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What's the Difference Between Refurbished & Used Phones?

refurbished vs used phones

When exploring pre-owned smartphone options, the difference between refurbished and used cell phones might not be immediately apparent. In this guide, let's compare these two categories to help you make the best choice for your business needs. Join us as we answer the most common questions on the topic!

What Is a Used Phone?

A used phone is a pre-owned device, and its usage history is often visibly evident. Its cosmetic condition is probably not perfect: scratches and cracks on the buttons or the back panel, a broken screen, and the phone as a whole looks worn out. Depending on the usage by the previous owner, the condition of the pre-owned device may vary significantly. Still, it's essential to look closely not only at the external but also at the functional state of the phone. Critical components like the battery, camera, and motherboard might be worn or replaced with non-original parts. Also, the used phones rarely have warranty periods (if they do, they are shorter) or accessories. 

All of that makes purchasing used phones a risky bargain. To be aware of the device's condition, you should thoroughly test it before buying. It is crucial for businesses that buy pre-owned phones in bulk: if purchased devices turn out to be in worse condition than expected, the margins will drop dramatically. To prevent it, use NSYS Diagnostics. With over 60 tests that detect more than 100 defects, you will be sure of the quality of the devices you buy.

What Is a Refurbished Phone?

Refurbished phones, while also pre-owned, have undergone repair and restoration processes. Unlike used smartphones, you can rarely tell if the phone is refurbished or not. That is because all the phone parts were tested, and the damaged ones were replaced. After the repair, the refurbisher can confirm the condition of the refurbished phone, so they usually provide a guarantee, adding a layer of trust to your purchase.

Though more expensive than used ones, refurbished phones offer better value and guarantee compared to brand new devices.

However, pay attention to the organization that refurbished the device. It can be the manufacturer (like Apple, Samsung, etc.) or the seller. The first ones guarantee the quality of the repair and the originality of changed parts and usually provide a more extended warranty. As for the sellers, you should check the device certification more carefully to ensure quality.

Where to buy pre-owned device

Which is Better: Used or Refurbished Phone?

Choosing between used and refurbished phones depends on your needs. Although used phones are cheaper, they are in worse condition than refurbished ones. Buying pre-owned smartphones in bulk requires thorough testing with NSYS Diagnostics to be sure of the quality of each smartphone.

Refurbished devices are usually in better condition and have more extended warranty periods. Verified quality means a reduced return rate, but higher prices lead to lower margins. 

Used or Refurbished Phone

What to Consider When Buying a Refurbished Phone?

Although the refurbished device market is getting bigger, choosing the right option might still be a lot of work. Before going for the product with the most appealing price, consider the following points:

  1. Reliability of the refurbisher. If the phone was refurbished by the seller, check with the company twice to be sure of the quality of the service provided. Choose refurbishers that can provide third-party certification.

  2. Warranty duration. A longer warranty period means that the seller is certain of the device's quality and the provided service. A guarantee period of less than a month is definitely a red flag.

  3. Device condition. Checking phones is a great idea, even if the seller offers proofs and certificates. Look at their grading system to ensure that the external condition of the exact device fits it. Ensure the device is fully functional and has no cosmetic damage before buying it.

  4. Battery condition. One of the main parts of the phone to check is the battery. You can do it manually in Settings or use software for the most reliable diagnostic testing. As battery health gets worse with every month of usage, it hugely influences the device's performance. Check the battery condition firsthand and ask whether the battery replacement was performed to be sure of what you are buying.

  5. Sustainability. Obtaining R2 certification isn't a necessity for refurbishers. However, it ensures that the methods used are sustainable and not harmful to the environment and human health. Going for products by these refurbishers shows your commitment to ESG standards.

refurbished store


To sum up, used and refurbished devices are both pre-owned, but the refurbished ones were repaired and tested by the manufacturer (like Apple, Samsung, etc.) or a seller. That makes refurbished phones more appealing to customers despite their slightly higher prices. 

Buying used devices in bulk might be like buying a pig in a poke, so it's better to test devices accurately to eliminate risks. To automate the process, use the NSYS Diagnostics solution. Click the button below and arrange the demo! 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it a good idea to buy a refurbished phone?

Depending on your needs. Generally speaking, you can make a good deal for a high-quality device with a guarantee period. Moreover, using second-hand electronics is sustainable.

What is better: refurbished or used?

Refurbished phones are usually better for several reasons:

  • They are tested and repaired.
  • They have a guarantee period and certification.
  • They might have the required accessories.

However, they are more expensive than used devices.

What is the downside to a refurbished phone?

To ensure the device's quality, you need to check the company in charge of the refurbishing process carefully. Pay attention to phone certification and the origin of changed parts. Check the duration of the guarantee period, as it will likely be much shorter than the warranty period of the brand new phone.

Should I buy refurbished Apple devices?

Buying refurbished iPhones might be a good deal as they combine high quality and a good liquidity ratio.

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