Buying Used Mobile Phones in Sri Lanka – A Buyer’s Guide
As you know Sri Lankan mobile phone market is growing at a rapid pace. One reason for this is the wide availability of mobile phones at low cost compared to many other countries as a result of less duties and restrictions on the import of mobile phones. And the other reason is the cut-throat competition among the network operators allowing low tariffs.
Well, although almost all brands of mobile phones on earth are available in Sri Lanka, most of us would not be having the phone we would have dreamed to have due to the affordability factors. So the alternative for this is to buy a used (or second hand) mobile phone (aha! just got to the point!). However in most cases no second hand phone seller will offer any sort of warranty; and if you meet the seller online then you will never find the fellow again after the sale. So lets talk about buying a used mobile phone from a buyers perspective (well, most of the matters discussed here could be applied when buying a new phone too).
Get to know the codes available for the phone
Well if you are going to buy a popular brand then there may be secret codes available for checking some important information about the phone (For instance, codes for checking the date of manufacture and talk time)
- Physical condition – whatever said & done, this is the most important factor to consider. You need to put the highest weight on this factor. Check out whether there is any sign of a physical damage to the phone; Check carefully whether there are any scratches on the screen; then check out the features of the phone in the light of the knowledge you gathered previously.However testing each and every feature may not be practical. At least test the basic functions such as Switching on & off, Making a call, sending an SMS, taking photo with the Camera, listening to Radio, sending some file thru Bluetooth, listening to some MP3s, changing the SIM & memory chips, using headset, browsing internet etc. If possible try to install some applications (if it is a smartphone you try to install a native OS program and a Java program if Java is said to be in the phone in specifications)Make sure you at least play with the phone for half an hour. Also note the battery level at the beginning and recheck after sometime of heavy use (we suggest you keep playing Music Player or Radio for the half an hour) if you notice a drastic decrease in the battery level that may be a sign of a weak battery.
- Date of manufacture and talk time up to date – You should check these with the use of the codes you got to know before. Make the seller feel you are a mobile phone guru! If the phone is made recently or talk time less then it may be a factor for a higher price; however there is no way to be sure that this information is 100% correct because there are ways to change this information (specially if you are buying a smartphone, its not advisable to have much faith on this information)
- Country of origin – well this too has become a price deciding factor, if the phone is of European origin it is likely to have a higher price(colonial mentality??); however as we mentioned earlier, manufacturers never say that the quality varies on the country of origin. So its up-to you to decide whether you need to pay more for a European country name.
Other factors to consider:-
- Robbed, lost or stolen phones – Well if you don’t know the seller, there is a risk that the phone being sold is a stolen or robbed one. If so your new phone dream might end up in Police since now TRC can direct the Operators to find the person who is using a phone with a particular number. You need to be specially careful when the seller has only the phone (No full accessories set with the box); If there is the box, just compare the serial number (IMEI) mentioned on the box and the phone are the same. However you cant always ask the seller to show the documentary evidence on the ownership; Besides seller would not like to disclose the price he/she bought. It is always better to have some document setting out details of the seller and buyer and the agreement to sell the phone.
- Locked phones-In most of the foreign countries, popular method of using a phone is enter into contract with the network operator, which will provide the SIM card and the phone; the user then will have to pay the cost of the phone (including a call package) in monthly installments. However the phone is locked to the network he/she contracted with. This means the user cant just pay one installment, get the phone and throw away the SIM and buy a new SIM from another operator and use the phone. However these locked phones are widely available in Sri Lanka and also there are many people who does unlocking with the use of some hacking software. Remember this unlocking may be illegal and may result in legal actions.