19 Essential Checks Before You Buy Used iPhone

how to buy used iphone

Do you intend to buy used iPhone? Well, Cost-wise, buying a used iPhone is great idea. But it is not an easy process. Unlike getting new iPhone, you have to be aware with some technical aspects in order to take your decision properly. Because used iPhone market has millions of devices.

So how to avoid buying the low quality devices? The purpose of this post is to let you know how to perform all the essential checks and tests before buying used iPhone.

how to buy used iphone

Before you Buy Used iPhone – What is the Difference between Used and Refurbished:

Many iPhone users have confusion between used and refurbished iPhone. Refurbished iPhone means that device is not new, but it has been tested and certified by Apple. Also the company has performed any required repairs to the device. Thus the iPhone is deemed like new with the same warranty as of the new iPhone. As a result, refurbished iPhones are expensive if compared with used iPhones.

In conclusion, refurbished iPhone perform the same functionality as the new iPhone.

How to know if the iPhone is refurbished or not?

Simply tap Settings > General > About, then scroll down to the “Model” section. If you found the first letter is “N”, it means iPhone is refurbished.

refurbished iphone vs used iphone

1- Do A Visual Inspection

The first thing you should do when the iPhone is in your hand is to inspect it visually. Shallow scratches and dents to the body are fine, but hairline cracks on screen are not fine at all, and may lead to severe damage.

used iphone cracked

2- Make Sure it’s Not FAKE iPhone

Considering the fact that used iPhone market is full of disingenuous merchant, you may become a victim. So, you have to perform this test urgently.

Due to a fetal damage, the used iPhone you’re buying may probably has replaced body. Although, the iPhone external body looks shiny, but the interior have different story. Therefore, you need to verify the IMEI number from both the back of iPhone (i.e iPhone body) and iOS (i.e iPhone operating system)

To get your used iPhone IMEI dial *#06# or by going to Settings > General > About. Then compare it with the printed IMEIs on the iPhone back cover. (Here’s our full guide : 7 Methods To Find Your iPhone IMEI Even If iPhone Is Locked.)

If both IMEI aren’t the same, it’s an evidence that it’s fake iPhone which means that you should abandon it. I highly recommend to check my post How To Detect Fake VS  Real iPhone
In addition, here’s a video which will show you the difference between fake and original iPhone:

3- iPhone Is Not Blacklisted

In most instances, lost or stolen iPhones are being reported as blacklisted. Also, delayed invoices lead to the same issue as well. Don’t buy blacklisted device, why? Because it won’t work on your carrier. Add to this it is not ethical.

So, how to check if this used iPhone is blacklisted or not? Well, You have two options:

Option 1:

This one is straightforward. Simply call your carrier and ask them if this used iPhone’s IMEI is blacklisted or not.

Option 2:

You can choose a paid iPhone blacklist-check service using iPhone’s IMEI. Once you place your order, you will get a full report about this iPhone within few minutes. Accordingly, you will be able to take the right decision.

4- iPhone is Not Carrier Locked

Does this iPhone is carrier locked? If so, you need to know which carrier this iPhone is locked to. It should be a good deal if it’s locked to your official carrier, for example, if you’re an AT&T customer and the used iPhone you’re going to purchase is AT&T.

Otherwise, you will need to get this iPhone unlocked if it was locked to another carrier. Therefore, I urge you to avoid the hassle of buying locked iPhone to save your time and stress, or to deduct the “unlock fees” from the iPhone price.

Anyway, how to check iPhone locked or unlocked? You can do it with one of the below two methods:

Method 1:

Insert two sim cards of two different carriers. If it detected both SIM card networks, it means that iPhone is factory unlocked. Otherwise the used iPhone is carrier locked.

Method 2:

You have to place iPhone IMEI check in order to get full report about this iPhone (i.e lock status, official carrier, Serial number, warranty and many other details.), here’s an example of such report.

used iphone imei check

5- Check iCloud Activation Lock

This check is very important. you need to check iPhone’s Activation lock status. Precisely, you have to make sure that “Find my iPhone” feature is “Off”. Hence you will be able to add your own iCloud account to this iPhone.

used iphone find my iphone

How to Check iPhone iCloud Activation Lock Status:

Method 1: If the iPhone you gonna purchase is in your hand. Go to Settings > iCloud, then make sure that Find My iPhone is turned off.

used iphone find my iphone off

Method 2: Similarly, you can check iPhone Activation Lock status using iPhone’s IMEI. Unfortunately, for some reason Apple shut down its own activation lock check engine since January 2017 without any warning.

But you still able to get two important reports about iCloud status using iPhone’s IMEI. You can check if “Find My iPhone” is “On” or “Off”.

used iphone find my iphone check

Additionally, you can check whether this iPhone is reported as stolen to Apple or not.

used iphone icloud check

6- Check Orientation Sensor

Last year I bought used iPhone, and I forgot to check screen rotation. After few days I tried to rotate my iPhone when I was watching a video. Unfortunately there was a complex issue in iPhone logic board, so that the rotation sensor didn’t work.

Simply you can Check the orientation sensor by watching YouTube video or even navigate any webpage in Safari, then rotate the screen to make sure that everything is fine. Before testing, Also you should ensure that orientation lock is “Off”
used iphone rotation check

7- Check iPhone Proximity Sensor

What is proximity sensor? Well, it’s a sensor that detects how close your cheek is to your iPhone. The device senses your body when you put your iPhone close to your ear, and consequently the screen turns off in order to save your iPhone battery.

  • To check the proximity sensor:
  • Open Voice Memos app then record 20 seconds.
  • Play the recorded file.
  • Disable speaker.
  • Then cover the sensor with your finger, if the screen turns off, the sensor is working properly. (steps are shown in the below video)

8- Check Ambient Light Sensor

It’s also know as brightness sensor. Follow the below simple steps to perform the test:

  1. Sit in dark room.
  2. Go to Settings > Display & Brightness.
  3. Turn Off “Auto-Brightness” then move the “Brightness” ball to the highest level.
  4. Turn On “Auto-Brightness”. Now screen brightness should drastically decrease, otherwise, the sensor is not working properly.

used iphone ambient light sensor test

9- Check Touchscreen

It’s one of the most important tests. Because many of iPhone 6 plus users especially, were claiming some issues in the touch screen after they dropped their iPhones. So in order to make the touch screen test, you should tap each button on the screen. The below video will show you how to do this test in few seconds.

10- Check iPhone Buttons

Home and Sleep/Power buttons should perform their intentional functions correctly. And should neither be loose nor sticky. Also try to use the power button to turn off/on this used iPhone.

In the same manner, toggle the vibrate switch button which should slide softly, then you should feel the iPhone’s vibrate working. Otherwise, there’s a problem in this button.

11- iPhone Battery Life Check

Before you purchase a used iPhone, it is important to Know how many cycles are left in the battery. In ideal conditions, iPhone batteries should last about 500 cycles before degradation. Thus you can test how many remaining cycles by installing Battery Percentage app from the App Store.

used iphone battery life check

12- Warranty Check

Simply find the device’s serial number (General > Settings > About), then head over Apple official warranty checker page. Then insert serial number and you will get full information about iPhone’s warranty status.

13- Touch ID (Fingerprint) Check

Having fingerprint in your home button can really save you a lot of time. iPhone fingerprint, is probably the most convenient feature for me, which allows me to access my iPhone without entering passcode, and download apps without entering App Store’s complex password.

Also testing this feature is very easy, just go to Settings > Touch ID & Passcode > Add a Fingerprint, then touch home button with your finger, now your fingerprint should appear in the screen, which means that sensor works perfectly.

iphone 7 fingerprint touch id

14- Dead Pixels Test

Checking used iPhone display is quite crucial. You should make sure that display doesn’t contain any dead pixels. Thus you can use dead pixel check tool for this task.

15- Water Damage Test

Also it is a quite important check, as both Apple one-year warranty and APP (i.e Apple Care Protection Plan) don’t cover the water damage cases.

For who don’t know, since 2006, all iPhones are equipped with LCI (i.e Liquid Contact Indicators). When iPhone is in contact with water, LCI will turn to Red color instantly as per show in the below figure.

buy used iphone 7 water damage


16- Check iPhone Camera

Open iPhone’s camera app then start taking photos with / without flash and record some videos to make sure that camera is working perfectly. Also and if possible, you can compare between its photos and your friend’s iPhone photos for instance.

used iphone camera test

17- Wifi & Bluetooth Check

Try to be close enough to your router to check wifi signal strength. Also try to sync bluetooth with your headset or use iPhone hotspot in order to check both bluetooth and WiFi connectivity.

18- Headphones and Charging Ports Checks

Now, try to charge the used iPhone, it should start charging immediately without any delay. And make sure that charging cable is not loose. Likewise, test headphones socket in iPhone 6S plus and earlier models by using 3.5mm jack headphones then play music.

check charging port used iphone

Note: For who don’t know, starting from iPhone 7, headphones port has merged into the charging port. Similarly, you gonna perform your tests in the same manner.

19- Call Test – Speakers & Mic

Making phone calls is the major functionality in the mobile device. So, now try to insert a SIM card and make a phone call with your friend in order to test the quality of call, speakers and mic.

How to find Trusted iPhone Seller

At the end, how to find iPhone trusted seller? Considering you don’t have a family member or friend who gonna sell you his iPhone on the cheap. The biggest challenge facing you is to choose a trusted source. In short, I recommend one of the below four sellers:

1- Gazelle:

Gazelle Is one of the most reputable used-phone dealers out there.


  • All iPhones go through a long inspection process, so there’s no need to perform any test yourself.
  • Giving full data about iPhone lock / unlock status.
  • They have return policy


  • Bit pricey.

2- Swappa

Swappa Is another reliable source for buying second-hand iPhones.


  • Detailed pictures of the iPhone you gonna buy.
  • Using PayPal which provides extensive buyer and seller protection.
  • They have seller ranking system as there is no other way to know if a seller is trustworthy besides the rating system.


  • Bit pricey.

3- eBay

You can buy a cheap used iPhone from eBay, but you should deal with a reputable seller who has more than 99% positive feedbacks.


Also, Amazon used iPhones department has a huge varieties of second-hand iPhones, so that you should take a deep look then compare prices and specs between sellers. Accordingly, you will be able to pick the proper used iPhone.

In Conclusion:

  • Try to find a trusted reseller.
  • Perform all the above tests and checks in order to get a qualified used iPhone.
  • Any issue or downside in the used iPhone should be considered in final price.
  • Eventually, if I missed any test, please tell me through comments.

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