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Top 5 Things To Know When Buying A Refurbished Handset



5 minute read

If you’re looking to save money on your next smartphone, a refurbished handset could be a good choice.

1. Refurbished Handsets Should Function Like They Were New

Cat S60
Source: Pixabay

Refurbished handsets are pre-owned devices sold by retailers and manufacturers at a lower price than normal. Unlike a handset which is described as “used” or “second hand”, a refurbished handset will have been inspected by the manufacturer or a refurbishment specialist to meet the original specifications.

Refurbished handsets should be functionally identical to buying a new handset: the only differences might be some cosmetic imperfections such as scratches on the case. Many refurbished handsets come with a new warranty issued by the manufacturer. For example, all refurbished smartphones sold by giffgaff come with a full 12-month warranty for that extra peace of mind.

Origin of Refurbished Handsets

Refurbished handsets were previously used by someone else. Common sources of refurbished handsets include:

  • Unwanted handsets that were returned to the retailer (even if unused, a handset can’t be sold as new if the seal on the box has been broken).

  • Old handsets recycled through smartphone recycling companies.

  • A handset that was previously leased by a company.

Once an old handset is sent to the company carrying out the refurbishment, it’ll undergo a series of tests and repairs if required. The storage on the phone will be wiped and the operating system will be reinstalled from scratch.

After the refurbishment process, the phone should function as if it were new. It’ll be sold in a box with brand new accessories such as a charger and USB cable. You won’t usually get the original packaging: instead, the box will be simpler and more plain.

Alternative Names for Refurbished Handsets

Some retailers use different names to describe refurbished handsets. Aside from “refurbished”, other common terms include “refreshed” and “like new”. If you’ve found a company which provides refurbished handsets, be sure to check carefully about their refurbishment process.

2. Refurbished Phones Can Differ In Quality

When buying a refurbished handset, it’s important to recognise that there isn’t a single standard for refurbishing devices. Companies may differ in how they refurbish their devices: be sure to read up about the source of the handsets and also the processes that are undergone when refurbishing the phone. Most companies should provide this information on their website.

smartphone scratched
Source: Pixabay

As well as checking the refurbishment policy, see whether your retailer has different grades for refurbished products they sell. giffgaff grades refurbished phones on a scale with Good, Very Good, Excellent and Like New. Other retailers might use an A/B/C grading system where you would expect grade A products to be “as good as new” with the possibility of minor cosmetic damage. Grade B and C handsets tend to be of a lower quality.

Finally, check to see the level of guarantee and warranty provided with the phone. Does the manufacturer give you a six month warranty or a twelve month warranty? A longer guarantee period should give you greater confidence about the quality of the phone. All refurbished smartphones sold by giffgaff come with a full 12 month warranty for that extra peace of mind.

3. Refurbished Handsets Can Save You 20-30%

save money
Source: Pixabay

Once you’ve chosen the handset you’d like to buy, it’s worth searching online to see whether a refurbished version is available. Your mileage may vary depending on the device: it’s much harder to find a refurb version of newer handsets than it is for old. This is because newer handsets are yet to work their way through the system. For devices released more than one year ago, it’s usually easier to find a suitable refurb. Savings are normally in the region of 20% to 30%, sometimes more!

To give an example, giffgaff currently sells the iPhone 7 32GB for £379 upfront. The same iPhone 7 32GB model, refurbished to an ‘Excellent’ grade, is sold for £249 - a saving of £130 or ⅓ off the new price. You can save even more if you’re happy to step down to a ‘Very Good’ or ‘Good’ graded handset, which currently cost £229 and £159 respectively.

Always bear in mind with refurbished smartphones that pricing and availability is always changing, so keep your eyes peeled for good deals such as this one.

4. Buying Refurbished Can Help The Environment

Source: Pixabay

As well as saving a good deal of cash, you’ll also be helping the environment when buying a refurbished handset. Today’s smartphones pack a ton of technology inside. They use all kinds of metals including gold, silver, copper and palladium. Mining these metals and getting them out of the ground leaves a big environmental footprint. Furthermore, smartphones use potentially toxic chemicals during their manufacture and huge amounts of energy are expended during their production.

As a refurbished handset re-uses most of its components, its environmental footprint will be significantly lower than a newly-manufactured handset. You’ll be helping to reduce the amount of electronic waste whilst also saving some money in the process.

5. Check Whether Your Refurb Is Unlocked

Source: Pixabay

As when buying any other handset, don’t assume automatically that the handset will be unlocked. If you’re buying your handset from giffgaff, it will always be unlocked, so you’re free to use it on any network. If you buy a refurbished handset from another retailer which is locked to one network, you’ll need to unlock your phone before you can use it on another network. You can unlock your handset by following the tips in unlockapedia.

Your Thoughts…

In this article, we’ve discussed the top 5 things to know when buying a refurbished handset. Buying a refurbished handset can be a great alternative to buying a new handset. The refurbished handset should function as if it were new: the main differences might be a couple of cosmetic imperfections. You can often save 20-30% by choosing a good refurb and you can help the environment by reducing electronic waste.

If you’re interested in purchasing a refurbished handset, check out giffgaff’s selection of refurbished phones. All of giffgaff’s refurbished phones come unlocked with a 12 month warranty. Winner.

If you want to sell your old phone check our blog.

Written by willp789

Will is a tech fanatic who likes coffee and music.