Updated: Jul 20, 2021
We all like to get a good bargain! That's especially true when buying an iPhone. There are a lot of nice used units out there that can save you money. But there are some bad ones too, Just like any business deal, sometimes you're getting someone else's problem, or worse, some ones stolen property!
If you are buying from someone you don't know, and they are local, REQUIRE them to meet you at your carrier store. (AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon etc)
You see, every iPhone has a unique IMEI number, much like a VIN to a car. If someone buys an iPhone under contract, and stops making payments on that phone, or the owner loses the iPhone or worse, it's stolen.. and it's replaced buy insurance, the originating carrier WILL BLACK LIST that IMEI number. So no matter whose SIM you put in it, it will stop working once BLACK LISTED and you will not be able to get it turned back on. So, the Carrier store can pull up that IMEI on the iPhone you are looking to buy, and see if it's still on a contract, or if its locked to a carrier.. (sometimes people say their iPhone will, or should, or might work with ANY CARRIER.. or "unlocked") but in actuality it is not. The carrier store can also look to see if the phone has been reported as lost, or possibly stolen. They are here to help you by acting as a third party that has no vested interest in telling you anything but the truth.
As a rule of thumb, if the seller is not, or can not meet you at a carrier store, or immediately offers to lower the price to save time, or hassle.. that should be an immediate reg flag. Run, don't walk!
If the phone is dead, do not accept their word that it is working.. put it on a car charger or better yet, tell them to make sure that its charged before you even agree to meet (ideally at a public place that has free wifi). A dead phone, could be an iCloud locked phone... and if it has an iCloud lock, NO MATTER WHAT THEY (THE SELLER) says, I HAVE YET TO SEE AN iCLOUD LOCK removed without the Original owner removing it.
Make sure that they remove the iCloud Lock, (the Apple ID) off the phone BEFORE you accept it.. then, set it back up right there in front of them so you can check it out. (you can set up an iPhone WITHOUT a Screen lock or Apple ID.)
Last but not least, if you have a SIM chip with you.. test that iPhone right then. Try to make a call so you can check the ear speaker, Wifi and Cellular Antenna, and loud speaker... also touch response.. touch and drag an APP all over the phone to see if it stays with your finger or drops at a specific spot..
If anything is wrong with the phone and they tell you, it's a cheap repair, then why didn't they do it? LIQUID DAMAGE can cause a lot of odd problems... some can be repaired, but some can cause such intermittent headaches that, guess what... the seller decides to get rid off the problem by making it YOUR problem. Don't let us scare you away from buying a used iPhone from someone you don't know. There are a lot of good deals and honest people out there. But do your homework just in case you come across someone thats not.
The Crew at Cracked Gadgets!