Don’t make the same mistakes I made buying a second-hand phone. Do this first!

I love using the most bleeding-edge tech and I have spent all my life doing the best I can to get my hands on the most advanced toys. But we all know that this can fast become a very expensive hobby and to still be able to manage this, there are some corners I personally cut. I buy my smartphones second-hand just like 26.4% of Zimbabweans. So far my success rate has been really great but I recently had the biggest inconvenience as a result of buying a second-hand phone.

A rogue Huawei ID locked me out

In April of 2022, I bought a Huawei Mate 40 Pro. The usual swap and top deals, I traded in my P30 Pro and topped up a bit of cash. What I did not do, which is something that I usually do routinely when I buy a new phone is ensure I run a factory reset and begin setting it up from scratch so that I am sure the previous owner’s accounts are not still logged in.

A year later I decided to run a factory reset, the first time since I bought it. Then during setup, I was asked to verify my ID but the problem was the ID I needed to verify was not mine. In fact, it was linked to a South African number. Which was a very big problem. There were workarounds to reset this Huawei ID so I can log in but this method won’t work if security patches are up to date. And mine were VERY up to date. Shout out to Huawei’s smartphones for being virtually uncrackable.

The right way to do it

Buy it from a trusted seller

Definitely buy from a place you trust. A place you can trust will normally take down your details, the details of the old phone you are trading in, and the details of the new phone you are getting. Brand new or second-hand. They will issue a receipt and offer you some form of warranty for your device. Others will even have some stickers on the phone with the name of their shop and contact number.

Check for physical defects

If it is a second-hand phone, try and inspect it as thoroughly as possible for any physical defects. Check there is nothing loose that might show you any sign of the phone having been opened before. Usually, it is either the back cover or the screen.

Turn it on and push some buttons

Make sure it turns on. My first Harare deals experience got me buying a phone with a dead screen after I was told that the battery is dead and that it just needed to be charged. Definitely a story for another day. So turn it on and go through the usual stuff. Check if the camera is good, if it’s charging if the touch screen is working properly, and make a call to test the earpiece, loudspeaker, and mics. 

Factory reset. Start fresh

If you are happy with what you see, do the final and most important thing. Run a factory reset and set the phone up from scratch. This is done for 2 main reasons. The first is to be sure it does not have a Google account, Apple ID, or Huawei ID on it from the previous owner that could otherwise lock you out like what happened to me.

The second reason is that you don’t know what settings and apps the previous owner had on the phone and these may have some features active on the phone that you don’t want to have active or it will have some features of the phone disabled that you would otherwise prefer to be enabled. Maybe there is a harmful virus on it or some sort of malware that can be eliminated by a simple factory reset.

The other is, whenever you factory reset a phone, it will take you through a process that makes it super easy to get the phone set up just the way you like it. It will also show you some of the unique features the phone has that you could love and a tutorial on how best to use it. Something that is especially useful when you are jumping from one brand to a different one.

Don’t lose that receipt!

Then lastly. Keep the receipt for at least as long as the warranty of the smartphone so that if it develops any issues within the warranty period, you can return it for repair or replacement.

That said. If you can afford to buy a brand new phone, I would recommend you do so from certified retailers for those brands just so that you are guaranteed that the features on these devices will work perfectly on Zimbabwean networks. If you really must buy preowned, Mi Store Zimbabwe offers that service for Xiaomi and Redmi devices bought from them. The same goes for Solution Centre for those using Apple products. Let me know of your experiences buying second-hand smartphones.

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21 comments

  1. @Drupe

    This was long overdue, we have experienced a lot of problems because of cheap second hand phones. I even learned how to bypass phones because of that so please try to educate people as soon as possible 😂😂😂😂

    1. AllMat23

      😂 😂 😂 Me too…

  2. AllMat23

    Back in 2021 i bought a psmart 2021 yaisashanda masecurity features like fingerprint password etc… Factory resetting didnt even work on that device saka ndakatozongojutawo mumwe munhu

  3. Vegas

    As for me when i buy a used fone i usually say insert your line first then call or text to make sure if its stolen the sellers number will be in the system

    1. Anonymous

      Good move

  4. Halabaloo

    Good take. However, satisfying all the above usually ends up with one having to part with a bit more money than just finding a quick deal. 😂

    Proper stuff usually is more expensive than improper stuff. But proper will go a long way.

  5. Imi Vanhu Musadaro

    I’ve never bought 2nd hand phones. If you do, buy from someone you know or can trace. A decent number of second hand devices, including laptops and tablets, are stolen. If the police cannot locate the person you claim sold it to you, the buck stops with you.

    1. Cyber Ghost

      You’re absolutely right about that.Its just too risky to buy preowned phones especially from unscrupulous individuals,I could buy a preowned laptop or phone from a reputable shop or individual though, absolutely NOT on the street or from some random stranger

  6. Jiggies Fund

    Hahaha! I was planning on listing my Nokia 7.2 next week! Since you brought up the subject and in the spirit of community engagement, let me do some crowd sourcing 😅. What would be a fair price:

    Display: 6.6 inch display, 1080 x 2280, Gorilla glass 3
    OS: Android 11
    Processor: octacore Snapdragon 660
    RAM: 4GB
    Storage: 128GB
    Main camera array: Tripple (48mp, 8mp ultra wide, 5mp depth)
    Front camera: 20mp with Zeiss optics
    Dual SIM, audio jack, SD card slot, USBC 2.0, Rear fingerprint, 10watt max charge rate, Green rear glass
    Condition: Good. No cracks, light micro scratches on display, surface wear on buttons, perfect frame, battery self-checks as healthy, connectors work
    Remarks: Still makes for a good G-Cam phone. One owner, no cloud locks. No warranties, sold as is

    1. Blue💙

      I’ll give you $100🧘‍♂️

    2. Warren

      That processor is pretty decent and can even rival some recent low budget Samsungs so you should put a decent price tag such as 140

  7. 20

    Much needed article
    Please update it to include the short codes to open test mode
    For example in Samsung it’s *#0*#
    The. You can test each individual component to see if working…

  8. 20

    For mi
    *#*#64663#*#*

  9. Chinese zodiac

    When it comes buying second hand phones mostly avoid buying in crowded areas or in cbd those people will choke you home and away like at gulf complex dont even bother even the phone looks super dope u will cry and aslo nowadays they is refurbished phones ,they are imitations of the original ones so u have to chake it thoroughly coz they exactly looks the same thus my take there.

  10. Jaime

    For the love of Itel , why not buy a new BOXED phone ,-

    “heeee for snepudragonzi”

    Use Itel Unisoc chip , 1,6 gigahurts 8 cores

    U will play Free Fire Max on Max
    CODM ON HD which is good graphic stillmore

    1. Fox

      I hear you, but not everyone is looking for the same thing in a phone and thats ok. Itel’s best is going to be a good fit for most, but what if i care about 2 or 3 more years of support? Or running some app that is ok on other chipsets but was just born to run on SD? What if movies on AMOLED HDR10 displays make my eyes and little heart twinkle with joy in the darkness during power cuts or if I want my niece tasting her first ever lemon captured in 4K 120 slow motion for eternity? What if I use OTG on the regular and also want to drive a TV through USBC? Some of these, an Itel or Transsion phone will never give me.

    2. Ree

      With the latest s23 which 8gb ran you can actually play demanding games such as Genshin impact but the graphics will not be great because of that chipset

  11. watch out !

    My friends aunty bought a second hand phone, it exploded and burnt her bra ! maybe it was a “booby trap” ? !

    1. Hokage

      Ah the ol “second hand phone explodes in bra ” so I can get to play fireman tactic

  12. Name

    The new UI of this website is s***

  13. Tech Guru

    In 2005 l was duped by a young guy who lived in Belvedere. He offered to pay me using a Nokia 3310 plus cash. It had nice gold covers when I went to pick the phone he switched it on l put my sin card in and everything was fine. Then he said switch off you charge at home. Those days ZESA loadshedding was severe. He was quick in transaction he didn’t want to be seen selling the phone which had recently arrived from UK it turned out later both the battery and charging system were dead. It was a big loss 😂😂😂😂

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