top of page

Tips for Purchasing a Used Cell Phone

Expert Tips for Purchasing a Used Cell Phone

The following tips from the cell phone repair and buy/sell experts at Cell Clinic Ltd. will help reduce risks associated with purchasing used cell phones that are damaged or blacklisted.

BUYER BEWARE when purchasing a used cell phone from Craigslist, or any other forum where individuals / businesses sell used mobile devices.

BLACKLISTED PHONES are a huge problem and the issue is on the rise. If a cell phone or tablet is on Canada’s blacklist (e.g., reported lost/stolen) it cannot pick up cellular service in Canada, and most likely North America. To check if a phone is blacklisted contact the telecommunications company the phone was locked to, or enter the phone's IMEI number (serial number) into a free line blacklist checker database such as CheckESNFree - A used or new phone sold by an individual can get blacklisted days or weeks after the purchase. To help safeguard yourself, get the name and contact information of the person selling the phone (preferably picture ID and cell phone number). If the phone you purchased gets blacklisted, report the incident to the appropriate telecommunication company and give them the IMEI number of the phone and the name / cell phone of the seller.

LOOKS CAN BE DECEIVING -- there are a lot of components under the screen that can be damaged due to water or other factors. Therefore, it's important to run a few checks before purchasing a used mobile device...

  • CELLULAR -- ensure the phone picks up a cellular signal (at least two bars). If it doesn't pick up cellular do not buy the phone -- it's likely blacklisted.

  • WI-FI/BLUETOOTH - confirm the phone will pick up Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.

  • POWER -- take a charger with you and ensure the battery percentage increases when being charged.

  • CAMERA’S -- test both the front and back cameras for focus and to ensure they take good photos. Watch for black spots on the screen when taking a picture, which is an indication that the camera is broken. Check to see if the camera lens at the back of the phone is cracked or missing.

  • SPEAKER/MICROPHONES -- use voice memos to determine if the speakers and microphones are in good working condition. Place a test call to check if the earpiece and microphone are working. Bring headphones to test the headphone jack.

  • BUTTONS -- ensure all buttons and the finger print sensor (if applicable) is working efficiently.

  • PHYSICAL INSPECTION -- look for damage to the body such as dents and scratches and cracks/lines/black spots on the screen, which are indicators that a new screen is needed.

  • WATER DAMAGE -- if the battery can’t be removed from the phone, check the water damage indicator, which is usually near the SIM card slot. Google the model to find out where the water indicator is located.

  • CARRIER LOCK -- determine if the phone is unlocked or locked to a carrier. If the phone is locked to a carrier, decide if you want to use that carrier or unlock the phone. Not all phones can be unlocked! Cell Clinic offers unlocking services, and full refunds if a phone can’t be unlocked.

  • FACTORY RESET – It’s very important to reset the phone to factory settings before you purchase the device. This action ensures the screen lock passcode is removed and the phone is unlocked from iCloud, a Google account, etc.

  • BRAND NEW PHONES – be careful if purchasing a new phone that may be under contract with a carrier. Unfortunately some people purchase a new phone and insurance plan when entering into a contract with a carrier, and then sell the phone, and report the device lost or stolen to the carrier a few weeks later in order to receive a replacement phone at no cost. When this happens, the phone that was sold becomes blacklisted and it will no longer receive cellular service.

  • RESEARCH THE PRICE -- search eBay, Amazon, Craigslist and swap pages to help determine the worth of the phone. The physical/working condition, age of the phone, model, carrier locked/unlocked, and the number of GB’s should factor into the value.

  • WARRANTY -- if you purchase a used phone from a company ask them about their warranty.

  • CELLULAR PLANS -- the “free” or “inexpensive” phone you get when signing a contract with a cellular carrier will likely cost you more in the long-term. Compare the cost of cellular plans without a contract and do the math. Consider purchasing a new unlocked phone directly from a manufacturer, or a used device from a company like the Cell Clinic that will warranty the device.


The Cell Clinic Ltd. is BC’s number one express phone repair centre with retail locations in Vancouver and Surrey that specialize in the repair of popular cell phones and tablets. The company also offers a buy/sell mobile device program, an unlocking service, and a wide-range of cell phone protection, power, audio and storage accessories.

The Cell Clinic offers the lowest pricing on the highest quality parts available and backs all cell phone repairs and used mobile phone purchases with an industry high warranty – giving customers a trusted one-stop resource to visit for all their cell phone needs.

Cell Clinic’s goal is to ensure customers are completely satisfied with a cell phone repair and used mobile device purchase.

1,802 views0 comments
bottom of page