How to test second hand fairly used iPhones before buying

Be it you are buying a refurbished iPhone from the market or you are buying one that is actively in use peer-to-peer, it is important you know some of the red flags to look for and how to properly test the iPhone to avoid losing your money.

Brand new iPhones are expensive, most have a starting price of around $1000 and are not even readily available in some parts of the world. Fairly used and refurbished ones are cheaper and readily available since for some reason most people prefer iPhones over other phone brands.

So before parting with your money and making a deal, here are 6 things you should look out for and test before buying fairly used/refurbished iPhones.

1. Battery health

If you are trying to buy an iPhone 10 or 11 and you see 100% battery health, that is a massive red flag. Think about it, if a phone has been in use for at least a year or two you shouldn’t expect the battery health to still be at 100%. A battery health lower than 88% can also be problematic as such a phone might drain quickly. A good fairly used iPhone worth buying should have battery health between 90-95% health.

2. Activate the SIM card

If the phone is not activated, you should want to activate it immediately. This does two things for you; you get to check if it is iCloud locked, if it is, it is most likely a stolen phone at which point you should end the deal to avoid troubles down the line. Also by putting a sim card in it you get to check if it will work with your local network, that way you don’t face problems every time you take your sim card out.

3. Test the speakers

The next thing you want to check is the call and speaker quality. At this point call a friend with the iPhone, have a conversation and test the earpiece as well if it comes with one. Test the mouthpiece, switch to speakers and continue the conversation just to make sure you can hear each other. If you can, something might be wrong with the earpiece or mouthpiece of that iPhone.

4. Check Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity

Next, you want to check the Wifi and Bluetooth connectivity. How do you check that on iPhones? Use airdrop. Take a photo with the phone and try to airdrop it to another iPhone close by, if that doesn’t work, then there’s something wrong with it. Also, you want to make sure other iPhones can airdrop something to you just to make sure your Wifi and Bluetooth are completely functional.

5. Check Face ID/Touch ID

Face/Touch ID is one of the most common problems on most iPhones. It’s best to avoid any phone that has these problems cos they might be stolen or some of the components might have been replaced one too many times. If however you still desire the phone and can use it without these functionalities, the price you are paying should be drastically lower compared to if they are functional.

6. Check camera and touchscreen

The last thing to be tested on this list is the touchscreen and camera. You can test the touchscreen by simply swiping up and down the menu to see if there is any part of the screen with dead pixels. The last test is to take multiple pictures with the cameras, if your iPhone has 3 cameras, you want to test all three cameras by taking photos and recording a video with them, also don’t forget to test the selfie camera as well. After recording the video, go to the gallery to see what you have recorded and check the quality of sound too.

iPhones are very popular these days, and because they are expensive most people end up buying fairly used ones or refurbished ones. Before you buy a secondhand iPhone, it is important to know how to properly test it to avoid buying a dud or a stolen phone.


A writer! Columnist and an academic researcher
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