While there isn’t anything quite like unboxing a brand-new smartphone – the satisfying slide of the lid off the box, the even-more-satisfying peel of protective plastic from glossy screen, and all the goodies hidden beneath the phone’s cardboard cradle – for many, buying new isn’t a cost they can justify. As households across the UK start feeling the pinch, buying second-hand becomes a much wiser and more affordable prospect, bagging you a phone with all the features for a fraction of the price. However, buying second-hand also comes with its fair share of pitfalls; here are three questions for you to ask yourself when on the lookout for a second-hand phone, to help you feel more secure in your new purchase.

Used or Refurbished?

If you sell your iPhone 7 with a reputable mobile reuse company, you might find yourself with a healthy injection of cash to put towards your used phone purchase – but you may want to ask yourself this question before to buy the first product you find. There are some key differences between a used phone and a refurbished one, chief of which is their treatment directly before sale. Refurbished phones are usually returned to the manufacturer, where they are repaired and reset to factory settings. Used phones tend to be privately sold, and cleaned by the seller. Refurbished phones can cost more, but can also come with guarantees or warranty agreements; used phones may be cheaper, but come with no guarantees and could be more liable to fail in your hands.

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What is its Physical Condition?

If you have a specific phone in mind to buy, you’ll want to know more about its physical condition before you go ahead with the purchase. For private sellers, you can ask to examine the phone yourself, giving you an opportunity to look for scratches, dents and any evidence of water damage. Finding any of the above could mean a reduced lifespan after you buy it. Refurbished phones are often given a grade by their seller, indicating their physical condition. Grades can differ from seller to seller, but as an example: A might mean pristine condition, while B might suggest evidence of superficial damage and C might suggest evidence of heavy usage.

What is its History?

With refurbished devices, history is not so much of a concern; the device will have been vetted and wiped by the manufacturer prior to sale, giving it a clean slate. However, private second-hand phone sales can come with an increased element of risk – for example, the phone may have been stolen. You can check if the phone has been reported stolen before buying by finding out if its IMEI number has been blacklisted.