Should You Buy Your Next Smart Phone Second-Hand?


There are numerous ways to save money on the things you buy. You can wait for a sale, clip coupons, or try and win an auction. You can also purchase your items second-hand. And while this may work for things like clothing or your next vehicle, there are definite caveats to consider when you’re considering the purchase of a used or refurbished smart phone.

First of all, many carriers offer no-hassle returns if they occur within a specific window of time. So if Joe Smith purchases an iPhone with a 30-day guarantee, but decides he doesn’t like it, and returns it within those 30 days, the company who sold it to him is unable by law to say the phone is new, even if Joe Smith barely used it, never dropped it and took the best care of it he could. This could mean a lot of value for you, as you get the benefit of having a barely-used phone for a lot less than the regular price.

But Is A Refurbished Phone Truly Worth It?

Deciding whether there’s any value in a refurbished cell phone will ultimately depend on your definition of value.

Saving money has become a way of life for many families these days. And so it’s understandable how being able to get a trendy phone for a lot less than its original cost would be very appealing. Those who are concerned for the environment will know that in purchasing a second-hand phone, they are maximizing the usefulness of the device instead of dooming it to a life in the landfill.

Mourning the loss of your old phone can be made much easier when you can find the same model of refurbished phone. It may not be the latest style, but purchasing a phone you are intimately familiar with second-hand can mean no hassles with trying to learn the ins and outs of a new phone.

When to Reconsider Refurbished

If you are always on the go, and your cell phone is your ‘go-to’ device, then reliability will probably be high on your list of priorities. And so a refurbished phone that may have issues with charging or quirks that manifest themselves as a result of a drop by a previous owner are things to think about when deciding if refurbished is for you.

The same is true if you are someone who has to have the latest technology. Buying a refurbished phone, however new it may be to the marketplace can still leave you feeling as though you are missing out on the next big thing.

The Red Flags of Second-Hand Cell Phone Purchases

The ‘overhauled’ phone is a big caveat of buying second-hand. Also called ‘rooting’, this practice involves the removal of the manufacturer’s operating system and installing another, more preferred one. While this may benefit the former user for the time they had the phone, it won’t do you any favors. Rooting a new phone automatically voids your warranty, and it can also cause you many headaches with using your phone if something should go awry with the alternate operating system that’s been installed.

Today’s mobile phones are not only highly functional, but very expensive, so much so that much fraudulent activity surrounds them. One common scenario is to report a phone as lost or stolen after having sold the phone at a store for cash. This allows the individual to place an insurance claim for the phone’s value.

If your second-hand phone has been through this process, it could be blacklisted. Blacklisted means that the phone has been blocked from accessing any mobile network, which means that you will be unable to use the phone.

The same can be the result if you purchase a second-hand phone that is still under contract with a carrier. Should the former owner decide not to make their contract payments, your new phone can be blacklisted. The carrier does this in order to protect itself from having to pay for calls made on the phone.

The Best of Both Worlds

The above scenarios certainly don’t happen to everyone who purchases a mobile phone second hand, but they can happen. The best course of action if you decide to purchase a new-to-you device is to ensure that the store you are purchasing from is reputable and does not engage in phone fraud. Check with your local BBB or police station to see if there are any complaints about the retailer you plan to deal with.

About the author: Guest author Elizabeth Brosuga enjoys writing on a variety of topics, particularly related to technology. She is a frequent contributor at helping consumers locate internet providers in their area. You can also find Elizabeth on Google.