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I'm planning on buying a second-hand iPhone 5 from eBay and then using it as an iPod Touch (when the time comes, I'd like to activate it and use it as an iPhone). I'm not sure how activation works, however, and a few hours of internet searching have yielded several different answers. So far, I've heard that I'd need to get a SIM card matching the carrier of the iPhone, but I've heard some people say that it has to have been used with an iPhone before that?

Sorry for the possible triviality; I'm not too well-versed in Apple products and things. Thanks a ton in advance :)

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The phone will need to be activated using a valid SIM card. If the device is carrier-locked it will need to be a SIM of that carrier. However you can just take out the SIM after activation and the phone will work fine until you reset it (then it would need to be activated again).

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You most certainly can use any iPhone without needing an active data connection. You can turn off the Cellular Data to help save some battery life, but the hardware will still use some energy no matter the settings you choose.

As to knowing the product, you will need to either risk losing the money, buy it though escrow service, clear things with the buyer and make sure you know who the seller is before paying.

Insist that the listing clarify two things before bidding is the best practice:

  1. That the device is not Activation Locked to an Apple ID.
  2. Whether the carrier lock is enabled or disabled.

Here are some threads to help:

Lastly, Apple has this advice for people buying a second hand iOS device:

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