Knowledge Base

Top 5 Things You Need to Know When Buying a Refurbished Phone


Refurbished smartphones are a smart way of saving money and helping the environment. However, due to the fact that they have had a previous owner it is vital that you know what to look for. Before we delve into that, giffgaff have a marketplace for pre-owned phones.



1) How to tell if the refurbished phone is real 


apple-iphone-7-plus-gallery-img-6iPhone 7 Plus

Smartphones are among the quickest items to sell. Scammers have caught on to this and regularly buy fake smartphones and sell them on eBay or Gumtree.


I was about to enter a store recently when a friendly looking man approached me with an iPhone 7 Plus in mint condition. I had a friend with me who was keen on purchasing the smartphone. I realised something was off when the man was willing to sell it for £250. Moreover, he was very reluctant to let us check the smartphone before paying for it. After pretending that I was genuinely interested, he finally let us play with the phone. At first I was struck by how light the phone was. Initially I thought that Apple have pulled off some engineering voodoo to get the phone that light. After unlocking the phone I noticed that the resolution seemed really low. My fears were confirmed when I tapped on the App store icon and it sent me to the Android store. We thanked the man, returned the phone and called the police from inside a store.


The fake iPhone 7 Plus appeared to be very genuine. The box, manual, accessories and everything else were on point. If we hadn’t phoned the police I am sure he would have found a buyer shortly after. Do you have any experience of seeing a fake smartphone or mistakenly buying one? Let the community know in the comments section below.


If you are buying a refurbished phone from an individual, make sure that you sample the real thing first. This will give you an idea as to the weight, materials etc. Secondly, pay close attention to how the smartphone is put together. Fake smartphones tend to have gaps where the glue is joined together- plus they tend to be a bit jittery.


One of the biggest issues with fake smartphones is that they tend to come with viruses which send data back to the maker. There have been cases whereby hackers have used this to take credit card information, email access details, etc.  Taking all this into account, it is worth buying phone from a reputable company such as giffgaff. Plus, you can easily return the smartphone if you don’t like it.



2) Check for a warranty and phone history


seal-1771694_1280.pngAny reputable company will offer its refurbished smartphones with a warranty. However, if buying from an individual, the lack of warranty can be used to beat the price down. This is due to the fact that you are taking a risk. The smartphone could have been water damaged or have issues which aren’t immediately apparent.


Following on for the need to check for a warranty, it is worth checking the history of the smartphone. This will let you know whether it has been stolen or blocked. This is because in the case of an investigation, you might be implicated. Checkmend have a service which gives you a full history of any smartphone at a reasonable price. Some call it an MOT for mobile devices.



3) Check the condition

11191-3919-141124-Scratch-lScratched iPhone 6 Plus- Apple Insider

A refurbished smartphone isn’t just another term for a used phone. It should be difficult for you to distinguish a brand new phone from a refurbished one. This means that the screen, casing and internals should be in great condition. Some people try to fool unsuspecting buyers by stating that a phone is refurbished.


One thing you should watch out for is water damage An easy way to check for this is to aim the metal ring of the headphone charge or charging port at any white light source. Move it around gently. If you spot rainbow colours, it was previously water damaged. Even after fixing, water can corrode the materials inside a smartphone. As a result, it will have a decreased lifespan.


If someone tries to sell you a phone as “refurbished” ask them which checks they have made, who they use to make the checks and whether they are willing to provide a warranty.



4) Refurbished smartphones save money


Ideally, one would want to get a brand new smartphone. Understandably, the money isn’t always there and some just don’t want to get a contract phone. Opting for a refurbished smartphone could save you between 10- 40%. The range of savings is due to the fact that not all refurbished smartphones are created equal. A lack of accessories, presence of scratches etc can save you money.


In fact, refurbished smartphones graded as excellent on giffgaff’s marketplace are indistinguishable from brand new versions.



5) Refurbished phones save the planet



It takes time, energy and money to strip down smartphones which are thrown away. This produces greenhouse gases which places a strain on the earth’s ozone layer and also affects our health. Therefore, by buying refurbished smartphones you are doing your bit to save the planet. If more smartphones were “fixed up” and then put back into the system it would contribute to preserving a planet. Moreover, smartphone companies would be pushed into creating much better smartphones.





In conclusion I hope that you have found this post on refurbished smartphones useful. The giffgaff marketplace has a range of refurbished smartphones which are tested, have a returns police and come with 6 months warranty as standard.


What are your thoughts on refurbished smartphones or anything discussed in this post? Let the community know in the comments section below.


Thanks excellent blog and a good way to save money.


Thanks for a great blog. 

I had no idea giffgaff now do refurbished phones. I've just got a new preloved phone but will definately check out giffgaffs market place refurbished phones for my next purchase. Also I will recommend it to my son who is having problems with his current mobile. 


Preloved/refurbished is definately the way to go - our planet is worth it 🙂


Thankyou for a great blog. I now know what to look for when I chose my next phone


Some great advice there.

Cheers for all that.


I usually just buy second hand - sorry, "pre-owned"... (I like " pre-loved" :-) ) - I don't bother about refurbished, I just take the risk.


As well as the environmental reasons stated, brand new phones themselves are bad environmentally, materials often come from war zones (fuelling those wars) and the devices are usually assembled in sweatshops. I learnt through a previous blogpost on here about Foxconn.


If you do want a brand new one however, check out the Fairphone :-)

head honcho

I wish that there was a standardised system for describing refurbished phones. One seller's A+ is another seller's grade B.


It's not often that a refurbished phone turns out to be in mint condition, though places like Argos usually are ok.


Thanks for the appreciation Smiley Happy @cloughey @bintnabil @nanna64 @seanalert

I love all things second hand...admittedly I steer clear of ebay when it comes to phones, so I got mine from giffgaff's marketplace. Really happy with it so far. Thanks for the blog!


@davidgbartlett Awesome! I will probably be using the marketplace for my next purchase. Which phone did you get?

I got a 'very good' Sony Xperia Z3, mainly for the smoothest of transitions from the Z1 compact I had just smashed up! (accidentally) I was impressed, it was almost like new! 'Very good' indeed!