5 Things To Know Before You Buy a Refurbished Phone

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If you’ve lost your cell phone or it stops working, a brand new replacement probably won’t be cheap. If you want to save money, buying a refurbished phone can be a great option.

But what exactly is a refurbished phone and what are the pros and cons of buying one? In this article, I’ll tell you everything you need to know about buying a refurbished phone including how to protect yourself if you decide to buy one.

Thinking About Buying a Refurbished Phone? Read This

I’ve bought three refurbished phones in recent years and have been pleased with my purchase each time. I bought my latest phone two months ago from Amazon.

Refurbished iPhone
Photo Via Clark.com

Let’s take a look at five things you need to know before you purchase a refurbished phone.

1. What Is a Refurbished Phone?

Many people think “refurbished” means old or second-hand, but that’s not always the case. 

A phone that has been refurbished could also have been returned to the retailer (or reseller) for one reason or another. In those instances, they typically come with warranties, but more on that later.

A refurbished phone typically has been reconditioned into working order and put on sale for a discounted price. It is common for many refurbished phones to be in perfect working condition but have superficial blemishes or knicks.

2. Should You Buy a Refurbished Phone?

If you’re thinking about buying a refurbished phone, there are some things you need to consider. Here are a few:

Price

Of course, one of the most important things to consider is price. Are refurbished phones cheaper than their brand-new counterparts? Yes, they are.

For example, the iPhone 11 debuted in 2019. On Apple’s website, a 64GB iPhone 11 costs $599.

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This phone costs $482 on Amazon through the retailer’s Renewed program, which certifies that the device is in good condition.

Read the Team Clark review of the Amazon Renewed program.

Scratches

When considering whether to buy a refurbished phone, you should expect some minor scratches or marks. Reputable online sellers will disclose such information in the product description.

If scuffs and other marks are something you’re not comfortable with, buying a refurbished phone is not for you.

Accessories

A major factor in buying a refurbished phone is whether you’ll be able to find accessories you need that may not come with your refurbished phone. 

Some pre-owned devices are sold without a charger or other add-ons. That means you may have to spend additional funds to get these items. Before you purchase, you should make sure the accessories you need are available.

3. What Types of Refurbished Phones Can You Find?

I have purchased three different models of iPhones that were refurbished, but you can buy Android phones as well.

You can get some of the most popular models like the Google Pixel and Galaxy Note10 that are a couple of generations old for cheap online.

Manufacturers like HTC, Motorola, Huawei and Nokia don’t sell their refurbished models. But you can find them from other retailers and carriers.

4. Where To Buy Refurbished Phones

Some people think only second-hand businesses sell refurbished phones. But that’s not true: Two of the major manufacturers — Apple and Samsung — sell their products refurbished with 12-month warranties.

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But there are other places to buy refurbished phones. Here’s a list of top refurbished phone retailers:

SellersSample ModelsDetails
AT&TiPhone XR, iPhone 11AT&T sells used phones under its "Certified Pre-Owned" label online and in stores
AmazonMoto Z4, Samsung Galaxy S9Amazon Renewed comes with at least a 90-day guarantee on its products.
VerizonSamsung Galaxy Note 9, iPhone 11Verizon's "Certified Pre-owned" phones are guaranteed to be "100% functional"
Best BuyiPhone 8 Plus, Galaxy S20+ 5GAll refurbished phones come certified by the Geek Squad, the retailer's tech support staff
WalmartGoogle Pixel 3XL, iPhone XRComes with original accessories and a 90-day warranty

Aside from those retailers, there are numerous sites online that sell reconditioned phones. Reputable dealers include:

5. How To Protect Yourself Before You Buy a Refurbished Phone

Make Sure the Seller Takes Returns 

You don’t want to get stuck with a dud. Before you buy a mobile device you’ve found on Amazon or any other site, make sure you can return it.

Get a Warranty (Typically 90 Days)

What separates the good refurbished phones from the others is the warranty. No warranty, no deal.

Not only does a warranty protect you in case the phone is defective, but it allows you time to test the phone (more on that in a bit).

Buy Only From Reputable Sellers

If you choose to buy a refurbished phone from a reseller in a marketplace site like Amazon or eBay, make sure you only buy from vendors with a 98% or higher seller rating.

Make Sure Your Refurbished Phone Is Working Properly

Once you get your phone, there are some tests you’ll want to run to make sure it’s functioning properly. Phone tester apps will run diagnostics on your device. Here are some free ones:

For Android:

For iPhone:

Final Thoughts

Now that you know that there are some pretty nice refurbished phones out there, do your due diligence to find one you like. 

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And remember, a refurbished phone doesn’t mean it’s defective or even that it used to be. 

People may return phones because they don’t like the color or trade it in for new ones. (And, yes, sometimes they are sent back due to being defective).

The retailer or manufacturer will typically repair the phone and run diagnostics to make sure it works like it’s supposed to. While many refurbished phones aren’t shipped in the manufacturer’s original box or package, they sometimes come with the standard accessories as if they were new.

If you’re thinking about buying a refurbished phone, the more research you do on the front end, the more comfortable you’ll feel about the process and product.

Buying a refurbished phone is a great way to save money on a mobile device, but it’s not the only way. Here are other ways to save on phone costs.

More Phone Resources From Clark.com:

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