What you should check before buying a used smartphone in Pakistan

Written by Hamnah Khalid ·  4 min read >

Used and refurbished smartphones are a great way to get the phone that you want at a considerably low price. Now, with the incredible amounts of taxes that new smartphones come with in Pakistan, the used phones market is booming.

There are, however, many ways you can get duped into buying a smuggled or non-registered phone in Pakistan. With the new rules set by the PTA (Pakistan Telecommunications Authority), every active phone with a working SIM card needs to be registered with the Authority. Not only that, but a lot of people also get tricked into buying phones with missing or damaged parts simply because they were hasty, or they did not thoroughly check the device beforehand. So, for your convenience, here’s a list of stuff to check before making a used phone purchase:

IMEI Registration

PTA registration is extremely important if you want your SIM card to work on your phone. The device would otherwise function normally, but any cellular activity would be blocked unless the device’s IMEI number is registered with the authority and registering a new phone could cost you more than you payed for the device in the first place.

The method to check this is quite simple: send the device’s IMEI number as a text message to ‘8484’ and you will receive a message back which will tell you whether or not it is registered with the PTA.

If you do not know the IMEI number of the device, here’s an article explaining how to find it within settings.

Working ports, speakers, camera, and wireless connectivity

It is important to check if all the essentials of a device are in working condition. Charging ports and headphone jacks can often become loose and not function properly. If the device has two or more speakers, be sure to check each of them individually. If ports and speaker faults are detected too late, it can cost a considerable amount of money get them replaced with good quality parts.

When checking cameras, be sure to check every mode on the camera app (portrait, night, etc.). Also, check both front and back cameras. Try zooming in with both the cameras.

Wireless connectivity includes Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity. This can include casting and NFC in Android phones and AirDrop in iOS devices. This can even include wireless charging in devices that support that.

Screen and Touch Sensitivity

A broken or faulty screen can be extremely annoying to use and very expensive to replace. That is why it is important to check whether the phone you’re about to buy has a good and functioning screen.

To check whether the phone has an original display panel, you can simply open a white, blank screen. If the colours are warm and/or have a hue of yellow in them, then the screen is original. If the white has blue undertones or it is bright white, then the screen might have been replaced or refurbished in the past.

Touch sensitivity is also a major factor to check before making a purchase. Some phones, if they have been exposed to depths of water or have fallen down a lot, may seem okay at first glance but may contain touch issues when inspected closely.

To test the touch sensitivity of your phone, various applications can be downloaded. These apps run through some basic tests and tell you whether your device is up to the mark. Here are some of those apps that you can find on the Play Store or the App Store. In some phones, like Samsung’s, touch diagnostic tests are built in. For Samsung phones, these tests can be accessed by dialling *#0*#. This also contains many other diagnostic tests for other parts of the phone like speakers.

Performance and Battery

Performance of a device can be measured by downloading apps like CPU-Z on both iOS and Android. These can help you verify specifications given on the box or by the seller. You can also further test the limits of your device by running stress tests on Geekbench (iOS or Android) or other benchmarking applications (Geekbench is a paid app on the App Store; AnTuTu Benchmark is a free alternative).

Batteries of a smartphone can also be tricky and expensive to replace, especially with the newer phones that do not have removable back covers. It is, therefore, important to check the batteries beforehand.

If you are buying a phone that has a removable battery, take it out and, firstly, check for any swelling and water damage. Do not buy a battery that is not completely smooth on both sides. If the phone does not have a removable battery, try downloading a battery health application and check what the actual capacity left on the device is. You can also, if you have the device for a while longer before purchasing, try and play games with heavy graphics for a long period of time or take burst photos from the camera. Snapchat has also been known to drain battery. Basically, any applications that use a lot of battery, try and use them, and if the phone runs out of juice extraordinarily quickly, then maybe consider buying a different device.

For iPhones, the settings app has a separate area for battery performance; the Battery Health tab usually lets you know if your battery is currently supporting normal peak performance or if the battery’s health is significantly degraded.

Physical Appearance and Casing

If your device is one with a detachable SIM and memory card tray, eject the tray and inspect it. Try the tray with a different sim and SD card. check if they both function properly on the phone and the SD card gets mounted.

After checking the essentials, check to see whether the device has any physical defects. Scan the body for any dents, cracks, or scratches. Check to see if the colour is wearing out from any of the corners. These things, while they may not be essential to the workings of a phone, always contribute towards the price of a used phone; phones in perfect conditions can be priced higher and if the device is damaged physically, you might be able to get a better deal on it.

Even after you have checked all the things above, it is always a good idea to take someone along with you while making the purchase; someone of sound knowledge and a keen eye for these things. You should also survey and get a look at all your options before making a final decision; you might be able to get the same thing for a lower price somewhere else. Even though buying a second hand device can get you a really good smartphone that can last you a long, long time, it can also lead you to getting something that requires a lot of fixing and ends up costing more than what you signed up for.