The best way to enjoy the power of iOS on your palm with less money from your pocket is to buy a used iPhone. There are lots of online sites selling pre-owned or refurbished phones with price range that can suit your budget. The first step to do is to check for any physical damage, that is, if the phone is in your hand. However, if you’re buying online, there is no chance to perform any of these checks. But if you can obtain the serial number or IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) number from the seller, you can get other information too like the warranty and activation details of the iPhone.
Here, we listed 6 things you have to check to help you in your decision to buy used iPhones:
- Check the IMEI Number and Serial Number
Ask the seller for the IMEI and serial number of the iPhone you are planning to buy. If he/she says she doesn’t know it, walk him/her through the following steps:
- To get the model number, go to:
Settings > General > About > Model
- To get the IMEI Number:
Settings > General > About > IMEI or simply type *#06# on the phone keypad (a 15-digit code will appear on screen).
- To get the serial number:
Settings > General > About > Serial Number
- Make sure the iPhone is original
Once you have the iPhone’s serial number, go to Apple’s website to review your warranty status and eligibility to purchase additional AppleCare coverage. If the online report shows the correct iPhone model and with the expected expiration of the warranty, it means you have a genuine one.
- Check iPhone for compatibility with your provider
You have to make sure that the phone is compatible with your service provider by using the iPhone’s model number to check this. Some phones cannot be used on other networks because of the difference in two major radio systems used in mobile phones – CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) and GSM (Global System for Mobiles).
GSM carriers put customer information on a removable SIM card. Take the SIM card out, put it in a different phone, and the new phone now has your number. That’s not the case with CDMA. In the US, CDMA carriers use network-based white lists to verify their subscribers. That means you can only switch phones with your carrier’s permission.
- Make sure the iPhone is SIM-unlocked
Apple sells two types of iPhone before – locked version and unlocked version with IMEI Number. To check if the phone is carrier or SIM unlocked, you can choose to follow any of these steps:
- Test with a different SIM card
If you already have the phone with you, turn it off and replace the SIM card with a different network carrier. You will be able to use it like the other one if it’s an unlocked iPhone.
- Check with online tools
You can use an online tool like the IMEI Info that displays the iPhone’s status by simply providing the IMEI number. However, this online report may not always be accurate so you can just:
- Contact the original service provider of the iPhone
Contact the original network provider with the phone’s serial or IMEI number to make sure that it’s unlocked.
- Check the warranty
The default warranty for Apple products is one year. Others opt to purchase additional warranty. You can do that as protection if you buy a used iPhone before the service warranty expires.
- Make sure the iPhone is not stolen or activation-locked
You won’t be able to use the iPhone if the activation lock is enabled. Activation lock is a security feature that Apple added on iPhones to protect the device from theft. You have to contact the seller and request to disable the activation lock. To disable this feature, the iPhone needs the apple ID and password of the original owner.
However, if you have the iPhone in hand, go to Settings > iCloud > Find My iPhone. This should have been turned off by the original owner beforehand.
You can also check on Mintagain for more tips on buying refurbished phones.
This pretty much sums up all the checks you can perform using the IMEI and serial number of the iPhone.