Should you buy a refurbished smartphone?

If you’ve been on the hunt for a new phone, but don’t want to pay for a brand new one, you may be considering second hand or refurbished phones. But is it worth spending your money on a used phone? In this article, we’ll look at what refurbished phones are, their benefits and drawbacks, and if they’re the right choice for you. 

Last updated: 17th Aug 2020 at 9:52am

Second Hand versus Refurbished 

While ‘second hand’ and ‘refurbished’ phones both come under the same umbrella, there are key differences between them. 

Second Hand - a second hand smartphone is a ‘used’ smartphone, meaning someone else has already owned it and used it for a period of time. They are sold as they are, damages or no damages, so it’s at your own risk whether you purchase one. Like a used car, its condition is almost unknown, and it can come with its own problems which may not have been divulged to you by the seller. Second hand phones are usually cheap, though, and this makes the risk worth it for many. 

Refurbished - a refurbished smartphone, on the other hand, has been tested and repaired before being sold again. It is still second hand, in the sense someone else owned and used it, but instead of just being sold blindly, it is taken to a manufacturer to be repaired so you know you’re not buying a device with hardware problems. It is also usually sold with a year’s warranty, so you’re protected if something does go wrong. 

Refurbished Phones

While refurbished phones are technically used, they have generally not been used for very long. Often, they are phones that people have returned within 14 days because they have changed their mind or encountered a problem. Even if the phone had only been owned for 24 hours, the retailer cannot sell it off as new anymore, so it is rebranded as refurbished. 

After it is returned, it is sent off for testing, where any necessary repairs will be made, and then put back on the market with its new label. This usually makes for a good alternative to a brand new phone, as a refurbished device could be as good as new anyway.

And if you’re the one returning a phone, it’s reassuring to know that, in line with the Data Protection Act, the device will be wiped of all information before going back on the market. 

Regardless of why it was given back and resold, you are protected by your warranty - it’s always good practice to keep your phone in case any faults pop up. 

Benefits

The largest benefit of buying a refurbished phone is the price. As they’ve already been in someone else’s hands, they will usually be cheaper than a new version of the same model. For example, uswitch found a refurbished phone contract for a total of £768, which was £200 cheaper than the new version at £969. 

So if you’re looking to save money on newer, more expensive models, buying them refurbished is one of the best options. Or, alternatively, you can get a moderately-priced phone for even cheaper! 

Another benefit is that a refurbished phone would have also had any original manufacturer errors corrected, whereas new phones can still be sold with these issues as they were never identified before being packaged up. Sometimes, a refurbished phone can be better than new because of these extra checks and fixes. 

What to look out for

Although there are many benefits to refurbished phones, it’s good to keep an eye out for any warning signs that could lead to a disappointing purchase. 

  • Condition - before buying a refurbished phone, read all the small print carefully. Look out for what condition the retailer states the phone is in. They are usually categorised into one of three conditions:
  • A-Grade - “as new”. A-Grade listed phones have been tested and certified to work perfectly like new, with very little to no wear at all. 
  • B-Grade - still work as new, but have slightly more damage from light use, such as possible screen blemishes, or light scratches or scuffs. 
  • Scratch and Dent - these phones will still work, but have more signs of previous use which might put people off. These damages could include dents, smudges, and scratches. They will still not be sold unless they are 100% functional though. 
     
  • Warranty - check how long the warranty lasts on your refurbished phone before you purchase it, as not all will last for the whole year. Some may only be 30 days, which you may not feel comfortable with if you’re buying a refurbished phone. 
     
  • Compatibility - you’ll want to check your refurbished phone is compatible with the SIM card you intend to use. Some phones are locked to the network they were originally sold from, so you’ll need to know how to use a PUK code to unlock the device. To avoid this, look for unlocked phones or handsets only. 

Deals to pair with refurbished phones

Here at Asda Mobile, we offer a range of SIM only deals. You can also order your free SIM from us to try out in your refurbished phone. You are not tied into any contract.

If you prefer pay as you go, we also offer a number of 30-day bundles. Simply put your SIM card in, and top up when you need to. 

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