What to look for when buying a refurbished phone

Want to upgrade your phone but don’t want to break the bank? A refurbished phone might be just what you’re after. But not all refurbished phones are the same, so here’s what to look out for.

The refurbished phone market in Australia is booming. And no wonder, with the latest flagship models from Apple and Samsung going for truly eyewatering prices.

But if you’re keen on getting access to all the latest features and the fastest performance, you can save hundreds by buying a refurbished phone that will come with all new parts and run like it’s being used for the first time.

You can save even more if you opt for last year’s model (or even earlier) or are willing to put up with a few scratches and dents.

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Most of the leading manufacturers offer refurbished phones for sale, as well as retailers such as Mazuma Mobile, Green Gadgets and Reebelo.

These retailers have different grades for refurbished phones, based on their condition, all priced accordingly. They will also usually buy your old phone from you, saving you even more in the process.

So, what how do the grades differ and what can you expect from each one?

Open box

This is the highest rating and as close to brand new as a refurbished phone is going to get. It means the phone itself hasn’t been used at all, but the sealed box has been opened for whatever reason at some point.

They may or may not come with all the phone’s original accessories, but you will usually at least get a charger and charging cable.

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Like new

This rating means the phone has had minimal usage, but hasn’t required any new parts or repairs. It should also be free of any scratches and dents on the screen or case.

Any existing data on the phone from the previous user will have been wiped and the phone itself should have been thoroughly cleaned.


Most refurbished phones on the market fall into this category. These phones have seen light to moderate use with only typical wear and tear. The phone should have been fully taken apart and all components tested, and a new battery fitted.

Chargers and charging cables supplied at this level and below will be generic brands rather than the official accessories that came with the phone.

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B-grade phones will undergo the same battery replacement and testing procedure as A-grade phones, but will usually also have a new screen to replace the damaged old one.

The phones will have heavier scratches and dents on the outside but it should just be cosmetic damage.


Also sometimes called ‘scratch and dent’, this is the lowest category of refurbished phone available. The phones will have the heaviest physical damage on the back and sides of the phone, and may even be missing large chunks.

But the phones have gone through the same refurbishment process, so they will have a new battery and screen and be in perfect working order. If you’re willing to look past the physical defects, there are some real bargains to be found in this category.

When did you last upgrade your phone? Would you be willing to buy a refurbished phone? Let us know in the comments section below.

Brad Lockyer
Brad Lockyerhttps://www.yourlifechoices.com.au/author/bradlockyer/
Brad has deep knowledge of retirement income, including Age Pension and other government entitlements, as well as health, money and lifestyle issues facing older Australians. Keen interests in current affairs, politics, sport and entertainment. Digital media professional with more than 10 years experience in the industry.
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