Refurbished Phones: A Guide for Beginners

Occasionally, purchasing a used phone or a pre-owned smartphone is significantly more cost-effective than purchasing a new one.

Are you concerned about getting tied into a prolonged phone contract with the notion of paying out a large sum of money upfront? Purchasing a used or remanufactured device instead could be a smart move.

With smartphone sales declining in the UK, refurbishing used devices, and technological breakthroughs making models smaller each year, more users are abandoning the traditional smartphone replacement cycle. Considering the costs of current smartphones, it’s easy to understand why. Some cost more than £1,000, so why spend that much money on a gadget that offers limited benefits over your existing handset?

Purchasing a secondhand mobile phone may be a good idea. However, it’s crucial to understand what you’re getting and to consider any problems such as security.

Are Refurbished Smartphones Safe?

Security is a critical factor to consider when purchasing a used or refurbished phone. When a phone stops getting security upgrades, it becomes more prone to hacker intrusions. Apple iPhones typically get security upgrades for 5-6 years after introduction, whereas Android phones upgrade for only 2-3 years. However, there are outliers.

Differences Between a Pre-owned and  Refurbished Smartphone

While it’s easy to mistake the two, there are critical differences between a refurbished and pre-owned smartphone, with each having its own set of advantages and disadvantages.


  • You’ll often be purchasing straight from the previous owner, which makes deals riskier.
  • The warranty will probably have expired since there is no automatic renewal when a phone is transferred directly between owners.
  • However, You can receive a terrific deal since dealers may be unaware of the true value of a secondhand device. Additionally, online auctions often lead to low-end prices.
  • The smartphone may have some signs of usage like scratches. It may not be packaged in its original packaging or even include the necessary attachments, such as chargers or headphones.
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  • These handsets will never be offered via a distributor, store, or reseller.
  • They will either be sold ‘as new’ or rated according to their quality so you will know exactly their condition before purchasing.
  • Prices are often more than those found on the used market since specialists have inspected the phones to guarantee they are in excellent operating order and physical shape.
  • You have assured some kind of warranty since the item is being sold to you by a licensed merchant.

Here is also a difference between refurbished vs. recertified smartphones for you.

Handset Grades

Certain dealers of second-hand smartphones use a grading system to inform prospective buyers about the phone’s quality. While they differ per seller, the following is a basic summary of what to expect:


The handset is in pristine condition, with no visible scuffs, scratches, or blemishes on the outside shell. It will arrive in its original box, with its original accessories. This is the closest you can go to purchasing brand new and will therefore cost the most.


Although the handset is used, any damage is solely cosmetic. It will still be packaged in its original packaging and will most likely include all original accessories. It might cost up to £30 less than a Grade A phone of the very same model.


It will show more damage than a Grade B item, but it will remain fully functional – again, this implies an undamaged screen. You may not get it in its original box, and it may also be missing its related accessories. It’s likely to cost between £10 and £30 less than a Grade B equivalent of the identical device.

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Broken or Needs Repair 

Devices that are broken or need repair are often seen on online auction platforms. They should be avoided. Any phone that does not function properly cannot be certified. Most people will just attempt to sell it for components or to someone willing to invest the money and time necessary to restore it.

Even with these ratings in mind, it’s critical to understand what you’re purchasing when purchasing a used or refurbished phone. Look for more information on a product category to ensure you comprehend the specifics of any possible problems with a phone.


One of the major benefits of purchasing a brand new smartphone, whether directly or on contracts, is that you automatically acquire a store and manufacturer warranty. When you purchase used or refurbished goods, things may operate differently.


Suppose you purchase a smartphone second-hand or reconditioned from a merchant. In that case, the consumer rights are almost identical to those who purchase a brand-new smartphone.

You are covered by the retailer’s usual warranty, as well as by the Consumer Rights Act 2015. You retain a 30-day right of rejection if the phone is not as described, not appropriate for its intended use, or not of suitable quality. If you uncover a defect during the first six months of ownership, it is on to the store to demonstrate that it was not present at the time of purchase.

Additionally, even though you’re not the original owner, you may be protected by the manufacturer’s warranty. Manufacturer warranties don’t automatically renew when an item is sold.

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Private Seller

Purchasing from a private seller exposes you to the most risk. As previously stated, the manufacturer warranty applies, but your consumer rights are significantly different.

The item you get must still be in the condition specified by the vendor. For example, a smartphone advertised as ‘new’ must be unused. While the vendor is not required to reveal flaws, they are not permitted to misrepresent them either. Always inquire about the vendor if you have any queries.

The most significant difference is that you will not be covered by the Consumer Rights Act 2015, and hence the six-month return period will not apply.


The internet is filled with presumably amazing discounts, some of which are real and others that are not. While it may be tempting to take a chance and purchase from a somewhat less-trustworthy source providing an incredible discount, it is preferable to purchase from a reliable vendor that provides an accurate grading system and warranty.