iPhones retain great resale values. Even after a year or two, an iPhone will have a price tag close to its original selling price during its release year.
Not everyone can afford to purchase an iPhone of their dreams while it's new, so naturally, selling older iPhones is a very common trade.
However, iPhones are equipped with an anti-theft feature known as Find My iPhone, which prevents any unauthorized use by anyone other than the user who owns the iPhone.
If an iPhone owner sells their devices without disabling Find My iPhone features properly, the new owner could end up with an iPhone that won't work because the phone would be marked as lost or stolen.
Before you buy a previously owned iPhone, you should thoroughly check the activation lock status on the iPhone you intend to buy.
Yes, Apple removed the iPhone-tracking tool that can tell if it was stolen. But there are some alternative ways to check your phone's status.
Check for a message on the lock screen.
If an iPhone is put in lost mode, then the lock screen should display a warning message that the iPhone was stolen or lost.
A message like this could mean two things – either your seller is trying to sell you a stolen iPhone, or the seller hasn't disabled Find My iPhone properly. The latter is more likely to happen, so you should ask your seller to log into the iPhone with the Apple ID and password and erase the phone properly, turning the Find My iPhone feature off.
A lock screen can pretty much show the basic level of information a potential buyer needs to know, but not everything.
Ask the seller to reset the device.
If you have your mind set on buying a secondhand iPhone, just ask the seller to reset his/her iPhone in front of you.
A complete reset can be done by going to Settings < General < Reset and then tapping on Erase All Content and Settings. In this case, an iPhone with Find My iPhone enabled will ask for the owner's Apple ID and password.
After providing the accurate credentials, the phone will be reset. Of course, a seller could have done this beforehand, but to be absolutely sure your iPhone will work, you should have it done in front of you.
The procedure should take only a few minutes.
Set up the device in front of the previous owner.
This way, you can handle any issues that may come with setting up the phone right away. You'll be able to quickly flag that Find My iPhone is still enabled, and you'll have the right person there to turn it off.
Try to activate the device to see if it asks for iCloud email and password.
If an iPhone shows a message on the "Activate iPhone" screen that indicates the iPhone is lost or stolen, and the person selling you the iPhone can't unlock the Activation Lock, don't buy that iPhone!
In this case, it's definitely stolen, and you don't want to deal with that, for both moral and practical reasons.
With all these steps properly done, you should now have a functioning iPhone with the activation lock removed. Enjoy your new, cheaper phone!