Buying a second-hand or refurbished iPhone might seem straightforward, but here are our top tips for making sure you don’t get ripped off

Apple’s new iPhone 8 and X aren’t cheap devices. Even older, discontinued models are still quite expensive when purchased new. So, what do you do if you’re in the market for an iOS device and don’t want to spend an arm and a leg on a new phone? Buy used, of course!

If you are willing to buy second-hand or refurbished you could save yourself some money. If you spend a little time shopping around, you’ll be able to find a like-new iPhone for a fraction of the price. We highlight the best places to buy refurbished and second-hand iPhones as well as running through a few key things to look out for, potentially saving you from getting stung with a second-hand paperweight.

Where are the best places to pick up a refurbished or second-hand iPhone?

1. Amazon, eBay and Gumtree

The safest, most used sites for refurbished or used tech would be Amazon’s marketplace, eBay and Gumtree. Still, you should be wary of buying through these sites, as there are lots of fakes and scams on these sites.

When buying through Gumtree, you’ll want to check that the seller is willing to talk to you in person, or if you have to get it posted to you – that you pay through PayPal’s services, which will protect your purchase, giving you that extra bit of security.

Image of Apple iPhone 6 UK Smartphone - Silver (64GB) (Certified Refurbished)

Apple iPhone 6 UK Smartphone – Silver (64GB) (Certified Refurbished)


2. Apple Refurbished Store

The UK Apple refurbished store doesn’t stock the iPhone just yet, but it is worth keeping in mind, as the US Apple refurbished store does. This might suggest that Apple will someday release refurbished iPhones on its UK site – but, I wouldn’t keep your hopes up.

3. Other retailers and friends

There are various other repair shops, either around the UK or online that sell refurbished or used iPhones. QuickMobileFix, musicMagpie and iPhone Refurbs are among many that can provide you with the service.

However, there is a fourth option which you might not have considered: why not ask your friends, or post on social media such as Facebook to see if anyone has a spare iPhone around the house. Often, people have an old phone but don’t sell it out of laziness or the hassle of selling. If one of your trustworthy friends has an iPhone sitting in a drawer, then you might be able to pick up a real bargain while helping a friend ‘recycle’ their old iPhone.

Top tips for buying a second-hand, refurbished or used iPhone

It’s important to know the dangers associated with buying a second-hand iPhone before taking the plunge. The most common scam is to buy a stolen phone. Not only is buying a stolen phone a crime, but it could also lead to the phone being locked later down the line. There are several ways to ensure that you’re making a safe investment:

1. Ask for an original receipt or a proof of purchase

Documentation is a good way to determine if the seller is genuine. Whether the seller bought the iPhone from Apple or a third-party seller, they should have the original receipt, even if it’s in an electronic format. Official documentation helps with warranty claims, but will also reassure you that the iPhone is genuine.

2. Check the IMEI number

An IMEI is a unique number that identifies any phone in the world. If it is stolen, the IMEI will be reported to the carrier, and be locked. This means that your SIM will not work with a locked phone, so you’ll want to double check the IMEI in to see if it has been reported as lost or stolen.

3. Check the seller’s return policy

Some sellers offer a return policy, which gives extra peace of mind. These sellers are often big resellers who have an established brand or shop. You’ll not find private sellers offering a return policy, as there are no laws surrounding the sale of second-hand purchases.

4. Check for an iCloud account, reset and setup the iPhone

If you’re buying the phone in person (such as meeting a seller from Gumtree), it’s worth turning on the iPhone and making sure that it works – you should request the seller to charge the phone before bringing it to you.

If the phone currently has a SIM inside, it might be a good idea to text and call the phone to see if it can receive calls and texts. You’ll also want to ensure there is no iCloud account on the iPhone, as it’s a hassle to get it removed without a password, and if the seller flat-out refuses to remove it, it would indicate that it’s stolen.

5. Always meet in a safe public place

If the seller is honest and isn’t trying to scam you, they won’t feel uncomfortable to meet in a safe and secured location – take a friend along with you to be on the safe side, too. At a coffee shop, train station or even in front of an Apple store; these are all great places to meet a private seller.


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