Avoid Being Scammed When Buying a Used iPhone [Guide]

How many times, have you listened or read the ‘horror stories’ of people who got scammed by buying a fake phone or an original used phone with broken hardware inside. In Pakistan, it has become a very common practice to sell used phones which are not what they are claim to be. If you are planning to buy a used phone, no matter which brand you want, you will definitely go to OLX, ‘Jahan Dhoka Hi Milta Hye’. Initially, to search for the phones and then to get an idea of the market prices. And this is where your horror story can begin if you are not prepared.

I was completely shocked when I saw the post of a student on Facebook about his experience of buying a used iPhone from Karachi’s biggest mobile market. The student, who was learning iOS development, collected his pocket money to buy the used iPhone so he could test his apps in a live environment. The unfortunate student bought the used iPhone from the shopkeeper, who claimed that the device was in its original condition and had never repaired. But to his surprise, the student found his phone dead after just using it for four hours. And when he rushed back to the shopkeeper, the shopkeeper did not take the responsibility and refused to return or exchange the dead iPhone.

Many people think, buying a used iPhone is easier because Apple does not make its iPhone for carriers so the hardware is same in all models. But on the other hand, you can easily be a victim of used iPhone scam if you are not aware of all the details. A used iPhone is usually more expensive compared to a used Android phone. So, if you get scammed when buying an iPhone, it will not only be frustrating, but also cost you some hard cash.

What to check before you buy a used iPhone

The only way to buy a used iPhone of a good quality is to make sure you check it properly. Checking the Call quality or camera and image quality is not enough. You must examine the phone from all aspects. Let’s discuss all the checks, you should do before deciding if the iPhone you are eyeing is worth your money or not.

1)    Make Sure It’s Not Fake

There are plenty of fake Chinese iPhones available in the market, which run Android OS with an iPhone-like user interface. So it is important that you check if the iPhone you are going to buy is original or not. You can find the best tips to check if your iPhone is fake or original here.

2)    Check Network Connectivity

Now that you are sure that the iPhone is not fake, you should place the SIM card to check if the device is able to work with your carrier or not. Remember, Apple facilitates its iPhone users to lock the device by going to Apple website if lost or stolen.  Once you have inserted the SIM card, the phone should detect the carrier and you should be able to make and receive calls and messages.

3)    Make Sure the Phone is Not Water Damaged

apple Liquid Contact Indicator

One of the most important checks is to see if the device is water damaged. Apple iPhone devices are not waterproof or water resistant. That is why they all come with a ‘Liquid Contact Indicator’ inside the SIM tray which turns to red as soon as it comes in contact with liquid or water. You can use that to identify if the phone is water-damaged.

4)    Check All Other Features

Make sure, you are able to connect to the App Store and you can download the apps. You should check the camera by taking pictures and making videos of at least a few minutes. If the phone gets hot while making videos, its better to leave that particular device. Similarly, you should be able to connect it an accessory via Bluetooth and GPS should work properly as well.

5)    Check the 3D Touch in iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus

apple 3d force touch

If you are going to buy the latest iPhone 6S or 6S Plus model. Make sure the 3D Touch feature works properly. The 3D touch feature allows you to tap in different ways for different actions. If you don’t know how does the 3D Touch works, you should learn it.

6)    Always Ask for Warranty

You are going to spend some good cash on that phone (depending on the model). So make sure you ask for at least one week of warranty and you get the a written invoice as well. During that time, you should check out everything in good detail. View the camera pictures on big screen, make calls, use WiFi, check battery timing by using the phone continuously

7)    Always Buy from a Reliable Seller

If you are going to buy a used iPhone from some shop, make sure you buy it from a big and reliable shop or a reliable online store. Similarly, you should ask your friends and relatives for a good reference and always prefer to buy the phone directly from someone close to you, who is selling his/her phone.


To avoid frustration and saving yourself from becoming a victim of a scam, you should always take your time before buying a used iPhone. Do your homework, apply all these checks on the device and if you have not used an iPhone before, you should try a few Apple devices before going for one. This cool infographic from MobileSiri has placed all the tips and checks to buy a used iPhone 6/6S in one place.


  • Saqib

    Is there not something with iPhones like service menu which comes with android phones which you can use to automate most of the hardware tests?

    • Zawyar Ur Rehman

      Nope, none, nada.

    • Eli Ehsan

      Apple does initiate all the debugging checks on the startup & all the buggy reports can be found in “Settings>Privacy>Diagnostics & usage” page. Beyond that no other built in softy to run them tests like android.

    • lan naapne walay agaye

  • Farrukh Javed

    Informative (Y)

  • Nadeem Malik

    you can check any of your apple device its origional or not by going and entering your serial on the following website


  • umar

    Add one more thing. Check that the Touch ID works on an iPhone 5s and later, coz recently i bought one and out of 3 phones touch id did not work on 2.

    • Taha Najam

      For that, you’ll first have to set up your fingerprint to be recognized, which takes time and is not possible while in store.

  • Naseer Ahmad

    I have also been a victim of olx, Iphone are almost non repairable, the most important thing is battery, if battery statistics in settings for home and lockscreen is more than 15%, never buy it, battery draining is never fixed in iphone, Touch id should be checked because a problematic touch id can place ur phone in recovery mode which is not repairable due to Apple security, Apple assumes that someone can gain access by replacing touch id sensor and you never can come out of recovery mode without original touch id sensor, in short never compromise on a little issue because a little is bigger in case of Iphone. Used iphone is always risky even for people who has good knowledge of Iphone, Don’t compromise on Jv iphone, these are cheaper but tension for frequent travelers. Always buy iphone from a friend, cousin or with a reference.

  • muhammad ahmad

    still not enough for pakistan , much more needed
    for local market .