Buying Used Smartphone? Here’s a 5 Step Guide

I’m sure you have heard or read about the many scam stories of purchasing secondhand (or pre-loved) devices. Some of you might have even been victims. Like many things in life, there are risks. However, with proper planning and some research, you might be able to catch yourself a good deal.

1) Research

Before actually purchasing a used smartphone, you have to do your research. The best way to start is by deciding your minimum specs – what operating system you want, the camera features, the size of your phone, your budget, etc. Even though you’ve been eyeing that iPhone 6s, keep your options open. Next, compare the price and phone condition. This is important because it will give you an insight as to what the appropriate prices should be for specific phone conditions. Find out what makes a phone good, okay or poor and decide what condition you are comfortable with. At the end of the day, you do not want to be overpaying for a secondhand phone.

Here’s a tip: Generally, the older the phone, the cheaper it is. You’ll also get better deals during the release of a new phone. The iPhone 6S you desire will be selling like hotcakes when the iPhone 7S launches. You just have to be patient.

2) Where to purchase

There are many places you can get your secondhand phone. The question is, which one is the right one for you. Online websites like lowyat and have many options for you to choose from. Be wary though of deals that seem too good to be true. Another option is social media like Facebook. Better deals and quicker responses are often obtained this way. You can also ask your family and friends if they know anyone selling secondhand phones. This reduces the risk of scams as you are purchasing from “trusted” sources.

3) Meeting in person

I strongly recommend you collect your secondhand phone in person during the day at public locations. The obvious reason would be for safety purposes and the other is to allow you to inspect the phone properly before purchasing. You can purchase it over the Internet but there is always that chance that your phone might not be delivered.

4) Phone inspection

Sometimes the sleek looking phone you saw in the picture isn’t the same thing you receive. Even worse, it doesn’t work. This is why a thorough inspection is crucial. Start with the visual examination. Check for scratches, cracks and the edges – who knows how many times the phone has dropped. Switch the device on and see if it works.

Next, swipe the screen left and right and test every icon to see if there’s a lagged response. If there’s a physical keypad, make sure all the keys are there and are functioning properly. Holds on now, you’re not done yet. What’s a smartphone without a functioning camera? Take a quick snapshot using both the touchscreen and physical button. Don’t forget to test out the special features that come with certain smartphones like the high-resolution camera.

Lastly, the final checkup; battery and liquid damage. This is important because if it has suffered great damage, your phone will only be functional for a short period of time. Take out the back flap and remove the battery. Check if the battery is in good shape or has expanded. If it has expanded, it’s no good. To check for liquid damage, look for a white rectangular sticker at one of the battery edges and see if it hasn’t turned pink or red. Other ways to check for liquid damage is the USB and charging ports. If there’s discolouration, there is a high chance of liquid damage.

5) Check IMEI number for authenticity

International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number is the serial number to every genuine mobile phone. Registered to a carrier network, It can be found on the box or packaging of the phone or underneath the phone’s battery. Fake phones often use fabricated numbers or don’t have them at all.

Should you be purchasing the phone from a retailer, online, or from a previous owner, ask for the IMEI number from them to ensure you will be purchasing a legitimate mobile phone

A quick Google search will redirect you to websites you can use to insert the IMEI number to reference the country of production, manufacturer and model type of your brand-spanking-new, used mobile phone!

6) Value for money

It’s only fair to get what you paid for. If there appears to be discrepancies, you have to decide how major they are. If you’re okay with it, try to negotiate a better price but if you’re not, walk away. There will always be better deals. Besides, it’s better to wait than to be a few Ringgit poorer with a non-functioning phone.

Final Tip: Do your research. Don’t rush. The extra effort will pay off in the long run. Trust me.

This article is brought to you by CFM.
The Communications and Multimedia Consumer Forum of Malaysia (CFM) was established and designated by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) in 2001. It is a platform for the industry and the consumers/public to make coherent and constructive contributions to service improvements and policy development.
CFM is tasked with, amongst others, to promote the growth of Malaysia’s communications and multimedia industry and the protection of consumer interests by fostering the highest standards of business ethics and behaviour through industry self-governance. CFM is also a channel for complaints redress on Communications and Multimedia services.
If you have unresolved complaints about your Communications and Multimedia services, please lodge your complaint by visiting CFM’s complaint portal, or call our toll-free number 1-800-18-2222. For more information, visit CFM’s website at or write in to [email protected]

Was this article helpful?

Related Articles

Leave A Comment?

You must be logged in to post a comment.