Buying a refurbished smartphone: what you should know

A refurbished smartphone is one that has had a previous owner but has been traded in or sold to a retailer. The retailer then repairs, cleans and tests the phone before selling it on again.

Whether it’s because you want to be more environmentally friendly, or save some money, buying a refurbished smartphone can be a great option instead of buying one that’s brand new. 

However, as these phones are second hand, they will have different levels of use. The previous owner may have only used the phone for one or two days before returning it, or it may have been a phone that has been used every day for a few years.

How to get the best quality refurbished phone

Below are a few tips and tricks you can follow to help you get the best quality refurbished smartphone:

  1. Use a well known second hand seller 

It may seem obvious, but purchasing a refurbished phone from a reputable seller, gives you the best protection as a customer. Mobile phone operators like Vodafone and T-Mobile will often sell their own range of refurbished phones, as will phone manufacturers like Apple. Should anything happen to the refurbished phone, who you have bought it from is who you will need to go to in order to get it repaired.

While you may get a cheaper deal from a private seller on a platform like eBay, if the phone breaks soon afterwards you can’t do anything to get your money back. Under eBay’s terms of use, a faulty item can still be returned to a private seller within 30 days for a refund but anything more than this and you’ll simply be out of pocket. 

What’s more, a reputable seller will make sure the phone has been returned to its factory settings to make sure they comply with GDPR and you can be sure they have checked the phone isn’t stolen.

  1. Look for the grade of the smartphone

To see what level of quality you can expect from your refurbished phone, the best thing to do is check the grade level. Grade A phones, for example, are as good as new, in mint condition with no scuffs or minor marks. With grade B you can expect the odd chip or scratch, but nothing too large. Refurbished phones graded C will have perhaps up to five blemishes and will look like they’ve been used. The price will reflect this.

  1. Make sure the phone comes with a warranty

If you are buying from a reputable seller, the refurbished phone will almost always come with a warranty. However, you should check to see how long this lasts for. The most common lengths are 3 months or 12 months. With a 12 month warranty, the seller expects the phone’s features to work perfectly for at least 12 months. Tests the seller will carry out typically include whether the battery charges and checking the buttons and cameras work, the audio quality, screen responsiveness, and how well the phone connects to Wi-Fi and a mobile network.

  1. Check if the phone is locked to a network

There’s no point in buying a refurbished phone if, when you get it, you find it’s locked to a particular network. By ensuring that the phone isn’t locked to a particular network operator, if you already have a SIM card, you just need to pop it in and you can start using the phone straight away.

If you do buy a phone that is locked to a network most mobile phone operators will agree to unlock it for you but there can be a fee involved. When you’re buying refurbished, paying an extra fee can be annoying, and even if it’s locked to the network you’re on, this could affect resale value later on.

Hopefully this helped you decide if you’d consider buying a refurbished phone.

If you have any other technology queries leave a comment below or tweet @techtroublesho1.

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