Mobile phone handsets are constantly being updated with added features and slicker styles. But getting your hands on a new smartphone can come with a hefty price tag, whether you buy the handset outright or are tied into a contract.
One option to keep your costs down while bagging a new handset is to choose a refurbished phone. Here we take a look at what refurbished handsets are, and dig into the pros and cons of getting one.
What is a refurbished phone?
A refurbished phone will have had a previous owner but, unlike a second-hand phone sold by an individual, it is sold by a network, manufacturer or retailer who will have repaired it, run checks and ensured that it’s a certain standard.
Refurbished phones are often placed into quality-determined grades when they are sold, so you know what quality to expect.
A refurbished handset may have been returned by a customer who changed their mind within a cooling-off period after purchase. It may also have been faulty and returned for repairs, or sold back to the company before an upgrade.
The phone will be wiped of any data from its previous owner before it’s sent to you, because of the Data Protection Act, and it should come with a warranty that protects you if any faults emerge.
What do the grades mean for refurbished phones?
To help you choose the best phone for you in a condition you expect, many sellers of refurbished phones will include a grade in the description of the handset. These tend to be:
Grade A – this should be practically like buying a new phone as the handset shouldn’t have marks or scratches. It will probably come with its original box and accessories too.
Grade B – you’ll be able to tell that this handset isn’t brand new as it might have a couple of marks or scratches. But it will be in full working order and any damage should be cosmetic only.
Grade C – handsets in this category will look obviously used but should be in full working order.
You may also see phones described as “like new”, “perfect” or “nearly perfect” which are self-explanatory.
What savings could I make?
One of your main motivators for considering a refurbished phone is probably the money it will save you, but how much could you save?
According to EE, customers could save up to £240 by buying a refurbished or “good as new” device, while on Apple’s site, at the time of writing, you could save up to £350 by buying a refurbished, rather than new, iPhone X.
What are the pros and cons of getting a refurbished phone?
If you can’t decide whether a refurbished phone is the best way to go, here are some of the pros and cons to weigh up…
- a refurbished handset is likely to be significantly cheaper than buying a new one
- buying a refurbished phone outright means you won’t be tied into a costly contract, while opting for one on a contract is likely to save you money when compared to a similar contract for a new phone
- opting for a refurbished phone is better for the environment than buying a new one
- unlike second-hand phones sold by individuals, you’ll receive a warranty with a refurbished phone – make sure you know what this is before you commit
- a number of checks and tests will have been carried out on refurbished phones before they are sold, so it should be in full working order
- unlike with a second-hand phone from a private seller, if you buy a refurbished phone from an online trader, you have consumer rights under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 if the phone isn’t as described.
- as the phone won’t be brand new, you might not receive it in its original box or with all of the accessories the original came with.
- the price is likely to be higher than that of a second-hand phone as a number of checks will have been carried out on it by the provider
- the phone may show signs of wear and tear
- if you like having the latest version of a handset, you may have to wait for a while after its release date to find a refurbished version.
- a refurbished phone may be harder to insure than a new one.
You can search for refurbished phones on the internet, and buy from the manufacturer or from the many sites that specialise in this market.