Top Tips to Consider When Buying a Refurbished Phone

With the price of the latest top mobile devices costing the best part of £1,000, take Apple’s series of iPhone’s such as one of their latest additions, the iPhone XS. It’s easy to see why so many people are opting for used or refurbished phones or in this case a refurbished iPhone XS in a bid to save money. Whether it’s to avoid being tied into expensive monthly contracts for years or to save you paying the extortionate prices for the newest handset on the market – it’s important to consider all aspects when going down the refurbished route.

What is the difference between a used phone and a refurbished phone?

Refurbished Phones

  • Condition is graded by quality (A,B,C).
  • Sold directly from the retailer, seller or manufacturer.
  • Come with a warranty or guarantee (when sold by a reputable retailer).
  • Prices are usually higher than when sold second hand but these devices have been professionally checked to ensure they are in good working order.

Used or second-hand

  • The original warranty will most likely have expired which means something could go wrong and you have no way of returning it should the device fail once in your hands.
  • The prices are usually lower which can provide great value for money.
  • The condition of the handset has not been checked meaning that there could be hidden faults such as water damage or failing battery life.
  • Buying direct from previous owners can make the transaction riskier, as well as the higher chances of the device being stolen.

Once you’ve decided that a refurbished phone is the way forward then here are some top tips for making a smart purchase:

Phone Factory Settings

Ensuring the device has been restored to factory settings is one of the most important things to check when purchasing a refurbished device. Making sure the device has been cleared removes all evidence of previous ownership, wiping it clean so that it can be set and used to the new owner’s preferences – like when it was brand new. If there is evidence this has not been carried out properly on the device that can mean the phone is not safe, stolen or recovered.

Guarantee, Warranty and Returns

When purchasing from an in-store or online retailer be sure to inquire about the warranty from the manufacturer. Not all but some retailers will extend the warranty to a refurbished phone. As thorough as most companies will be of course there is always the chance that a device has been dropped, scratched or water damaged in some way and you want to be able to return it should it cease to work correctly once in your possession. Make sure you properly understand the returns policy to ensure you are covered should the handset fail to live up to expectations.

Pros and cons

Just like with buying new or used phones there are both pros and cons to purchasing a refurbished device.


  • Huge discount compared to new devices, sometimes more than 50%.
  • Unlike a second-hand device, a refurbished phone has been professionally checked and repaired.
  • They come with a warranty (details of which are dependent on each retailer)
  • Perfect for those who can’t afford the tie in of a costly monthly contract, you can opt for a SIM only or pay as you go option.
  • Not only are these devices rigorously tested but all traces of data left by previous owners are

wiped by their tech professionals.


  • Although there may be a warranty in place, it is most likely shorter than that provided with a new phone.
  • The refurbishment will be graded A, B or C and depending on the handset could have scratches, chips or scuff marks on the device.
  • Your insurance may not cover it. Some companies are happy to ensure a refurbished phone but it’s definitely worth checking with your provider or shopping around for a good deal.
  • If it’s the latest release you’re after then it’s unlikely that there will be many refurbished options available straight away. However, if you don’t mind waiting a few months then the likeliness is more will come on the market.
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