Is a Refurbished Phone Worth Buying?

Is a Refurbished iPhone / Phone Worth Buying?

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Last updated March 28, 2023

If you’re looking to buy a new iPhone or Android phone, you already know just how expensive they can be, so is a refurbished phone worth buying? Because they’re definitely a lot cheaper to get.

We’re here to help and will dive deep into understanding more about what it means to buy a pre-owned or certified refurbished device, figuring out exactly what a refurbished phone is, what to check for, and more. The goal is to help you make the best decision when upgrading your device.

What to Check When Buying a Refurbished Phone

Whenever you’re buying a used smartphone, there are a few things you have to consider. The first thing you have to consider is the phone’s condition. If you’re looking at refurbished phones, the process will be easier because each device gets a grade based on its state. 

Another thing you have to look into is the battery life. The older a phone is and the more it was used, the more the battery lifespan is impacted. 

Also, before buying a used phone, you should check if it is compatible with your carrier. Since some devices are designed for specific networks, this is something you have to look into. If you can’t find an unlocked phone you like, at least look for one that’s locked with the same carrier you use. 

Lastly, if at all possible, make sure to always buy a phone that has a warranty. 

What Is a Refurbished Phone?

A refurbished phone is a device that someone else owned, and that has been restored to its original factory settings after undergoing a thorough inspection and repair process. Refurbished phones are often returned to their original manufacturer for repair. They undergo a rigorous testing process to ensure they are fully functional and free of any issues.

During the refurbishment process, faulty components are replaced with new ones to ensure the device is in perfect working condition. Refurbished phones may also have cosmetic damages repaired, such as scratches, dents, or chipped corners.

Refurbished phones, as Forbes notes, are sold at a lower price than brand-new ones, making them an attractive option for those looking for a cost-effective alternative to buying a new phone. Consumer Reports notes that the differences can be in the hundreds of dollars. Despite being pre-owned, refurbished phones often come with a warranty, ensuring the buyer is protected from potential defects or issues.

Moreover, purchasing refurbished phones can also be considered an eco-friendly option, as it reduces electronic waste and extends the useful life of devices. In addition, many refurbished phones are donated or reused, making them an excellent choice for charitable organizations and those in need.

Overall, the most popular refurbished smartphones provide a budget-friendly and eco-friendly solution to those looking for the latest technology. So, is a refurbished phone worth buying? We think that since you get the assurance of complete functionality and warranty coverage, a refurbished phone is a smart choice for anyone in the market for a new device.

Young Male Technician Repairing Mobile Phone

What’s the Difference Between Refurbished and Used Phones

When it comes to purchasing a pre-owned smartphone, it’s important to know there’s a big difference between a refurbished phone and a used one. While the two terms may seem similar in other situations, there are distinct differences between the two.

A used phone is just that – a phone that someone had owned and used at some point. They may have sold it back to a retailer or reseller or even sold it to someone via platforms like Facebook Market or eBay. 

A used phone will usually come as is, with no changes made to the hardware or software, and you’ll be lucky if it’s even wiped clean. The battery life may be affected, there may be scratches and dents on the exterior or touchscreen, and there may be underlying software issues that could cause problems down the line.

On the other hand, refurbished phones go through a rigorous testing process to ensure that they are fully functional and meet the same quality standards as new phones. This means that a refurbished iPhone, for instance, has the potential of being a safer buy than new phones, as they have been thoroughly tested and checked for any issues.

When it comes down to it, the main difference between a used phone and a refurbished phone is the quality and condition of the device.

The Pros and Cons of Getting a Refurbished Phone

When it comes to choosing between buying a new phone and purchasing a refurbished one, there are both advantages and disadvantages to consider. Here are some pros and cons of getting a refurbished phone:


  • Cost-effective: Refurbished phones are typically much cheaper than brand-new ones. This is because they have been used or returned and cannot be sold as brand new, but they are still in good working condition.
  • Environmentally friendly: By buying a refurbished phone, you are reducing your carbon footprint. The device has already been produced, so you’re not contributing to the production of a new one.
  • Warranty: Most refurbished phones come with a warranty, which means you can be confident in your purchase. It also protects you in case anything goes wrong with the device.
  • Quality: Refurbished phones are not simply repaired; they are given thorough inspections and upgrades to ensure that they are of the highest quality.


  • Limited supply: Refurbished phones can be hard to come by, especially if you are looking for a specific model or make.
  • Shorter lifespan: Refurbished phones may have a shorter lifespan than new devices. This is because they have already been used or returned and may not have the durability of a brand-new phone.
  • Lack of customization options: Refurbished phones may not have the same level of customization options as a brand new device. For example, you may be unable to choose the color or storage size. You’ll just get whatever they have to offer. 
Hands Circle Using Phone in Cafe

Everything to Know About Refurbished Phone Grading

When you start looking into refurbished phones, you’ll notice they’re all graded. Refurbished phone grades are determined based on the condition of the device. Retailers and manufacturers typically use the grading system to communicate the quality of the device to customers. Grades can range from A to D, with A being the highest quality and D being the lowest.

  • A-grade: The phone is in near-perfect condition. It may have minor scratches or scuffs, but it should look like a new phone overall. These devices have been thoroughly tested and cleaned to ensure they work properly. Some A-grade phones may even come with a warranty.
  • B-grade: Phones are typically in good condition, but they may have more noticeable signs of wear and tear. The phone may have more significant scratches or dents, but it should still be fully functional. These devices are also tested and cleaned, but they may not come with a warranty.
  • C-grade: These phones are in fair condition. They may have significant cosmetic damage, such as cracks or deep scratches. These devices are still functional, but they may have some issues that must be addressed. C-grade phones are usually sold as-is, without any warranty or guarantee.
  • D-grade: These phones are in poor condition. They may have significant damage or be non-functional. Usually sold for parts or DIY projects, they’re not something we’d recommend if you actually want to use the phone. 

So, which grading is best for you? As you can see, A-grade phones can be a great value, offering a nearly-new device at a lower price. B-grade phones may also be a good option for those who don’t mind some cosmetic wear and tear. C- and D-grade phones should be avoided unless you’re willing to take a risk on a lower-quality device.

Depending on site, you may also find other gradings, such as “like new,” “excellent,” and down to “fair.” Thankfully, they’re all pretty intuitive, so we’re sure you’ll figure it out easily. 

Buying Used Phone Checklist

Casual Girl Holding Mobile Phone

Finally, we have to go over a few things if you want to figure out whether a refurbished phone is worth buying or not. Let’s see exactly what you should check for to ensure that you’re getting a phone in good condition.

  • Is the phone used or refurbished? Check the differences between the two. 
  • What’s the phone’s physical condition? Are there scratches and cracks? The grading should tell you more about its state if it’s a refurbished phone. Pick a grade A or B.
  • Check out the model’s stats on the manufacturer’s website so you know what to expect. Read long-term user reviews online to know how the phone should handle after a while. 
  • Verify the phone’s history. If possible, find out the phone’s IMEI number. This will help you check if someone stole it, lost it, or whether it’s blacklisted by the carrier. You should also ask the seller for any necessary documents, such as proof of purchase or warranty information.
  • Does it have a warranty? If you buy a used phone, it’s unlikely that you’ll get a warranty on it. Refurbished devices, however, often come with a warranty, so check for how long you get to enjoy that. 
  • How long will you get software updates? Most manufacturers have a plan laid out for each phone model, letting you know just how long they will offer software updates for their devices. 
  • Check the price. Research what’s the lowest price for the model you want to get from major retailers like Amazon.
  • Is the phone locked or unlocked? Another thing you have to check is whether the phone is locked to a certain carrier or unlocked. 
  • Does the phone come from a reputable seller? Check their reviews online and see what others are saying about their experience buying from there. 

Where to Buy a Refurbished Phone

SellCell is a great choice if you want to sell your phone or buy a refurbished one. The platform has a decade-long history of providing tons of help to people looking to sell their old phones and buy refurbished and pre-owned phones. The best deals from the best brands are available through SellCell, so you don’t have to compare offers from a million different sites.