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Last updated: 09 July 2021
With the cost of mobile phones growing higher and higher with every new feature, buying a refurbished phone at a lower cost is an attractive option. You can get a refurbished mobile phone at half the price of a new device - so it would seem to be the best balance between features and price. But should you choose a refurbished device over a new one? Should you be suspicious of the quality of phones bought at this price? This guide will help you decide whether it is worth saving the cash and getting yourself a refurbished phone, or whether splashing out on a brand new mobile is a better investment.
What is a refurbished phone?
The term ‘refurbished’ can be off-putting. Many people believe all such phones have experienced heavy use and have major faults. However, not every second hand phone is a refurbished phone, which are generally ones that have been returned to the manufacturer for any one of a variety of reasons, usually only after a short period of use.
For example, refurbished phones are likely to be those that have been returned during 14 day return policies, or those that have been used for in-store display or demonstration. Others may have been returned due to an alleged fault, which often turn out to be the error of the ex-owner, with no fault actually existing. In any case, you can be certain that all (working) faults have been fixed, though some exterior imperfections, such as scratches, may remain.
Are refurbished phones good? What are the benefits?
The biggest and most obvious benefit is cost. Naturally, a refurbished phone is cheaper than buying the same model brand new, even though there might be very little to distinguish them. If you take your phone with you everywhere you go and use it daily, accidents are to be expected. A small crack in your phone screen after a moment of clumsiness will be less of a blow if it was cheaper in the first place. And at the rate that phones are improving and new models being released, it is likely you will want to upgrade pretty quickly. Having a refurbished smartphone will lessen the obligation you feel to keep your pricey iPhone for the next five years, while you can be certain you can get a refurbished, newer model without breaking the bank.
Most mainstream networks will offer refurbished mobile phone deals on monthly contracts, so choosing a refurbished handset over a new one won’t necessarily prevent you from getting an all-in-one package covering the cost of the phone and your SMS, calls and data plan
. You could also take this opportunity to compare mobile phone deals
to see if you can save some money by switching network
What should I be wary of when buying a refurbished phone?
You should make sure you know the difference between refurbished and ‘used’. Both refer to phones that are not brand new, but when buying a refurbished phone you can be sure that it is in good working condition. A ‘used’ phone, on the other hand, may refer to any pre-owned phone in any condition.
Beware of existing contracts - some refurbished phones may be locked to a mobile network. This is fine if you are happy to stay with that network, but if you want more flexibility when choosing your network you should look for a phone that is off contract, and then find a good SIM-only deal. You can compare SIM-only deals
on our website.
A refurbished phone will probably lack the accessories that come as part of the mobile phone deal when you buy a brand new handset. The website should list the exact contents of your purchase, and if it does not then you should contact the seller or retailer to check. You should be prepared to have to pay for headphones and charging leads separately, though you can get these cheaply if you’re willing to buy unbranded.
Of course, you usually won’t get a manufacturer warranty when buying a refurbished phone, but look for those that come with some sort of warranty that will cover you if undisclosed faults are to emerge later down the line.
You should check how much it would cost to purchase a new version of the model you want. Sometimes the difference in price is minimal and you might as well buy the new phone in order to get the manufacturer warranty and all accessories guaranteed in the price.
Finally, you should make sure you are buying from a reputable retailer. Mainstream mobile networks
are always recommended when looking for a refurbished phone, but you may have to look at other retailers if you want an off-contract phone. Look for independent reviews (NOT any displayed on their website!) to ensure they are trustworthy.