How to buy a used mobile phone

With [new] smartphone sales on the decline in the UK, and the advancements in tech between handset models getting tinier every year, lots of people are turning away from the conventional smartphone upgrades they have with their plans and are turning to used mobile phone sales.

It’s pretty straight forward to see why consumers are turning to used mobile phones and that’s the astronomical unit costs on new smartphones nowadays. It’s not unheard of to spend upwards of £1000 / $1000 on a new smartphone and this figure regularly increases throughout the year. Consumers are clocking onto the fact that mobile phones’ technology advancements are pretty limited each year – in essence, the consumers are wondering – “what on earth am I paying all this money for?”.

Large mobile phone companies such as Verizon in the US and O2 in the UK prey on consumers to sign up for long-term contracts to cover the enormous costs of these new handsets. Some companies are locking in users to 3-year contracts to own their own smartphone – and this is why, used mobile phone sales are booming.

But wait.

Before you go giving head-first into buying a used mobile phone you need to know what you’re getting yourself into first – so here’s a brief guide to aide you along the way.

What’s the difference between a USED mobile phone and a REFURBISHED mobile phone?

Along your pursuit of purchasing your next smartphone you will see many advertisements for used and refurbished mobile phones – and it’s easy to confuse the two.

In essence;


  • These handsets will always be sold directly from a retailer, manufacturer or a reseller
  • Prices will often be higher than on the used mobile phone market
  • Normally come with warranty
  • Normally sold as new or graded for quality as so you know what to expect (kinda – some areas can be blurry here with poor resellers and retailers – do your homework and look at reviews)

Used handsets / Second-hand

  • You’ll normally be buying direct from a previous owner of the handset
  • Warranty likely to be expired (but by no means in all cases)
  • You can get a GREAT price
  • Handset might be really worn (advisory is to inspect the handset) or won’t come with correct accessories / original box

On the face of it, buying a used mobile phone can mean grabbing an absolute bargain – and that’s why many consumers are getting involved.

However, there are some things you should be wary of and should look out for when purchasing a used handset, these include:

  • Poor Battery Life – Smartphone batteries are notoriously awful with users complaining about them online – so be wary about this fact when buying a really old smartphone
  • Faulty Buttons – If buying a used smartphone (particularly an old one) buttons and or screens may be faulty – so be sure to check these before you buy if you can.
  • Charging port issues – lots of users complained about charging port issues in Apple products in 2018, so be sure to check the handset still charges well
  • No accessories or missing accessories – when buying a used handset, the person selling them should disclose what the phone will come with. Don’t be afraid to ask what accessories the phone comes with.

Final word

Buying a used mobile phone is a great way to save money on smartphones and relieves you of potentially signing up to long, dreary contracts. The key to buying a used mobile phone is to be diligent when purchasing and making sure that whoever you’re buying from is credible (do your homework). Inspect the phone, make sure you’re happy with it and enjoy when you get it home.