Essential Checklist Before Buying a Used iPhone

Buying a used iPhone can be a great way to save money, but you don’t want to end up with a dud. Here’s a comprehensive checklist to ensure you’re getting a good deal on a pre-loved iPhone:

General Functionality:

  • Power On: This seems obvious, but make sure the iPhone turns on and boots up normally.
  • Activation Lock: An iPhone locked to a specific Apple ID is useless. Ask the seller to sign out of their iCloud account and erase all data. You can also check for Activation Lock by trying to set up the iPhone yourself during the inspection.

Physical Condition:

  • Cracks and Scratches: Examine the screen, body, and camera lenses for cracks, scratches, or dents. These can affect usability and resale value.
  • Buttons and Ports: Make sure all buttons (volume, power, home) and the Lightning port click and function properly. Check for any debris lodged in the port.

Display Quality:

  • Cracks and Dead Pixels: Look for any cracks on the screen and inspect for dead pixels (stuck-on pixels that don’t change color).
  • Screen Burn-in: Turn on the phone and view a white background. Look for faint outlines of icons or images, which indicates screen burn-in. This is a cosmetic issue but can be distracting.

Battery Health:

  • Battery Health Percentage: Navigate to Settings > Battery > Battery Health. A healthy battery should ideally be above 80% capacity. Anything lower might require a replacement soon, which adds to the cost.

Hardware Checks:

  • Camera Test: Open the Camera app and take photos and videos in all modes (front and rear cameras). Ensure the pictures and videos are clear and focused.
  • Speakers and Microphone: Play music or a video to test the speakers. Make a call or record a voice memo to check the microphone.

Important Information:

  • IMEI and Serial Number: These unique identifiers can be found in Settings > General > About. You can use these numbers to check with a carrier if the phone is blacklisted or locked to a network. You can also use a service like to get more details about the phone’s origin and model.
  • MDM (Mobile Device Management): iPhones managed by a company or school will have MDM profiles installed, restricting functionality. To check for MDM, go to Settings > General > Device Management. If there are any profiles listed, it’s best to avoid the phone.
  • Repair History: Ask the seller if the screen or battery has been replaced. Third-party repairs might not be up to Apple’s standards and could affect performance or future warranty claims.

Additional Tips:

  • Meet in Public: Arrange to meet the seller in a well-lit public place for safety reasons.
  • Don’t Pay Until Satisfied: Only pay for the phone after you’ve thoroughly inspected it and are happy with its condition.
  • Consider Warranty: Some reputable resellers might offer a short warranty on used iPhones.

By following these steps, you’ll be well on your way to finding a great deal on a used iPhone that meets your needs and avoids any hidden surprises. Remember, a little caution can save you a lot of money and frustration down the line.