CheckList to Buy an Used iPhone

I am in the market for a new phone. Got tired of my Windows Phone, which I gave so much love for years but unfortunately the market didn’t care for it. Windows Phone is like a beautiful princess locked in a castle that noone knows where it is.

I am going for an iPhone. You can’t beat its app store. Nowadays people don’t buy phones, they buy the app store.

I am thinking about buying a 2nd-hand device so I listed a few things to check when I found one and I am sharing these tips here with you. Hope it helps you as well if you’re in similar situation.

Here are my 9 checks to perform a good smoke-test on the device you want to buy:

  1. Check for Warranty and Support Status
  2. Check the iPhone Activation Lock Status
  3. Examine the Device
  4. Test the Display
  5. Access the Internet over Wi-Fi and Cell Network
  6. Make a Call and Send a Text to a Friend
  7. Take a Picture and Make a Movie
  8. Check the Battery
  9. Disassociate the Device from iCloud

And now let’s go into more details on how to check them.

1) Check for Warranty and Support Status

If the phone you’re buying is sold as “under warranty”, make sure it is.  Enter the iPhone serial number into the Apple’s site to see the report. You can check this here. 


2) Check the iPhone Activation Lock Status

Before transferring ownership of an iPhone make sure the Activation Lock has been disabled and the device is ready for the next user. This also applies for iPad, iPods and Apple Watches. You can check this here.


Note: Once an IMEI is blocked, let’s say due to theft or lost device,  it cannot be undone. It means the device has officially become a brick. With no use for noone except the recycling company. So if the IMEI is locked here, don’t bother testing anything else…actually, you CAN report it to the police.

3) Examine the Device

Scratches, chipped glass, dock connector. Then plug the phone in a charger to make sure it will take a charge. Listen to music through the headphones. Use the headphone’s controls to navigate music and volume.

4) Test the Display

This is tricky as well. Make sure you are in a place with good natural light when inspecting the phone screen. Visit this website iPhone Dead Pixel Tester to test for dead pixels. Make sure the screen displays a solid colour and it does not have any stuck pixels that won’t go away.


5) Access the Internet over Wi-Fi and Cell Network

Go and browse places like news or weather sites because they have tend to have small local caches.

6) Make a Call and Send a Text to a Friend

This is to make sure the phone perform trivial tasks as expected. During the call, put the volume up and down. Pay attention how you communicate with your friend and check if the call behaves as expected.

7) Take a Picture and Make a Movie

Make sure the photo does not look weird, too dark or too bright or have fuzzy spots.

8) Check the Battery

Go to  Settings/General/Usage and check the time when the device had the last full charge. This is a bit tricky, but once you have the phone use it as much as you can and see if you are getting the battery duration expected.

9) Disassociate the Device from iCloud

Hopefully you won’t be buying a stolen iPhone so make sure the current owner disassociates the device from the iCloud account otherwise you won’t be able to login using your credentials and activate your new phone. See how to do this here.


If you find out later that the previous owner did not disassociated it properly or he/she doesn’t know how to do it, ask him/her to go to iCloud, login and remove the device from their account. They can do this by going here.


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