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Refurbished smartphones: a complete buying guide

Refurbished smartphones: a complete buying guide

Amazon offers often include refurbished smartphones at a very attractive price. Black Friday is no exception to the rule. But what's the deal? Where can you buy them and what precautions should you take? The answers are this article.

Used and reconditioned smartphones: everything you need to know

A refurbished smartphone is not just a used device. Refurbished or reconditioned devices are offered for sale after being used or returned for a problem and are subject to several technical tests before being put back on the market.

Refurbished smartphones are used devices that are placed on the market after undergoing certain tests

They are generally sold by companies that take care of the reconditioning process but sometimes the manufacturers themselves take care of it (Apple and Dell are just two examples). In this case, we are talking about certified reconditioned devices. Reconditioned smartphones are therefore used, or unsold devices that have reported malfunctions or imperfections and that after a certain process have been reset as if they were new. The reconditioning process includes not only the functionalities but also the aesthetic characteristics of the product.

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Reconditioned iPhones are also often found on Amazon / © AndroidPIT by Irina Efremova

As you can easily guess, therefore, they differ from the used ones because the latter are proposed in the state of use in which they are found. Reconditioned smartphones look brand new: they are in fact sold in their purchase package with all the necessary accessories, also have been duly tested.

On some sites, you may also encounter another category: Certified Pre-Owned (CPO). This term is actually used in the car industry for used vehicles that have undergone quality controls, have been refurbished by a certified authority and are covered by an extended warranty. Returning to smartphones, the term generally refers to certified reconditioned devices.

It is important to note that companies are required by law to specify that what is offered for sale is a reconditioned/refurbished article. The reconditioning process is not for smartphones, it's the same for a lot of other electronic devices, including appliances.

The reconditioning process

As specified a few lines above, the reconditioning process concerns functionality and aesthetics. Refurbished smartphones undergo several stages before they reach the shop window:

  1. Aesthetics: Damaged parts are repaired or replaced (scratches on the display or body, for example)
  2. Operation: Main functions (power on, touchscreen, keyboard, audio) and components are checked and repaired if necessary
  3. Accessory check: all accessories included in the purchase package are checked and repaired in case of imperfections or malfunction
  4. Reset: Reset to clear all data and return the device to its initial state as when it left the factory. Sometimes devices are supplied with a software version that is more up to date than the one offered at the time of the smartphone's release
  5. Cleaning: The smartphone undergoes a sanitization process that covers all components

Before being offered for sale, the device must undergo a further quality check to verify its general functioning before being repackaged.

Refurbished smartphones: what about the warranty?

Reconditioned smartphones should have a 12-month warranty, but this is not offered by the brand manufacturer but by the company that has taken on the reconditioning process. Before purchasing a reconditioned device, make sure that the warranty is present, check its duration and check who you should contact if you have any problems with the device.

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Among the Black Friday offers you will also find reconditioned smartphones: used but like new / © AndroidPIT

Why buy a reconditioned smartphone

Buying a refurbished smartphone offers two main advantages:

  • The ability to buy a high-end smartphone at a price significantly lower than the list price without giving up the warranty
  • Save the environment: choosing a reconditioned smartphone avoids the emission of yet another WEEE (waste electrical and electronic equipment)

Buying a reconditioned smartphone, therefore, means saving on an "almost" new device and making an eco-sustainable choice.

Refurbished smartphones: precautions to be taken before buying

Refurbished smartphones are cheaper than new ones but don't expect a Samsung Galaxy S10 for $150. So beware of offers that  look too good to be true, they could actually be scams. Just like when you buy a second-hand device, be careful to:

  • Product description: is it accurate and correct?
  • Reseller: check comments and reviews from other users for reliability
  • Warranty: make sure it's present
  • Online payment security: check the payment methods you can use; PayPal, for example, is one of the safest solutions offered by many e-commerce sites
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There are several websites where you can buy reconditioned smartphones / © AndroidPIT

Where to buy a reconditioned smartphone

If you are looking for a high-end smartphone at a reduced price, refurbished devices may be the right choice for you. Here are some sites where you can find reconditioned smartphones at affordable prices:

Have you ever purchased a refurbished smartphone? Tell us about your experience.

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6 comments

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  • Many consumers can't afford the thousand dollar phone. To me I understand that fact, I was in those shoes at one time. I think it's a very good thing and the seller pretty much understands that. There ain't nothing wrong with saving hundreds! Sure it's a gamble but so is living everyday, yikes!


  • On my 4th Refurbished phone and no a single issue till now, my last pixel 3xl was brand new and a Google certified Refurbished! eBay with PayPal money back policy is a better place to buy Refurbished/open box phones than Amazon.


  • I have tried purchasing some electronic devices this way in the past but have started away because the ones that I got lasted just long enough for the warranty to expire. Maybe it's just bad luck.


  • I don't see anything wrong with buying a refurbished phone. They always come with a decent guarantee, plus you can save hundreds!


  • interesting information

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