The Ultimate Guide to Buying Refurbished Phones

Buying Refurbished Phones

What are refurbished phones and how can you identify one?

refurbished phones

In many instances, refurbished phones are as good as new ones, coming off the factory lines producing new ones, with similar warranties offered for new ones. img src

There are probably a thousand and one reasons why you need a spanking new high-end phone, but there could also be a thousand and one reasons why you can’t afford one. You might be able to afford second hand versions, but you can hardly get a guarantee for the phone other than the seller’s words.

On the safer side, you could canvass stores or browse the internet for the best deals for new phones. At best, those deals can offer you a slight discount. But there’s a way you can squeeze out a much larger discount from a dealer for a new phone. Well, technically, you won’t be getting a new phone in such deals but you can get a refurbished phone, which mostly come straight off the factory line that assembles new phones.

Refurbished phones (also referred to as re-certified, reconditioned, open box, or pre-owned), are new phones that buyers returned to manufacturers following return policy guidelines. In some cases, return policies allow customers to return new phones for the flimsiest reasons and not just for major faults. In such cases, most refurbished phones sold by the manufacturer will most likely be as good as new.

Nonetheless, there’s no guarantee that every refurbished phone out there is in perfect condition. But they can easily be distinguished from used phones through their certification. Refurbished phones come with certifications from the manufacturers. Besides looking out for certifications, a few other buying hacks can help you easily identify a refurbished phone in excellent shape.

How good are refurbished phones?

It’s nearly impossible to trace the history of a refurbished phone. It’s hard to tell the condition it was in when it was returned through a retailer or customer care office or when it was certified as refurbished. In some cases, a third-party may claim to have refurbished the phone, not the actual manufacturer (in which case it becomes more difficult to determine its quality).

However, in many cases, returned phones are not even removed from the package or powered once before they’re returned for one reason or another. But since the phone has been sold already, it can no longer be resold as a ‘new’ phone, but as a refurbished phone at a discounted price.

Regardless of the pathway the refurbished phone has taken, there’s a great chance it passed through the manufacturer’s factory lines to restore its top shape before it was certified as a refurbished.

Tips on buying a refurbished phone

Tips on buying a refurbished phone

When you buy refurbished phones from original manufacturers or reputable stores, you have a better assurance that the phone has passed through standard quality checks. Img src

Though it might be impossible to track a refurbished phone’s history, some tips can help you assess the condition of a phone before you buy it. Here are some tips to help you avoid bad deals when shopping for refurbished phones:


  • Buy from the original manufacturer or a reputable store.
    That way, you’ll have a better assurance that the refurbished phone has passed through good quality checks.
  • Check for warranties.
    You can find many deals with warranties of sort. Some manufacturers offer a full warranty for their refurbished phones. If the phone is in excellent condition, then the manufacturer has no reason to hold back on offering a warranty.
  • Read between the lines of the Terms & Conditions.
    Some deals don’t offer any sort of warranties or options for returns and refunds.
  • Check for the age of the device.
    You’ll most likely be able to find out the age of a refurbished phone by checking the year it that model was released – most refurbished phones are old model phones.


  • Avoid deals that sound too good to be true.
    Refurbished phones come with attractive discounts, but they’re hardly sold at a give-away price. If you see a refurbished iPhone 11 pro up for half its original price or less, you should probably stay away from it.
  • Avoid low-storage models with 30 GB or less.
    Storage space is highly critical to a phone’s functionality. Try to buy a phone with sizable internal memory so you’ll be able to run more apps, store more files, and do a whole lot more. This tip is especially crucial when buying iPhones because you won’t have the option of expanding the storage later.
  • Avoid locked phones.
    You don’t want to be stuck with a particular telco, or paying more money just to get your phone unlocked so you can use it on any network.

Summing up

With these tips, you’ll most likely be able to find a refurbished phone that’s as good as new at a discounted price. If you’re able to pull off a good deal, you’ll end up saving a whole lot, compared to other customers with the same phone who either bought a new one outright or on contract.

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.