Used Smart Phones

How safe/unsafe is it to buy a used smart phone? Are there sources less risky than others?

I just bought a Razr Maxx on Craigslist. The trouble was that it wouldn’t delete the data from the previous owner. I would say that the more complicated the item, the more things there are to go wrong, and the more of a problem buying one used is. In my case, the seller didn’t know of the problem, and was honest enough to replace it.

I would be sure to buy the phone in a store for the carrier used, and make sure the phone has not been reported stolen, and the carrier is willing to activate it on your number. I did this, but did not check that the phone would properly do a hard reset. It didn’t work, and I had to go back for the replacement.

I’ve ONLY bought used smart phones, and it has been great. It’s a lot cheaper than buying new, and you don’t have to supplicate yourself to AT&T for two years for the privilege of a slight discount.

That said, the first thing I do when I get a smart phone is root it and install Cyanogenmod. So the previous owner’s data/apps/software problems aren’t an issue for me.

But while I think installing new firmware is fairly straightforward and easy, you still have to learn how to do it. And if you hit a snag in the process, knowing Linux and the command line has been helpful. So my experience may not generalize.

But I still think it’s worth learning in order to break free from overpriced carrier contracts and uninstallable carrier bloatware. Maybe get a cheap old phone to practice on before trying it on your pricey used Galaxy S3?

I would definitely recommend buying a used smart phone, but as these things go, caveat emptor and all that.

As far as sources go, I don’t really know of any. The best thing is to ask your friends if they know anyone who’s looking to sell.

If you’re scared of buying used, consider buying from Google.

The nexus 4 is a high end phone(1 generation old now), for 300.

Should work on any network that uses a SIM Chip.

The most safe is to buy used from the carrier. You may have to go to multiple stores as they don’t share ea others inventories.
There are multiple web sites that sell used cell phones. The good ones know how to factory restore them and have a decent return policy.
Note that not all phones work w/ all carriers.
If buying used from craigslist (which is very common), call your carrier and give them the used phones S/N to ensure they can activate that phone before you hand over any money.

Seems safe enough to buy on eBay. Just make sure the phone is in good condition and the seller has good feedback, watch for shipping charges. If the seller doesn’t provide pictures and a good description of defects, move on. I look for phones in “excellent” condition and “clean ESN” (meaning the serial number is free to be registered on that carrier’s network.

One thing to keep in mind is what network you want to use the phone on. It’s easiest to buy a Verizon phone if you want to use it on Verizon, Sprint phone if you want to use it on Sprint, etc. Some phones (like a Motorola Photon) can be used on more than one carrier but it can be a pain to “reflash” it.