How to Buy a Used Cellphone on Craigslist (Part 1)
In today’s day and age where online purchases are the norm, buying a used cell phone on Craigslist can be a lifesaver. When you encounter the dreaded toilet dunk for instance and you’re still a long way off from finishing your contract, there’s nothing left to do but to turn to Craigslist or other local ads in hopes of finding an inexpensive but perfectly usable phone. The truth is though, while buying items on Craigslist can be frugally addictive when you score great deals, it can also be a hit or miss.
If you take on this task uninformed, you’re bound to encounter duds and scams and may be left exposed to be taken advantage of. That’s why it pays to do your research first and go through a checklist when you attempt to buy a used cell phone (or any other item) on Craigslist.
The purpose of this article is to offer a basic buying guide when searching Where To Buy Used Cell Phones on Craigslist. Please note however, that this is not a complete guide as we will follow up with more articles to provide useful tips and best practices.
Checking the merchandise
There are several key points to consider when purchasing a phone off Craigslist. Here are some of them:
- Meeting the seller
Before you can actually get to check the cell phone, you must get the seller to agree to a meet up. Arranging the meeting in a public area with access to a power outlet should be a priority when agreeing upon a meeting place. Ideally, you should aim to set the meet up at your carrier store where you have the advantage. It also doesn’t hurt to remind the seller to bring the charger with him so you can test the phone’s charging capability and to charge the unit if it is dead.
- Cosmetic condition
As soon as you meet the seller, do not give up your hard earned cash without first holding the phone and closely examining it. Before you even turn it on and make your tests, it’s important to take note of its cosmetic condition. Inspect the phone from all angles and look for any telltale signs of excessive damage or that the phone has been dropped more than a few times. Check the screen as well to make sure there are no cracks. Scratches on the screen are tolerable (and should be considered in the price negotiation later on), but cracks affect the LCD.
If there are clear indications of any of the conditions described, or if it looks as though the device has been dragged from behind a car, then this may not be a good choice for you. Chances are, it will either not work or fail within a few weeks. Or even if it does work, who wants a cellphone that shows so much of its wear and tear?
- Functionality tests
After your initial inspection, the most crucial task in this process when you buy a used cell phone on Craigslist is to make sure that the device works properly. To achieve this, you must run a series of tests that will give you a better insight on the device’s overall condition.
Make sure you test the phone thoroughly as if you were using it under normal circumstances. Test all of the buttons, keypad, display, touch responsiveness (if it’s a touch screen), earpiece, mic, speaker phone, slide function (if any), and all ports (charge, audio, and others). Basically, push any physical button present and just see if it works. A confident seller would not have any issue with you performing all of these tests. In fact, you can use this time to gauge the seller’s reaction to your testing to sense if there is anything about the phone that remains unsaid.
- Check for water damage
Once all of the physical tests are complete, you should next check for water damage. This is particularly important because a phone can look good and work well even if it has been damaged by moisture or liquid.
To check for liquid damage, make sure that the moisture wick on the phone and battery are not red or pink. The normal color of the moisture wick that has not been in contact with moisture is white or white with a colored pattern. When the moisture wick comes in contact with water or heavy moisture in the air, it will turn completely red or a pinkish red color. If it is red or pink, then the phone has been in contact with some sort of moisture and this will increase the risk that the phone will have an issue down the road.
On most phones, the moisture wick is usually found on the back of the phone under the battery, and another one can be found on the battery itself. For the Apple iPhone,
there are various moisture wicks although there are only 2 you can actually check without taking the phone apart. There is one in the headphone jack and another in the charge port. Checking the moisture wick is something commonly overlooked but if you come across a red indicator, you should consider not buying the phone at all or making a reduction in your buying offer.
Checking for moisture or water damage is critical because when a phone gets wet then reused, corrosion and rust builds up on the circuit boards inside the phone. This could cause a short circuit to the phone after some time, making it very difficult, perhaps even impossible, to repair.
That’s why at our cell phone store in Austin, Texas, we have a standing policy that if a phone’s indicator is red we will not resell it and it will automatically either be recycled or used for parts that are salvageable. Although we have seen some customers continue using their phones that have taken a quick dive with no problems at all, in my opinion (based on experience) it is still a huge gamble and we will not take that chance with our customers who expect a quality product.
Weighing the risks
If the phone you are planning to buy on Craigslist passes all of the checks and tests we have suggested, then it is safe to say you have a functional phone that should work flawlessly for quite some time. Of course, the fact remains that it is a device that has been previously used so there really are no guarantees. What’s left is for you to measure your appetite for risk, factor in the buying price which is usually negotiable, and then decide for yourself if you’ve gotten a fair deal for a used cellphone.
In this article, we covered the possible cosmetic, functionality, and water damage issues that you may encounter when getting a second-hand cellphone. However, there is also another aspect when you buy a used cell phone on Craigslist that is equally important which we will delve deep into in our follow up article. We will also discuss how every carrier is a little different on how they manage this issue and how this can mean the difference between you buying your next cell phone or merely an expensive paper weight. For example if you are searching for a Sprint Replacement Phone you will want to make sure it will activate on your Sprint service.
In the meantime, feel free to leave a comment below if you some feedback for us or if you have any questions on how to buy a used cell phone on Craigslist. You can also view our page to Buy Used Cell Phones in Austin TX.