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Refurbished phones: are they good?

Phones aren’t always cheap, and the best ones can be quite expensive. If you’re in need of a new mobile, why not consider a refurbished phone?

refurbished phones

They can be much cheaper than a new flagship smartphone and better for the environment. A refurbished phone is a pre-owned phone that’s been restored to its original condition and sold at a lower price than a brand new one.

Refurbished phones are checked, tested and cleaned by experts before retailers or manufacturers put them on sale. Refurbished phones aren’t the same as secondhand or used phones.

These are passed down with their wear and tear - they aren’t restored back to their original condition (which is why they are cheaper).

Are refurbished phones good? What's better: refurbished or used phones?

Refurbished phones are repaired, so they look and act like new phones, while used phones have some wear and tear. If your main priority is to save money, a used phone may work out cheaper than a refurbished one. However, a used phone comes with several uncertainties - it may be faulty or may have been stolen, for example.

As you would with other purchases, weigh the pros and cons of a refurbished phone. This will help you decide whether it’s a good option.

Pros of refurbished phones:

  • They’re a lot cheaper than brand new phones and can save you hundreds of pounds.
  • They’re sold in very good condition.
  • They have to undergo several rounds of testing, and any faults are repaired before selling.
  • The retailer or manufacturer has to wipe any data left by the previous owner (or risk failing the Data Protection Act), which means the phone will be like a new one.\
  • You can get a 12-month warranty if you buy from a big network or established retailer. R
  • efurbished phones have a lower environmental impact than new phones due to less e-waste.
  • Refurbished phones are likely to last longer than used phones.

Cons of refurbished phones:

  • Refurbished phones are not always sold with the original accessories, so you would need to buy those separately.
  • You won’t always get the latest model.
  • The warranty is shorter than those you get with a new phone.
  • The quality of the phone depends on the refurbishment grade.

Refurbished phones grading

Once refurbished phones have been checked, tested and repaired, they’re then given a grade by retailers. This helps set the selling price. These grades can vary across retailers and networks, but they typically range from Grade A-C, with D, a less commonly found grade.

Grade Condition
"As close to a new phone as you can get. ,It may have had minor defects that have now been fixed."
"Light signs of use.,Phone still looks and feels like it is almost new."
"Moderate signs of use. ,You might be able to see some scratches on the screen or body."
The phone looks like it is obviously secondhand.

Table showing the grades of refurbished phones from A-D.

What do you get with a refurbished phone?

What you get with a refurbished phone depends on where you’re buying from. Some retailers might sell the original accessories with the phone (including the charging plug and cable), and some won’t. If you choose to buy a refurbished iPhone directly from Apple for example, it comes with a new battery and outer shell. It also comes with all the accessories and cables in a brand new box.

Where are the best places to buy a refurbished phone?

You can buy refurbished phones from various network providers and sites or directly from manufacturers. However, warranties, grading and additional buyer protection will differ.

The best places to buy a refurbished phone include:

How much cheaper are refurbished phones than a new phone?

A refurbished phone can help you save hundreds of pounds, but the savings depend on the model you buy.

The iPhone 14, for example, was released in 2022. If you were to buy the 128GB phone directly from Apple, it would cost you roughly £700. But, buying a refurbished iPhone 14 (128GB) from Amazon would cost you £478, saving you over £200.

Don’t forget to look around before buying a refurbished phone to see which retailer offers the best savings.

What should I consider when buying a refurbished phone?

Here are three key questions you should ask yourself when buying a refurbished phone:

  1. How much am I willing to spend?
  2. Does it come with a warranty? This means you can make a return if needed.
  3. What grade is the refurbished phone? This will help you establish the quality.

What do I do with my old phone?

If you’re not using your old phone, why not pass it on to a relative or a friend? If no one needs it, you can sell it on eBay or Facebook Marketplace, along with any accessories you don’t need anymore. Before you sell it, make sure to transfer everything across to your new device and reset it.

If you don’t want to sell your old phone, you can recycle or donate it instead. This will be good for the environment and could help someone who needs a phone.


Is it safe to buy a refurbished phone?

Yes, as long as you’re buying from a reputable retailer. Make sure to check if your phone comes with a warranty so that you’re protected if there’s anything wrong with it.

Do refurbished phones come with a warranty?

Some refurbished phones come with a warranty but others might not. It depends on where you buy from. Major networks or retailers offer a 12-month guarantee, but if you’re buying from a private seller, it might be harder to make a return.

Do refurbished phones have new batteries?

Refurbished phones don’t always have new batteries. It depends on what the retailers and manufacturers find during the refurbishment checking and testing phase. If the battery works, it’ll be restored to its original condition. If it doesn’t work or is very old, a new battery will be added.

Are refurbished phones sustainable?

Yes, refurbished phones are sustainable as they reduce the e-waste generated by throwing old phones away. Buying a new phone would require new raw materials, whereas buying a refurbished phone saves on materials and produces less carbon.

How can you tell if a phone is new or refurbished?

If you’re buying online, the phone should be clearly labeled as refurbished, used or brand new. If you’re buying in store and it’s not clear whether or not the phone is refurbished, ask the sales assistant.

Found a refurbished phone you like off contract?

If you’ve found a refurbished phone off contract, you just need a SIM only deal. Compare the best SIM only plans here.

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