Half-Priced Device – But There’s A Catch

buying phones

Buying a Second Hand Phone

Although smartphones are a basically a necessity for modern life, purchasing brand new and premium quality devices can cost thousands of dollars.

Many major telecommunication brands offer contract payment plans to their subscribers that include phone repayments as well as paying to use their network.  Even with numerous telcos offering contract payment plans, many people are still unable to pay off a smartphone using this system – and some choose not to. While they are often desirable and functional, for many people, having the latest device simply costs too much. But what about the option of purchasing a used or second hand phone?

Results on the opinions of Australians towards purchasing second hand mobile devices.

A survey highlighting the opinions of Australians on procuring second hand devices. Source: Whatphone

A used or second hand phone is a phone which has been utilized in one form or the other prior to its current purchase.

Types of Second Hand Phones

There are three main categories of used phones.

  • Refurbished phones
  • Reconditioned phones
  • Second hand phones

Refurbished Phones

Refurbished phones are phones which have been returned by a customer for factory errors, and then repaired. These devices are returned to the manufacturers who then fix them up and resell them at a lower cost to willing purchasers.

Reconditioned Phones

Reconditioned phones are phones which have been previously rented out as part of phone plan contracts or company deals.  Once the rental period has elapsed, the devices are returned to the manufacturers for testing and possible fixes — usually screen, batteries and other external parts subject to wear and tear.  Upon certification of working condition, they are released for sale at a reduced cost.

Second Hand Phones

Second hand phones are phones which have been owned prior to purchase. Unlike refurbished and reconditioned phones, there is often no real way to test a second hand device when buying it. These devices are often sold by third party individuals to buyers seeking premium smartphones at very low prices.

Why Buy A Second Hand Phone?

There are numerous reasons why individuals would opt to buy a second hand phone. Some of them include:

  • Reduced Cost — The biggest advantage of second hand phones is the reduced cost. It’s possible to save hundreds of dollars on smartphones by purchasing second hand devices.
  • Professionally Checked and Repaired — For refurbished and reconditioned phones, issues are thoroughly checked by the manufacturer so as not to have repeat incidences. Buyers can have faith in the quality of these devices.
  • Warranty Periods — For refurbished phones, certain telcos offer warranty periods. However, it is important to check how long they last.
  • Easier for SIM-only Plans — Second hand phones are usually not locked to a network, so in many cases, they are usually more convenient for individuals looking for SIM only plans.

Why Avoid Second Hand Phones?

Although second hand phones pose numerous advantages to those who purchase them, they are not without cons. Here are some of the reasons you think carefully before purchasing a second hand device.

  • Faulty Phone — In many cases, there is no way to assure the functionality of second hand phones. In such situations, individuals risk paying money for a phone, only to buy phones with damages. Generally private sales pose the most risk.
  • Shady Sources — There is no set way to determine the source of many second hand phones. It’s relatively rare, but unfortunate individuals may end up buying stolen phones.
  • Shorter Warranty Period — For refurbished devices, the warranty periods may be much shorter than expected.

The Choice is Yours

Although second hand phones can pose numerous advantages to those who buy them, it is more of a risk than buying a shiny new device. However, choosing to purchase a device second hand can reduce the price by more than 50%, with a bigger discount as newer phones are released. In the end, committing to a second hand device is simply an individual choice – buy new or save on a premium device.


Neil Aitken

Having worked in 3 countries for 4 telcos on both voice and data products, Neil is in a position to give you the inside track. Get beyond the marketing messages to the best plan for you.