Buying a refurbished mobile

What is a refurbished mobile phone?

Refurbished phones are those which were either sent back by customers because they were faulty or were simply sold on by their previous owner – they'll have been checked and if necessary repaired to full working order.

They won't generally come with the original packaging and may not include all the accessories, but they will have been tested, and will usually come with a warranty.

Manufacturer refurbs are generally preferable since they guarantee a higher standard, although they're harder to come by. In the case of iPhones, these are called 'certified pre-owned' iPhones,

having been sent back to Apple by customers under a returns policy or for repair.

Refurbished phones are typically given a 'grade' by retailers. Trading Standards has told us these grades aren't set independently, so quality can and will vary, but typically they are defined as follows:

  • Grade A – appears new or has only very minor signs of handling or wear.

  • Grade B – may have scratches, chips or other forms of light cosmetic damage.

  • Grade C – will show signs of wear; expect the product to look used.

The warranty is key

One of the most important things to consider when buying a refurb is the warranty it comes with, as this provides your protection if it develops a fault.

Almost all refurbs come with one, though the length and who provides it varies. Whoever did the refurbishment will usually provide the warranty – if that's the manufacturer,

then that means you can go to them directly if there's a problem, though you'll have rights with the retailer too. These warranties typically last a year, but it can be less. 

If the warranty is provided by a retailer, then that's who you'll be dealing with so be aware of this before buying. Retailer warranties vary in length and may also depend on the grade of the refurbishment.

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