When it comes to the phone itself, you’ll want to remain wary of several smartphone specifications and features. If you buy a phone that’s way too outdated, you’ll just end up buying another soon after to make up for the performance loss. Trust us when we say smartphone specs are a big deal.

To offer an example, let’s take a look at Android.

There are many different software versions for Android, and anything older than 4.0 will be severely lacking in features today. That’s because a large majority of apps on Google Play have been updated for the newer software versions. So, with an older phone, you’ll be plagued with problems, particularly when it comes to finding apps and services that are compatible with your device.

Technical Specifications to Look out For

Techies, geeks and electronic enthusiasts spend a lot of time studying the specifications and hardware functions of a device before buying. They want to know if it’s got all the latest cell phone technical specifications, and if it will be compatible with newer apps.

That may not be the case for you, especially if you’re buying used. That said, you don’t want to end up with a device that’s so old you can barely find compatible apps and support.

What to Look For

The cell phone specs you need to be concerned with for a used smartphone are the following:

  • Battery size and estimated battery life
  • RAM or Memory (you want at least 1 GB)
  • Network type (CDMA, GSM, etc.)
  • SIM card compatibility

Pro Tip: On Android, you can actually use a service test code to run a full diagnostic of a phone. The code is different for each type of device. For example, Samsung has a separate one from HTC. You can read more about that here.

Stay Away From Old Models

With iPhones, this isn’t as much of a problem. Generally speaking, Apple’s mobile operating system (iOS) remains compatible with older devices, up to a few generations back.

That said, you will notice that older iPhone models sometimes perform more sluggishly on the latest versions of iOS. That’s natural, and it happens because newer software is typically optimized for more powerful hardware. This is really only the case with anything older than the fourth generation.
Plus, it’s more cost-effective to sell your phone and upgrade every three years or so, if we’re talking about the iPhone. So anything below generation four would be in the sweet spot for a trade-in.

But for Android, an older device can mean a boatload of problems. Some of the newest apps aren’t supported on older versions of Android, and those that are supported will be missing features and may even perform worse. There are many underlying reasons for this, but the most obvious is the outdated hardware inside older phones.

That’s not to say they won’t work. You can almost always activate an older phone, and it will work fine for basic communication like phone calls, texting, emails and even social media. But if you decide to go that route, don’t expect it to play the latest and greatest games, or include support for all the latest apps. It can be a real bummer when you want to install something on your device, only to find out it’s not compatible.

We recommend buying an Android running version 4.1 or higher. That does mean your purchase will likely be more expensive, but it’s worth it — especially if you want to take advantage of all that Android has to offer.

Buy Sell

Chapter 2: Physical Appearance and ConditionChapter 4: Is The Phone Stolen?