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The Ultimate Guide to Buying a Used or New SmartPhone in Lagos, Nigeria

Updated: Jul 9, 2023

Owning a smartphone in Nigeria is one of the major ways Nigerians are getting involved in the ever-growing digital economy. Nigerians use their smartphones for business, work, entertainment and productivity. Buying a used phone over a new phone can be a great way to save money while still acquiring a high-quality device. But at the end of it all buying a reliable and functional phone is more important.

Nigeria has a population of over 200 million people. Lagos is a major city housing over 20 million of them. This large population has led to the development of a thriving market for both new and used phones. There are many different places to buy phones in Lagos, including online marketplaces, classified ads, and reputable phone stores. After 10 years of actively procuring and distributing consumer electronics (both online and offline) which has smartphones as a top category, I have put together this guide that will not only help the buyer to get the best when purchasing a smartphone but will also save the buyer from getting scammed.

Before making a purchase, it is crucial to exercise caution and ensure that you are getting a reliable and functional device. Remember “all that glitters is not gold”. It is also advisable to buy from a trusted store with both money back guarantee and in-store warranty. I also think it is important to be wary of unpopular sellers who refuse to give you a warranty, who are unwilling to meet in person or do not have a pick up store. These are often signs that the seller is trying to hide something. In this article, we will explore the top things to look out for when purchasing a phone in Lagos and Nigeria at large. Some of the tips will be more inclined to buying a used phone but new phone buyers can also use them to detect manufactures defect and claim warranty early.

Checking the Physical Condition

Inspecting the physical condition of the used phone is crucial. Look out for any visible damage such as scratches, dents, or cracks on the screen or body. Pay attention to the buttons, ports, and connectors to ensure they are intact and functioning properly. Nowadays most phones come with three buttons which include volume up, volume down and power button. Other buttons are on screen this is why it is more important to test the screen effectively as the overall responsiveness of it affects the functionality of the phone. It is advisable to meet the seller in person to thoroughly examine the device before finalizing the purchase if the prospective device is used or buy from a trusted source or store.

Testing the cameras

When purchasing a used smartphone, one of the key features that many users prioritize is the camera. With advancements in technology, smartphone cameras have become increasingly capable of capturing high-quality photos and videos. Whether you are buying a new phone or evaluating the camera on a used device, conducting specific tests can help you assess its performance. Most phones come with two camera’s so it is important to test both the front facing camera and rear camera. For phones with multiple camera lenses one should try different camera modes and ensure the camera is producing sharp and vibrant images. In summary:

  • Check the image quality for sharp details, accurate colors, and good dynamic range.

  • Test the zoom capabilities.

  • Test the video recording capabilities.

Testing the Biometric Unlock Features (Face-ID, Touch-ID or Fingerprint scanner)

Biometric unlock features such as Face ID, Touch ID, and fingerprint scanners have

smartphone security by providing convenient and secure ways to unlock devices. Whether you're purchasing a new smartphone or evaluating a used one, it is essential to thoroughly test these biometric unlock features.

To test the accuracy and recognition capabilities of the biometric unlock feature, enroll your face or fingerprint (depending on the available option). Once enrolled, attempt to unlock the device multiple times using the registered biometric data. Verify if the device consistently recognizes and authenticates your face or fingerprint accurately. Pay attention to how quickly the device unlocks and if any failures occur. A fast and responsive unlocking process contributes to a smooth user experience.

Check for Signs of Water Damage

It is also important to check the phone for signs of water damage especially if it is a used one. This can be done by looking for any signs of corrosion or oxidation on the phone's exterior. You should also try to turn on the phone and turn it off to notice how it powers on. Checking the camera area and sim slot for water residue is also a way to confirm if it has been recently dipped in water.

Test the Functionality and ensure all accounts are signed out.

Once you have checked the physical condition of the phone, buttons, screen, biometric unlock features then you need to test its functionality. This includes testing the phone's operating system, ensuring old users account are signed out (google account, Samsung account or iCloud account). Also test the speed of opening and switching between apps.

Test the Wi-Fi and Cellular Connectivity:

It is important to test the phone's Wi-Fi and cellular connectivity. This is because these features are essential for using the phone to access the internet and make calls. To test the Wi-Fi connectivity, connect the phone to a Wi-Fi network and see if it is able to connect. To test the cellular connectivity, insert a SIM card into the phone and try to make a call.

Microphone, Speakers

After testing wifi and cellular connectivity make test calls to ensure the microphone and earpiece are working effectively. Also test the speakers by playing a familiar sound. If any test the headphone jack any to verify its functionality as well.

Testing the battery and charging port

The battery life and charging capabilities of a smartphone are vital factors to consider when purchasing a new device or evaluating a used one. The functionality of the charging port cannot be over emphasised as it is required to get the phone running.

Inspect the charging port for any physical damage, such as bent pins or debris that may hinder proper connection. Connect the device to the charger and ensure it securely plugs into the charging port without any wobbling or disconnections. Wiggle (shake) the cable gently to check for any loose connections. Faulty charging ports may result in inconsistent charging or difficulty in maintaining a stable connection. Insert the charger and ensure the device is retaining a charge.

If available, test alternative charging methods, such as wireless charging or different charging cables. This test will help determine if the smartphone's charging port is the sole issue or if the problem persists across different charging methods. It also allows you to verify the compatibility of the device with various charging options.

Check the battery health of the smartphone, if possible. Some devices provide battery health statistics within the settings menu. Assess the battery's maximum capacity and compare it to the original design capacity. A significant decrease in capacity may indicate that the battery has degraded over time and might require a replacement soon. Battery health of 80% and above is still considered optimum and can last over a period of time for a new user if the phone is used. Contrary to popular opinion 100% battery health is not a true reflection of the battery performance as overtime gimmicks have been introduced by untrustworthy dealers to manipulate the battery health. The true battery health can be deduced by observing the number of hours the phone lasts for and comparing it to stipulated times by the manufacturer. In all buying from a trusted vendor helps as if the battery is not performing up to the required hours one can initiate the rights which the warranty confers onto the buyer.

Research the Market Price

Before making a purchase, it is important to research the market price of the specific phone model you are interested in. Check multiple sources such as online marketplaces, classified ads, and reputable phone stores. Do not be a cheap skit as some offers are too good too be true. Having a good understanding of the market value will help you negotiate a fair price and avoid overpaying for a phone.

Request for Warranty and Receipt

Whenever possible, request a warranty from the seller even for used phones. Most sellers may offer a limited warranty period on used phones for 7 days while some go the extra mile to offer 14 days. Generally brand new phones are covered by manufacturers warranty, but ensure it is redeemable locally if not confirm if the store can help out to redeem such. Do not complete your purchase without a receipt or proof of purchase, as this can be useful if you encounter any issues with the phone in the future or required to provide a legal proof of purchase.


Purchasing a phone in Lagos is a simple process but it requires careful consideration to ensure you get a reliable device. Buying an high-end phone used can be an economical way to save money and by checking the physical condition, verifying the IMEI number, assessing the battery health, testing the functionality, researching the market price, and requesting a warranty, you can make an informed decision. By following these tips, you can increase your chances of finding a quality phone be it used or new that meets your needs in Lagos.

I hope this article has been helpful. If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to ask.

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