To be completely honest, there is nothing wrong with purchasing a used phone. More often than not, they are much cheaper than new ones and are practically just as new in terms of use and functionality. However, because of how new this market is, there are a lot of gaps in information out there, which often leads to consumers finding themselves in confusing situations. 

Sometimes this results in purchasing a phone that claimed to be “lightly used”, which is severely damaged. Other times, it results in purchasing a phone that may not have any physical defects, but that has not been properly screened for malware and harmful data. 

You shouldn’t let these uncommon problems reduce your willingness to purchase a used phone though. Instead, there are a few things that you need to be aware of when it comes to purchasing a new phone. 

We designed this guide to help you understand everything you need to know in order to make the best purchasing decision and find a used phone that is reliable, affordable, and that fits your needs.  

Main Problems With Purchasing Used Phones 

1. Consistency – What Are You Actually Buying?

The main problem with a used phone is that there is no consistent grading scale within the used phone industry. The industry is too new, and there are no commonly accepted standards. What makes this problem worse is that when you move outside the US market into the Global market, the gradings and definitions become even more confusing. 

For example, Gazelle has ratings such as good, fair, and excellent. Amazon only has “renewed”. There are industry rumors that Amazon will start stratifying their grades into a premium and second tier. It may take a big retailer like Amazon years to develop a consistent standard in the industry.

eBay is the Wild West of used phones. They have terms like used, seller refurbished, manufacturer refurbished and new. But, they are trusting the seller to input the grade, so there is no immediate standard. They are betting on the reputation of the seller, and future reviews if they market dishonest merchandise.

Large phone retailers like Apple and Verizon only use certified pre-owned, while T-Mobile uses a certified open box. 

That’s only what front-end consumers will see. To make matters worse, inside the industry, wholesalers have their own language and terminology. Wholesalers typically use grading, such as A-grade, B-grade, C-grade, etc. 

2. Trusting A Brand – How Do You Know Which One Is Best?

Even among wholesalers, this could describe something completely different. At Glyde, the wholesalers we work with use the term A-grade. For them, that means the device is fully functional and pristine. Other wholesalers will use A-grade to mean “like new”, so if it is not in the original packing and blemish free, it doesn’t make the grade.  Others will consider a device that powers up with a good LCD an A-grade phone, even though it might have blemishes and not in original packaging.

For the consumer, this becomes very confusing. Each reseller will define their own terminology. It is up to the buyer to read the terms and conditions in order to understand what you are getting yourself into. You must carefully understand what is or isn’t acceptable for a premium phone versus a platinum phone versus an A-grade phone versus just a renewed phone.

Confused yet?

On different platforms the exact phone can be represented in five different ways. Consumers will probably pay different prices for the same phone because each platform has its own wording that can be misleading. The key to remember is that each platform has its own rules of engagement.

types of used phones - which is best

Understanding Common Quality Terms

In order to give you the best chance to purchase a high quality used phone that actually gets the job done, and is worth the investment, there are a few industry terms you need to understand. Developing an understanding of these terms will help you qualify vendors, understand pricing,  and find the right phone for your needs.  

Certified Pre-Owned or Open Box

Certified can mean many things. When you buy a certified refurbished device from Apple, you are buying a phone that is certified by Apple. When you buy a certified pre-owned device from an online retailer, even though they both use the term certified pre-owned, it can be certified by a third party company with a completely different certification process then Apple. The work quality can be night and day and that’s why the pricing is different.

Always ask the question, “certified by whom?” And if you trust that company, great. If you don’t trust that company, don’t buy it, because there is no governing board of certification for refurbishment.


A refurbished device has had parts replaced or has been opened up for maintenance. That could be an amazing thing. So in the case of Apple certified pre-owned devices, they do a full refurbishment of all the core components, and to me as a consumer, That’s awesome because if anybody can refurbish those parts, it’s Apple. Right? 

The issue is that everybody else is not doing that, and so you run into potential issues with the parts that were replaced. More often than not, they’ve probably taken a phone that was really beaten up and had a lot of issues, then they changed a bunch of things to make it work, and it works today but you don’t know the quality of the craftsmanship. 

You don’t know the quality of the parts that they used. You have absolutely no clue if this stuff will last a long time. It looks better, because they’ve changed it with a nice new shiny screen, but what if the glue quality is not that good? Then the screen starts popping out. We see this all the time.

Refurbished, if done right, is probably the best deal you can get. But it is very, very, very difficult for the average consumer to know if refurbishment was done right unless you’re buying from the manufacturer themselves. 

This makes it absolutely essential to work with a trusted and reliable reseller who ensures that phones are up to standards before ever being placed back on the market. 

Secondhand or Pre-Owned

The term secondhand or pre-owned device doesn’t make any representation of something having been replaced and refurbished. The pre-owned market is guaranteeing that the phone has gone through functional testing and has all the original parts.

There’s no need to represent the quality of the work because it is the original phone. What you are trusting in this definition is that the seller truly tested the phone thoroughly.

Glyde does not sell refurbished phones. Everything we sell is from the pre-owned market. We are not a refurbishing company. We feel that there is a loss in quality when refurbishing a phone. 

The process enters into all sorts of risks around parts compliance and making sure that you’re not violating intellectual property. Because of this we only take devices that have come back that were taken care of by the owner. We buy from all over the world, so we have devices in any conceivable condition, and we separate the top quality devices to go to consumers in these premium, pre-owned channels.

Again, depending on the reseller, there may be various degrees of performance that you can expect in a secondhand or pre-owned phone. For instance, some resellers simply make sure that the phone works and has no visible damage before reselling, while others run more advanced diagnostics to ensure quality and safety. 

At Glyde, we take quality very seriously. Every single pre-owned phone we sell is run through a series of 30+ internal and external tests in order to sure everything is working properly, and that your data is safe. 

Premium Pre-Owned

Premium pre-owned is the highest degree of quality you can expect in a used phone. These are phones that could have only been used a handful of times or less, or that have been opened and then sent back to retailers.

As a result, retailers can’t resell them, but they are perfectly fine. We take these phones in, make sure they are perfectly functional, and sell them at a fraction of the price of brand new models that are in the exact same condition. The only difference – you won’t have the shiny packaging or plastic to peel off. If you can get by that, this is a great way to get a very affordable deal on tons of brand new models. 

Our selection of premium pre-owned phones features some of the highest quality standards in the industry because we put your satisfaction and safety first. 

how much is my damaged phone worth in trade in

How Does Damage Affect the Value of a Used Phone?

As a buyer, understanding damage can really help you understand the true value of a phone you are considering purchasing.  Cosmetics are very important here. How the phone looks can be one identifier to how you can determine the value of the phone. Make sure you understand how the platform defines their cosmetic grading.

Gazelle, for example, has clear definitions on their cosmetics, so you can actually decide whether you’re okay with a good, fair, poor. 

Understand whether you as a buyer have any sort of recourse if the phone is not what you expected. 

Knowing the brand, not the phone brand, but the reseller’s brand. Is it a brand you trust? Is the platform you are buying from able to support their claims? Will they take care of you if there is a problem?

One way to determine this is to get a guarantee of functional and tested devices. Cosmetics are good, but ultimately it is just a guide. What is inside the phone is what really matters. If the platform won’t warranty the phone, then there may not have been insufficient testing for functionality. That could be a key indicator of whether you should trust the platform or not.  

A good example here is eBay. What they define as manufacturer refurbished is really amorphous. Because they allow devices on the site that are not actually refurbished by the manufacturer. The term they are using implies a certain degree of quality, but there are really no clear definitions.

trade in your old phone for a used one - testing

How Do Used Phone Sellers Test for Damage? 

Many companies will talk about 40 point quality inspections for used phones. But what does that really mean?

The testing is usually done in two major steps. 

The first is a cosmetic inspection. This is simply an observation of the outer condition of the phone. They look for things like: 

  • Scratches 
  • Cracks 
  • Damage
  • Sticky buttons
  • Camera damage
  • Speaker damage
  • Charging port damage 
  • Etc… 

The second step is testing the inner components and performance of the device. The ideal scenario is that a company is logging the results of the software test so you know exactly how each function operates and whether there are any issues with the phones. The software testing can range from basic things like powering the device to more obscure tests on complex performance metrics.

In this step, reliable resellers will usually look for things like: 

  • Camera performance
  • Memory
  • Malware and data retention
  • WiFi connection
  • Bluetooth functionality 
  • Battery life 
  • Pixel quality
  • Network connectivity 
  • Loading speed 
  • Etc…

So for example, testing a camera doesn’t just mean opening the camera app and making sure that the button clicks. It doesn’t just mean making sure that a picture is saved. It actually means holding it up against a specifically calibrated color background to make sure that the colors show up the same way that they should. 

Does the Bluetooth work? What about the WiFi? Will it connect to a cell network? These key questions must be asked and answered if the reseller is going to be reputable and provide consumers with a premium pre-owned product. 

trading in old phone for used

Trading In Your Phone to a Reseller – What to Look Out For

Regardless of the condition of your phone, when you trade it in, there are a few main questions you will want to answer: 

  • What is it worth?
  • How will I be compensated? 
  • What will be done with my phone afterward? 
  • Is my data safe? 

Let’s explore the basics that you should know, and what you should look for when trading your phone in to a reseller, in order to make sure you make the right decision with a reputable brand. 

Know the Terms & Conditions

Understanding the terms and conditions that will result in the value of your phone is very important. Trade-in value can vary widely based on the company you choose and tons of other factors. Sometimes it is not always determined by the phone’s condition, but by the current market conditions – such as when a new phone like the iPhone 11 is released

Just like buying a phone, make sure that you trust the site. You are not only trusting the trade-in value you might receive but you are trusting them with a device that potentially has your personal data on it. Regardless of the efforts you go through to erase apps, data, photos, and other files, there will always be a small amount of data on your device that is related to you and your personal identification. Expert developers can remove this data in order to make sure that it is not exposed to unwanted eyes in the reselling process. 

It is extremely important that you choose a reseller that is reliable when it comes to clearing old data off of devices, and keeping your identity and personal data safe from malicious intent. 

Understand the Trade-In Criteria

For many of the “fly by night” sites, you have to worry about getting your phone back if you do not like the value they give you. Look for sites that require objective criteria upfront regarding the phone. Understand what they are going to look for when they determine the value of your phone. They might require 3-5 items that must work, or even photos and other proof of the condition of your device. If it meets certain key criteria, you can expect a certain value back. 

Beware of sites that say, “it just has to work.” More often than not, after looking at your phone, sites like these find some obscure setting that doesn’t work the way it was intended, then dramatically reduce the value of your phone or even drop it to zero.

For the clearest trade in value, you want to stick to using sites where the criteria for valuation is explicitly outlined in plain English, even if the values they offer are less. These sites will often give you a time period for you to accept the value they offer. This is a fair way to do business.

Be mindful of shipping costs and be sure to pay attention to how quickly they pay. Ultimately, when it comes down to it, you want to be working with only the most trustworthy used phone sites. There’s a reason they might be offering slightly less than the fly-by-night operators because they’re probably being honest and upfront.

best online phone trade in website 3

Glyde – Why Join the Used Phone Revolution?

At Glyde, we are serious about making a difference in the used phone industry. That’s why we have developed a site that allows for full transparency throughout the entire trade-in process, to give fair values for old phones, and affordable prices on tested and trusted used ones.  

We Trust Our Sources Completely

To guarantee quality, we do the same thing we counsel consumers on, we only buy from vetted sources. In fact, we can trace the source of origin for every single phone on our site.

This is really important because this means that we can be certain and comfortable that the devices we’re receiving are made with 100% manufacturer internal parts, and have not been tampered with. 

Because of the way that the market works, there is an incentive for resellers to take these devices and modify them internally and resell them for a higher price point. Usually, this means that the parts aren’t as good, and they don’t work as well over time. It also exposes you to more data security risks.

At Glyde, we take pride in only selling used phones that have not been refurbished or tampered with in any way, verified by the most advanced testing software and processes in the industry.

We Test Our Products Rigorously

This means literally anything that comes into our warehouse. We have millions of devices that arrive yearly that are each tested individually to ensure quality. 

First, we make sure any old customer data is cleared from the phones. It works the same way on trade-ins also. This means you get protection on both sides of the transaction, buying and selling. 

Second, we run heavy diagnostic tests to ensure that the phone passes our strict quality standards for performance and functionality. Each phone is plugged into our custom software in order to be heavily tested on a 30+ point internal check. Anything that fails is not pushed to our store. 

We Offer Fair Value 

Even if you believe your phone is too damaged for a trade-in, there is probably value, and we are willing to give you what you deserve for it. We find value in every phone regardless of condition, even “no power” devices. 

We even provide a counter offer if we find the phone is not in condition described when it arrives to our warehouse. So you have the option to get your phone back if you’re not happy with the counter offer.

On top of that, we allow you to choose whether you receive cash for your old device (early 2020) or credit towards a new one from our selection of pre-owned devices.

Browse Hundreds of Premium Pre-Owned Phones – Backed By Quality 

Lastly, we have a great selection of the most popular pre-owned phones on the market. With complete model lists from trusted brands like Apple and Samsung, our store features high quality, lightly used phones in almost all models, such as: 

On top of that, we offer multiple versions of each phone, including color schemes, features, and screen sizes. 

Forget dealing with shady resellers who don’t offer you fair value for your phone, and who don’t have quality standards that keep your best interests in mind. Find your next phone with Glyde, and see why we are transforming the used phone market one device at a time. 

Have an old phone you are looking to resell and aren’t sure what it’s worth? No problem, get an easy assessment from the comfort of your home, without ever sending it in, and completely free of cost. Get started with your free estimate here.