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How To Buy a Used Smartphone Without Getting Screwed.

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Tom: Hi

Me: Hi what’s up?

Tom: Wanted to ask if you’re selling a second hand phone or which phone you’d recommend I buy?

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Me: How much are you willing to spend?

Tom: Not more than 7 k            

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Me: mmmh… have you checked OLX or Safaricom shop if you have bonga points?

Tom: What is OLX? I don’t have time to go to the Safaricom shop.

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Me: Ok, let me check and I’ll get back to you.

I have had this conversation so many times especially in the last 2 months that I thought it would be best if we did a roundup of condition to look when buying second hands phones. From a small research we found that people are interested in certain  features when making a decision to buy a phone, such as How well does it Performs, Camera quality?, internal memory and RAM, sleekness, Battery life, and finally the price.

Figuring out where to buy the phone is tough there are pros and cons to each option, as you might imagine. Personally, I only buy in-person, since I want to inspect the phone—but you’ll get a much better selection buying online. Because smartphones get swapped by greater models so frequently, the second-hand market is massive and thousands of people sell their phones daily. Equipped with a bit of knowledge, knowing where to shop and how to negotiate, you can take advantage of this and pick up a great bargain on a quality phone. Here’s how to go about it.

Be clear on what you want

What kind of phone do I want? What make and model? What operating system? What minimum specifications will I be happy with? Do some research first before deciding on your budget? Use the internet and see what people are generally selling their second hand smartphones for, particularly the make and model you are interested in. A phone’s price will depend on its condition. Phones in good condition would normally fetch a higher price than phones not in the best shape any more.

Shop around
Now that you’ve got a clear idea of what it is you are looking for and what your budget is, start shopping around for a bargain. There are many platforms people use to sell their second-hand phones. For instance OLX.

Prepare yourself
Before parting with your money, you will have to meet the seller in person, in a safe, well-lit public area and inspect the phone. Communicate with the seller beforehand about what you’ll want to test before buying the phone.

How to Inspect a Used Smartphone

At the meeting, you need to bring a few things with you:

Your own charging cable, compatible one.

A laptop

Your SIM card, which can fit into the phone. Read up what type of SIM the used phone needs so you aren’t stuck with microSIM card when the phone uses a nanoSIM.


A micro SD card

Once the seller hands you the phone, you should run a bunch of checks.

Physically inspect the phone. Watch for damage to the body, like dents and scratches, as well as water damage. Be especially mindful of scratches on the phone and on the camera lens at the back. Take your time with this, don’t rush it.

Check all the ports. Pop your own headphones into the handset and check if they are working. Connect the charger cable you got to your laptop and see if it’s charging by that port. If it charges by laptop, it’s going to charge by wall socket. Then run these checks with the packaged accessories too.

Pop in your SIM card. Make a call, send a text, and browse to your favourite website. It’s the best way to check those parts of the phone are working well. If the phone is locked to a network and your SIM isn’t from that carrier, you’ll find out immediately with this simple test.

Bluetooth – Test the phone’s Bluetooth capability on another Bluetooth enabled device, and see whether it’s discoverable.
Wi-Fi – If you have a portable router on hand, switch on the phone’s Wi-Fi and check if it connects easily.
Personal Hotspot – If the phone has this feature, use your laptop to test whether it can connect to the phone via Wi-Fi.

Camera lens – Look for scratches on both the front and back camera lenses.

The Final Negotiation

If everything has checked out and you are ready to hand over your cash, try one final negotiation tactic. What’s the right amount to ask for a reduction? After successfully making a deal with several used phone purchases, I believe I’ve cracked it: negotiate as much as the price of buying a new case.

Since this is a used phone, warranty will be an issue and it’s best to put a case on it that protects the device for long-term usage. So the amount to negotiate equates to the case you want to put on it. If the seller already is throwing in a sturdy case, just be happy with the deal.


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James Kanja
James Kanja
Kenyan-based blogger who has an interest in social media,Marketing,human interest stories. Email [email protected]

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