Buying a phone

Please note that these guides do not constitute legal advice and any information provided in the guides should not be construed as legal advice or legal interpretation. We do not accept any liability for any loss caused by your reliance on this guide.

The DoneDeal guide to buying a phone

Phone model

  • Meet the seller and examine the handset before completing the purchase.
  • Is it the same phone advertised?
  • Check that the phone’s features match those listed on the manufacturer’s brochure or website.

Phone network

  • Turn on the mobile phone and insert your own SIM card.
  • Check if you can make calls.
  • Can you access the internet?

SIM-free phones

  • A SIM-free phone is one, usually sold by the manufacturer, which should work with any mobile phone network.
  • A genuine SIM-free phone will display no mobile phone network logos or graphics when the handset powers up.
  • Always test the phone with your own activated SIM (or a friend’s from a different network) to make sure it is SIM free.

Unlocked or jailbroken phones

  • An unlocked phone will let you pick whichever network you wish, but it may invalidate the phone’s warranty.
  • A software change to unlock an iPhone is known as jailbreaking. Jailbroken phones may have software with bugs or flaws.

Jailbreak damage

  • Some of the phone's features may have been damaged or disabled when the phone was unlocked or jailbroken.
  • Check the phone can download further software upgrades.
  • Ask the seller to download a current update to prove the phone is operating correctly.
  • Check as many functions as possible before buying, especially the functions and apps you intend to use regularly.

In-contract phones

  • Check with the seller if the phone is still in contract.
  • If so, the phone may no longer work once the seller has stopped paying the bill.
  • If that is the case you will have to get the phone unlocked before buying.

Phone condition

  • Check to make sure all keys and functions are working.
  • Liquid damage to an iPhone will void its Apple warranty. Check the earphone jack slot; if the white disc inside has turned red or pink there is a likelihood of liquid damage.
  • Check for loose keys, and look closely for cracks in the phone screen.
  • Ask if the battery life has diminished.
  • Check the camera lense for scratches

Counterfeit phones

  • Check the handset’s IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) number by typing *#06# on the phone.
  • This number should match the number supplied with the phone, usually found in the battery compartment.
  • To check, remove the battery and look for a sticker or label with the IMEI – it should be 15 to 17 digits long, with no letters.
  • You can then visit the International Numbering Plans website to check the validity of the IMEI.

Stolen phones

  • Check with Irish mobile networks to see if the IMEI number has been flagged as a stolen phone.
  • Beware that if a phone is reported stolen it may be disabled by the manufacturer after you buy it.
  • Ask to see the original packaging or ideally a receipt.

Syncing with iTunes/iCloud

  • This is a common issue with second-hand iPhones. Does a message appear saying it’s synced with another iTunes library or iCloud account?
  • To proceed, you will have to erase the content currently stored on your phone.
  • Sync immediately before you install any content.
  • Connect the iPhone to iTunes or iCloud to check if there are any syncing issues.

PIN lock

  • This is a simple thing, but one which causes headaches for many purchasers.
  • Make sure the phone hasn’t been locked by a PIN or, if it has, ask the seller for the correct PIN.
  • Type it in and ensure the phone is unlocked.

DoneDeal app

  • When you get your new phone, don’t forget to download the DoneDeal app!

Landline phones

  • When purchasing a desktop telephone for home or office, be aware that there are different types of phone – analogue and digital.
  • Typically, the phone in your home works on an analogue line. Fax lines are similar.
  • Cordless phones in a house might be digital from the base to the handset, but the telephone line itself is probably analogue.


  • Businesses currently lean towards digital phones which allow VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) calls.
  • A VoIP phone allows businesses to make calls over a broadband internet service by VoIP.
  • These can significantly bring down the cost of local and international calls.
  • Call quality on VoIP calls has improved greatly in recent years.
  • Unlike most analogue phones, digital phones often have extra features like voicemail.

Buying mistakes

  • A digital phone will not work on an analogue service but there are analogue/digital phones.
  • Check if you have a digital service before buying a digital-only phone.
  • Analogue telephony adapters can be acquired and these will connect standard analogue telephones to a digital telephone system.
  • Enquire with your VoIP service about suitable phones.