10 things you must check when buying a used iPhone

Read the full guide below or click "Get Started" to explore Raylo's range of iPhones

The GuardianTechCrunch
Dec 8, 2023

If you want an iPhone but don’t fancy the brand new price tag, a used iPhones might be your best bet. As with any second hand purchase, though, there are some things you should check first. Read our used iPhone buying guide to get clued up and save yourself from being out of pocket.


1: The price of the used iPhone

Stats show that buying a used iPhone can save you 20–40% vs brand new. But that doesn’t always mean that you’re getting the best price. We recommend doing research on the used iPhone model you’re looking for to make sure that you really are getting the best bang for your buck. Our guide to a safe used mobile phone purchase is a good starting point for this.


2: Is the iPhone used or refurbished?

Think that buying a used iPhone means that you’re guaranteed a quality phone that’s in top condition? Think again. Used means the device is second hand so it may come with defects, flaws or general wear and tear, whereas refurbished means that the device has been used but has been professionally restored to an ‘as good as new’ condition (like the Raylo Certified Refurbished iPhone XR). Knowing the difference could save you getting stung with a dud phone.


3: Sense check the seller

Opportunities to buy used iPhones come in all shapes and sizes. These can range from individual sellers and private dealers on the ‘less safe’ end to reputable sellers like online marketplaces or official resellers on the ‘safe and secure’ end.

Individual sellers and private dealers can be a risky option as you’ll usually pay in cash, there might be hidden defects with the used iPhone that you’re not made aware of and you might never be able to contact the seller again once you’ve purchased. Whereas if you go with a reputable seller, you’ll have proof of purchase, assurance that the used iPhone hasn’t been stolen and isn’t a knock off, and the phone will likely come with some sort of warranty in case of any issues. We know which one we’d rather go with.


4: Make sure the used iPhone is unlocked

Getting your hands on a used iPhone is great, but you should check whether the phone you’re buying is carrier locked. If it is, you’ll likely need to pay to unlock it. However, you should be aware that unlocking the phone might void its warranty or cause problems when you want to update its software.

All of our Raylo Certified Refurbished iPhones (and our brand new iPhones) come unlocked, so you can insert the SIM of your choice and keep your monthly costs low. It’s just one of the steps we take to give you an easy, secure used iPhone experience.


5: Can you get a good SIM only deal?

That brings us onto our next point: you should consider the deal you can get on a SIM card before you buy a used iPhone as that may affect what you can afford. Luckily, we’ve already put a guide together on how to go SIM only, so you can make sure you find a great deal that might free up a few pounds to put towards a used iPhone. 

6: Check the quality of the used iPhone

Checking the quality of the used iPhone once you physically have it is as important as choosing a trusted seller to buy it from. Once it arrives, we’d recommend checking all of its key functions, starting with its buttons, speakers, charging port and camera, as well as testing out various apps and services on it.

Luckily, each of our Raylo Certified Refurbished phones undergoes a 70 point quality check before we send it out to you so that you know the phone you’re receiving is performing at its very best. And just in case, each refurbished iPhone comes with a 24 month warranty so you can rest easy.


7: Test the used iPhone’s battery

A used iPhone that has been used for a year or more will not have as strong a battery life as a phone that has been used for only a few months. You can check the health of the battery by using the Battery Health feature found in Settings (available on iOS 12 and up). A healthy phone’s battery should be around the 100% mark in the Maximum Capacity section, so if it’s not even close you may want to rethink whether you want to keep the used iPhone. There’s nothing worse than the battery jumping from 35% to 0 in a few seconds, after all.


8: Consider paying monthly

Instead of paying a lump sum for a used iPhone, paying monthly might help you to keep costs low. With Raylo Certified Refurbished, our prices start at just £14.99 for the refurbished iPhone X on a 24 month contract with zero upfront fees. That’s a saving of over £300 compared to buying the same phone directly from Apple – though with Raylo, you don’t own the phone outright due to our leasing model. More on that in the next point. 


9: Think about leasing

Considering whether you need to own the phone could save you some cash and help you do your bit for the planet, too. All of our phones are available on a lease model which means you don’t own the phone and pay monthly to lease it from us. That’s what helps us to keep our prices low, and at the end of your contract you simply send your used phone back to us, upgrade to the newest model (or a refurbished model) for free while helping us to reduce the waste of used iPhones. That’s just one way we’re smashing smartphone sustainability.


10: Is Raylo the best option?

We may be biased, but we think Raylo is your best bet for a used iPhone purchase. All of our Raylo phones tick the cost, safety and reliability boxes – which is why we’re currently sitting at a 4.8 star rating on Trustpilot. Each Raylo Certified Refurbished phone is put through a rigorous 70-point check before shipping. Our team meticulously checks everything from buttons to battery, speakers to SIM slot, to make sure your new phone is almost indistinguishable from brand new. And of course, as with any Raylo phone, everything’s backed by our warranty, just in case.