Top 5 Ways to Buy a Refurbished Smartphone

Opting for a refurb instead of a new smartphone could save you 20% to 80% – and the quality of the handset could very well be “as new”.

This is the case with ‘pristine condition’ smartphones that are often consume trade-in’s and unwanted devices returned by a customer during their 30-day cooling off period.

Companies like us buy these smartphones from networks and retailers and sell them on to you with a warranty after quality-checking them and making any necessary repairs.

But, where is the best place to buy a refurbished smartphone? Is it with companies like us, or is it with big hitters like Amazon and eBay?

In this guide, we will look at the top 5 ways to buy a refurbished smartphone to help you buy your next slice of smartphone heaven.

  • 12 month warranty
  • 30 day returns policy
  • Crystal clear grading system
  • Next day delivery
  • Happy to send extra photos.

First, let’s start with ourselves. has sold refurbished smartphones since 2010 and has a 4.5/5 customer review rating on Trustpilot based on over 1,679 reviews. We sell all makes and models at unbelievable prices and offer a wide range of Samsungs and iPhones.

We offer huge savings on refurbished smartphones. You will typically save 20% on a phone released this year and over 40% on a phone released last year.

We sell smartphones in three grades: Grade A ‘Pristine’, Grade B ‘Very Good’ and Grade C ‘Good’ condition. Our rating system is explained in detail in this video. The short of it is a Grade A device appears immaculate as new, a Grade B device is in excellent condition overall, and a Grade C device is in used condition with clear signs of wear.

We offer a 12 month warranty on our smartphones and a no-quibble 30 day return policy. We also ship really  fast with 98% of our customers receiving their device the next day. We also offer a buy now, pay later with Klarna option which you can read more about here.


  • Auctions
  • Buyer protection
  • Huge marketplace
  • Unparalleled search.

eBay has a huge collection of Buy It Now refurbished smartphones, but the prices are higher than ours on average. This is because eBay charges a fee for each sale and PayPal also takes a cut, leaving the seller with less (so they raise their prices).

The best way to buy a refurbished smartphone on eBay is via an auction and there are excellent deals to be had. However, there is no guarantee you will win, and faster bidders could nip in and grab the phone you want.

eBay can offer a bargain, but the prices are inconsistent. This is the nature of auctions. Unfortunately, the Buy It Now prices tend to be on the high side. They are typically 6% or 7% more than our prices, to cover eBay and PayPal fees. Auction is the way to go with eBay, but you will need to get in at the right time


  • Huge marketplace
  • Hundreds of sellers
  • Great deals on used devices
  • Free Prime delivery (on select purchases).

Amazon is a great place to buy a refurbished smartphone because of the sheer choice offered. There are hundreds of sellers on Amazon who sell refurbished smartphones that are no different to the ones sold on eBay.

The main issue with buying a refurbished smartphone on Amazon is drop shipping sellers, who use a warehouse shipping service to handle their products for them. This means sellers may not actually have any contact with the phones they sell.

Of course, this can be avoided by contacting the seller. You can then request additional information about the product. Should everything check out, Amazon’s customer service is second-to-none and you’ll have a guarantee on your purchase.

Apple / Samsung (official sites)

  • The most trusted source
  • Certified pre-owned
  • Balance of manufacturer’s warranty.

From time to time, official manufacturers sell refurbished smartphones on their websites. These are always returns sent in by customers during their cooling off period. In fact, they are the same devices we sometimes purchase.

Apple and Samsung are two companies who do this. They offer refurbished deals that sometimes provide a 10% or 15% discount on new smartphones. However, the limitation is they do not sell older devices like the Samsung Galaxy S9 or iPhone 6. They only sell newer devices (typically those released in the last 12-months).

If you can get a great deal on a refurbished smartphone from Apple or Samsung, there is no reason not to buy with them, other than the price may not be as low as through a dedicated refurbishing company like us. As such, it’s important to compare prices.

Carphone warehouse on a contract

  • Guaranteed network returns
  • Good choice of new devices
  • Balance of manufacturer’s warranty.

In your search for a new smartphone, it is likely you will come across refurbished smartphones with Carphone Warehouse. Carphone Warehouse is one of the most reputable mobile retailers and their refurbished stock is made up of network returns, which is the very same stock we have access to with our Grade A devices.

Buying a refurbished smartphone from Carphone Warehouse is a fine way to go about getting your hands on a great deal. They are a trustworthy company and you will also have the option to purchase a mobile contract and spread the cost.

Their prices are, however, more expensive than the industry average. They hover around the same mark as eBay, which are 6% to 7% more expensive than our prices. The convenience of being able to search and compare SIM-only plans or take out a contract is a massive bonus though. This may sway you one way or another.


  • com offers the lowest prices on refurbished smartphones. We physically test each device and grade it accurately, providing 30-day returns and a 12-month warranty on all purchases.
  • eBay is reputable and offers excellent buyer protection. The downside is Buy It Now prices are higher than the industry average. There are great deals with auctions, but only if you bid at the right time.
  • Amazon has outstanding customer service and a brilliant marketplace that no one else can compete with. However, some sellers use drop shipping and don’t perform quality control themselves. This can mean inconsistency.
  • Apple and Samsung sometimes sell customer returns as refurbished on their websites. This is a legitimate source for refurbished phones, and you know what you will get. However, the prices are higher than anyone else’s.
  • Carphone Warehouse offers the benefit of allowing you to spread the cost of your purchase over several months on contract. You may end up paying more overall, so it is wise to compare prices and do the maths.