at AT&T, then a couple days later the person I bought the phone from decides to report it stolen. Will they automatically blacklist the IMEI?

    I'm basically just trying to find the most efficient approach to protect myself from getting screwed over.
  14. 0dev macrumors 68040


    Dec 22, 2009
    Put an AT&T SIM in the phone and make a phone call. A phone that's reported stolen would be barred from the network so would be unable to connect phone calls.
  15. Shasta McNasty macrumors 6502a

    Shasta McNasty

    Jan 5, 2010
    Southern Cali
    If you are really that worried just meet at an apple or att store and have an associate check the phone out for you. Ive actually done this when i bought a macbook pro i had set up an apple appointment and they checked over everything and said it all checked out and was good to be purchased.

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