After buying iphones for family and mates for a few years, I have often come across some phones in mint condition, and some right lemons. As such, ive compiled a list of a few things to keep an eye out for when you go to buy an iPhone second hand, in particular for when you are buying an iphone off a dodgy lad in trekkies in an even dodgier neighborhood.
Things to ask the seller before meeting:
1. Whats the IMEI number? After you get this, ring up your phone network, tell them you are buying an iphone and want to check if the phone is stolen/replaced on insurance (i.e blocked). They will request this number off you.
2. What is the iPhones serial number? You can use this on the apple website https://selfsolve.apple.com/agreementWarrantyDynamic.do to see when the phone was bought (useful to collaborate the sellers story with), and if the iPhone is still in warranty (handy if there is something wrong with the iphone that you want to get repaired yourself for free by sending it back to Apple). Also, if the phone is over 12 months old and locked to a network, the network is required to unlock it for free.
Tools you will need to bring with you when meeting the seller:
1. A sim card on a network that the phone will accept (if the phone is unlocked, you can bring any network sim card).
2. A sim card removal tool, such as a paperclip or a thumbtack.
3. Optional: A small torch
4. Optional: A second iphone, to enable a "wifi hotspot" with.
5. Optional: A set of headphones
How to check if the iphone is functioning fine (these are in descending order of importance):
1. Put in a sim card (make sure its a micro sim card for the iPhone 4) ring someone, and ask them to ring you back. This tests the ringer, speaker, microphone, network signal, and most importantly, if the phone isnt blocked.
2. Hold your finger down on an icon to move it, and move it all around the screen. If it springs away from you at the same point repeatedly, then the digitizer may be damaged.
3. Take a picture. This checks the camera.
4. Turn silent switch to speaker and then switch it back to vibrate. If the phone doesn't vibrate, then either the vibrator is bad or the switch is bad.
5. If available, check to see if wifi is working by making a search for networks nearby. If you have a second iphone, you could enable "hotspot" and see if you can find that.
6. Press the on/off button to see if it wakes and goes into sleep to ensure that the button is working correctly.
7. Press home button to go to SpringBoard (the normal background) a few times to ensure its working correctly and isn't stuck.
8. Check the water damage indicators with a small torch: http://support.apple.com/kb/ht3302
9. Plug in headphones, and ring someone, and have a quick conversation. This checks the headphone jack.
10. Change the volume up and down. Check if the volume icon changes accordingly on the screen. This checks the volume buttons.
11. Remove any screen protector or case. Look at the cosmetic condition. Look for scratches on screen, back, scuffing on the trim, cracks near earphone jack and charger.
If im missing anything, give us a shout, I will add them to the list. There is more information available here:
Have you a link to back this up? O2 are the only one I know of that unlock before the contract is up. And most iPhone contracts are 18/24 months.
Also, the one thing the networks can't tell you is if the seller has it on contract and is about to stop paying, leaving you with a blacklisted phone.
You are right whiterebel. That was a gross simplification that I put in the guide, as it was not a guide on "How to officially unlock your mobile" but a guide on "How to check an iphone thoroughly before buying second hand". Adding in all the conditions for Irish networks would have beyond the scope of the guide. For example, there are numerous requirements of the mobile operator to allow the unlocking of your iphone. For O2 Ireland, the official requirements are the following:
1. You must be registered on O2.ie
2. Prepaid customers must have topped up with a minimum €150 on the registered SIM card (this excludes bonus credits)
3. You must have bought the phone from O2 Ireland
4. In some case your phone has to be registered under your number. For example if u bought second hand phone and it has been registered under previously number and name you wound be able to request unlock from O2. However, in my experience this isnt a requirement.
You can request your O2 unlock here: http://www.o2online.ie/o2/help/article.php?aid=55730
Or vodafone here:
Yes, even if you follow the guide there is always a risk that even if you follow all the steps that the phone may still be in the process of getting blacklisted. For example, the phone may have been stolen and the original owner gets the phone blacklisted after the sale has happened, or else the networks are in the process of getting the phone blacklisted. If you are buying the iPhone with the original box and accessories you are lessening the chance that it is stolen. The blacklisting issue still remains if the contract was prematurely cancelled with out the seller paying off a canceling fee. However, I have never come across this in practice and assumed in the guide that the chance of it occurring is negligible.
Vodafone won't or can't check if a phone is blacklisted without the original phone number and imei
I bought a second hand 3gs, and it was stratched to bits and the screen was broken too, but it was just for work, so that didnt bother me. Anyway two days after i bought it, it stopped working. No network simcard will work in it, not even UK ones either.
Sitting in my drawer for months gathering dust now
EBay. It'll work in Europe.