How secure is your Refurbished iPhone?

Photo by Bagus Hernawan on Unsplash

Note: This is a guest post written by Dan Martin

The definition of security varies from one person to the other. As a mobile user, your definition of security should lie between the safety of your investments and the potential cybersecurity risks involved in buying a refurbished iPhone. 

Although iPhones are generally safer in terms of security and durability, it’s your responsibility to enlighten yourself about the elements that may present security issues in your iPhone. Here, in this article, we’ll discuss the elements in detail so that you have peace of mind when buying a refurbished iPhone. 

Security from Software Vulnerabilities

Outdated software is the hub for cybersecurity risks. When a new vulnerability is exposed, even the attackers who weren’t aware of the risks start finding older devices that are susceptible to exploitation. However, as iPhones are entitled to long update schedules,  your refurbished iPhone, even 4-5 years old models, are equally safe from hackers as the newer models. 

We recommend making sure how many years of support your intended model has. If it still has a year or two of updates available, make your move and get them. If they’re already outdated, consider spending a little more on the more upgraded models. 

Security from Being Outdated OS

Most developers strive to support the latest versions of the operating systems. Although they may need to continue developing for older devices, they can end it anytime they want after the official support ends. With a very old refurbished iPhone model, you may not be able to enjoy the latest apps in their full glory. Moreover, you’ll miss out on beautiful iPhone features without OS updates. 

Consider getting only the refurbished iPhones that are still getting the OS update from iPhone 12 trade-in. You’ll be safer and will enjoy the device for more than 2 years. Make sure to check how many years of updates are still left for them. 

Security from Display Damages

Moving from the software, we have hardware issues that need to be considered before buying a refurbished iPhone. Most customers think used and refurbished phones are the same, but they aren’t. When you buy a refurbished device, every component of them is checked and replaced if necessary. Therefore, you’re safe from display damage. 

When buying a refurbished iPhone, consider checking if hairline scratches and blemishes are present on the screen. Turn it on to see if any pixels are dead. Only then accept the delivery and start enjoying your new phone. 

Security from Battery Damages

Batteries gradually die out from years of usage. Lithium-ion batteries, although most efficient, aren’t durable enough to hold charges like the first day for more than a year or two. Most refurbished sellers replace the batteries before shipping them to you, but make sure that you’re absolutely safe from an inadequate battery life issue. If your iPhone doesn’t last even for a day, it’s not worth it. 

iPhones have a setting that tells you what percentage of battery health has been compromised. If the number is anything below 80, return the item. 

Security from Connector Damages

Thunderbolt connectors are quite durable. Even after years of wear and tear, they hold their own quite substantially. But, physical and liquid damage to the connector can occur at any time. Refurbished sellers are aware of that and make sure that the connectors are working as they should before shipping them to you. In that sense, your refurbished iPhone is as safe as a new one.  

Regardless, do check the connectors for any physical or electrical damage before buying the phone. Plug the adapter in and see if it charges as it should. 

Security from Network Damages and Changes

Smartphones, especially iPhones, have a number of network receptors that ensure the connectivity of your device. This includes Wi-Fi receptors, Bluetooth Antenna, and Cellular receptors. If any of those are damaged, you may not be able to use your device as intended. 

Moreover, as 5G and other network changes are coming up frequently, you need to ensure that your iPhone is future-proof. Consider thoroughly checking the connectivity features of your refurbished iPhone to stay safe from network damage and changes. 

Security from Liquid Damages

iPhones generally are waterproof to a great extent. But, once the phones have been opened and components have been replaced, the waterproofing features are comprised to some level. If you’re buying from a reliable seller, this shouldn’t be an issue, but if you’re not, you may need to check it by pouring water on top of it (please don’t). 

Consider checking the rubber seals around the sim tray. If they’re intact, mostly it means that the seller wasn’t sloppy. However, you can only be completely sure if you’ve bought it from a trusted refurbished seller. 

Security from Component Defects

We’ve come to the hardest part now. If there is a component defect in your iPhone, you may not realize it before the device completely stops working. It’s even challenging for sellers to find inferior components and replace them if they aren’t equipped with specialized tools. 

That’s why you’re required to buy only from sellers that you trust with the process. Although most of the best sellers offer you a warranty on refurbished phones, make sure that they hold their words true. 

Security From Software Defects

After many years of usage, a number of software defects can arise. In most cases, the defects are introduced by the previous user through Jailbreaking and forcing kernel changes. In addition to voiding the warranty, these exploitations can introduce bugs to the operating system and even on a hardware level. Moreover, if your device is jailbroken, you get more susceptible to data breaches

Before buying a refurbished phone, make sure that the device was never Jailbroken and has no bugs whatsoever. Check the camera app and all the settings to ensure the safety of your device. However, in most cases, this doesn’t prove to be an issue. 

Security From Lost Accessories

Make sure that you’re getting all the necessary accessories that should be present in the box of your refurbished iPhone. If you’ve bought a device without all the accessories, check the list of elements on the seller’s website and match them with what you got. 

The Bottom Line

Refurbished iPhones are as secure as new iPhones as long as the seller has taken care of the issues with care. Make sure to check the software and OS support for your device to stay ahead of the curve. Consider checking the display, battery, connector, and network damages for your own safety. Also, make sure the waterproofing is intact. Moreover, stay safe by ensuring that the components have been replaced with original parts and no intentional software defects are present.

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