Mobile Accessories

The concern with buying refurbished

You may think to yourself, “yeah, I’d love to save the world, but if this refurb breaks the week after I buy it, what good am I really doing?” But don’t worry, because of the modular nature of the modern smartphone, oftentimes only one minor component of the device will be broken (such as the headphone jack or the internal speaker) and will be easily replaced by a qualified technician without any harm done to the phone whatsoever. Not to mention only about five percent of refurbished electronics are actually defective to begin with.  You’ll also need not worry about stifling through someone’s old selfies and dog photos, a technician will factory reset the device before it ever gets in your hands, making your refurbished smartphone literally as good as new.

Mobile phone handsets are constantly being updated with added features and slicker styles. But getting your hands on a new smartphone can come with a hefty price tag, whether you buy the handset outright or are tied into a contract.

One option to keep your costs down while bagging a new handset is to choose a refurbished phone. Here we take a look at what refurbished handsets are, and dig into the pros and cons of getting one.

What is a refurbished phone?

A refurbished phone will have had a previous owner but, unlike a second-hand phone sold by an individual, it is sold by a network, manufacturer or retailer who will have repaired it, run checks and ensured that it’s a certain standard.

Refurbished phones are often placed into quality-determined grades when they are sold, so you know what quality to expect.

A refurbished handset may have been returned by a customer who changed their mind within a cooling-off period after purchase. It may also have been faulty and returned for repairs, or sold back to the company before an upgrade.

The phone will be wiped of any data from its previous owner before it’s sent to you, because of the Data Protection Act, and it should come with a warranty that protects you if any faults emerge.

Highlights & Facts:

  • The global refurbished smartphone market grew 15% YoY in 2021.
  • The LATAM and India markets registered the highest growth.
  • All ecosystem players focused on increasing supply to meet demand.
  • Apple led with more than 40% share in the global market. Samsung was a distant second but growing in volume.
  • Chinese brands saw a growth spurt in select markets like China and India.
  • Refurbished models are increasingly being sold through carriers in mature markets. However, retail channels are growing in most key countries.

What are the pros and cons of getting a refurbished phone?

If you can’t decide whether a refurbished phone is the best way to go, here are some of the pros and cons to.


  • A refurbished handset is likely to be significantly cheaper than buying a new one
  • Buying a refurbished phone outright means you won’t be tied into a costly contract, while opting for one on a contract is likely to save you money when compared to a similar contract for a new phone
  • Opting for a refurbished phone is better for the environment than buying a new one
  • Unlike second-hand phones sold by individuals, you’ll receive a warranty with a refurbished phone – make sure you know what this is before you commit
  • A number of checks and tests will have been carried out on refurbished phones before they are sold, so it should be in full working order
  • Unlike with a second-hand phone from a private seller, if you buy a refurbished phone from an online trader, you have consumer rights under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 if the phone isn’t as described.


  • As the phone won’t be brand new, you might not receive it in its original box or with all of the accessories the original came with.
  • The price is likely to be higher than that of a second-hand phone as a number of checks will have been carried out on it by the provider
  • The phone may show signs of wear and tear
  • If you like having the latest version of a handset, you may have to wait for a while after its release date to find a refurbished version.
  • A refurbished phone may be harder to insure than a new one.
  • You can search for refurbished phones on the internet and buy from the manufacturer or from the many sites that specialise in this market.

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