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How to Choose a Used Smartphone or Cellphone

First! You must decide what condition you want the phone to be in, (watch out for listings that mention LCD BURN, e.g. which you probably DO NOT WANT) if you are wanting to get Apple or Android, determine whether the phone band you need is GSM or CDMA, things like that. I was happy with a 7/10 phone when I got my last one because I knew that phones don’t stay perfect forever, and mine cracked/shattered a bit right before my case arrived but at least it was the back. So that was some money I saved right there. Pro tip: for this reason don’t skimp on the case, buy the case and/or screen guard to arrive as soon as the phone does, especially if you’re starting off with something higher quality. 😉


My budget was CDN $200 and I went through a list of all phones by processing power when I bought my last phone and settled on the LG G7 ThinQ which was sooooo much faster than my last phone. Most importantly, it has room for a microSD card, which was one of my major conditions. I cross-referenced phone after phone In GSMarena’s comparison tool and compared the prices online with eBay. Obviously, you can follow this process with Apple as well, or use alternate sites for your costing, like Amazon or Aliexpress (look for the “Guaranteed Genuine” tag on the page when buying expensive products from Aliexpress.)

How do you set a budget? I recommend considering what’s happened to each of your phones over time. Mine usually end up unusable or missing within a few years, so I based my budget off of what I’m comfortable parting with if my phone slips out of my pockets one day and I lose it, or how much I’m willing to pay for a phone that might only last me a couple of years. $200 seemed plenty reasonable for something I use every day and I think I only spent like $180 all in (I believe the price has come down since then).

You can also just type in your budget as a range, say $110 to $310 and see how things compare along those lines. I’ll warn you, it can be tempting to want to spend more and more and pull away from your budget, then wonder why you’re budgeting in the first place. This is partly why it is helpful to go down the list by processing power until you get into your price range, and then you can compare the nearby models. I think that 1/3rd of the power of the absolute top of the line mobile for 1/6th or less of the price is pretty reasonable! Especially when there’s no noticeable lag on anything I use.


You’ll find these as you do your research, but variations in things like camera phones , onboard memory, battery life, audio and video recording may or may not speak to you as you do your research.

Also, you will likely want to update the firmware on your phone at some point. Before you commit, you may want to isolate the specific model you are picking up and confirm what others with the same model can update to via websites like reddit, for example my Verizon-based unlocked LG G7 ThinQ still doesn’t have Android 10. :p But I’m expecting that won’t be a problem as long as my phone lasts. If it gets to the point where my phone isn’t getting software it needs because Android 9 is too outdated (if 10 never comes, and I still have it) then I will just upgrade to last year’s model again. And have one more phone that I can use for extra projects, like as an audio recorder or as a video recorder.

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