Everything You Need to Know About Refurbished Phones and More

Everything You Need to Know About Refurbished Phones and More

Jan 10th 2019

As the price of smartphones crosses $1,000 many savvy buyers are starting to look elsewhere. Over the last few years, more consumers are discovering they can save a significant amount of money, while getting the features they want in a late model refurbished phone.

In fact, research from 2017 shows that the global market for refurbished smartphones increased 13% from 2016 with over 140 million phones. At the same time, the market for new smartphones grew just 3%[1]. Refurbished smartphones now represent nearly 10% of smartphone sales worldwide.

Why do people buy refurbished phones?

There are many reasons people choose to buy refurbished phones. Saving money is most obvious, since refurbished phones can offer substantial savings over the latest model.

The second is the quality of the phones available. Many are less than two years old, and except for a few design upgrades, users can get just about every feature of the most recent models. So they’re not only less expensive, they’re also a great value.

Finally, some people may have a need to buy a large number of smartphones at once, for just about any reason. It could be to outfit a company salesforce, to resell them, or to make a donation to charity. Buying refurbished phones in bulk can often mean big savings.

What are refurbished phones?

So, a lot of people seem to be buying them, but what exactly are refurbished phones?

Let’s start with the word “refurbished” because that can mean different things depending on who refurbished it and how much refurbishing they did. The highest quality refurbished phones are factory refurbished, meaning the original manufacturer refurbished it. Apple®, for instance, not only restores phones to working order, but includes a new battery, a new outer shell, accessories, and a one-year warranty. Samsung®, on the other hand, promises that the phones have been tested and are about as new as you can get, backed by a one-year warranty.

When you buy a phone that wasn’t refurbished by the manufacturer, there’s more to think about. The phone may have been returned because it was malfunctioning. It might be used. It could look brand new or scuffed up. It might be certified to perform as good as new, or maybe not. You’ll want to make sure it’s been tested and repaired to operate as new.

What’s the difference between refurbished and certified pre-owned?

The first thing you need to know is that just about everyone uses these terms differently.

At the most basic, any refurbished or certified phone is considered pre-owned because it’s already been purchased. In general, “refurbished” refers to a phone that’s been tested and restored (repairs if needed), while “certified” means the phone has only been tested and proven to work properly. Either a refurbished or a certified phone may appear in mint condition or show signs of wear and tear.

It’s critical to ask questions to find out how the phone was refurbished so you know what you’re getting.

What to look for in a refurbished phone

The biggest concern with refurbished phones is that you may not know why it was returned or how it was refurbished, since there are no standards. While you may never know, there are a few things you can watch out for to make sure you get a phone that works the way you expect.

  • Buy from the manufacturer or a reputable reseller. This is the best way to be assured that your phone has been rigorously tested and refurbished. They’ll also offer a warranty to indicate they back the fact that the phone works as promised.
  • Read the fine print . Very often, refurnished phones are sold “as is” which means you may be out of luck when it comes to returns or refunds. Do your homework upfront so you know what you’re getting.
  • How old is the device? You may not get a refurbished version of the most recent model, but you don’t want one that’s five generations old either. Make sure the refurbished phone is no more than a few models old.
  • Is the price a little too good? You can save money with a refurbished phone, but you won’t get it for nothing. So, you have to be very careful if you see a reseller offering a late-model phone for a steep cut of the current price – or less. There’s sure to be a catch.

What’s the return policy and warranty or money-back guarantee?

Sometimes getting a great deal on a refurbished phone can be enough to make people forget their usual caution when shopping for big ticket items. With a refurbished phone, it is important to get a return policy, a warranty for defective phones or a money back guarantee along with a phone in working order. The last thing you need is to find out the phone was sold “as is” or has a short warranty or no money back guarantee after you’ve bought it.

Very often, large retailers will allow you a couple of weeks at least to return the phone if it doesn’t work properly. Beyond that, a warranty or a money-back promise will protect you past the return period.

Can you use the phone on your carrier?

When you buy from most resellers, some refurbished phones are sold locked to a carrier, and some are unlocked. Obviously, if you buy it through your carrier, it will be locked to that carrier. You’ll need to make sure whatever phone you buy is compatible with your carrier, and it should be clearly labeled so you know what you are getting.

Where to buy refurbished phones?

You have lots of options when buying refurbished phones. You can buy from the manufacturer and get the best warranty but pay the most. Or you can save buying from a third-party reseller you can trust. In the end, it comes down to trust. Value is what matters most. Not just price. Sure you can pay less with a reseller who doesn’t disclose all the information about the phone, but what are you really getting?


While a refurbished iPhone® from Apple will cost more than anywhere else, you can be assured that when they refurbish the phone, it’s done right. And don’t forget that they offer a full one-year warranty for refurbished phones.

Best Buy®

Few retailers know smartphones as well as Best Buy, and few have a reputation as good. Most important, you can always drop into any local Best Buy to ask questions and see the refurbished phones they have for sale. Plus, they’re nearby if you need technical support. You’ll even get 14 days to return the phone if you are not satisfied with your purchase.


With its marketplace of refurbished products, Amazon offers some amazing values. There are many resellers offering refurbished devices in this space – make sure you know all the information about a phone before you purchase it.

Your Phone Carrier

Many people don’t realize that T-Mobile®, Sprint®, Verizon®, and AT&T® all sell refurbished phones. If you have a long-term contract with one of these carriers and you need a new phone, this can be a good option to consider. While return policies and warranties vary from carrier to carrier, you can always visit the store if you need help.


Another great option for buying a refurbished phone, of course, is MyWiT. MyWiT offers many brands of refurbished phones including Apple and Samsung. They come in a wide range of models, prices and colors. Best of all, they work with any carrier. MyWiT offers a 90-day money-back promise on every refurbished phone they sell. To see what MyWiT has for sale right now, take a look here.

Get more cell phone with a refurbished phone

Whether you want to get a great deal on the phone you use every day, or you need to buy in bulk to outfit your salesforce, resell them, or make a donation to charity, you can get more for your money when you buy refurbished phones. But buying refurbished phones is different from buying a brand-new phone, so you have to approach it a bit differently.

Fortunately, MyWiT can not only help you save money when buying one or one hundred refurbished phones, but they can also help you navigate the process of buying refurbished and understanding all your options.



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