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How Best to Buy a Second-Hand or Refurbished Mobile Phone?

ByDave Stopher

Oct 9, 2021 #technology

The smartphone market is stronger than it has ever been, with global sales increasing more than 10% in the latter half of 2021 despite CPU shortages and constraints to shipping. But, simultaneously, new markets are booming in the refurbished and second-hand fields, enabling you to get a hold of more recent tech for a fraction of the recommended retail price. So how best to navigate these markets? We’ll take a look at how to budget for a new mobile phone, and the safest ways to find excellent deals on newer tech.

Choosing your Budget

First and foremost, you need to understand the limits of your budget. What are you willing to spend, and is there any leeway on that expenditure? Knowing your budget is a a key first step, because the second step involves a serious amount of research into exactly what that money can buy in second-hand or refurbished markets. Auction site such as eBay are a hotbed for used tech sales, but not all listings are created equally – and you might just be able to find a better deal for a cheaper price – whether with due diligence, or a few sneaky tricks.

Buying Refurbished

If a tech item has been “refurbished”, this tends to mean it has been returned to the manufacturer, refreshed and/or repaired, and verified to be in “as-new” condition. It might be delivered in unbranded packaging, and in some cases may not be supplied with accessories, but for all intents and purposes the product is new – and heavily discounted to boot. Various online platforms specialise in refurbished items, and the concept is proving so popular that manufacturers themselves are getting in on the action. There are even sites that offer part-exchange deals, meaning you can trade in your Galaxy Note for the next model at an even bigger discount.

The Second-Hand Market

Auction sites have already been mentioned, but the second-hand smartphone market stretches far beyond – from Facebook Marketplace listings to local market stalls, from retail exchange stores to private listings on online poster-boards and beyond. There are many risks inherent to buying second-hand technology, not the least of which is the risk of not getting exactly what you paid for. With private cash-in-hand sales as encouraged by Gumtree-style websites, there are no protections or guarantees, meaning you could end up with an unusable phone and no legal recourse to recoup your money. Larger sites may have insurance or refund schemes available to use in such an unfortunate event, but the best way to avoid a fraudulent sale is to verify the item is in full working order before purchase.


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