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Second hand, high quality - top tips for buying a used phone

Published 9th December 2022
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Buying a used mobile phone can be a daunting task if you don’t know what to look for. So here is a guide to help you make a smart and informed purchase when you’re considering buying a used mobile phone.

Do your research

The first step towards buying a used mobile phone is to do some thorough research. Look into the different models and prices of used phones that are available. To get a better perspective on the phones, read reviews and feedback from people who have purchased used phones. You'll find plenty of reviews for both individual products and sellers on OnBuy.

Check the screen

The screen is one of the most important components in any smartphone; unfortunately it's also one of the most vulnerable. Be sure to consult the condition notes at the bottom of the product page for any mention of scratches, dents, or other signs of wear. The occasional hairline scratch won't affect the phone's performance, but large scratches, scuffs and cracks can make the screen difficult to use and prone to errors, as well as being unattractive.

Learn about the camera

Since the camera is a popular feature of smartphones, you'll want to check that it's functioning on any used phone you consider. Since the lenses are made from glass, they are as vulnerable to scratches as the rear screen - you'll find out if it is through our condition notes.

You can't test the camera's performance itself, but you can get an excellent idea of how it produces photos from reviews and images uploaded to photography sites and social media.

Find out if it's getting software updates

You should also find out whether the phone is still getting regular software updates. This doesn't just include new features and changes to the appearance of your phone, it also includes vital security updates and patches to prevent your phone being hacked.

The manufacturer decides how long they support their phones with updates, with the norm being 2-4 years after the phone was first released, though for some brands this is different. For instance, Apple supports their iPhones for 6-7 years.

Know if you need new chargers or accessories

You should also find out what your used phone comes with and how it's packaged. It's quite rare for a used phone to be sold in the original box, although occasionally this is the case. More commonly the phone will be delivered in protective packaging, and the seller will often detail this in their condition notes.

More importantly, you need to confirm what accessories, if any, the phone comes with. This can include extra items originally packaged with the phone, such as a pair of headphones, but more important are chargers and charging cables.

If you are switching from one brand to another, or are buying a smartphone for the first time, it's essential that you have a way of charging your phone. If the phone is sold without a charger, replacement adapters and cables can be found in our mobile phone chargers category.

Following these tips should help you make a smart and informed purchase when you’re considering buying a used mobile phone.

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