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How to check a used phone before buying: our used phone checklist

Today’s new phones tend to be priced way outside the range of affordability for those of us with a reasonable budget. The latest iterations from popular brands like Samsung or Apple’s iPhone can go for upwards of $1,400, a price point which can easily break the bank for many shoppers.

This is why an increasing number of consumers are turning to used cell phones, which can offer the same level of quality at a much more budget-friendly price if you know what to look out for.

If you feel like brand-new smartphones are prohibitively expensive and want to consider a refurbished phone instead, here is how to check a used phone before buying to ensure that you are 100% happy with your purchase.

Have an idea of what you want in a used phone before buying

First and foremost, when you decide you want to shop for a used phone, you should first have a general idea of what you need. Make a list of every feature you think you want, going from essential to negotiable. This might include things such as:

  • Minimum required specifications (memory, storage, etc.)
  • Screen size
  • Camera quality
  • Preferred brand
  • Color
  • Budget

Find a trusted used phone seller

Once you have a good idea what kind of used phone you want and the budget you are willing to spend, it’s time to find a trustworthy seller. Some shoppers will opt for classified ads platforms like Kijiji or eBay since they tend to be on the cheaper side of the spectrum.

However, keep in mind that you will be dealing with third party sellers on these platforms and they often come with a greater risk than online shops that have a proven track record of selling used phones to satisfied customers.

Established sellers like Recycell will inspect every phone to ensure high quality standards, offer a reasonable return policy and provide customer support to guarantee that you are satisfied with your purchase. This gives you more time to determine if the smartphone meets your expectations, whereas buying a phone from a random person on Craigslist often forces you to rapidly check the device in person.

Used phone checklist: what to inspect before committing

Whether you are meeting someone in person to inspect a used phone before buying or you are receiving your phone in the mail from an online store, there are certain things you will always want to check before committing to your purchase.

Visual inspection

Before booting up your used phone, you will first want to perform a quick visual inspection for any visible damages. Check for any noticeable scratches or dents on the screen and camera and press the different buttons to make sure they are functional.

Touch screen

Boot up the smartphone to make sure the entire screen area responds well to your touch and you don’t find any deadspots. You should also test the screen brightness at this point and make sure there is no off-color tinting or splotching that will affect your browsing experience.

Microphone, headphone port and speakers

Open the built-in voice recording app included on most smartphones and record a short sentence. Play back audio with and without headphones to make sure everything is in working order. This will also ensure that the headphone port is undamaged.


Load the camera application and take a few pictures and video using both the selfie cam and rear-facing camera. The picture quality should look crisp and unobstructed by any visual anomalies (from an undetected crack for example).

USB connectivity

Finally, you will want to test the charging cable that comes with your used phone. Make sure the phone battery charges properly when plugged in. If you have your laptop with you, check if you can access the phone folder without any issues.

Watch out for red flags and always check a used phone before buying

Checking a used phone before buying is always worth the time to make sure you are comfortable with your device. When not buying from a trusted online seller, be aware of any potential red flags such as the seller being hesitant to let you test the phone or unable to answer your questions.

Recycell offers a wide range of high-quality, pre-inspected used phones and cell phone accessories at competitive prices and has completed over 10,000 successful transactions with satisfied customers.

Every one of our smartphones is rated on a scale of 1 to 10 for condition to prevent any unpleasant surprises. Contact us today if you have any questions about our used smartphone products and we will be happy to answer you!


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