Buying used Pixel phones: How to save money and avoid pitfalls

Cameras Google Pixel 5 Pixel 4 Pixel 3

Robert Triggs/Android Authority

Used and refurbished Google Pixel phones are available from many retailers and private sellers, but should you buy one? And if you’ve already decided you want one, what should you be looking for?

We’ve put together the information you’ll need to search for used Pixel phones. From the biggest pitfalls to avoid to tips for getting a used Pixel at a bargain price, here’s everything you need to know about buying a used Google phone.

Top Reasons to Buy a Used Pixel Phone

  • Google Pixel users enjoy one of the best software update policies among all Android users. This means that your second-hand Pixel can receive updates even if it’s been on the market for years.
  • By buying a used Google Pixel, you’re experiencing Android the way its creators intended, and you’re also first in line for cool updates and new features. You get exclusive features tied to other Google products, making Pixels the default choice for users invested in the Google ecosystem.
  • Even the oldest and cheapest Pixel phones are known for their great cameras.

Top reasons not to buy a used Pixel

  • Although Pixel phones have come a long way, Google still lags behind Apple and Samsung when it comes to customer support, retail and service channel availability, and third-party ecosystems.
  • Pixel phones aren’t known for their ever-changing specs. Most Pixel devices launch with decent specs from day one, but can go subpar after just a year or two.

Read also : Selling a Used Phone: Dos and Don’ts | Buying a second-hand phone: do’s and don’ts

Used Pixel, new Pixel or others?

If you’re reading this article, you’re probably on a budget. But if you can spend a little more, should you consider buying a new Pixel instead of a used one?

Google doesn’t release its flagship phones early in their lifecycle, so if you want a new Pixel on a budget, you’ll have to look into one of Google’s mid-range offerings.

As of this writing, Google’s cheapest phone is the Pixel 5a, which from $449. For about the same price, you can buy a used Pixel 6 on Swappawhat we think is a better deal, given its specs and features.

(By the way, the Pixel 6a should launch soon.)

If you’re open to other brands, there are plenty of alternatives to buying a used Pixel. Our roundup of the best cheap Android phones is a great place to start, but we’d recommend spending a bit more on one of the more capable mid-range devices.

Some of our recommendations include:

What to know when buying a used Pixel

We have a step-by-step guide to buying used phones which we recommend you read first. Here are some key things to keep in mind when making a purchase:

  • Make sure you’re not overpaying. Assess the condition of the phone and check the average price of similar pixels (same model and same state) on Swappa or Gazelle.
  • Learn about the battery. Repeated charging cycles take a heavy toll on batteries, and this can be a problem for phones with small or medium batteries like the Pixels. Ideally, you’ll want a phone that has had its battery replaced – Pixel phones that have been refurbished are more likely to have a new battery.
  • Give a physical exam over the phone. If you can review the Pixel before you buy it, look for:
    • Scratches, dead pixels or burns on the screen
    • Problems with the charging port
    • Buttons clicking, stuck or otherwise damaged
    • Any sign of bulging, which could mean the battery is dangerously degraded
    • Buffy or buzzing speakers, including the earpiece
  • Check if you have a warranty. Even if you’re buying from a private seller, it’s worth inquiring about the amount of warranty (if any).
  • Check the status of software updates. Old Pixels in use may no longer receive operating system updates or even security updates. You will want to avoid them if you can.
  • Check if the phone has been lost or stolen. You can find the IMEI number of the device and run it against databases of lost, stolen or blacklisted phones.
  • Make sure the phone is reset and unlocked. If the seller hasn’t removed their Google Account from the Pixel, you won’t be able to use it.
  • Is the phone compatible with your operator? Pixel phones are pretty good in this regard, but network locks can still happen.
Google Pixel 5 vs. Google Pixel 4 XL

David Imel / Android Authority

Pixels used: what to avoid

In general, it’s best to avoid second-hand Pixel phones that are more than three years old, i.e. Pixel 3 series and older. The main reason is the battery, which on older, used devices is susceptible to degradation due to repeated charge-discharge cycles. Although you can use an app like AccuBattery To assess battery health, the safest thing to do is to look for a newer phone. You can also replace the battery yourself if you canat an additional cost.

Additionally, older Pixel phones may no longer be fast enough to provide a reasonably smooth experience without frequent lag or stuttering.

We generally advise against purchasing phones that are no longer receiving security patches. With so much of our lives depending on the security of our devices, it’s not something you should take lightly.

As of this writing, the following Pixel phones not anymore receive regular security updates:

  • Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL (updates end May 2022)
  • Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL
  • Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL
  • Pixel 1 and Pixel 1 XL

Additionally, the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL will only receive updates until October 2022, according to Google’s support page.

It’s a good idea to check the average price of a used phone. Swappa compiles data from phones sold on its platform, so it’s a good place to check. If the Pixel phone you’re considering is significantly cheaper than average, it’s worth paying close attention and asking about any potential issues. This is especially true if you are buying from a private seller, who offers you no protection. Hidden issues can include boot loops, fast draining batteries, cameras not working normally, and water damage, to name a few.


Bogdan Petrovan / Android Authority

Used electronics site Swappa has some helpful pricing tables that tell you the average price of used Pixel phones.

Best places to buy used Pixel phones

Buying a phone from a private seller (via a local Facebook group, Craigslist, eBay, etc.) may mean a lower price, but it’s inherently riskier than buying from a retailer. You’ll also likely miss out on warranty, return options, and other protections that retailers are legally required to provide.

If you’re ready to buy from a retailer, here are some great places to start your search for an affordable Pixel phone.

  • Gazelle – offers 30-point quality inspection, 30-day returns
  • Swapa – lots of ads, trade sellers, 30 day warranty
  • Amazon
  • eBay
  • Uptrade — devices tested, real photos, returns within 30 days

Refurbished Pixel Phones

If you want a bargain, but also a bit of peace of mind, refurbished Pixel phones might be the right choice for you.

Most refurbished phones come with a warranty and some are even guaranteed to look and work like new. It’s not something you typically get with second-hand phones.

Refurbished Pixel phones are available from many retailers in the United States. These include specialist refurbished sellers like BackMarket, SellCelland Declinesbut you can also find refreshed Pixels at most major retailers.

Here are some additional links if you’re looking for refreshed Pixel devices:

Is it a good time to buy a used Pixel?

As of this writing (May 2022), it might be wise to wait a bit, especially if you’re looking for a mid-range used Pixel phone. Indeed, Google is rumored to be showcasing the Pixel 6a at its Google I/O developer conference on May 11-12. The release of a new generation tends to make current models cheaper, and that goes for second-hand Pixel phones.

If you’re looking for a high-end used Pixel device, waiting a few months can help you save money. The Pixel 6 has only been on the market for a little over six months, so the supply for used Pixel 6s is still limited. Waiting until Amazon Prime Day 2022 in July might also be a good idea, as the event usually includes deals on affordable phones.

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