The Gumtree Blog

5 things to consider before buying a used phone

Monday 16 September 2019, by
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Keeping up with every new smartphone release – especially when it seems to happen monthly – is a habit that’s costly for both your wallet and the environment. Buying a second-hand phone on Gumtree is a great way to save hundreds of hard-earned pounds, with phones that are even less expensive than refurbished models from companies like Apple and Samsung. As such, it makes sense that the used phone market has been growing alongside the overall smartphone market, with research predicting the used smartphone market will grow to nearly 223 million devices by 2020.* Most used phones still won’t come cheap, so it’s important to read up on these tips to ensure you can pay for your phone with confidence and smarts.

Consider who to buy from

It’s a good idea to buy from sellers who have high user ratings on Gumtree. The rating system has been designed to help buyers, and it’s a useful level of protection when sellers have been vetted for positive transaction experiences.

Consider what to pay  

Unlike buying retail or from a certified seller, you won’t have the same guaranteed ease of mind when you buy. If the price seems too good to be true, then it probably is (a general Gumtree rule of thumb). Compare the asking price to what other refurbished phone suppliers are offering. If the phone seller is savvy – and not a scammer – the prices should be comparable. You should only pay what you are willing to lose.

Consider what to ask

Always ask for the seller’s name and the phone’s IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) number. An IMEI number is a unique number assigned to every GSM phone, usually found in the iPhone’s pull-out tray or otherwise inside the phone’s battery compartment. You can then use the number to do a CheckMEND check, the world’s largest database of over 40 billion serial numbered electronics, which records whether phones have been reported lost or stolen. Asking about the IMEI is your best shot at protecting yourself from buying a lost or stolen phone and showing that you’re a savvy consumer.

You should also inquire whether the phone in question is locked to a network, meaning it will only work under its network provider. An easy way to confirm a phone is unlocked is by putting your SIM card into the phone. If it’s unlocked, a network provider will appear on the phone’s screen. If it’s locked, you should be able to unlock it for £10-15, but consider this part of the wider cost.

If the phone is blocked, it’s because it’s been reported as stolen or lost. It won’t work in the UK and it’s illegal to unblock it.

Lastly, ask about whether the phone has a new battery, as these will wear out over time. Even if you get reassurance from the seller, it’s a good idea to get the best phone you can and then plan to replace its battery after a certain amount of time.

Consider what to check for

Keeping up with every new smartphone release – especially when it seems to happen monthly – is a habit that’s costly for both your wallet and the environment. Buying a second-hand phone on Gumtree is a great way to save hundreds of hard-earned pounds, with phones that are even less expensive than refurbished models from companies like Apple and Samsung. As such, it makes sense that the used phone market has been growing alongside the overall smartphone market, with research predicting the used smartphone market will grow to nearly 223 million devices by 2020.* Most used phones still won’t come cheap, so it’s important to read up on these tips to ensure you can pay for your phone with confidence and smarts.

Consider who to buy from

It’s a good idea to buy from sellers who have high user ratings on Gumtree. The rating system has been designed to help buyers, and it’s a useful level of protection when sellers have been vetted for positive transaction experiences.

Consider what to pay  

Unlike buying retail or from a certified seller, you won’t have the same guaranteed ease of mind when you buy. If the price seems too good to be true, then it probably is (a general Gumtree rule of thumb). Compare the asking price to what other refurbished phone suppliers are offering. If the phone seller is savvy – and not a scammer – the prices should be comparable. You should only pay what you are willing to lose.

Consider what to ask

Always ask for the seller’s name and the phone’s IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) number. An IMEI number is a unique number assigned to every GSM phone, usually found in the iPhone’s pull-out tray or otherwise inside the phone’s battery compartment. You can then use the number to do a CheckMEND check, the world’s largest database of over 40 billion serial numbered electronics, which records whether phones have been reported lost or stolen. Asking about the IMEI is your best shot at protecting yourself from buying a lost or stolen phone and showing that you’re a savvy consumer.

You should also inquire whether the phone in question is locked to a network, meaning it will only work under its network provider. An easy way to confirm a phone is unlocked is by putting your SIM card into the phone. If it’s unlocked, a network provider will appear on the phone’s screen. If it’s locked, you should be able to unlock it for £10-15, but consider this part of the wider cost.

If the phone is blocked, it’s because it’s been reported as stolen or lost. It won’t work in the UK and it’s illegal to unblock it.

Lastly, ask about whether the phone has a new battery, as these will wear out over time. Even if you get reassurance from the seller, it’s a good idea to get the best phone you can and then plan to replace its battery after a certain amount of time.

Consider what to check for

Minor wear and tear such as scratches or scuffs are to be expected, but this can sometimes extend to how the phone functions. The best way to find out if this is the case is to ask the seller if there are any issues. If they mention any structural damage, this usually entails reduced functionality and should be a deal breaker.

Consider how to pay

Once you’ve inspected the item in person and come to an agreement with the seller, we generally advise you pay in cash. If you pay electronically, transfer money via registered bank information or secure services such as PayPal. 

As with all purchases from unknown sellers, the best way to losing money is to arm yourself with as much information as possible. If you’re ever unsure about an offer, walk away, and when you do find a phone for much less, know that you’ve done so smartly and cheaply for your phone upgrade.   

*Source: Worldwide Used Smartphone Forecast, 2018-2022


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