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The internet is filled with semi-scams looking to turn your money into their pocket change. The iPhone is seen all over the place, from second hand retailers to online auction sites, and at most locations the validity of the sale looks questionable at best. There are a number of reasons to avoid buying a used iPhone, no matter how great it looks.
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Under the Hood
One of the main problems with this idea is that it is hard to see the travel that has occurred on a phone. Since it is less than an easy proposition to switch iPhone batteries or memory it is easy to see an iPhone that is past its prime. This will not be obvious just by looking at it and you may end up with a device that is near useless.
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Breaking Out of Jail
Jailbroken iPhones are even more sensitive to these problems, possibly having been infected with viruses and mismanaged. Apple holds the right to disable jailbroken iPhones permanently, which could then happen to your phone after you purchase it used. Since Apple does hold this kind of sway over its phones, it is hard to personalize it enough to buy it from a previous owner.
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Now that Best Buy is carrying refurbished iPhones there is no reason to go for standard used sales. Refurbishment takes an old device and makes it close to being new, which for an iPhone is integral to it having any sort of life what so ever. If this is the route you are choosing it is important to go with these updated devices.
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The level of complete forgeries online is incredible when it comes to heavily hyped items like the iPhone and the iPod Touch. It is easy for a “purchase” of a used device like this to be the gateway to stolen account information or the shipment of counterfeit merchandise. The only real way to avoid this completely is to buy one from established and licensed retailers.
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Know Your Source
It may be fine if you knew the original user, but do not expect to have the performance of a new device. If you are already going to spend the money on the expensive 3G service then you really should go ahead and save up for a new one.