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If you’re buying or selling used mobile phones, you’ll be aware that different sellers market them in different ways. On one site, you’ll see a phone marked as “used”, on another it might be listed “refurbished”. The prices between used mobile phones and refurbished ones can vary a fair bit.

In this article, we’ll explain the difference in language, and help you to buy the right used mobile phones for your own needs.

What is a Refurbished Mobile Phone?

When a mobile phone is “refurbished”, it generally means that it’s been fixed and tested by a manufacturer, or a company authorised by a manufacturer.

Often, refurbished items have been sent back to the manufacturer or dealer, then checked, verified as working, and resold at a cheaper price. If the phone needed repair, the company that is doing the refurbishment may need to use manufacturer-approved parts. In return, there will usually be a warranty with the device.

However, not all parts of a mobile phone are subject to these restrictions.

Let’s take Apple iPhones as an example, and assume that it needs a new case. For an iPhone to be considered “refurbished”, the case must be replaced by Apple or one of its authorised repair teams. This restriction does not apply to other parts, like the screen, which can be replaced without manufacturer authorisation.

What Are Used Mobile Phones?

If an iPhone case has been replaced by a company that is not authorised by Apple, it can only be sold as a “used iPhone”, not a refurbished one.

The main difference here is that manufacturers are not involved in the grading and repair of the device.

Additionally, the warranty that you get with a used mobile phone may be very limited if it exists at all — so be careful who you buy from.

That’s not to say that used mobile phones are risky. The key is to buy from a reputable dealer like Phoenix Cellular, and to ensure that you understand the grading system and the testing procedures that the seller is using.

We strongly recommend that you buy used mobile phones from us, and not from private sellers who will not test or certify their devices.

Which is Better: Used or Refurbished?

Used mobile phones tend to be cheaper than refurbished phones, partly because the repair can be carried out with cheaper, but still high-quality, parts that are not manufacturer approved. Refurbished phones also tend to come in some form of new packaging, which adds to the retail price, but you probably won’t get the accessories that a new phone comes with.

Generally speaking, refurbished phones are sold in “nearly new” condition, but a used mobile phone might be a better bargain if you can put up with a few light scratches. And some used phones are in pristine condition anyway. It all comes down to the grading and testing.


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