The buying of a used iPhone is something that more and more people are doing or at least considering. The reason is that these devices generally hold up very well, especially if the previous owner took good care of the phone in question. At the same time, brand-new iPhones can be prohibitively expensive. If you have a limited budget, but you want a dependable cell phone, this might be the way you decide to go. In this article, we’re going to break down everything you need to know before you make this decision. We’ll cover best places to buy a used iPhone, the cons and pros of buying used, the most popular types of used iPhones, and more.
Things Worth Considering as You Get Ready to Buy a Used iPhone
Let’s say that you have your heart set on buying a used iPhone. You know that you’re going to do it; what remains to be worked out are all of the details involved.
The first thing you’ll need to look at is precisely how much money you have to spend. Generally speaking, the more you have, the newer a model you’ll be able to get. If you have at least a couple of hundred dollars to bring to the table, then you should be able to get a generation of iPhone that is not too far removed from the latest one. It likely will not have all of the most innovative and attractive features, but it should still have several of them.
Besides cost, you’ll also want to look at the condition of the phone you are considering. Part of what will come into play there is where you’re purchasing the device. There are many places that sell used iPhones. If you’re buying the used iPhone from a stranger on Craigslist or a relative, then presumably, you won’t be able to expect a warranty. If you buy from somewhere like an Apple Store or certain other electronics stores, then a refurbished iPhone might still come with one. It probably won’t be long, but a 30 or a 90-day warranty will still make you feel a little better than no warranty protection at all.
One final consideration will be the condition of the phone itself. You might encounter some entity or individual who’s offering you what seems like a great deal on a device. When you look at it, though, you may see some scoring or discoloration that indicates this phone has had a rough life. Such markings or visible damage could mean that it has been dropped or stepped on, immersed in water or another liquid, or had something else happen to it in the past.
It’s smart to try and test any used iPhone thoroughly, regardless of where you’re getting it before any money changes hands. If you’re buying it from an individual or an entity that seems less than reputable, though, then you’ll want to be doubly sure and check the iPhone’s functionality before you pull out your wallet.
The Types of Used iPhones
As of this writing, the latest iPhone to hit the market was the 11, with several different versions of it being available. The iPhone 12 is expected out late in 2021. You can find iPhone 11s used, and then earlier models going all the way back to the original iPhone.
It seems as though most people are hesitant at this point to buy a used iPhone that is generation 1,2, or 3. A lot of the features that most people take for granted with “modern” iPhones did not start to make an appearance until the fourth generation of this device came out.
If you have a particular feature in mind for your used iPhone, like a camera, Hey Siri voice assists, the Home button, face ID, etc., then you should check online and learn which devices have that feature and which do not. For instance, the iPhone 4S was the first one to feature a beta version of Hey Siri. Face ID technology, meanwhile, did not show up till the iPhone X in 2017.
You can get yourself a used iPhone at this point in its earliest incarnations quite cheaply, at least as compared to what you’d pay for a top-of-the-line iPhone 11. Still, some people might find the technology exhibited in these early efforts to be primitive as compared to what exists today. Such shoppers might balk at the prospect of anything earlier than the iPhone 4, or even the 5 or 6. What seems acceptable to you, though, is going to be entirely your prerogative.
The Pros of Buying a Used iPhone
When you’re talking about the pros of buying a used iPhone, we already talked about the biggest one. That has to be the price. A gently-treated iPhone can last a long time. Getting one in good condition from a previous owner is something that you should certainly consider if you’re on a limited budget.
If you’re a high school or a college student, this might be agreeable to you. If you’re an older adult on a fixed income, this would be a viable option as well. The same holds true for those who have things like high monthly rent, student loan payments, mortgage payments, garnished wages, etc.
Another big pro for buying a used iPhone is that it’s likely you’ll be able to buy it outright, instead of having to pay for it in installments. The installment method works fine, but there’s something nice about being able to say that you own your phone outright. That way, if you are buying the phone through your cellular service provider, you won’t have to tack that additional fee onto your monthly bill. That can make a huge difference sometimes.
Cons of Buying a Used iPhone
There are certainly some potential drawbacks of buying a used iPhone, though, that are worth mentioning. The biggest one is probably that since you’re not the first owner, you don’t know everything that has happened to the device you are considering buying. It might look okay, but appearances can be deceiving when it comes to electronic devices. Even testing it and determining that it seems okay might not play out to your advantage. It might seem fine for a couple of days, and then suddenly die on you. That is nowhere near as likely with a brand-new device.
Related to this would be the issue of the warranty. If you buy an iPhone brand-new, then you can expect it to come with a one-year warranty. That protects you from manufacturing glitches or faulty equipment that could lead to your needing repairs or a replacement device within the first year. You can even purchase Apple Care and get an additional year of coverage, or even two. If you buy your phone with some high-end credit cards, you can also double the length of your warranty.
None of that is likely to be possible if you buy your iPhone used. The best for which you can hope is a 30, 60, or 90-day warranty. If you buy from someone you meet online, a friend or relative, or from somewhere like a pawnshop, then you might not get any kind of a service guarantee at all. You may pay for the phone, and then within hours of the purchase, it could die on you. That’s a worst-case scenario, but such things do occasionally happen. It’s the same as buying a lemon off of a used car lot.
Buying a Used iPhone at an Apple Store
We’ve already mentioned some possibilities throughout the article as to where to buy a used iPhone. The most reputable location would have to be an Apple Store. Most of them offer refurbished iPhones, and they should have at least a decent selection.
The good news with an Apple Store is that you can probably get some length of warranty with the device. A refurbished iPhone from Apple will have been checked over in much the same way that a certified pre-owned vehicle would be. It might be a little pricier than buying from some other locations, but you should get a device that will last you for a while.
Buying a Used iPhone from a Friend or Family Member
Then, there’s always the family member or friend route. How well this going to work is going to depend entirely on the trustworthiness of those whom you know.
Let’s say that you have a great relationship with a buddy of yours, or a sibling, parent, etc. In those cases, you should be able to quickly assess whether the phone they are offering you is in good condition and whether what they are charging is a reasonable deal. If you don’t feel like your acquaintances are trustworthy, then you’re better off not buying a used phone from them, or anything else, for that matter. Where financial matters are concerned, it’s often best to avoid involving those you know.
Buying a Used iPhone from a Best Buy or Other Electronics Store
It’s true that eCommerce is on the rise, but there are still a few Best Buys, video game exchanges, and other brick-and-mortar store locations where you can buy a used iPhone if you are so inclined. GameStop, in particular, is known as having a good selection of preowned cell phones. There are many locations, though they are more prevalent in some parts of the country than others.
In such situations, you might get a competitive price. The drawbacks will be no warranty or a very limited one, and once again, you’ll have no way of knowing the history of your iPhone before you buy it.
Buying a Used iPhone from eBay and Craigslist
On eBay, you can find all sorts of used iPhones and other Apple devices. The same considerations apply if you go this route: no warranty, and no way of knowing the device’s history. At the very least, if you opt for eBay, you should look at the seller’s reviews. If they are highly-rated, then that makes them at least a little more worthy of your business. Make sure you look at their return policy as well.
Craigslist is another online resource where you might get a used iPhone. If you find one that is to your liking, there are the same drawbacks that we mentioned for eBay.
If you do choose to meet someone from Craigslist to look at an iPhone they are selling, make sure that you do so in daylight, in a public place. It’s also helpful to bring someone along for safety. You could also text someone you trust the location and time of the meeting. Be sure and look over the iPhone for sale carefully, and test it out. The chances are high that once you hand over the money, you will never see this person again.
Buying a Used iPhone from a Pawnshop
Pawnshops exist in virtually every town and city across the country, regardless of size. These are places where people will go to get rid of any type of merchandise, often when they are desperate for cash. If they don’t come to retrieve their property within a designated period, ownership transfers to the pawnshop. They will then try to unload the merchandise and make a profit, a business model that has worked for ages.
If you buy a used iPhone from a pawnshop, you’re looking at the same potential problems. You don’t know the phone’s history, and you will definitely not get any kind of warranty on it. We don’t recommend going to used iPhone shopping at your local pawnshop. What might seem like a great deal can quickly backfire, and none of these establishments are likely to ever refund your money?
There are many reasons why it might be a smart idea to get a used iPhone. You’ll save some money, and you’ll probably be able to own your device outright, which is appealing. At the same time, when you buy from some entities or individuals, you won’t know the device’s history. You also won’t be able to secure a warranty, which can come back to haunt you if the phone malfunctions soon after you’ve purchased it.
The smartest thing to do if you’re shopping for used Apple devices is to either go to an Apple Store or at least through an entity or individual whom you trust. A “too good to be true” deal will likely turn out to be just that. If you’re not careful, you could find yourself back to square one: still iPhone shopping, but down a few hundred dollars.