21 Tips and Guidelines From A to Z You Should Check and Consider When Buying a Second Hand iPhone

Looking to buy second-hand iPhone? Here are the tips and guidelines on what are the things to check.

Before Proceeding to Buy:

1. Look for one that suits you: model, price, condition, warranty status

Plenty of choices to choose from, either the second-hand shops or people selling through e-commerce site such as eBay or Carousell (popular in Singapore).

Buying from Second-hand shops

Buying from second-hand shops usually more expensive, since they need more cash to maintain their shops and their staffs, but it’s also more safe for you, because you can check directly what’s in store, ask the iPhone warranty status, get a statement from the shop in case something wrong with the iPhone  a few days after buying. Basically what you see is what you get.
Buying iPhone from e-Commerce Site

Buying online from e-Commerce Site

Buying from e-commerce site such as eBay requires you to be more active since you need to search, scroll, flip pages, to find one that is suitable for you – price, condition and warranty status. Best if you can first decide which iPhone model you want to buy before starting to do your searching to avoid wasting much of your time, energy and of course money.

2. Buy from reputable seller

Check for any information on reputable seller (both shops and e-Commerce site). Most of the cases are the more reputable the seller, the lesser chances you get cheated, but don’t let your guard down just because the seller is reputable seller. Continue to read the rest to make sure you get the best second-hand iPhone.

The more reputable the seller, the lesser chances you got cheated
Checking seller reputation on e-Commerce site is much easier compared to check or get seller reputation on shops since most e-Commerce site has reputation features. Check their feedbacks from another buyer.

3. Ask to view the iPhone

If you are buying from second hand shop, ask the seller permission to view the item more closely.
If you are buying from e-Commerce site, ask the seller for more photos with different angles in case the current photos shown on site are not clear or didn’t show all the angles.

4. Check with seller whether he allows you to do thorough check the iPhone

By default, the seller should agree with your request, otherwise there are something suspicious with the iPhone. In case the seller didn’t agree with your request, my suggestion is to let go the iPhone and seller and find the next seller.

5. Agree The Time and Place to Meet

If you are buying from e-Commerce site, try to ask the seller to meet up and pay cash upon meeting rather than you transfer the money to seller and seller sending the iPhone via postage. Reason is to minimise chances to get cheated and/or iPhone getting damaged during shipping.
Agree with the seller a time and place to meet. Whenever possible, pick a place that has crowds.

When buying – Meeting with the seller:

6. Check the iPhone Exterior

Look for any damages such as paint peelings, dents, scratches. Make sure they are acceptable for you.

iPhone 7 Top Left Corner Paint starts Peeling

7. Check the iPhone Liquid/Water Damage Indicator

For iPhone 4 and before, do check inside the headphone jack port to see if there’s any white or red color paper sticks to it.

For iPhone 5 and after, including the latest iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, do check inside their sim card tray to see if there’s any white or red color paper sticks to it.

Check for Liquid / Water Damage
If the color is white then there’s no indication the iPhone has been water damage before.

If the color is red then the iPhone was water-damaged before. In this case, best not to pick this iPhone.

More from Apple here to see where is the liquid/water damage indicator located on every iPhone to date.

Find other awesome articles, tips, tricks related to Life and Tech, iOS & Android quick review on:


8. Check for iCloud Activation Lock

Turn on the iPhone, then:

If the iPhone was reset – in which you will see “hello” word in many languages and need to choose language and region kind of thing – make sure you are not prompted to enter iCloud Activation Lock. To ensure, do the rest of setup until you’ll see the iPhone home screen with all the apps icons.

Make sure ‘Find My iPhone’ is turned OFF – to deactivate the iCloud Activation Lock
If the iPhone was not reset during meet up, quickly go to Settings > iCloud > Find My iPhone. Make sure they are turned off or if it’s turned on, ask the seller to turn it off.

9. Check if the iPhone is SIM-FREE or Lock to certain carriers

Depends on your plan to use the iPhone, but getting a SIM-Free iPhone is the best choice. SIM-Free means the iPhone is unlocked and free to be used with any telecommunication operator world-wide.

If you are getting a locked non-SIM-Free iPhone, make sure it’s usable with your choice of telecommunication operator, otherwise you’ll just buy an iPod with the price of an iPhone.

How to check if the iPhone is SIM-Free or not:

The easiest and dumbest way to check are by bringing two or more sim cards from different telecommunication operator. If all those sim cards work on the iPhone, that means it’s SIM-Free.

10. Check and Test Power Button, Home Button, Touch ID, Volumes Buttons, Mute Switch on the iPhone

Press all the buttons to see if they are working as expected. If the iPhone has Touch ID (iPhone 5S and after), make sure to test them as well.

11. Check the iPhone Charging port

Bring power bank in case you need it. Using the cable provided from the iPhone box, test charge the iPhone and see if it can charge. Test also the cable by plugging and unplugging few times to see if cable is still in good condition.

12. Check the iPhone Camera: Front and Back

Open the camera app, try to take few pictures from the front and back camera. Make sure both camera are working and no blurry images. Test the camera flash as well to see if it’s working.

13. Check the iPhone Sound, Speaker and Headphone Jack

Next thing to check is the iPhone sound. You don’t need a music file or download Spotify for this reason. You can simply go to Settings > Sound. Play the sounds. If you are able to hear something, that means the speaker is ok.

Test Sound, Speaker and Vibration function
Put your headphone to the headphone jack (or headphone that comes with the iPhone), if sounds come out, that means headphone jack is also ok.

14. Check the Vibration

While checking the iPhone sound, you can also check the iPhone vibration here on Settings > Sound. Activate the “Vibrate on Ring”. If you feel some vibration, then the iPhone vibration function is working fine.

15. Test the iPhone phone functionality: Try to make a phone call

You are buying an iPhone which is a phone, so make sure the phone functionality works as the way we expect a phone to works. In case you haven’t put your Sim card, put it now. Dial number that you know and make a phone call. During a phone call, switch over to loud speaker, if you can hear the other party and other party can hear you well, that means both speaker, loud speaker and mic are good.

16. Check the Sensor

While making a phone call, test also the ambient sensor. Try to put your hand, covering the upper part of the iPhone, by right if the ambient sensor is working, the iPhone screen should dimmed. Now try to uncover it, the iPhone screen should light up again.

If above scenario is working fine, means the ambient sensor is working as expected.

17. Check the Gyroscope

On iOS 7 and above, scroll bottom to up to activate control center. On the upper right corner of control center is the screen rotation lock. If it’s locked, unlock it.

Orange Icon – The Screen Rotation Lock – Unlock it to test Gyroscope
While the screen rotation is unlocked, try to put the iPhone into different position. If you are holding it in vertical/portrait position, rotate 90 degrees to the left and right, to see if the screen rotates.

As long as you can see the screen rotates, that means the gyroscope is working fine.

18. Check the Actual iPhone Warranty Status

In case you didn’t know, all iPhone warranty status can be checked online, even via the iPhone itself. Click here to open your browser and bring you to Apple Warranty Status check page. Enter your iPhone serial number. Go to Settings > General > About > Serial Number. Tap on it to copy the serial number.

Check iPhone Warranty on Apple Official Site
If the iPhone is still covered with warranty, the status should be green and the site will show you the estimated date of the warranty expiry.

Match the date with the one you get from seller. If matched with what the seller is saying, then warranty-wise, your iPhone is good.

19. Check iPhone Serial Number / IMEI and Match it with the iPhone box

This is not something mandatory as long as all the previous steps are fine. It’s rather a step to know the background of the iPhone.

If the iPhone serial number tally with the box, that means it’s the same iPhone that the seller purchased before. If somehow the iPhone serial number is different with what stated on the box, you can ask the seller why they are different. As long as the seller answer satisfied you, continue to the next step.

20. Make the Actual Purchase and Ask for Personal Warranty

If all above is good or something-not-good-but-given-the-price-offered is satisfactory-enough for you, you may proceed to make the actual purchase with the seller. Ask for any personal warranty in case few days later something not good happen with your iPhone.

Things you can’t really check during the meet up:

21. Battery life

You can see the battery percentage, but you can’t really check and tell whether the iPhone battery is still good or not. That’s why, asking for personal warranty is something good for you, in case whatever the seller told you about the iPhone’s battery not true.
No exact way to check the battery life on the spot
There’s no exact way to measure the iPhone battery, but the guidelines are these:
For iPhone less than 1 year, by default you should expect the battery to be last the same as new iPhone on the market.
For iPhone between 1 to 2 years, you should expect about 80% capacity of a same model but brand new iPhone.
For iPhone more than 2 years, you should expect the battery to be up to 80% capacity of a same model but brand new iPhone.

The Verdict

You know what, the tips and guidelines above – although not everything applicable – works also for other phones: Android / Windows Mobile and even those Nokia’s phones.

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2 thoughts on “21 Tips and Guidelines From A to Z You Should Check and Consider When Buying a Second Hand iPhone

  • December 12, 2016 at 10:38 am

    Pretty! This was an extremely wonderful post. Thanks for providing this info.

  • September 5, 2023 at 3:11 pm

    When purchasing a second hand iPhone, one of my main concerns was data security. This step-by-step guide on clearing a second-hand iPhone is invaluable. It’s essential to take these precautions to protect your personal information and give the phone a fresh start.


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