Used and refurbished phones: what to watch out for


Phones are some of the most essential gadgets you can own these days. Not only do they make calls, but they also act as our personal organizers, internet browsing devices, and entertainment hubs.

With the rapid increase in smart technology available in modern phones, there has been a corresponding increase in prices. Handsets from many popular brands top $1,000 for newer models, while some flagship phones top $2,000. Needless to say, it’s a big investment.

This is where the market for used and refurbished phones comes in. Whether it’s an authorized seller or a private listing, buying used can potentially save you hundreds of dollars. It’s also an eco-friendly practice, as recycling unnecessary devices reduces e-waste.

It is important to understand what to look for when considering a used phone. Here are some important factors to consider:

What is the difference between used and refurbished?

Although the terms used and refurbished can be used interchangeably, there are some distinctions between the two. Used can refer to just about any second-hand phone, including those listed by individual sellers on community storefronts including Facebook Marketplace, Gumtree, and eBay.

Refurbished, on the other hand, indicates that a used device has been inspected by a manufacturer or specialist dealer and found to be in salable condition. In some cases, this means making repairs before selling the phone as a refurbished product. Different retailers may have different processes and definitions when selling refurbished phones, so it’s worth checking the fine print so you know what you’re getting. Some also offer their own warranties.

Where to Buy Used and Refurbished Phones

There are many ways to get a used phone. One of the most common methods is to make a private sale, either to a friend or online through various advertisements found on Facebook Marketplace, eBay, etc. Unless the product is still under its original warranty, private sales generally do not include a warranty, and Victoria Consumer Affairs states that Australian consumer law does not apply in these cases.

Source: Gabriel Freytez from Pexels.

If, for example, you are misled by a product listing from someone selling a used phone on eBay – such as receiving it in a different condition than the seller describes or receiving a different product than advertised – your first port of call is to notify the seller. If that doesn’t fix the problem, your next stop is to contact the site’s resolution service to take it further.

Alternatively, some of the biggest online retailers offering refurbished phones include:

(You can also buy refurbished phones directly from Appleand although Samsung sells refurbished devices in the US, it does not offer them in Australia.)

Each of the retailers above has different information about their refurbishment process, which is worth reading before buying anything from them. This also includes their respective warranty policies, most of which offer a minimum period of six months during which any faults not caused by you are dealt with by the retailer.

Tips for Buying Used or Refurbished Phones

When buying a used phone, be sure to consider what’s important to you. Some minor cosmetic blemishes may be common among phones that have been used, especially by private sellers. Ask if you can see the phone in action or up close before deciding to buy. You may be able to save more money by buying from someone you know at the expense of an included warranty.

Battery life is a valid concern when buying used. As batteries age and experience hundreds of charges, their ability to hold a full charge diminishes. While there’s no definitive way to determine the battery life of a used phone in a private sale, many refurbished phone retailers guarantee between 80-100% battery capacity. original battery as part of their service.

Guide to Used and Refurbished Phones 1
Source: Daniel Romero from Unsplash.

Another factor to consider is future software support for the phone. Depending on how far back you go, older phones no longer receive software updates that include new features and important security patches. Evaluate this if it’s important to you, as buying a newer used model might be a more future-proof option.

After all that, if you decide to buy a new phone, you can still recycle your old device and potentially get store credit for a new one. Big companies like Apple and Samsung have their own trade-in initiatives where you can receive up to hundreds of dollars in credit depending on how old your old phone is. It is also a good way to prevent electronic waste.

All in all, you have plenty of options to save money when buying a phone. Whether it’s used or refurbished, set a budget to stick to, research what each seller has to offer, and think about which option is best for you.

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