We all want to own a brand-new smartphone, and it’s oddly satisfying to hold a fresh one in your hand. However, there are also good reasons why you should consider buying used smartphones instead. First and foremost, they are cheaper. Thanks to people who religiously get the latest flagship every year, you can get a huge price cut on used smartphones that are not necessarily at the forefront of mobile technology but at par with more expensive phones.
In this article, we’ve come up with a list of all the best-used smartphones from top retailers and private resellers. Whether you’re looking at recently released models or last year’s flagship models, you’re always going to find a smartphone for you.
Also read: 15 Impressive Phone Brands You Must Know
Best Used Smartphones
- iPhone 12
- Samsung Galaxy S21
- OnePlus 9
- iPhone 11 Pro Max
- Samsung Galaxy Note 20
- Google Pixel 5
- Samsung Galaxy S20
- LG V60 ThinQ
- iPhone X
- Google Pixel 4a
Now that iPhone 13 is already out, you have more chances of clinching on a cheaper iPhone 12. While it may no longer be the top-of-the-line mobile phone for Apple today on paper, you will still get a supreme performance from the previous model that is as powerful as the latest. Other than the improved battery capacity and larger storage, there’s nothing more about iPhone 13 that iPhone 12 doesn’t have.
The A15 can do wonders for iPhone 13, but iPhone 12’s A14 Bionic chipset is no slouch at running apps either. If mobile photography is your jam, you would happy to know that you don’t have to get the latest iPhone for a perfect shot. iPhone 13 has a different camera layout, but its output has no drastic improvement than what iPhone 12 can provide you.
Apple has discontinued making iPhone 12 to give way for iPhone 13. This means that the brand new iPhone 12 will soon run out of supply and a secondhand device will soon be the only way to get it. However, the used iPhone 12 easily sells online, so you should be on the lookout for active offers.
The camera features are the main highlight of this Galaxy phone. Even if it’s your first time touching a camera phone, it’s hard to get a bad shot using the Galaxy S21. It has a triple camera set up with a massive 64 MP for telephoto. It can also shoot 8K videos complete with continuous 3x and 10x optical zoom.
The Samsung Galaxy S21 also has an impressively swift performance, thanks to the Snapdragon 888 chipset that it carries for the US version. With this chipset, gaming and multitasking should come in a breeze. It also has an ample power capacity, which means you can hold it for a long time. Of course, actual performance will still depend on the condition of the used smartphone you bought.
OnePlus is a phone brand famous for its affordable selection of good-performing phones. Even its 2021 flagship series, the OnePlus 9, is a lot cheaper than the top-of-the-line iPhone, Google, and Samsung phone. As if it’s not enough, you can clinch it at an even cheaper price by getting a used OnePlus 9 smartphone.
Despite falling under the cheaper spectrum, the OnePlus 9 still pack a strong performance that gives other phone brands a run for their money. It has a powerful Snapdragon 888 chipset inside, resulting in a swift and smooth performance. Whether for gaming or productivity, OnePlus 9 can fulfill your everyday smartphone demands. Of course, performance may still vary depending on the condition of the used smartphone you have bought.
The iPhone 11 Pro Max has cemented Apple to where it is now in terms of mobile photography. Its camera system was ahead of its time, offering a triple camera setup with ultra-wide, wide, and telephoto lenses. It also boasts 2x optical zoom in and out and 4K footage, which we rarely see on mobile phones at the time. The iPhone 11 Pro Max is really one of the best camera phones even today.
Outside photography, the iPhone 11 Pro Max also performs remarkably well. A13 Bionic chip runs apps swiftly without utilizing much power. It also has a huge display that helps you do more on your phone both for leisure and work.
However, since there are already newer versions of the iPhone, the supply for brand new iPhone 11 Pro Max is limited. You can get a used iPhone 11 Pro Max from Gazelle or Amazon renewed store half cheaper instead.
Samsung has reportedly discontinued its Galaxy Note series. So, if you fancy a mobile phone with a stylus, it might be your last chance to get the Galaxy Note 20. A brand new version of this phone is expensive, but getting it pre-owned means a huge price cut with the same specs.
Galaxy Note 20 is like a PC for your pocket because of its multitasking capability. With the Snapdragon 865 chip inside, its gaming and productivity performance will knock your socks off. Its camera performance is also as impressive as that of Galaxy S20 and S21. In addition, it has a 5x hybrid optic zoom and 50x Super Resolution Zoom.
The Galaxy Note 20 also possibly has the best display, thanks to dynamic HDR10+ AMOLED. This is paired with a 4300 mAh battery for long-lasting performance.
The Google Pixel 5 remains a solid choice among the Google phone lineup even with the Pixel 6 around. But if there’s one thing that many people who wanted such a device is that it feels more expensive than it should be. Worry no more because with several merchants offering used smartphones, you can get the Google Pixel 5 at an affordable price on a condition good as new.
But what will you actually get from Google Pixel 5? Aside from its strong 5G performance, Pixel 5 is stuffed with the Snapdragon 765 chipset for smooth and fast operations. Its 6-inch OLED screen also provides you with a sharp display regardless of whether you are an avid gamer or a movie addict.
Getting a used Pixel 5 smartphone at least a third of its original price.
You can’t go wrong with purchasing a Galaxy S20, both used and brand new. This is a fine choice for those looking for a device that delivers beyond smartphone capabilities. It packs a Snapdragon 865 processor inside, giving way to unmatched performance. Powerful performance should of course be matched with a killer display. Thankfully, its large 6.2-inch Quad HD+ is a candy to the eyes for both gaming and viewing. If you worry that this will affect its battery, you’d be happy to know that it’s backed by ample power capacity for long-lasting performance.
The LG V60 ThinQ might be the last flagship phone you’ll see from LG since it discontinued its mobile phone manufacturing arm. So, while it lasts, you may want to grab this phone at least pre-owned if you can’t get a brand new one.
While LG doesn’t really have any smartphones that are nearly as good as Apple’s and Samsung’s, they are still quite decent with their flagship products. The LG V60 ThinQ is the living testament to this. The 6.8-inch OLED display is as impressive as Samsungs and iPhones. Its 8 GB RAM coupled with Snapdragon 865 is also truly impressive, while the powerful 5000 mAh battery would put any flagship phone to shame.
But the reason why this phone is on the list is because of the very things that flagship phones chose to get rid of — the headphone jack and microSD slot. Despite that, it is proven to be water and dust-resistant.
The iPhone X has been making waves for several years now, and Apple just added this 2017 model into its refurbished resale program. You’ll be able to grab iPhone X for as low as $300, but you could do better if you go for phone-swapping sites like Swappa.
Now, these phones may not always be in perfect condition but secondhand retailers are able to provide some form of protection such as refunds for defective phones or when the phone doesn’t work as described. However, do note that the price can fluctuate and depreciate as time goes by. The price is correct as of the article’s published date.
If a secondhand Google Pixel 5 or even a Pixel 5a is still too expensive for you, you can maximize the money you can save by getting Google Pixel 4a instead. Of course, it is understandably inferior to its more expensive siblings in terms of performance.
It has a Snapdragon 730G chipset inside that gets tasks and everyday smartphone demand done perfectly, as one would expect from a mid-ranger. Its OLED technology is also substantial to provide a sharp display, enjoyable for movie streaming and social feeds viewing.
Google Pixel 4a’s camera performance, although not bad, is underwhelming. It has a 12.2 MP dual-lens setup autofocus and phase detection. In front is an 8-MP lens with a fixed focus for selfies. While its uncomplicated camera features make it easy to take snaps, the output is not something your mom would like to frame.
3 Main Reasons to Buy Used Smartphones
Let’s be honest. Smartphones are never going to get any cheaper, and we’ve noticed that with all the latest releases from Samsung and Apple this year. So, if you’re prone to suffering from FOMO (fear of missing out), here are three reasons why it’s a good idea to invest in 2nd hand smartphones:
You’ll save a lot of money
Used smartphones will always be cheaper than their brand new counterparts, and the difference in price is no laughing matter either. For example, you can get a 2nd hand Samsung Galaxy S7 for as low as $149 on sites such as Swappa or eBay. That’s almost half of its retail value of $480! Granted your phone may come with some scratches here and there, but these are negligible compared to the amount of money you saved.
More storage for less
Good examples are the 2nd hand Apple iPhones. If you’re forced to shell out a couple of hundred dollars to expand your storage on a new phone, it’s the exact opposite for used smartphones. A 128GB iPhone may sell for $40 or $50 more than a brand new 32GB model out there.
Buying used smartphones helps save the environment
Believe it or not, we generate close to a billion tons of electronic waste every year, and a large portion of that is used cell phones. These cell phones end up staying in dumps for years while harmful chemicals seep into the air, water, and even the soil. Buying a 2nd hand smartphone is one step to reducing the amount of electronic waste every year.
Where to Buy Used Smartphones
There are many options in terms of where to buy secondhand phones, and we’ll list down our trusted sites and places in this section.
1. Amazon Renewed Store. Amazon is simply a trove of anything, both useful and not-so-useful. If you are looking specifically for used smartphones, you can’t get wrong with their secondhand store — the Amazon Renewed. It sells pre-owned products inspected and tested by qualified suppliers so you are essentially getting them as new.
2. Gazelle. This website is dedicated to pre-owned consumer electronics, mostly used smartphones. Aside from selling, they also buy secondhand devices, which they inspect, certify, and sell to consumers.
3. Craigslist. This is another nice place to snoop around for secondhand smartphones. However, this site can be questionable at times because it’s proliferated by scammers. You do find the good bargains here and there though, but just exercise caution when surfing this site.
4. Swappa. This is the most frequently visited place to look for used smartphones. The site offers decent bargains for secondhand phones and they often price match with other stores.
5. Refurbishing stores. Some Apple and Samsung stores will carry official refurbished phones, so this is a good place to start. The prices are cheaper than the brand new counterparts. These phones often come from their customers who trade in their older units for newer ones.
How to Buy Secondhand Smartphones
Well, you just can’t log in to certain sites and decide to buy a used smartphone. The thing about purchasing refurbished units is that you get the most bang for your buck. In that regard, here are some tips to help you do that:
Know what you’re looking for
Before you decide to shop, you have to know what you’re looking for. You don’t really need to know the specific model that you want to buy, but rather focus on the specs and the OS that you’re willing to live with. Start by determining what screen size you need and how much you can afford to spend. Then, fine-tune it to determine how much storage you need, how great the camera should be, and so on.
If you know what you’re looking for in a phone, then the next step is to determine your budget. Some of the phones listed here sit for about $300 to $500 refurbished, but you can go lower if you know where to look. Some sites such as Craigslist might list them for less than the prices listed here, but there will be a few exceptions here and there. For example, an iPhone 7+ on Craigslist might be a hundred dollars more expensive than on sites such as Swappa.
Inspecting the phone upon receive
This section is intended for those who’ve already set up a deal with a local buyer or store. When possible, you’ll need to inspect the phone inside and out if you want to get the most bang for your buck. Now, this is what you need for the inspection:
1. Battery pack, laptop, and a charging cable
2. MicroSD and a SIM card
To inspect the phone, you’ll need to inspect the physical exterior first. Check for screen cracks, bezel dents, and so on. If the phone is equipped with physical keys, check to see if they’re in good condition and are responsive. Then move your way to the sides for the volume buttons and then the charging and headset jack.
If you’re satisfied with the physical condition, it’s time to move on to the software. Boot up the phone and give it a quick run-through. Look out for things like lags or screen freezes to see if the processor and RAM are in working condition. The next step is to check the cameras. Open the camera app and check for cracks within the lenses (if you haven’t seen anything during the physical check). Switch between front and rear cameras, and then check on the flash as well.
Then, insert the SIM and your MicroSD cards to check if the phone’s slots for both works. Test the SIM card out by making a phone call and text. Also, try connecting to the Internet. For your MicroSD, be sure that you’re able to check your files.
You can also check for other nuances such as wireless capabilities. This is optional, but if you’re using a Bluetooth headset or smartwatch, then you would want to make sure that the phone connects to these devices. You can also bring a Bluetooth speaker to check for Bluetooth capabilities.
There’s nothing wrong with purchasing used smartphones. If you’re not keen on going after the latest models and if you don’t want to waste money on buying brand new phones, you can opt to purchase secondhand smartphones instead.
There are benefits to buying used smartphones and one of the most important benefits is that you get to save money. You can save hundreds of dollars when buying and you get to help the environment too.
And this list is just the start. As the year progresses, more smartphones will be going on the refurbished status and this will include the recently released iPhone models. If you play your cards right, then you might be able to score a decent refurbished phone for less than its retail price.