How to Buy a Used AT&T iPhone
The Apple iPhone will be coming to Verizon Wireless networks in February and with its release there could be lots of used AT&T versions available for sale. For those who want an iPhone (or want to upgrade to the new iPhone 4) but don’t want to fork over the dough for a new one or sign a two-year contract, this could be the perfect time to buy.
If you’re buying the iPhone from a stranger on craigslist, we recommend you meet the seller in a public place for your safety.
You’ll also want to physically inspect the iPhone. For starters, check out the back and front of the phone to identify any scratches or cracks. Cracks in the touch screen are especially important because the screen on the iPhone is very difficult to replace.
Next, make sure the following features work: the home-screen button, camera, switch that changes the ringer to vibrate, the ringer and vibration sounds, outer speaker (located on the bottom of the phone), and the accelerometer, which senses when the phone is flipped on its side and changes the screen from portrait to landscape. If possible, ask if you can make a call using the iPhone to make sure the microphone and internal speaker works.
Also ask the seller how long he or she has owned the phone. If it’s more than a year, the battery will likely not last as long as when the phone was new, and Apple’s one-year warranty will have expired.
Another, less obvious but important thing to look for when buying a used iPhone is whether the phone has been exposed to water. If there’s water damage, Apple will refuse to replace the phone under warranty. To check for water damage, look in the headphone jack port to see if the water sensor has been tripped. The water sensor is a circular patch at the base of the headphone jack and is usually white. When exposed to water, it turns red or pink.
Even if you’re purchasing the used iPhone from eBay, where you often don’t have a chance to inspect the device in person, it’s still a good idea to ask the seller all of the above questions.
In terms of price, that depends on what you’re willing to pay. If you don’t want to renew your contract, then the price you’d pay for a new phone is $599 (16GB) or $699 (32GB). But if you’re eligible for an upgrade and willing to sign a two-year contract, then the price you want to compare is $199 (16GB) and $299 (32GB).
While buying a used phone comes with more risk than buying a new one, the potential savings make it worth it. Just remember: Do your homework before handing over the cash.