Buying an iPhone 5 on craigslist

I recently bought a used iPhone 5 on the SF Bay craigslist. I wanted it to be unlocked so that I could use it in India. I could not find a checklist of things to test online so here’s my list. Hopefully it will help your buying experience easier.

General guidance

  • Only search for factory unlocked phones. Buying locked phones and hoping you will be able to unlock them somehow just leads to stress and early death.
  • Reject low ball and high ball offers. As of today $450 seems like a reasonable after market price for a phone is reasonably good condition
  • Prefer postings that have photos so that you are not surprised by the appearance of the phone at the meet.
  • Meet in a public place, preferably an ATT or Verizon store so that you can get the phone working at the store before you buy. This guidance is only for folks that have a US number.


  • Ensure that the phone is under warranty before you buy. This will save you a lot of hassle in case anything goes wrong. The phone I bought had a bad power off/sleep button. I found this out after the transaction was over. Luckily the phone was under warranty and apple gave me a brand new unit 🙂 So… the warranty is really valuable!
  • Ask the seller to send you the warranty status by sending you a screenshot from this page:
  • You should also ensure warranty status by going to: and entering the device serial number yourself.  You can find the serial number by going to Settings->General->About.
  • Check the phone is unlocked and that its IMEI number is not blocked. This ensures that the phone is not stolen by going to atleast two sites and confirming the status is the same on both. You can find the IMEI number by going to Settings->General->About. Here are the sites I used:
  • Try to have your “nano sim” ready so that you can test it in the new phone. The iPhone 4S sim is a micro SIM and it will not work in the iPhone 5
  • Check the phone for defects by:
    • Making a call
    • Test the speaker during the call
    • Test the headphones
    • Test the mic if its built in to the headphones by voice the “Voice memo” app under utilities
    • Test the home button works
    • Test that the lock/sleep/switch off button works
    • Test that the charging cable works. This was not working for me and I was able to get $20 back from the seller. There are lots of “lightening” cables that are not legit. So, do check this before you buy.

Oh, before I forget, keep your fingers crossed. 🙂

Hope this helps