When money is tight, sometimes you can’t afford to buy our list of the best smartphones to pick up a new mobile – even rankings of the best cheap phones can sometimes not take into account the cost of living crisis.
But luckily there is a way to grab technology without breaking the bank, and that is buying refurbished. You might think that “refurbished gadgets” are just second-hand gadgets with a nicer name, but there is an important difference – these are the ones that have been restored by experts to feel as good as new.
Well, that’s how refurbished phones generally work, but there are unreliable dealers on the market, as well as many potential pitfalls in picking up second-hand technology.
For some advice on how to stay safe when buying refurbished gadgets, we spoke to Katy Medlock, the UK General Manager for sales website back market (opens in new tab)so you can stay safe while getting cheap technology.
How do you look for a refurbished smartphone
On sites like Backmarket and other revamped sites, you can see that prices are lower than for new equivalents – that’s part and parcel of buying a used device, of course.
The discount depends on how new the device is – something like the iPhone 13 has less reduction than the iPhone 11† But according to the brand, you should really consider the older devices first:
“The perception that you need the latest model is something that forces many people to buy a new device when they may not really need it”
Backmarket instead recommends considering each option that fits your specific needs – if you need an iOS device, for example, you need an iPhone, and if you want a phone with a big battery, something like a Moto G device are great, instead of just buying what the latest model is. “There is also a lot to save by thinking about tech this way” apparently.
We asked if there was a good time to pick up a refurbished phone and got a pretty straightforward answer:
“Usually around the time of an announcement from one of the major phone makers, many devices become available as millions swap their devices for the latest technology.”
That of course depends on the model. If you want an iPhone, you’ll have to wait for Apple’s annual event in September, while if you want a Samsung Galaxy phone, you’ll want to flip your calendar to late January or early February, when Samsung generally launches its latest Galaxy S device. .
“A lot of people who want the latest models eventually resell their old device, which is great for refurbished buyers who will be able to find a lot more choices in terms of models and price.”
Are remanufactured retailers reliable?
If you buy a new iPhone from Apple, you know it will work as the company intended, but that’s not the case if you buy a used and refurbished version. Different sellers may have different standards for what’s out there about snuff, and may focus on cutting back on offering low prices.
Backmarket told us that, as a third-party site focused on bridging the gap between buyers and sellers, it uses algorithms to change the playing field:
“We don’t display our entire catalog: instead, our algorithm carefully selects the best value based on value for money and displays only one product in real time for each product ID (model, stock, color, quality, etc.).
“This creates healthy competition between refurbishers, which is not price-based and thus prevents them from undercutting each other, forcing them to prioritize the quality of the products they sell on Backmarket.”
The site also points out that, “for added peace of mind, all our products come with a warranty, meaning they’re protected in the same way as a new device if there are any problems,” so if you’re really concerned about if if you buy refurbished, you do have a back-up plan.
After receiving your phone
Once you’ve received your affordable refurbished gadget, there are a few things you can check to make sure you have a fully working device. Backmarket even pointed out four key areas and things to check.
Important things to check on your refurbished phone:
1. Battery status
2. Audio and Microphone
The first of these is battery health – that’s basically how much of the original capacity the battery has left. Things like fast charging, keeping the device plugged in while it has 100% power, and draining the phone completely can affect this.
You can generally check the battery status in your phone’s Settings menu, and make sure it isn’t very low if you just bought a new phone or it won’t last long.
Next is the phone audio power, both the speakers and the microphones, and Backmarket suggests a very simple way to test this. Just record a voice memo using the phone’s built-in app (most have one, but the names may be different – just browse the pre-installed apps) and then play it out loud on your device.
If you can hear your voice chirping, you can rest assured that everything is working as intended.
The third thing to check, according to Backmarket, is the rear camerasand again, the site has an easy test – to check the snappers, take a picture of a plain white piece of paper or surface.
By doing this, you can see “potential blemishes or dust on the lens”, which can hinder image quality. Remember to do this with all the rear cameras, if your phone has several.
Finally, Backmarket suggests that you: screen – you should hopefully notice any errors pretty soon, but it’s worth checking by playing a video or checking a plain white page to see if there are any issues.
According to surveys, Buying refurbished phones has never been so popular as it is now, partly because of the lower prices but also because of the lower carbon footprint of buying or selling used appliances. And hopefully you can enjoy this advice.