Buying a used phone

Buying a used phone – My Experience

When you want to buy a new phone or a phone, two things strike your mind. Should I buy a new phone or a used phone?

To many people, buying a used phone is a no, because they have bad experience which of course was their fault, so the ultimate answer for them is ‘yes’, I want a new phone, a brand new phone to be specific.

What are their reasons?

Well they get a new charger, new earphone, new phone, a user manual in most cases and a disposable pack made of paper with some interesting drawings that blows the mind and makes them feel like they have arrived. I don’t blame the manufacturers and their designers; they have been able to feed them with what they want.

The total cost of getting an original charger and earphone is just two thousand Naira (Price as at this post), the user manual is valueless.

Most of these phones you buy are usually of a lower quality compare to (fairly) used phones, in the sense that they are cheap and the manufacturers can’t throw resources into the mud. Come to think of it, do you think a Tecno phone will offer the same screen quality, camera quality and even hardware quality as Samsung and still sell their phone as low as half the price of a Samsung, HTC LG and the likes of it?

Now we have Tecno phones selling at higher prices because they have finally decided to make devices with high quality and try to compete with top notch phones. Still, you don’t get a good gyroscope, temp monitor, screen, battery and hardware.

An average Tecno phone is sold for 30 – 35 thousand Naira and the higher end Tecno phones are sold for about 45 – 55 thousand Naira, which is enough money for a high end HTC, Samsung, LG, Huawei or Sony used phone. If you decide to buy a brand new Samsung Phone, you should be ready to throw about 200 thousand Naira or about 120 thousand Naira into fire.

The major reason why people don’t buy used phone is, the thought of buying a ditched, stolen or faulty phone. This is a risk I have taken several times and I have learnt how things work.

To successfully buy a used phone without having to complain or be at the losing end, this is all you need to do.

Following this guide I had in my head, I bought phones resold them, made some more money, bought again and that’s how it went. My first android phone was a used LG phone, I moved on to better phones like HTC G2, HTC G11, Samsung Exhilarate and then finally bought the Infinix Hot that was over hyped.

How did I go about it?

I made sure all my phones were bought from people I know and people I trust. You can’t judge a book by its cover but there is a degree of trust in the content of a book by its cover. Still not focusing on only trust, I ran all necessary tests before making payment, I was very meticulous.

I checked the mouth piece (MIC) earphone, speaker, buttons (Power button and volume rockers), keyboard, and ear piece.
To check the mouth piece, while talking to the dealer or seller and acting like a noob, I quietly launched the recorder, made loud noise and low noise then saved and replayed, using the speaker and then my earphone (to test the speaker, you can also play music or try changing ringtone). You must go with an earphone because they won’t give you theirs.

To check the power button, you simply lock / turn off the screen and turn it back on by a mild depression of the power button, if it doesn’t respond try a little harder, since some buttons are built to be hard, but if it still doesn’t respond then the power button is faulty and you must stay away from that piece.

To check the keyboard, you simply launch the SMS application and make sure all keys on the keyboard are pressed lightly and then with a little more pressure, since some keyboards are designed to be hard.
If you notice that the keys are not responding then the keyboard is faulty. Don’t ever have the intention of fixing a keyboard when the manufacturer or customer care centre is not in your country, plus that’s an extra cost for you. Please avoid the mistake.

As technical as it seems, those are just the basics. You don’t want to buy a phone with screen problem or digitizer problem (touch-pad). This fault can be technical and difficult to notice.

When you pick up a phone from the showcase, look closely at the screen. If the screen is faulty, you will notice some shades at the corner or at any point, this is due to a faulty/dead screen light/bulb. If it passes that test, load a screen with multiple colours or icons of different colours, preferably with a totally black background. If you notice a flicker or some lines on the screen after some minutes of observation then the screen is faulty. Don’t ever think your eyes are deceiving you, at that point you are deceiving yourself.
That screen is either faulty or a replacement of the original screen. I advise you to check the screen of similar phones to be sure it is the manufacturers fault or the screen default.

For the screens, the final thing to check is the backlight. Reduce the brightness and increase it again. If it responds then that’s good but if doesn’t, then quit that piece, you don’t want to be in bondage. If you buy such device, you won’t be able to reduce or increase the screen brightness when you need to. Imagine a dull screen under sunlight or a bright screen in the night, very close to your eyes.

To check the navigation buttons, for touch, touch it like the screen. You should feel a vibration or notice it working. Home key takes you home, back key goes back, Menu shows options, just use your discretion. If it’s a physical navigation key, refer to [physical keyboard guide].

When you go to buy a used phone, ensure you have a memory card, power bank and a USB cord.
The memory card will be used to test the phone memory card port. On a normal day, the seller would have tested the memory card port before shipping it or buying it for resell, but to be on the safest side (Since packing and storing can cause devices to develop faults), have a memory card with you.
Insert the memory card and power on the phone, the usual thing for android is to mount and read the memory card as soon as the device powers on. Go to setting and then locate storage. Click on storage and check carefully for the memory card. It should show your memory card and the memory capacity and status, if it doesn’t find or mount your memory card, get another one and try the same process again.
If it doesn’t still show your memory card, then the memory card port is faulty and the device must be avoided. Of course, the port can be fixed but after fixing it, you have to be extra careful with the phone and avoid frequent removal and replacement of memory card.

The power bank and USB cord will be used to test the USB port of the phone and they must be trusted, if possible get a new USB cord. If you notice that is doesn’t charge until you force the cord to a particular side, the USB port is faulty. This is as a result of rough handling by the previous user or a damaged terminals, it might also be a battery problem or a very serious hardware problem.
I had a similar experience, where the phone never charged until I changed the battery or until I put the phone on Airplane mode. This is common with HTC and a simple change of battery should solve the problem, but if you change the battery and it still malfunctions, look for a different piece (phone/device).

The USB port can be repaired by anybody but will definitely not function properly, it might be able to only charge your device and may never be good for other functions like file transfer, webcam and some other bundled features that require the USB port.

One last thing to check for is unnecessary stickers on the phone. When you collect the phone, open the cover (back cover), check for stickers of golden colours. If you find any, call the attention of the seller and ask him if that is his warranty sticker, if he says yes, then you will hold him for that.

On a normal day, there shouldn’t be a sticker, although some sellers like putting a white sticker at strategic points to be sure you won’t damage the phone and take it to a repairer. Once the sticker is broken your warranty with them is also broken.

Then if you find a golden sticker on the phone and not covering any screw, the phone is a refurbished phone and can die any moment. What I mean is, when you get to your house, it won’t work. Those refurbished phones are fixed by unregistered repairers and with fake parts, so while you are at their shop, the phone will work but when you get to your house, it won’t. They don’t refund, neither will they give you a good deal.

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