New but old cell phone
September 21, 2008 1:37 PM   Subscribe

Is there any downside to buying a new but two-year-old cell phone?

There's a good, durable Motorola cell phone we're considering. The model was introduced just about two years ago. We're fine with the fact that it doesn't boast some of the features available in newer phones. AT&T no longer sells this on their site, so we're getting it through Amazon. Is there any downside to buying an outdated model phone?
posted by the sobsister to Technology (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The battery may not last as long as you'd like. Lithium batteries begin to degrade as soon as they're manufactured, and this happens even if they're not being used. Depending on the battery they become useless two to four years after they're manufactured.

The question therefore is whether the phone you're considering buying is an old design which was recently manufactured (in which case you're fine) or an old design which was manufactured a long time ago (in which case you'll probably have to replace the battery).
posted by Class Goat at 1:47 PM on September 21, 2008

Make sure it'll work with your provider, that's all. I very much doubt that you'd have any problems with it. The only downside that you might see is a lack of accessories if the newer phones changed the plugs or something.
posted by Dipsomaniac at 1:57 PM on September 21, 2008

Have you shopped new phones from your provider? Unless the older phone suits specific needs, or was very high end, when introduced I can't imagine it would be any better than current entry level phones which providers either give away for free or charge $20 or $30 for...
posted by wfrgms at 2:06 PM on September 21, 2008 [1 favorite]

1. Motorola phones aren't all that reliable / well built when new
2. batteries suck after two years
3. you can get great new phones for free (I think there is a deal on now where you can get a blackberry curve + $100 in your pocket)

on the technical side, frequencies haven't changed recently, so you aren't likely to be missing much if you MUST have an old phone. You won't be saving any money though.
posted by b1tr0t at 3:13 PM on September 21, 2008

I have had success buying older, used phones in the past, but I did have one unsuccessful experience which might be worth considering:

I bought my wife an old used cell phone from Ebay a few years ago. (The phone she had been using for a few years died and she wanted the exact same model).

I called to activate the new phone and they told me they couldn't (wouldn't?) activate it because it didn't comply to some new standard/protocol/somethingorother...

(Her previous phone of the same model worked fine a few days prior, but I guess they weren't activating new phones with the old protocol -- who knows if this was legit or just their scam to discourage people from buying secondhand phone).

Anyway, before buying your phone you may want to check in with the network/carrier to make sure it's still compatible/supported. Chances are you're fine but it's worth checking out first.
posted by Alabaster at 6:16 PM on September 21, 2008

Alabaster, the old phone probably didn't have E911 support. That switch-over is mandated by FCC regulations.
posted by Class Goat at 6:32 PM on September 21, 2008

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