What to consider when buying a refurbished cell phone

What to consider when buying a refurbished cell phone

Among a wide range of aspects, it is key to focus on the battery of used cell phones / Sebastian Willnow / dpa

Refurbished cell phones have become an increasingly popular option, as they allow access to high-end devices at more affordable prices. Many service providers and a growing number of manufacturers refurbish used devices. Ready-made mobiles can be found in marketplaces and classifieds sites, on internet portals and in stores.

In terms of sustainability, refurbished appliances also have a positive impact on the environment. In the case of highly technical devices such as smartphones, as a rule, longer use is always advantageous. In the entire life cycle of a mobile, production is, after all, what causes the greatest environmental impact.

compare and analyze

However, there is no general rule for how much money you can save by buying refurbished phones. “It always depends on the age and the state”, indicate specialists in the subject. Also, the longer the updates for the device are available, the more stable the price of the device will be, even in a refurbished state. A cell phone a year and a half old can sometimes be found for half the original price.

In any case, it is worth comparing the price of the desired model on various providers and portals. The differences are sometimes huge, depending on the model and platform.

In addition to comparing prices, it is recommended to be well informed about the condition of the desired device. “Reconditioned, like new or almost like new are not clearly defined legally defined terms,” specialists note.

As a general rule, ‘refurbished’ means that dealers buy the devices from businesses, telecommunications companies and also individuals, and fine-tune them. That means they format the devices, clean them, replace faulty parts, and put them back up for sale.


But what exactly is done, whether the device’s screen or battery is replaced, can vary from case to case. Many popular platforms promise, for example, that the battery capacity of the offered devices is still greater than 80 percent of the original capacity. Or, as an additional option, they offer the installation of a new battery for an extra price.

In addition, providers often indicate the external appearance of the device in different categories, for example “like new”, “very good” or “good”. As these terms can have a different meaning depending on the provider, experts advise: “In the description you can check what “like new” or “good” or “very good” or “sufficient” means for the corresponding platform.

While for one provider “very good” means that the screen may have light scratches that are not visible when the device is turned on, for another it could be an indication of clearly visible signs of use, such as scratches or dents. If there is no information about the status of the refurbished mobile, it is best to rule it out as an option.

Upgrades and Equipment

When purchasing a refurbished cell phone, it is also recommended to ensure that the manufacturer will continue to provide security updates for the device for a long time to come. “If you buy a cell phone from two years ago, which wasn’t expensive when it came out, you’ll save even more money if you buy it today. But it is also possible that no more updates will be received, ”warns the expert.

In order to be able to use the renewed device for a long time, it is also advisable to make sure that it is as well equipped as possible: for example, that the storage space can be expanded with an external memory card. With smartphone apps getting bigger and bigger, older devices “usually reach their limits pretty quickly.”

Buying a product marked “Certified Refurbished” directly from the manufacturer, or buying it from one of the popular remanufactured device platforms, is probably mostly a matter of taste…and money. “Remanufacturers also usually use original spare parts or, failing that, parts of the same quality”, it is indicated. In one test, for example, iPhones remanufactured by service providers came out pretty well.

Storage capacity is important since apps require more and more space

Trying out the new device after purchase is very important, as consumers buying from an online retail or business platform have a time limit to exercise the right of withdrawal. “In those days, you should try and try and try,” he explains.

Only with use can you check if the battery lasts long enough or if the screen is adequate. If the device does not meet expectations, it can be returned to you without giving a reason. Some providers also voluntarily grant a longer trial phase, an aspect to take into account when comparing devices.

Other deadlines are usually applied in physical stores. In order to be able to evaluate the performance of the battery, it is advisable to agree with the supplier a suitable test period, after which the device can be returned. And that it be stated on the receipt with date and signature.

Even for used devices, such as refurbished phones, a warranty of at least one year applies to commercial providers. It is also suggested to look at the additional guarantees offered by the providers. Some offer a voluntary warranty of up to 30 months on refurbished phones. However, consumers should read the fine print, as the screen, lenses or batteries are usually excluded.

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