Pros and Cons of buying a refurbished phone

Pros and Cons of buying a refurbished phone

Ah, the allure of technology – the object of our collective fascination. We all adore having the newest gadgets, be it a sleek phone or an intelligent speaker that informs us of the weather while we brush our teeth. However, with the ever-rising cost of living and steep smartphone prices, keeping up with the latest tech is becoming increasingly difficult. So, what can a tech enthusiast do? How about considering a refurbished phone?

Before you recoil in shock, let me explain. You may associate "refurbished" with "worn and damaged, held together by duct tape and a prayer," but that's far from the reality. A multitude of reliable retailers offers refurbished phones as an excellent alternative to shelling out a small fortune for a brand-new device. And guess what? They often come with a decent warranty as well! So, let's delve into the amusing realm of refurbished phones and the pros and cons of purchasing one.

First, we must clarify the difference between a used and refurbished phone. This distinction is essential because it's as perplexing as trying to comprehend the appeal of pineapple on pizza. Some resellers may or may not refurbish the devices they sell, which only adds to the confusion.

When you purchase a used device from a platform like eBay, you're essentially gambling on the device's condition and functionality. It's akin to playing smartphone roulette. Depending on the device's age, the manufacturer's warranty may have expired, and the battery life could resemble that of a sloth racing. Additionally, there might be signs of wear on the casing and screen. If the phone encounters issues, you're left to fend for yourself, like searching for a needle in a haystack without a magnet.

On a positive note, second-hand devices are usually less expensive than refurbished ones, which might make the risk more appealing.

Refurbished phones, conversely, can be as close to new as possible without being completely untouched. They may have been returned to the retailer for various reasons – a defect, the termination of a contract, or the user realizing they prefer Android. Some resellers, such as Aznu in the UK, refurbish phones with authentic new parts and restore them to a like-new state, making them nearly as good as their more expensive counterparts.

Refurbished phones often include warranties that protect against component failures, typically for one year. And here's the best part: refurbished phones may come with new batteries, providing the same battery life as a new phone. As a result, they're somewhat pricier than second-hand phones, but the reasons are clear.

Another type of "refurbished" phone has been traded in for an upgrade or acquired in another manner. These phones are thoroughly cleaned and graded based on their condition. While no actual refurbishment occurs, any missing items like chargers, SIM tray tools, or USB cables may be included so that you have everything you need.

Interested in learning more? Explore our guide comparing refurbished and used tech for a deeper analysis.

Now, let's discuss the pros and cons of purchasing a refurbished phone.

Pro – Refurbished phones are cost-effective

If you want to save money (and who doesn't?), buying a refurbished phone is like finding a treasure. For instance, Apple offers refurbished iPhones at discounts usually around 15% off the regular price. These may not be the most recent models, but you can often secure the previous generation's flagship at a lower price. Moreover, they're nearly brand-new, complete with original accessories, a new box, and a one-year warranty – as if you were buying it straight from the manufacturer.

If you don't mind some wear on your device, you can save even more by purchasing from retailers like musicMagpie, SmartFoneStore, Back Market, Giffgaff, Envirofone and BigPhoneShop. They provide graded tiers for the condition of the handsets, allowing you to select between pristine, very good, or good condition devices. The best part? You'll still receive money-back guarantees and the assurance that the devices have been rigorously tested and any issues resolved.

Pro – Refurbished devices include warranties

We've mentioned it previously, but it's worth reiterating: warranties matter. Buying a used device can save you money, but it's like playing Russian roulette with your smartphone. However, refurbished devices save you money while providing the security of being able to return a device if it develops any faults, and you can receive a refund or a replacement. It's like having a protective guardian for your phone!

Pro – Refurbished devices benefit the environment

As climate change dominates headlines and raises global concerns, we all must do our part to protect the environment. One way to contribute is by extending the life of existing products, such as choosing a refurbished phone instead of a new one. While it might not change the world overnight, if enough people opt for refurbished devices, it can make a difference.

Con – Older refurbished devices may not receive software updates

When considering a refurbished device, it's crucial to know the manufacturer's commitment to supporting the device's software, particularly security updates. Sadly, many perfectly functional phones become obsolete due to discontinued security update support. These updates safeguard you from vulnerabilities discovered by hackers, and once they stop, your device is potentially at risk.

Fortunately, companies like Samsung and Apple have improved in this area, pledging support for up to five years or more for many devices. Before purchasing an older device, research when the security updates are expected to end. Keep in mind that Android updates and security updates differ – you can survive without the newest Android version, but security updates are essential.

Con – Battery life may be shorter on some devices

While some refurbished phone sellers install new batteries, this isn't always the case. Check the listings for this information, as devices used for a couple of years will have already lost some battery capacity. This isn't a flaw; it's merely the nature of battery cells, which degrade over time. Professionals can replace the battery, but it will be an additional expense to factor into the phone's overall cost.

Should I buy a refurbished phone?

As you can see, refurbished phones are an excellent choice if you desire a high-end phone without emptying your wallet. As long as you purchase from a reputable seller, there are very few disadvantages. Just remember to verify the battery and, more importantly, the promised duration of security updates for the device.