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The first iPhone I ever owned was an iPhone 5. My parents wouldn’t buy me anything but a flip phone so I wanted into a Verizon store and plunked down $600 for a brand-new phone (and a two-year contract).
I would like to say that I was young and dumb but really I was just dumb.
Since then I’ve wised up. I purchase all of my phones (not to mention laptops, shoes, and most of my clothes) on eBay. And when I’m done with them? They go back on eBay and typically sell well enough that I can fund almost my entire upgrade.
However, it’s all too easy to get scammed buying (or selling) an iPhone on eBay.
The best way to get a good deal on an authentic phone is simply to be from a reputable dealer rather than a private seller.
Since I just bought my 7th iPhone off of eBay I figured I would give you some buying tips as well as share the best eBay stores for iPhones that you can peruse.
4 Common Problems With Buying A Used iPhone On eBay
If you do decide to buy from a private seller there are a few things you can do to make sure you don’t lose your pants. Being aware of common eBay scams makes you less likely to fall for them, not to mention more able to report bad sellers so they get removed.
So if you’re looking for iPhones on eBay specifically, here are 5 things that you absolutely need to be aware of:
1. It might be iCould locked.
One of the most common problems with buying an iPhone off of eBay is that it will be delivered to you in locked condition.
Even if it has been totally reset and looks fine it might still be “attached” to the previous owner’s Apple Account. Unless they have specifically gone onto their account and removed the phone you will not be able to set it up. Even if it’s reset, it is still “their phone”.
Usually, this isn’t a huge problem as you can message the person and have them release the phone. However, being iCould locked might also mean that the phone is stolen.
While iCloud-locked phones are not actually allowed to be sold on eBay, it does happen. Asking beforehand is usually enough to get you an answer from honest sellers and get you blocked by dishonest sellers who think you might be wise to their game.
Most sellers will mention that it has been released from the iCloud and will show the IMEI so that you can check whether or not it has been blacklisted or reported as stolen.
2. It could have a dying or totally dead battery.
While most people won’t purposefully sell you a phone that dies after a couple of seconds, be aware that the phone you buy will not last nearly as long as a new one.
One of the phones I bought off of eBay died extremely quickly and I ended up getting the battery replaced after a few months.
Some sellers will actually screenshot the “Battery Health” section of their settings so you know approximately how long the battery will last.
3. The screen might not work.
Beyond being cracked, there are several things that can go wrong with an iPhone screen. While it’s less common with new generations, several people have reported buying iPhones off of eBay that looked great but simply wouldn’t respond to their touches at all.
While you can directly test this or know before buying be sure to buy from a seller with good feedback that offers returns.
4. You might get sent a brick. Literally.
If someone is an outright scammer, they might not even send you the phone you ordered. They’ll upload tracking, sure, but might send you anything from an older phone to a worn-out shoe.
If you get a box that doesn’t look right, refuse delivery and the delivery guys will take it straight back. Otherwise, count on eBay’s buyer protection to step in and get you a refund.
The Solution: Buy From A Trusted Seller
Pretty much all of those problems can be sidestepped if you simply buy from a reputable seller.
There are large companies on eBay that specialize in selling used or refurbed iPhones in large volumes. I’ve bought all but one of my phones from large-scale stores and have had good experiences every time.
Just in case you need a bit more convincing, here are the benefits of buying from an eBay store rather than a private seller:
- Easy returns/exchanges. We had an issue with a phone I bought for my wife and we were able to send it back and get a replacement within 72 hours. The company didn’t even question anything. I assume they fixed the phone we sent back and sent it to someone else.
- You’ll get the phone you order. The seller knows exactly what they have so you’ll get the right generation with the right amount of storage for the right carrier. They will also know if the phone has any problems as they test them fully.
- They’re not trying to scam you. Unlike a private seller, the profit from a single sale is not a huge deal to a large eBay store. They won’t purposefully deceive you or try to send you something other than what you ordered.
- You have multiple condition choices. The store I typically buy from has three cosmetic conditions they sell phones in: “Good, Better, or Excellent”. While other sellers call their phone condition something like “A, B, & C” you know what you’re getting and, if you don’t mind a few scratches, you can get yourself a much better deal.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, these are the best eBay stores for iPhones where you can buy exactly what you want for a great price (without fear of scams):
|% Positive Feedback
|iPhone Models Available
|4s, 5, 5c, 6, 6 Plus, 6s, 6s Plus, 7, 7 Plus, 8, 8 Plus, X, XR, XS, XS Max, 11, 11 Pro
|Visit eBay Store
|11, 11 Pro Max
|Visit eBay Store
|6, 6 Plus, 6s, 6s Plus, 7, 7 Plus, 8, 8 Plus, X, XR, XS, XS Max, 11, 11 Pro, 11 Pro Max, 12, 12 mini, 12 Pro, 12 Pro Max
|Visit eBay Store
Should You Buy An iPhone On eBay?
While I can pretty much guarantee that none of the above stores will scam you, it’s probably a good idea to temper your expectation about what you’ll be getting.
All of my iPhones that I’ve bought on eBay have come the same way:
- In a generic box
- With a charger but no cube
- With signature-required delivery (so someone will have to be home to receive it)
- Charged and ready to set up!
Keep in mind that if anything goes wrong, file a return as quickly as possible. While you typically have 30 or 60 days to return an item on eBay it’s easier to just get it sent back and get a refund or replacement.
My Experience Selling iPhones on eBay
I always stay a generation behind on iPhones (because that’s where the deals are) but usually upgrade when a new generation comes out and everyone is dumping their old phones to upgrade. I typically sell my phone on eBay and have to pay only $100 or so to upgrade.
However, I will warn you that you’re much more likely to get scammed selling an iPhone on eBay rather than buying one.
Every low-life on the planet seems to come out of the woodwork to message you as soon as you list a phone for sale. Especially if it’s a good deal.
When I sold my first phone on eBay I got a message 5 minutes later that said, “Hey, I just bought this phone from you but forgot to update my eBay address. Can update the address to 123 Derp Street instead?” Luckily I noticed before I shipped it that the message wasn’t actually from the buyer but from a scum bag who was messaging everyone who was selling phones.
If you do choose to sell your iPhone on eBay before (or after) you upgrade, be sure to take great pictures, follow best selling practices and, above all, trust your gut.
While eBay will help protect you in the unlikely event that you get scammed, it’s better to not have to deal with it at all. Between my wife’s phones, my phones, and our reselling business we’ve sold 20 or so iPhones on eBay and have had any problems.
At the end of the day, buying an iPhone on eBay is just like buying anything else. You simply find a good seller, put in some due diligence, and then reap the rewards (savings in this case).
Just be sure to choose one of the best eBay stores for iPhones (above) if you want to be as safe as possible.
Best of luck!