10 Warning Signs to Check Before Buying a Second Hand Phone

By | June 5, 2007

I was looking for a PDA phone to buy so that with Wifi, I could use Skype even without my laptop. I narrowed my choice down to the Dopod 818 pro or the HP 6282 PDA phones. But recently Starhub slashed the price of the o2 Xda stealth making it quite a bargain as a newly owned model could be bought at around the second hand prices of 818 pro and 6282.

Anyway after sometime of searching, I saw a pretty good deal on vrforums .It turned out the seller was quite dishonest both about the age, the origin and the condition of the phone. Just to help everyone, here is a handy list of items to check when buying a second hand phone

1. Check IMEI
The IMEI is a code that identifies each phone. No 2 phones have the same number and manufacturers use this number to verify stolen phones and the amount of warranty that your phone has. Check that the IMEI number on the phone corresponds to the number on the box and receipts. If the numbers differ, there could be several reasons. The first is that the phone is a stolen/ found set or the phone had been sent for servicing and had the main board replaced. Both situations are warning signs of a problematic phone.

2. Examine the Original Receipt
Get a receipt from the seller. If it comes from a reputable retail outlet, then you do not have to worry much. The receipt will be able to tell you when the phone is bought and how much warranty is left. Phones usually have only 1 year warranty. However if you see a receipt that is of dubious origin, be very wary. The receipt might be faked to make the phone look younger than it actually is. It might even be from a second hand dealer trying to sell off the phone again.

3. Closely Inspect the Exterior
This step is rather simple and should give you an idea of how old the phone is. Wear and tear will occur. Usually this means the buttons’ paint will peel of. For PDA phones, the paint near the Stylus slot will also peel off. Ensure that the condition is what you expect to pay for. Ratings by sellers are very subjective therefore when no photos are uploaded, buy only when satisfied of the condition.

4. Stress Test the Keypad
Press all the buttons…many times…phones should be able to withstand multiple presses without giving away.

5. Do a Detailed Check of the Functions
After you are done with the exterior, it is time to check the phone itself. Try every function that the phone has. A laptop or another phone will come in handy at this time. For pocketPC phones, there is a self test function under the “Programs” Menu. You can use that to check the various functions of the phone.Phone manufacters have a secert code on their phones that will allow access to a menu that test the functions of the phone.(Sony Ericsson: -> * <- <- * <- *)
Example of functions to check
· Calling
· SMS
· Bluetooth
· Music Players (Speakers)
· Infrared Red
· Wifi
· GPS

6. Scratches on the Display?
Check the LCD display. Dead pixels are rare in phones unlike LCD monitors. But for phones, try to see if there are scratches on the screen. Scratches are expensive to repair and most people should buy a lcd screen protector to ensure the high resale value of their phone.

7. Moving Parts
Some phones have sliders, flippers. Try them to test if they are flimsy. Moving parts tend to be easily damaged by drops and frequent use.

8. Battery life
Batteries drop in performance as they age. However even a second hand phone should not use more than 10% of its battery in the time you are testing. This point is hard to check and the best solution is to get a personal warranty from the seller so that you can test the battery life later.

9. Charger
Plug in the charger and see if the phone charges the battery. Try to nudge the charger connection a bit to see if the charging port is loose.

10. Accessories
Usually most phones have headsets now. Plug em in and repeat the calling test

One last thing…

11. Is there Warranty?
Get the warranty card. See if it has been sent in. Some manufacturers will not honor their warranty if the card has not been sent in within a few days of purchase. Some brands will also have their users register their warranty online. Prior to meeting the seller, get the IMEI number and do a warranty check online. Also ask the seller for a 7 days personal warranty so that you have time to interact and ensure that the phone is in working condition.

This is unlikely to be an exhaustive list of what to check when buying a second hand phones. Everyone should exercise caution and bear in the mind the saying of “caveat emptor”

You might also be interested in:
10 Totally Cool Phone Prototypes Everyone Hopes to Own
Top 10 Predictions of New Uses for Your Mobile phone

TodaysTen.com: Daily Top Ten List to jumpstart your knowledge