Refurbished smartphones: the market continues to grow, that's why

Refurbished smartphones: the market continues to grow, that's why

Refurbished smartphones

For some years we have seen how the refurbished market has marked a turning point for those who want to buy a guaranteed smartphone with a lower price than the new one.

Customers like this purchase formula and, according to research by Counterpoint, in the second half of 2020 increased by 4% compared to the first 6 months of the same year. But the news does not stop there because it should be noted that the data has been growing for a long time, with a year 2020 better than 2019 and so on.

Furthermore, according to the research site Counterpoint, the pandemic has played a key role in the proliferation of refurbished smartphones as in 2020 - the year that suffered the most blockages and restrictions on a social level - fewer were produced. Some have been replaced by refurbished ones that have taken their place in the hands of customers.

The survey carried out was extended to the whole world and collected data in the United States, Latin America, Europe, South East Asia , Africa and India (as shown in the image with related graphics). Needless to say, the most sold refurbished smartphones were the Apple ones that on average had their price up to 3 times higher than that of other competing brands.

Furthermore, always talking about devices made in Cupertino, the affirmation of 5G has not affected customers to buy refurbished smartphones equipped with "only" 4G technology.

And what can we expect for 2021?

Counterpoint reports given that the impact of the refurbished market will increase again in 2021 and to drive purchases will be an average selling price sometimes significantly lower than the same price of the new model. And, once again, Apple could increase its installed base even more.

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The Do's and Don'ts of Buying a Refurbished Smartphone

Photo: Elnur (Shutterstock)

The prices of flagship smartphones keep climbing higher and higher. At this point, if you want to buy the latest and greatest, you need to shell out more than a thousand dollars. But before you do that, it’s a good idea to take a look at refurbished smartphones. Refurbished smartphones—especially those sold straight from the manufacturer—offer you the same flagship device (that is not even a year old) at a discounted rate.

Read on to learn what refurbished smartphones are, what you need to know before buying a refurbished iPhone or Android smartphone, and the trusted sources to purchase from.

What is a “refurbished” smartphone?

Although there’s no official definition for “refurbished” products, it generally refers to a smartphone that has been used (even if just to take it out of the box), and then returned to a company (manufacturer, carrier, or retailer), that then performed some checks and fixed things that needed to be fixed (if any).

That’s why it’s important to note the words “refurbished,” “certified refurbished,” and “renewed,” are used interchangeably. “Manufacturer refurbished” means that repairs or upgrades were done by the manufacturer themselves (which is better than it being done by third-party companies).

Other than that, there is no fundamental difference between a new or refurbished smartphone.

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What to check before buying a refurbished phone

Now that you know what a refurbished smartphone is, here are a couple of things you need to know before making purchase to avoid defective devices.

  • Check for a warranty. Just because you’re buying a refurbished device, doesn’t mean you don’t get a warranty. In fact, some devices come with a one-year manufacturer warranty (with an option for an extended warranty as well). Make sure your device at least has a couple of months of warranty before making the purchase.
  • Buy from the manufacturer. While you won’t get the best bang for the buck, it’s safest to buy refurbished devices directly from the manufacturer. Many popular companies like Apple and Samsung have their own certified-refurbished programs. These devices would be checked, and repaired directly by the manufacturer, making them a safer bet for longterm use.
  • Read the fine print. Before buying, make sure that everything is on the up-and-up. Take a look at the details of the warranty, the description of the state of the device, and the year the smartphone was manufactured. Most refurbished smartphones are unlocked, but it’s something you should check before buying.
  • Don’t buy a device that’s too old. Deeply discounted sales for what used to be a flagship device sound very tempting. But it’s best to buy a smartphone that’s a year old (or two, at the most). Older devices, even if refurbished, won’t be a good investment for the longterm (especially because most Android smartphones get something like two years of updates, if you’re lucky).
  • Skip the lowball offers. If you see a refurbished smartphone selling for less than half of its sticker price, there is probably a catch. While refurnished phones are cheaper compared to new models, the good ones won’t be that cheap.
  • Where to buy refurbished iPhone or Android smartphones

    You should buy a refurbished smartphone from a trusted and verified source—that means staying away from the places like Craigslist for this purchase. Thankfully, there are many trusted and verified sources for buying refurbished devices, including places that offer warranty and extended support.


    Gazelle is one of the most popular places for selling used smartphones. They make the process very easy—the used device goes through a lengthy certification process to make sure it isn’t faulty. In this process, any glaring issues are fixed using replacement parts.

    Gazelle also has a 30-day return policy, so if something goes wrong with a phone, you can always get a replacement.

    Back Market

    Back Market shines with it comes to transparency. It has a transparent grading system for each device, for both appearance and technical condition. Every device goes through rigorous testing, and if there are any issues, they are fixed.

    Back Market offers a 1-year warranty and a 30-day return policy.


    The best place to buy a refurbished iPhone is, unsurprisingly, Apple itself. Their “Certified Refurbished” program offers the same one-year warranty (with an option to upgrade to AppleCare+ for an extended warranty), a new battery, and all accessories. All repairs are done by Apple themselves.

    Because of this, you won’t be saving a lot of dough (there’s no 50% discount here), but you do get an iPhone that’s basically as good as new, at around a 20% discount, which is nothing to scoff at.


    Samsung has a similar certified “Re-Newed Smartphones” program. These smartphones are refurbished to a like-new condition, and they come with a one-year warranty.

    Amazon Renewed

    Amazon also has its own refurbishment program. Under Amazon Renewed, you’ll get refurbished devices at competitive rates—and a 90-day warranty period. Amazon Renewed products are professionally inspected and the batteries are more than 80% capacity.

    Best Buy

    Best Buy offers a selection of used, open-box, and refurbished smartphones. There’s a 14-day return policy, and even the pre-owned smartphones (not certified refurbished) come with 90-day warranties.

    Mobile carriers

    If you’re on a contract, you should check to see if your carrier has a refurbished devices program. Popular carriers like Verizon, T-Mobile, and AT&T all do. You’ll get the same flagship device at a lower rate, with an easy monthly payment option.