Refurbished Phone Buying Essentials for 2018

It’s 2018, and we’re not in Kansas anymore.

Buying trends have changed, and a “refurbished phone” may mean a completely different product depending on the manufacturer. There is, however, still a method to the madness. If you’re looking to buy a refurbished phone for want or need, then take a few minutes to brush up on the following tips first:

1) Know your Definitions

There’s actually an ongoing effort from the Remanufacturing Industries Council and ANSI right now to standardize remanufacturing definitions. But until that becomes official, you’re stuck with the terms as they are generally defined:

  • Used/Pre-Owned. Simply means it’s not brand new. It’s cheaper, yes, but full functionality might be up in the air.
  • Certified Pre-Owned. Same as the last one, but fully tested for functionality and guaranteed to be working.
  • Refurbished. Depending on the seller, “refurbished” can mean one of three things: phones that have been 1) restored to good-as-new condition, 2) tested and repaired, or 3) returned to the manufacturer and repaired subsequently for resale.

Confusing as that might seem, there is little that can be done so long as the word is thrown around loosely without regard for any standards. So keep this in mind when buying “refurbished” from particular sellers. Speaking of sellers,

2) Know your Sellers

The more reputable, the better. Stay away from shady websites, and more so from strange men in trench coats selling phones in back-alleys. If a deal is too good to be true, it probably is most of the time. Do your research and stick to sellers that have an established reputation, online or IRL.

3) Know their Terms and Conditions

One fairly common mistake that most buyers do is not paying enough attention to the fine print. You need to know that going refurbished comes with exclusive risks, and one of them is the noted inconsistency in the terms and conditions across the retailer spectrum – warranty and return/exchange policies included.

Most refurbished sellers don’t have a repair policy, and because many users don’t read the fine print, they expect their devices to be repaired/replaced as one would in an Apple store. Save yourself from all that grief; do your due diligence and read up on the policies that apply to your purchase, which are usually available for everyone to read on the site itself.

4) Inspect your Phone upon Receipt

One other thing that most users forget to check for red flags upon receiving the phone. It’ll do you good to remember that part of what makes refurbished phones cheap is their limited warranty, and to ignore the time limit of that warranty is to do so at your own peril.

Return policies for refurbished phones are even more rigid, giving you at least a week (up to a month for more generous retailers) to return your phones. The best thing to do is to thoroughly inspect your phone upon receipt, check if there are problems in both software and hardware, and call your retailer as soon as possible if you discover any issue.