Things to Check When Buying Used iPhone

Since the launch of the first iPhone back in 2007, iPhone has become one of the best selling smartphone ever. It has a huge fan following and is a dream phone for many. The secret behind iPhone's success is its simple but sexy design, mind blowing features and amazing music quality. I've been an iPhone user for 3 years and have used almost all iPhone's models (iPhone 2G, 3G, 3Gs, 4, 4s). For me iPhone is one the best phones I've ever used but not anymore as I've moved to Android with Galaxy S3. Let's not talk about that today and save it for a follow up post. 

So back at iPhone, The biggest drawback of iPhone is its sky touching price. Believe me iPhone's are very expensive and not everyone can afford it. Many people try buying an used iPhone just to fulfill their dream of owning one but end up getting cheated with damaged or faulty iPhone's. In today's post I'm going to list some points which you should check before buying used iPhone. I will also list some signs which will help you that iPhone better. So without wasting time, Lets Begin.

My iPhone Experience

I still remember buying my first iPhone (iPhone 2g). It was a used iPhone and just like anyone else I was not having any knowledge about iPhone. At first I was skeptical for buying used but I had no other option as i could not afford a new one. Fortunately the iPhone i bought was okay and in working condition but i was still cheated as the call volume was very low and i could hardly hear anything in crowded places. The silent switch was broken and the speaker volume was low and full of distortion.

I used that iPhone for about 6-8 months and then switched to 3GS which was again a used iPhone but as after using 2g for around 8 months i had enough iPhone knowledge and the 3GS i bought was in New like condition with no faults. I used 3GS for another 6 months and switched to iPhone 4 and this time it was a new iPhone so it is obvious that it had no faults, and after 2 months i switched to 4s which was again a new iPhone.. So by reading this you'll be knowing that I have enough iPhone experience as I've bought 2 used iPhone and 2 new ones. Today I'll be sharing my experience with you and will share some tips which will help you choose a perfect working used iPhone.

Things to Check when Buying Used iPhone

1. Check for Water Damage

Many people sell their used iPhone because of water damage. You should never buy iPhone which have water damage as it may give problems after. Many times iPhone's with water damage still look good and work properly but you should never buy them.

How to check for water damage

There are many water sensors fitted on iPhone and two of them can be seen without opening iPhone. One is inside the earphone jack hole and the other one is near the USB dock. Actually they are thin white paper like thingy which turns pink/red when comes in contact with water. 

things to check when buying used iphone
Different iPhones with Water Sensors

What you have to do is look closely inside earphone jack hole (use a small flash light), look for white color paper like thing. If it is white then the iPhone has passed the water damage test and you can proceed to next tests. But if it is pink or reddish in color then no matter how good the phone looks, never buy it as it previously came in contact with water.


In simple words if you see anything pink or reddish in the earphone jack hole then the iPhone has water damage.

Here is a detailed article on checking iPhone Water Damage @, I would suggest you reading it before buying used iPhones. 

2. Check IMEI number

IMEI stands for International Mobile Station Equipment Identity. It is a unique 15 digit number assigned for each mobile phone. Whenever you are buying used mobiles (iPhone or any other) then you should check if it has a valid IMEI number.

How to Get IMEI Number of iPhone

Method 1: Go the iPhone Phone app and dial *#06# as soon as you dial it a 15 digit number will appear. That is the IMEI number, Note it down.

Method 2: Go to Settings > General > About and scroll down and you find the IMEI number there.

Once you have the IMEI number, go to this website and enter IMEI number there and click check. This will give you the information about your iPhone. If you find wrong information then you must not buy that iPhone.

Note: If you are getting the box with used iPhone then you can also match the IMEI number given on the box with the same one in your phone.

3. Check Speaker Volume

Go to Music > All Songs and play any song from the music library with volume turned to full. Listen 2-3 different songs of different genres and see if the sound changes when you switch from loud / fast songs to soft and slow songs. If the sound is good and loud enough then then the speaker is fine but if the sound is low and distorted then you should try not to buy it. 

4. Check Touch Screen

The Best way of checking touchscreen is by downloading free Paint Studio app and coloring the entire screen to see if all parts of the touch screen works. If you don't have Internet connection and you can't download the app then Another great way to check touch screen is by opening spotlight search (swipe right from home screen) and then hitting each and every keyboard button and see if that touch area is working. If you find that you are unable to punch a letter then that part of the screen is possibly not working. 

5. Check Physical Buttons and Silent Switch

When I say Physical buttons, I mean you should check the Home button, Power button, Volume buttons and Silent Switch. The buttons should be responsive on soft press. If the buttons are not working on soft presses and you have to press really hard in order to make them work then don't buy it.

6. Test Camera Functions

I heard a case in which a guy bought used iPhone without checking camera and later realized that it was broken. So don't take risk, take a few seconds to check camera and see if it functions properly. Click a few pictures and see the photo quality, Check Auto Focus and see if it is working properly. If your device has a front camera then switch between front & back a few times. Switch to video mode and check functions. If your iPhone has a Flash then don't forget to check if it works.

7. Test Wireless connections

Many times used iPhone have issues with WiFi and other wireless connections. So if you have access to WiFi, don't forget to check if it is connecting properly. Also insert your Sim card and check if it is catching cellular network without any problems. If you find problems with WiFi like disconnecting again and again, not connecting or cannot find any connections then you must not buy that iPhone until you find out the reason.

8. Check if Factory Unlock

Previously I posted a tutorial in which I explained how to check if iPhone is factory unlocked. Just go through that tutorial and enter your IMEI number. It will let you know if your iPhone is factory unlocked or contract locked. It is good to buy factory unlocked iPhone's but if you are ok with contract lock then itis your wish.

9. Check Accessories & Invoice

Before buying used iPhone, Check the accessories you are getting with it (Earphones, USB Cable etc). Also check their condition and if they are working properly. Also check the Invoice (Bill of purchase), This will ensure that the iPhone is not stolen.

10. Check Overall Condition & Warranty

Check if the iPhone body is not damaged, especially on the edges. Check for scratches on the body and screen. Also look closely for dead pixels on the display. This part includes checking for the entire outer body of the iPhone.

It is good if your used iPhone is covered by Apple Service and Support Warranty. This will help you get your iPhone fixed or replaced if any issue arises. You can also check Apple service and support warranty online just by adding your IMEI number.

11. Check Sensors

Every iPhone is equipped with some sensors which help improving user experience. Some of the sensors are 

  • Light Sensor (All iPhones)
  • Accelerometer (All iPhones)
  • Compass Sensor (3Gs, 4, 4S, 5)
  • Gyro Sensor (4, 4S, 5)
Light sensor changes the screen brightness according to the environment you are, I mean it the environment around you is dark then Light sensor will automatically adjust the screen brightness. Accelerometer is used to turn screen from potrait to landscape mode, You can check this sensor by going into Images and then turning screen. For checking Compass sensor, Just go to pre-installed compass app. To check gyro sensor you'll need some game which supports Gyro.

12. iPhone Age & Battery Life

It is important that you know How old is the iPhone you are buying. Some sellers claim that the iPhone is less used but it is not. You can confirm the date of purchase by seeing the invoice of the product. If you can then you should also check the Battery life. Some used iPhone's have battery issues like quick drainning or sometimes battery does not charge.

Related Articles

Previously I've written several article which you might like to take a look at. Here are some related to this article.

Wrapping it Up

So if you check the above listed things then you can stay safe from con men and fraud sellers. This will also ensure that you buy a genuine and good device without any issues. I hope my experience helps you in finding a perfect used iPhone. Always when stay alert when buying used items, If you suspect anything then it is always good not to buy it.

jim luthra jimmie jamshed About Author
Jimmie Luthra is founder of He is a Cadet in Merchant Navy and a Part time Blogger. He is 20 and lives in Mumbai. You can Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and Google+

About Jimmie Luthra

Jimmie Luthra is a Mariner, Tech enthusiast, Blogger and Gadget reviewer. He is fond of technology and is usually found playing with some piece of tech. He is also a Guitarist, Music lover & fitness freak.
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