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Updated on 2018.05.30 | First published on 2018.11.21


When you go off on eBay, Craigslist, OLX or any Facebook Buy and Sell group, you’ll find yourself looking at a bunch of used items that are for sale. Of course, they’re way cheaper than the brand new ones, tempting you to buy from them.

SEE ALSO: How to spot ‘FAKE’ smartphones?

Buying used items aren’t bad at all, unless you have your ultimate pride saying that you are rich, and only care about buying branded and new. Anyway, there are risks on buying used items, and that thought makes many people scared. So, to prevent that, I prepared a list of risks upon buying used gadgets and how to prevent it.

First things first

Being a person who always had limited budget for gadgets and stuff, I decided to stick on buying used than brand new for most of the time, so I already got myself trained how to do it right (in fact, I built my whole computer with used items). But before we go to the grand list, I think we should distinguish some myths about buying used items.

  • Used items – Shorter life

This myth is maybe or may not be true for some reasons. First is because everything in this world including manufactured electronics has its estimated lifespan. And if you encountered an item that is already used for long, you can have the risk of getting something that is near on its death. More on that later.

  • Used items – Performance degraded

This is a myth that I strongly oppose on. However, many people sell their gadgets because they feel that theirs are going slower than before, but the cause of that is putting so many bloat and applications that causes the degradation of their gadget’s performance. Unless an electronic device has an explicit hardware/software issue or is nearing its death, there shouldn’t be any sort of performance degradation at all. It’s just the applications and files you install require more than what your gadget is capable of.

  • Used items – Defective

This one could be implied using common sense at all. You must know first what you are buying before heading ahead to any meetups or shipping (not recommended) because you must know the item’s condition. Unless you are intended to buy defective ones for parts or for repair, you shouldn’t buy any used items marked as defective after all. Sometimes, seller doesn’t say that the items are defective, in order to get rid of that item from their hands at all. More on that also later.


Upon going through these common myths, we should now jump on to the risks involved on buying used gadgets.


First, is not knowing that you’re buying a defective one.


No matter how good-looking is the item outside, on some cases they have their defects inside. Software issues and their fixes are common and are easy to spot, but hardware issues are much difficult to see.

“Test all the crucial functions of the gadget”

To prevent this, you must be able to TEST almost all aspects of the item before buying it. For gadgets like smartphones and smartwatches, you should be able to do all functions seamlessly. Cameras, calls & SMS, phone signal receptions, buttons, scanners, sensors, WiFi and Bluetooth should be working. And hard press buttons, broken screens, hinges and hangs shouldn’t be observed, as those are the most common components that you might get in trouble with. Sometimes they are selling their units because of an issue, so be extra careful.

“Do a factory reset and setup/activation in front of the seller”

Also, the buyer should be able to do a factory reset and setup of the device in the FRONT of the seller, so in case there’s something went wrong, the buyer can abort the transaction, preventing themselves to get a defective one from their hard-earned money (i.e. Can’t activate or setup a smartphone due to a stuck Google or other account [FRP lock], or mostly, iOS devices that have their iCloud locks not removed). It is the buyer’s right to do and demand that.

Remember, if the seller is in a hurry and seemingly don’t have any valid reason at all, do not transact with him/her at all cost, because that means there is something wrong that he/she wants you not to see and wants to hide. You might consider meeting up ahead of time in order to have a time for testing. Also a seller who has physical shop is much better. Getting a warranty from the seller is also a must and having their legitimate contact information (or address, much better) would be a big help in case there is an after-sale trouble.


Second, is buying a stolen device.


No matter how good your intentions are, sometimes you’ll end up having a stolen device. This becomes complicated if you are buying a used smartphone, because nowadays, smartphones usually have a feature called anti-theft or factory reset protection (FRP) lock which if triggered/activated, will lock the phone and rendering it useless until the rightful owner types in the account associated upon activation of the phone in the first place. To prevent this, you must be able to check for any previous owner’s details before buying the phone, if it looks suspicious.

Do a factory reset in front of the seller as always when buying used gadgets

If there are none, then you can go and perform a factory reset as well as phone activation and setup in front of the seller, and ensure that all the accounts and settings that are associated with the first owner were removed. Better bring a pocket WiFi with available data connection to perform all the necessary resets and checks in case, because phone activation mainly connects to the internet to verify the phone’s status/information.

For iOS devices, you can check its status like iCloud and Activation lock status through iCloud.com/activationlock (UPDATE, Apple’s activation lock checker isn’t working anymore) or check its IMEI using this IMEI checker which will reveal the status and information from the Apple gadget you are getting. The same IMEI checker will help you too if you are holding an Android phone instead.


Third, is buying a device near its death.


Although not all used gadgets might fall in this category, most used gadgets that are sold were remarked with a shorter lifespan than its brand-new counterparts. There is really no guaranteed method to foresee this but instinct might help you with this one. If you feel that the gadget you’re buying might not last long enough, then you must not buy it at all. It will just waste your money afterwards and will give you the hassle of finding repair solutions, and since most of the time, used gadgets are out of manufacturer’s warranty, you’ll be hesitant to take it for a fix and will abandon the gadget right there, just like how you abandon your previous lover.


Finally, buying a fake or replica of the gadget.


Usually, if people find out that they bought a fake one instead of the original, they really wanted to get rid of it. So, they will do just anything in order to sell it for the return of their money, even if they do deceive people by telling it is the original one. We have tips right HERE on how to spot a fake gadget in case you’re wondering as well.

You can take advantage of the cheaper price yet the same functionality of the gadget you want to acquire when you buy it used, and I hope that these tips might be helpful in case you are planning to buy.


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