Refurbished phone vs new handset? Which is the best deal?

Smartphones are expensive. You’ll fork out over £800 for the newest flagship, and even more if you buy into the false economy of a contract (where the total cost of your monthly payments adds A LOT to the cost of your phone).

People ‘in the know’ have been buying refurbished phones for years to save money and get the newest smartphone in their pocket for less.

You can use this simple trick to save money too.

But, is buying refurbished really the best deal? In this guide, we’ll discuss the differences between refurbished phones and new handsets to help you decide. Read on to find out if a refurbished phone is the right deal for you.

Price differences

When comparing a smartphone that is available new with the same model that’s been refurbished, the price differences can be substantial.

You are looking at a 10% to 20% saving in favour of the refurbished model for devices released in the last 6 months. This equates to a £100 to £200 saving on the newest iPhone or Samsung Galaxy smartphone.

This is a big saving. If someone offered you £100 or £200 off the newest iPhone, wouldn’t you take it? That’s what going refurbished offers.

Even bigger savings can be achieved by choosing a device that’s one generation old. A refurbished flagship that has been replaced by a newer device will cost 40% to 50% less than the new flagship, saving you hundreds of pounds.

For example, the Galaxy S20 typically costs 40% more than a refurbished Galaxy S10. This equates to a saving of more than £250.

You can maximise your savings by comparing different refurbished device shops. Our research shows that I Need a Mobile consistently offers the lowest prices on refurbished phones, while Amazon and eBay are the most expensive.

Condition differences

New smartphones are in the best condition possible. However, you would be hard-pressed to tell a new smartphone from a Grade A refurbished one.

One of the biggest misconceptions about refurbished smartphones is they are somehow broken, abused or in poor condition.

This is simply not true.

The majority of refurbished smartphones are network and retailer returns that were returned by the customer within 14-days of purchase.

People return smartphones for all sorts of reasons. They might not like the smartphone, or they might be given a phone by their employer.

You can use this to your advantage.

‘Grade A’ refurbished smartphones are virtually indistinguishable from new. They are not allowed to have cosmetic scratches or obvious signs of use. They must be in top condition, or else they get downgraded to ‘Grade B’ condition.

‘Grade B’ refurbished smartphones have minor signs of use, like cosmetic scratches, but they are not allowed to have screen scratches or dings. Most of these smartphones lived in a case for a few months and were babied.

Warranty differences

New smartphones always come with a 12-month manufacturer’s warranty.

Refurbished smartphones also come with a warranty, although the warranty length depends on the retailer selling the phone.

I Need a Mobile provides a 12-month warranty, and our warranty protects you from all the same problems as a manufacturer’s warranty.

Our refurbished phone warranty covers:

  • Technical defects
  • Faults arising from repairs

It does not cover the following problems:

  • Accidental damage
  • Liquid damage
  • Issues caused by unlocking your device
  • Issues caused by third-party software
  • Components added by you since the item was sold to you

This is the same as a manufacturer’s warranty.

Also – if the refurbished phone you buy was made in the last 6 months and hasn’t been repaired, it will still have some manufacturer’s warranty remaining.

If you want extra protection for the things not covered under warranty, you could always take out third-party mobile insurance. You can take out insurance for refurbished phones and new phones – it makes no difference.

Support differences

If you do have a problem with your smartphone, it’s good to know that the retailer you bought it from, or the manufacturer, will help.

With a new phone, issues covered under warranty are resolved by the manufacturer, while issues with goods are resolved by the retailer.

With a refurbished phone, issues covered under warranty and issues with goods are resolved by the retailer you buy the phone from. This means when you buy with us, we will provide all of your aftercare and support.

We go out of our way to help our customers. Whether you want to return your smartphone, or have a problem with it, we will help you. It’s no problem.

In many ways, our support is also better than you’ll receive from the manufacturer or retailer. We have no wait times on our customer service, and we resolve problems within just a few days. Bigger companies can take weeks.

Which is the best deal?

With a refurbished smartphone, you get:

  • £100 to £200 (10% to 20%) off a smartphone released in the last 6 months
  • A smartphone that looks and works like new
  • A comprehensive 12-month warranty, just like new
  • Personalised support and aftercare from our experienced team

With a new phone, you get:

  • A brand new phone that costs more
  • The glory of being the first owner of your smartphone
  • The official box and accessories
  • The balance of a complete manufacturer’s warranty

So, which is the best deal?

If you want to save money, going refurbished will keep a bundle of cash in your pocket and give you the same thing – a fantastic smartphone.

If you want a new smartphone, then by all means buy new… it’s your choice. All we’re saying is you can pay less for the same thing by going refurbished.

The only real difference between a new phone and a refurbished phone is you weren’t the first person to use a refurbished phone or open the box. If you can overlook this factor, refurbished is the way to go for a great deal on your next phone.