Smartphones technology is all about the next big thing, you know it, with the Galaxy Note 3 and iPhone 5S coming and everybody is getting frenzy. It’s an annual thing that phone manufacturers release new flagships with leading edge specs, in order to drive customer demands. However, beside those tech reviewers from sites like Engadget, most of us don’t have the budget to purchase every phones. Besides, most of the improvement associated with these new devices are incremental, such as a bit faster CPU, a bit more RAM, a bit more fancy camera… Yet, as soon as these badboys appear on shelves, people buying them like hotcakes, with ridiculously high price.

First week of iPhone 5 sales, Apple sold 5 millions in the USA alone

It’s not a bad thing, instead it a signal of a healthy economy. Nevertheless, if they can waithalf more yearto get the iPhone 5, they can get it by 2/3 of the original price. I’m a huge fan of second-handed technology. I’m not talking about the legendary yet tatty Nokia 3310 ‘the Indestructible’. I’m talking about classy phones that makes your friends believe that you must have spent a fortune, while indeed you only spent less than 3 millions VND ($150). Since you will be getting second-handed devices, usually the warranties are expired. You have to ensure that the quality is decent enough, before handing the cash and happily resting your hands on these cheap but durable badboy. Here’s my rule of thumb guide: For an Android device:

For a generic Sony Ericsson phone:

For a Samsung

1 - The screen

The vast majority of smartphones use touchscreens. The screen, therefore, is not only the window into your cyber world, it’s your only means of interaction with it, so a good screen is essential. If there are lots of scratches on the screen, then demand a large discount or walk away.

2- The body

This is where you can pick up a bargain. In stark contrast to the screen, a damaged body can be a bargain hunter’s dream. A lot of people see a scuff or dent as a deal breaker, but if you can live with a protective case on your pride and joy then nobody need ever know. Don’t tell the seller that though!

3 - The battery

This depends on the phone you’re looking at. If the seller states that the battery doesn’t hold its charge very well, it’s generally because one of the cells is knackered. This is easily resolved with a replacement, which can be picked up cheaply from your favorite Internet auction site. Not so fast though. Always check that your proposed purchase has a replaceable battery. iPhones, HTC One and various other modern phones are sealed units. So, unless you’re a surgeon, steer clear of these devices if the batteries are degraded.

4 - Software

If you’re looking for a reliable phone to use immediately, then keep away from phones with software problems. However, if you’re technical, or want to become technical, a phone with a software issue is also a potential bargain. Search the net for the make, model and symptoms. Chances are that you’ll find out if it’s fixable, and if so, how to fix it. Beware though! Some fixes can be very risky, and you could very easily end up making things worse. Only buy a faulty phone if it’s cheap and you’re confident you can rectify the defect.

5 - Don’t underestimate the value of trust

The ideal situation when buying second hand is seeing it before paying for it. However, the reality is that there’s far more choice online. When buying a phone online all you have to go on is a description and photos. Unfortunately one person’s idea of “good condition” is another’s “on its last legs”, so if you’re not going to see it before parting with your pennies you need to judge how trustworthy the seller is. If there’s a choice of two identical phones, always go for the most reliable seller, even if you have to pay a slight premium.

6 - Reconditioned products

If you want second hand goods but feel wary about not having a warranty then you can find lots of reconditioned phones with limited warranties. Once again, they can command a higher price, but you’re paying for peace of mind. Apple (amongst others) even have their own reconditioned outlet. I’ve seen their products and you’d never know that they aren’t brand new. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, do your research. Sites such as ours are constantly reviewing handsets, but we don’t delete them once their discontinued. They’re archived away, but easily accessed, not only on Google, but also through the site search facilities. Forums are also a good place to look and ask question of current and past owners.

If anybody doubts the mogul, here’s the list of phones I have purchased so far (of course, second-handed): Nokia 3210 (2007) -> Nokia 6300 (2008) -> Sony Ericsson K750i (2009) -> Sony Ericsson P1i (2010) -> HTC Kaiser (2011) -> HTC Touch Pro2 (2011) -> Samsung Galaxy S (2012) -> HTC Desire HD (2012) -> Samsung Galaxy Nexus (2013) -> Samsung Galaxy Note 2 (2013). Lately I also bought Nokia X1 (2012) -> Blackberry 8820 -> Sony Ericsson P1i as backups. Except the Galaxy S and Galaxy Note 2, which I bought brand-new, other phones are 2 - 3 years old when I purchase them. What I did was I sold the current phone, and spend a tiny fraction more to acquire the new one.

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