The idea of ​​buying an ex cell phone use or refurbished cell phones can either excite you with valuable features, or turn you off with a vision of old or outdated equipment on its last legs. The latter, in many cases, is a misconception because refurbished phones can be late models that have barely been used or have been used much less frequently. Take these simple facts into account and a refurbished phone could be your next device without sacrificing quality.

Refurbished versus used

It is important to distinguish between the terms «refurbished» and » used «. Sometimes they are interchangeable, but by no means the same.

Refurbished phones are usually professionally restored by either the manufacturer or a qualified retailer. These phones are checked for defects and cosmetic damage and reset to factory defaults. Refurbished phones may even offer a limited warranty against defects to instill confidence in buyers who may be hesitant to purchase a refurbished product.


A used phone, in contrast, usually refers to a phone that is being resold as is, possibly by a previous owner. Buying a used phone can offer a great opportunity, but it also comes with added risk. These devices are not covered by the new warranties that refurbished phones may have. You are also giving a certain amount of credit to the seller that they will tell you everything you need to know about the phone, such as any past damage that has been repaired, changes that will void the manufacturer’s warranties (such as jailbreak ), as well as any scratches or other cosmetic damage that may not show in photos when purchased online from sources such as eBay.

It is worth paying attention to used phones, but you should be more careful and considerate when shopping.

Saving money with refurbished and used phones

The main benefit of considering refurbished or used mobile phones is the cost savings. Today operators cell phones usually practice A 30-day, no-questions-asked return guarantee, and it cannot legally be classified as a new phone if returned for any reason within that time frame. Returns of this type are often the result of the buyer’s conscience and provide a great opportunity for the savvy buyer to save a lot of money while still getting a great device.

Environmental Benefits of Refurbished and Used Phones

It’s become common practice these days to get a new cell phone every couple of years — and in some cases every year — but what happens to all the cell phones that are left behind? Invariably, they, or parts of them, make their way to the landfills, and when cell phone turnover occurs as often as once a year, this journey to the landfill is accelerated, and the number of people going there increases. While companies are becoming increasingly sensitive to the planet-destroying nature of millions of their products that end up in landfills, and often offer options cell phone recycling this alone cannot solve the problem.

However, buying a refurbished phone can have an extremely beneficial effect on the environment. A refurbished cell phone may be right for you if you believe in the power of small decisions to make an impact on the planet as a whole, because buying a refurbished cell phone keeps it in landfills longer. This eco-friendly solution, combined with significant savings, makes choosing a refurbished phone even more attractive.

When the latest isn’t always the best

New phone models are regularly released by manufacturers and generally we expect these new models to be improvements over previous models. This is not always the case, and sometimes newer models have flaws or changes that you just might not like.

As the phone market has matured, progress has largely leveled off. Newer devices don’t always make significant improvements in terms of speed or functionality. Waiting longer and longer before moving on to the latest and greatest is not as important as it used to be.

If your favorite phone dies and you have to get a new one, it won’t necessarily be the latest model unless that «upgrade» is one you want to do next. Search for your favorite model among refurbished or used phones for sale. Chances are you’ll save a lot of money and get back a comfortably familiar model that you’ve loved for a while.

Refurbished phones are a great choice for those for whom adapting to new technology is often more of a headache than a benefit. You get a «new» phone that looks like the one you know well, delaying the process of learning new features and capabilities for the latest mobile phones.

When You Shouldn’t Buy a Used Phone

If you want to replace your cell phone every year or two because you want new features and technology to come with the latest phones, then buying a refurbished one is probably not for you. There’s also something incredibly satisfying about having a shiny new device with the latest technology that you’ll be the first to unbox, use, and show off.

Another reason why choosing a refurbished device may not be an option is the full manufacturer’s warranty on your new device, and whether it’s worth the price for you. A refurbished cell phone is usually returned to the manufacturer within 30 days of its use due to someone changing their mind, changing their position, or completely failing the device. As mentioned, refurbished cell phones may have limited warranties that the phone has been restored to new condition, the quality of the restoration may depend on who is refurbishing it and why the phone was returned in the first place.

If you don’t want to worry about this uncertainty, or if you absolutely need your phone to function without any of the potential quality variables that a used or refurbished phone can exploit, the risk may not be worth the benefit to you.

Red flags for finding refurbished cell phones

Start by looking at who the phone was restored to. Is it a reputable company? Do they have an audio track? Were other customers satisfied or dissatisfied with their remanufactured products? Just like buying a used car, don’t be afraid to do some homework here.

The supplier you buy from should be able to convince you why the price cuts you get from a used cell phone still come with high quality that will keep you going into the future. If they won’t disclose their process for professional phone restoration, you should look elsewhere.

You should also look for warranties offered by a refurbishment supplier. New phones always come with warranties, and therefore professionally refurbished phones are a must. While you’ll likely find refurbished cell phone warranties more limited and shorter in duration, make sure you’re covered for a reasonable amount of time. For example, new phones may come with a one-year warranty, while a refurbished phone may only come with a 90-day warranty. If the warranty is not provided, it is a signal that the supplier performing the restoration is not confident in their restoration work and therefore you should not trust this phone or the supplier either. Ask a warranty question and make sure you know what you’re getting into.

Where to buy refurbished cell phones

Many wireless carriers offer refurbished phones directly to offload obsolete inventory and recover some of the cost of returned devices. For example, AT&T offers «discounts on the refurbishment» on various phones, sometimes $40 to $150 off the price of a new phone. Look for updated offers from other carriers as well.

In addition to buying refurbished phones from wireless carriers, some retailers like and Best Buy offer refurbished products that customers can feel confident buying.

Independent sellers are also good places to shop. has a quality marketplace for buying and selling used phones. also offers quality used phones for various cell networks, but be aware that you only get a 30-day warranty there.

If you’re feeling more adventurous, you can always try eBay. There are many reputable vendors selling refurbished devices out there, but you will need to do your research to sort out great deals from less reputable vendors.

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