Is it worth buying a refurbished smartphone? 

The price of a new smartphone can be pricey – and it seems to get more expensive every year. The latest iPhone 12 Pro Max, for example, is available for sale for $1099. 

One solution to this is a “refurbished” phone. Supermarkets in Australia are currently selling these. Although it’s not quite as good as buying brand new, they are a cheaper and much more sustainable option for consumers. 

Furthermore, refurbished phones are becoming increasingly accessible in many countries. They are something that was once confined to online shops like eBay. Now, thanks to higher demand, they can be purchased in stores and from some network providers. 

What are refurbished phones?

Refurbished phones are previously owned handsets. They are often sold to companies that run quality tests on them before bringing them back to suitable working order for sale. 

Unlike ex-demo phones, refurbished options have been used and have usually had substantial work carried out on them, like fixing a cracked screen or replacing a battery. 

Using a grading system, they will then be sold according to their condition. A phone with minor scuffs might be graded as “good”, for instance, whilst a faultless phone will be sold as “as new” – this will be the most expensive option. 

Depending on the condition, refurbished phones may not last as long as brand new ones. However, they shouldn’t be defective or of poor quality. 

What are the benefits and risks? 

In most countries, refurbished phones fall under consumer rights laws or guarantees, so you should be entitled to repairs, refunds, or replacement products if the item is faulty. 

However, you won’t be covered by the manufacturer’s guarantee. And, if parts have been replaced and are second-hand, it may have reduced durability. 

One of the biggest benefits of buying a refurbished phone is the cost. They are significantly cheaper than brand new options and very often of similar quality. 

As well as that, they are much better for the environment. E-waste is the fastest-growing type of waste right now, and using a second-hand phone that would have been thrown away can contribute to reducing this type of waste. 

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