In this article:
- A lot of people feel the pressure to buy a brand new phone each time they upgrade, but buying used is better in a lot of scenarios.
- Like cars, phones depreciate quickly the second someone buys them so you can still find relatively new phones at steep discounts on the used market.
- Beyond saving a ton of money, buying used is better for the environment and often means saving on repairs and other costs later on.
- While there are some dangers that make the used market harder to navigate, following some simple guidelines can ensure you get a great deal and avoid scams.
When you buy a new phone, the salesperson will always try to push you towards the latest model. They will tell you about all of the features and how it is better than anything else on the market. But what he doesn’t tell you is that buying a used phone can be just as good — and sometimes even better than — getting a brand new one.
When Is Buying a Used Phone Better?
Even if you’ve been tempted to get a used phone, you might have talked yourself out of it, saying that a new phone will pose fewer problems in the long run. Maybe you get a brand new phone just for the reason that it’s the latest model out there.
But there are many reasons you should consider buying a used phone. For starters, the first and biggest reason why anyone would even consider a new phone is:
Used Phones Are Cheaper Than New Ones
It probably goes without saying, but the main reason most people choose used phones is that they are a lot cheaper than new ones. In fact, you can get them for as much as 50% off the price tag when it was new, even for newer models.
If you opt for a much older phone, you can get them for 70-80% off their original price. So, if you’re on a budget, or if you don’t want to spend too much money on a phone, then buying a used one might be your best option.
The value of phones and computers is very similar to cars: They lose a lot of their value as soon as you leave the dealership (or store). For example, the latest iPhone 13 Pro Max has a hefty price tag starting at $1099. If you crack that phone’s packaging and plastic, you’ll slash 5-15% off the phone’s value, rendering that $1099 iPhone’s value down to $1000, maybe even lower — even if it’s never been used.
When it comes to Androids, this depreciation happens even faster.
Phones Aren’t as Good as They Used To Be
This is probably not a popular opinion but I think phones (and other gadgets) aren’t made as well as they used to be. Don’t get me wrong. New phones have far superior hardware and features. But in some aspects, there are features that have just gotten worse over time.
The biggest example might be the headphone jack. It was straightforward, simple, and effective. It has been serving its purpose well for over a hundred years. The 3.5mm headphone jack has been around since the 1870s.
Then, Apple, Samsung, and other phone manufacturers decided to remove the headphone jack. Doing so did make more room for a larger battery and other components. But it also forced customers to buy wireless headphones and other dongles to compensate for the lost jack.
Similarly, iPhones got rid of the physical home button. Not only was that button one of the most iconic things that represent the iPhone, but it was also simple and easy to use.
As I said, this isn’t a popular opinion. If you’re a young millennial you might not mind all these. But if you’re always busy or if you don’t want to tackle the steep learning curve that new phones and all their accessories have, you can always check the used phone market for an old phone and keep things simple.
Old Phones Are Easier to Repair
Here’s the thing with new phones (used or not): They’re getting harder and harder to repair. While Apple and other companies are trying to make their products easier to repair, reuse, and recycle, a lot of older phones are just so easy to repair that a lot of people can do it themselves. Plus, the parts needed to repair older phones are just plain cheaper.
Phones will break no matter how new or how expensive they are. So if you’re the type of person that breaks a lot of phone screens often and adds phone repair bills to their phone ownership budget, I think you might be better off with an old used phone.
Used Phones Help the Environment
Our phones and gadgets need a lot of metals, paper, plastic, chemicals, and energy to be produced. You can also count the energy and materials used to ship all these new devices all over the globe, and even more, energy used to sell them in shops.
Not enough? Well, you can also count the resources used to power all the physical and digital advertising used to promote new phones.
My point? New phones are terrible for the environment. Sure, you can say that companies are now removing chargers and headsets so that phones can be sold and shipped with a smaller package. But even that has a negative impact on the environment since the chargers and other accessories that used to come with the phone will now ship in separate packages if the consumer decides to get them.
If more people bought used phones, though, the demand for brand new phones would shrink, leading to decreased production and keeping more old phones out of the landfill.
Things to Remember When Buying a Used Phone
If you’re convinced to buy a used phone, keep these things in mind to make sure you get a good phone and steer clear of scams.
Get Last Year’s Phone
Buying the phone model from last year is a great way to save money while still getting a lot of the latest features new phones have to offer. As soon as a new model comes out, the previous model will usually depreciate in price as much as 40%.
Though cheaper, the phone itself will be pretty similar to the latest one, with just a few downgrades which can be easily fixed with some add-ons or software updates.
Now, I’m not saying that a phone from last year is exactly the same as the new one. But the number of upgrades that the latest model has compared to the one right before it is rarely worth paying full retail for the latest phone.
So it’s an easy way to save up to 40% on the price without losing too many modern features.
Check the Phone’s Serial and IMEI Number
When buying used, be sure to check the phone’s serial and IMEI number. These can be found on the box or on the phone itself. This is important because you can use these numbers to check things like whether the phone is stolen, how old it is, and if it’s still under warranty.
Ask the person selling the phone for these numbers before actually meeting up or sending the money to buy the phone. If they can’t give the numbers up, stay away from that deal.
You can use sites like iunlocker.com to check Apple Devices. If you’re checking out an android phone, you can Google (phone brand)+IMEI / Serial Number checker.
Example: Samsung Serial Number Checker
You can also use sites like CheckESNFree to check if the phone is compatible with your carrier since a lot of used phones might be carrier-locked.
Be Wary of Scams
As I said before, there are a lot of scams going on in the used phone market. So be very careful when shopping online. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Research ahead of time what the average price for a used phone is, and if anything dips lower than the average, it might have some hidden damages and complications. Sometimes the person selling it might ask for a payment in advance and then just run off with your money.
Only Buy From Trusted Sellers
The safest way to buy a used phone is from somebody you know and trust. This can be friends, family, or people you’ve met through online communities specifically for buying and selling phones and other gadgets.
If you don’t feel safe meeting up with the person, try doing a deal through PayPal where both of you are protected. If the phone still doesn’t arrive or arrives damaged, you can always open a dispute.
You can also check into sites like Amazon and Apple’s Refurbished Shops if you want to check the renewed or refurbished market.
Just make sure that when you’re dealing with people online, their profiles are complete and they have good ratings from other buyers.
Understand What You’re Getting with a Refurbished Phone
Refurbished phones are a particular kind of used phone, that’s been significantly repaired by a refurbishing company or even by the manufacturer itself. However, not all refurbishers are created equal and some repair jobs still leave problems unfixed.
If you are going to buy a refurbished phone, make sure it was refurbished by a reputable refurbishing company or by the manufacturer. Otherwise, it might not have its original parts and can end up having problems later on.
Buying a used phone is definitely better for your wallet and the environment! Just be careful and do your research when you shop.
I hope this article was helpful, and if you have any tips of your own or experiences with buying used phones, feel free to share them in the comments below. Thanks for reading!