Should you buy a refurbished phone?
Considering a refurbished phone but don’t know where to start? Here’s where to buy, how much you can save, and what to check before you invest.
What is a refurbished phone?
It’s a pre-owned device that has undergone tests, checks and repairs as necessary to ensure it’s in full working order before being sold on. Refurbished phones are graded and priced according to their condition.
There are different circumstances a phone might be refurbished; the main ones are:
In comparison, a new phone hasn’t been owned or used by anyone else. You’re buying it in a brand new state, straight from the manufacturer.
What condition do refurbished phones come in?
Some refurbished phones are like new, while others are much older with obvious signs of wear and tear. The condition of the phone should be clear from the grade it’s given.
A grading system may be used where, for example:
- A is Like New
- B is Good condition with minor signs of wear and tear
- C is Fair condition with visible signs of wear and tear, like scratches
Grading systems vary from seller to seller so check what each grade means before you buy.
How much money can you save?
The same make and model of refurbished phones can vary greatly between retailers, affecting the potential savings you could make.
To give you an idea of how much you could save we’ve compared Apple’s iPhone 12. Prices may change regularly, but this is an example of savings.
New iPhone 12 vs Refurbished iPhone 12
In the refurbished example below, the phone was ‘Like New’, Black with 128GB storage.
Here’s the cost and savings in December 2022:
|Costs||GetTech website||Apple website||Saving|
Other refurbish sellers may have different prices, so it’s worth shopping around. Savings will vary depending on the phones’ make, model and condition.
Once you’ve found a handset you like, you’ll still need to choose a SIM-only plan with the data and calls you need. Our guide on switching to a SIM-only deal can help.
What to check before you buy
You may be tempted by a potential bargain but it’s worth checking what you’re getting for your money before you buy. Here are a few things to check:
Refurbished handsets are sold unlocked and SIM free, so you’ll need to get a SIM-only deal to suit your usage habits when the phone arrives.
Where you can buy refurbished phones in Ireland
- Creative IT
- DID Electrical
- Mint Plus
They all offer a 12 month warranty on their refurbished phones, except for GetTech which includes a 24 month warranty.
Do refurbished phones come with a warranty?
A reputable retailer should include a warranty for refurbished phones, but you should check this before buying. A warranty usually lasts 12 months, but they can vary between 6 and 24 months.
What if you change your mind?
If you buy a refurbished handset and then change your mind, a 14 day cooling off period applies. This means you can get your money back if you advise them within 14 days of receiving the device.
You usually have to pay to return the handset, and depending on its value, you might want to insure and track the item in case it goes missing.
Always check the supplier’s returns policy as there may be conditions to follow, such as:
- Notifying them by email
- Completing a returns form
- Quoting your order number with your returned goods
- Sending by tracked mail
Are refurbished phones worth it?
It really depends what you’re looking for, but here are a few things to consider to help you decide:
Refurbished phone FAQs
What are the advantages of SIM-only deals?
SIM-only plans are cheaper than deals that include a phone. So, if you’ve paid off your phone and are still happy with your handset, you’ll make a saving by switching to a SIM-only deal.
If you’re out of contract, you can also move to a SIM-only deal with your current provider, rather than rolling on your contract. Some networks will automatically move you to a plan-only price once your handset is paid off, so check with your provider.
You may decide to buy your phone outright and get a SIM-only deal. It works out cheaper than paying it back as part of your monthly mobile cost, but the upfront cost can be steep.
How is a phone refurbished?
It usually has to pass several tests and checks to ensure it’s working as it should be. Any repairs needed are carried out and this may include replacing certain parts.
Some retailers replace batteries as standard but not all.
The phone is then restored to its original factory settings which wipes any data from it so that it’s in the same state as if it were new.
Can I buy a refurbished iPhone from Apple?
Although it might seem like the obvious place to buy a refurbished iPhone, you can’t buy them from the Irish Apple website.
You’d have to buy it on the UK Apple website and arrange delivery to a destination in the UK and then on to Ireland, which could be costly.
Apple refurbishes its phones to an ‘as new’ standard and as well as undergoing the same testing as new iPhones, they also come with:
- A one year warranty
- Genuine Apple replacement parts
- New battery and outer shell
- Brand new white box
- Free shipping and returns
Should I insure my refurbished phone?
It can be more difficult to get insurance for a refurbished phone so you’ll have to shop around.
If you’ve bought an expensive device, it’s worth considering cover. Our guide: Is mobile phone insurance worth it? can help.
What happens if something goes wrong with my refurbished phone?
The phone should be sold in full working order but occasionally something goes wrong.
If a problem arises within the warranty period, you can check the retailer’s returns policy and follow their procedure.
Get a SIM only deal with the calls, texts and data you need for less.
It only takes a few minutes to find a cheaper deal and start saving.