Buying a used smartphone has mass appeal. With new phones frequently costing upwards of $1,000, secondhand phones promise major savings. Although a used phone has financial perks, the security of the devices has become a concern among cybersecurity professionals.
Secondhand Apple Device Safety
One advantage of having an Apple device is that the platform does offer prolonged support for their products. Currently, iPhone models are supported for approximately five to eight years after release. For example, the iPhone 4, released in 2011, could run the latest operating system up until the release of iOS 9 in 2019.
Secondhand iPhones should have the ability to use the latest iOS. The software updates ensure the used phones get the latest bug fixes and security patches. When Apple renders a model obsolete, the company provides no more software support. The following iPhone models were labeled obsolete in 2023:
- iPhone 3G
- iPhone 4
- iPhone 4S
- iPhone 5C
Along with software updates, old Apple phones may not be compatible with apps downloaded from the App Store. Phones over five years old often don’t support the latest app releases or updates. Not updating iPhone applications can make the devices vulnerable to security issues.
Secondhand Android Device Safety
The concern with secondhand Android devices is when manufacturers stop releasing updates for their phone models. Unlike Apple, each manufacturer may have a different “death date” for its phone models. Samsung currently supports Android phone models for up to five years, while Google Pixel phones have guaranteed support for up to three years.
Despite limited manufacturer support, Android phones run on an open-sourced operating system. With an open-source platform, users can install custom ROMs. With a custom ROM, Android
phone owners can access new software features on older devices. Alternative firmware updates are another resource when Samsung devices are no longer supported.
Android devices also face compatibility issues with applications. Applications may not run on the older phone’s operating system if it cannot receive updates. To circumvent the problem, users may download apps from unofficial sources. However, the applications may not run correctly or lead to security issues.
Security Measures for Old Devices
One of the best safety tips is to avoid using an old phone the manufacturer no longer supports. However, the majority of secondhand phones are safe to use as long as you remember the following safety tips:
Before using an old or used phone, perform a factory reset. The factory reset restores the device to its original state. Erasing all the data on the secondhand phone helps protect the new user from malware.
Download Latest Software
Check for software updates in the phone settings before using an older model device. Software updates install the latest features and address any security issues. Patches included with software updates block known malware attacks on devices.
Although many phone users update software, app updates are frequently ignored. App updates fix bugs and security issues found within the program. Opting for automatic updates can help take the guesswork out when apps and software need updating.
Both new and old phones benefit from a mobile VPN. The mobile VPN keeps a phone safe by encrypting data and allowing users to browse online through a virtual private network. Older phones without the latest updates could have less security in place. Hackers can steal passwords and other sensitive data through a public Wi-Fi network. The VPN adds an extra layer of protection that the device may not offer.
Strong and unique passwords protect any device, regardless of age. Update passwords every three months and choose phrases with symbols that are difficult to guess. Newer phone models with fingerprint and face recognition also offer better Android and Apple device security.
Two-factor authentication prevents unauthorized access to the apps found on an older phone. Add two-factor authentication for social media, email, and shopping accounts. Applications have different two-factor authentication options, such as text codes sent to phones or fingerprint scans.
Applications from Trusted Sources
Always shop for applications from the official storefronts for Apple and Android. The Google Play Store and the App Store curate the available applications on their platforms. Avoid third-party websites and never download APK files directly. APK files can have malware that infects the phone once downloaded.
Purchasing a used phone saves you significant money on your devices. The practice also keeps aging devices out of landfills. But keep in mind that both Android and iPhone phones can experience security issues. Keep them safe by downloading the latest updates, using a mobile VPN, and setting up two-factor authentication.