10 tips to buy a second-hand smartphone or tablet

The fact that you are ready for a new smartphone or tablet, does not mean that you have to pay the main price right away. However, there are drawbacks to buying a second-hand device. What are the pitfalls and how do you make sure you don't fall for them with your eyes open?

Tip 01: Second-hand or not?

Before you decide which second-hand smartphone or tablet to buy, it is first good to determine whether a second-hand device is suitable for you. Think about what exactly you want to do with your smartphone (or tablet). Do you want to use contactless payment when it is introduced here in the Netherlands? Then an older smartphone without NFC may not be so useful. Also read: Buying a used PC? You should pay attention to this.

Some peripherals require bluetooth 4.0, so it is not convenient to buy a tablet with an older bluetooth version. If you have to buy a new smartphone or tablet within a year because of these kinds of jokes, then your advantage is of course nil. So think carefully about what you want to do with your smartphone or tablet, and make a list based on that that the device must meet. Then you are less likely to be tempted by an attractive price.


In this article, in addition to some practical tips, we also give you tips to avoid being scammed. Of course it can never be made completely watertight, but what is important is that you should always use common sense. So if you know that a certain device costs 600 euros new, a second-hand model for 50 euros is probably a scam. Check the buyer's reputation via Marktplaats or eBay (how long the person in question has been a member of the site is a good indicator) and if it's a store, do a quick search for the store's name along with a scam. Little tricks that can save you a lot of trouble.

Tip 02: Refurbished?

If you don't want an older device, but also prefer not to pay the top price, there is another option: refurbished. When you buy a refurbished device, you get a device that is as good as new. It could be a device that was returned by a customer, or one that a customer didn't even reach because of a defect in the factory. Refurbished is by definition not the same as second-hand.

The device is checked by the factory and if for any reason there are signs of use, the relevant part will be replaced. In a sense, refurbished smartphones and tablets are even better than devices that you buy new in the store. After all, millions of these devices come off the assembly line and are only tested randomly. A refurbished device has been extensively tested for correct operation, which means that you are guaranteed to receive a device in perfect condition. There are refurbished models from almost all manufacturers, all you have to do is google the type of smartphone of your choice in combination with the word refurbished. However, remember the tips in the 'Scam' box.

Tip 03: Real photos

You obviously want to buy a tablet or smartphone in excellent condition. However, the definition of excellent condition varies from person to person and this can lead to conflict. Often people find it easy to grab photos from the manufacturer's site when they list a device on Marktplaats or eBay. That is often laziness and no attempt to disguise anything, but it is absolutely advisable to ask for real photos of the tablet or smartphone, from all angles. This prevents you from having a smartphone or tablet full of scratches, dents and so on. If the seller refuses to take these kinds of photos, then you know enough already.

Tip 04: Clean?

Of course, we're not talking about whether there are chocolate stains on the iPad or Samsung Galaxy S6 that you want to buy. What we are talking about is that it is important to check whether all traces of use have been erased from the device. For example, if an iPhone is still linked to the Apple ID of the previous user (which can be an indication that it is a stolen device), you can't just reset it - and you probably don't want that at all. Check whether it really concerns a completely cleaned device and if that is not the case, ask the seller if he wants to return the device to factory condition on the spot.

If that goes without a hitch, then you know for sure that you can start with a clean slate. Even if the device appears to be in factory condition, it is wise to check in the settings whether an account is not secretly linked to it. Many people find it embarrassing to check things like this at the time of purchase (with a 'live' sale, of course) but you'll be very disappointed if you don't and then you're saddled with problems.

Not online

We can imagine that you find it easy to buy a device online. But the amount you put down is often not small and you kick yourself when you make a bad purchase because someone has fooled you. We therefore recommend that you always pick up a second-hand smartphone or tablet in person, because this reduces the chance of a bad buy. Of course, that does not apply when you buy the device through a site with a good reputation, you can rely on that. After all, such a company has a reputation to protect.

Tip 05: Stolen?

There's no foolproof way to check if a tablet or iPhone has been stolen, but there are more and more tools that can help you find out. Here too: do not feel hesitated to ask the buyer for a serial number. If there is nothing wrong with the device, then there is no reason not to provide that serial number. Of course there are always people on Marktplaats, for example, who themselves become suspicious of such a question and therefore do not want to cooperate, in which case you should just let the sale go. You can easily check a serial number at www.stopheling.nl. The site is an initiative of the Ministry of Security and Justice and the Police Investigation Board. In addition to the site, there is also an app of the same name for both Android and iOS that allows you to easily scan the barcode. Small effort and really saves you a lot of trouble. Incidentally, if you are going to pick up the smartphone or tablet at someone's home, the seller's response also says a lot when you start looking for the serial number.

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