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Tips to Choose a Good Used Smartphone

This article will show you how you can pick a good second hand smartphone. It doesn’t matter if you pick from a second hand smartphone shop or from other person.
Why choose to buy a second hand smartphone? Well, budget is the main concern, and you don’t want to spend a half K for just a phone, I personally just feel it’s not worth it.

Also if you don’t want to buy a new mid range or budget devices but get a flagship from last year instead.


  • This article is specifically for Android phones, because I never own an iOS device
  • I don’t think it’s the complete guide, it will be something is missing, please let me know
  • English is not my primary language, please forgive me for bad English.

Know what you want!

First thing first, know what you want. You need to understand what you want first, example you need a phone for photo shooting or gaming, or productivities.. Etc. Do a research and make sure you get it right and you don’t waste money on what you don’t use.

Once you get a devices to buy, you need to do a research on specs, review and how it goes on this current year to make sure it’s still work for you.

Once you have a device that comes to your mind, let’s say you want a Nexus 6P, here is the guide to check when you get your hands on the phone.

Phone body

One you pick it up, look around and see how old or new is it. Is there any scratches on the body? And you can spot it if the phone used to get dropped before by seeing the edges.


Next step is to see if the screen is still good, no scratches, no breaking and original screen is a plus.

Speaker and Mic

Play some musics, make sure the speaker is functional including the small earpiece on the top, use recorder app to record voice, and make sure if the microphone is still good.


It’s important to check headphone jack, and charging port. Make sure these 2 is functional. And don’t forget to bring a headphone with you to test it.

Buttons and fingerprint

There are no much buttons on phone nowaday, but just make sure volume buttons and power button is working. Some phone may has physical buttons on the front, make sure to test it too.

Fingerprint sensor is a part of security, make sure it works too, by going to Settings -> Security -> and try to add fingerprint.

Camera & Lens

First, check the lens for scratches and how dirty is it. I personally don’t expect a completely clean camera lens, but make sure it has less scratches.

Second, open camera app and take a few photos on both front and back camera and determine if the scratches on the lens made some impacts to photo quality or not.

Shake the phone

Pick up the phone and shake it, to find a noise when you shake it. Mostly, is the phone used to be opened before, you will hear a little noise inside.

So, no noise is good to go.

Screen test

  • Turn on max brightness first
  • Check the touch screen, make sure it’s properly functional.
  • While the brightness is max, look closely to you screen, make sure there is no dead pixel or burn-in part.

Software check

  • Check Android version, and make sure it can be updated (if you care to be up to dated)
  • Stay away from a phone that made for a specific carrier, if it’s US phone, stay away from AT&T phone, unless you live in US and you use AT&T, because you cannot receive any update if you don’t use AT&T and there is no way to make it works manually.

Battery check

Check battery health, on some devices, you can check by: Open phone app -> dail ##4636## -> check battery information -> check battery health. But keep in mind if you don’t see battery information, the only way to find out is to keep testing the phone a bit longer.


While keep testing it, notice the noise that comes out the the phone, no noise means good.


Ask the seller to charge the phone for you, to make sure it works.


You should check the phone at least 20mn without off the screen and make sure the heat is acceptable. Some devices have plastic body and it’s hard for them to get hot, but if it’s too hot, move on the next phone target.

Some devices has aluminum body and it can get warm while using it, it’s normal, but make sure it’s not too hot especially for no reason at all.


If you are buying from a phone shop, ask if they provide a short warranty for this phone. From where I live (Phnom Penh, Cambodia) most phone shop provide 1 week warranty for a second hand phone, so if something is wrong you can get it back and replace a new one.

Ask for included accessories

Ask if they provide original accessories like charging cable, wall brick, or headphone.

Keep in mind that the phone should be charged with it’s own cable and wall brick so it won’t kill your battery.

Negotiate the price

Yes, the shop needs to earn money, but make you don’t get the overpriced phone. Do price comparison with other shops or talk more with seller by mention the phone’s weak point so they can discount more.

After bought it, do a factory reset

Everything is all yours, make sure it’s clean and have a fresh start.


  • Body
  • Screen
  • Speaker
  • Camera
  • Headphone
  • Microphone
  • Charging port
  • Button
  • Fingerprint (if existed)
  • Low Heat
  • No noise from inside
  • Higher version of Android
  • Updatable (if you care)
  • Battery
  • Warranty
  • Accessories
  • Good price Make sure everything is checked. For me, if one of those list is failed, I’ll check another phone instead.


Buying a second hand smartphone is not easy, you have to look closely and carefully. Anyway, you cannot expect it to be perfect too, it’s been used before. The goal is to pick the best one from a big number of devices.

I hope you get something from this post and help you get a good second hand phone for you.

Good luck and don’t forget to leave me a feedback if something is missing.

The original article is from my own blog:

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