Should I buy a refurbished phone?

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Buying a refurbished phone is a great way to save money and be as sustainable as possible. There’s so many phones out there now – and with new phones offering more features and perks, they’ve gotten significantly more pricey, with some skyrocketing well beyond the $1,000 price mark.

But with refurbished phones, you get the opportunity to give some love to a previously owned phone. Plainly speaking, there’s no real advantage to having a newer phone unless you want all of those cutting-edge tech benefits. So if you’re on the side of saving money, a refurbished phone might be great for you.

Refurbished phones are cheaper

The biggest reason for buying a refurbished phone is the price – it’s a lot cheaper to pick up a refurbished phone than to buy one new. Savings between devices will vary greatly, but we can guarantee you will always spend less on a refurbished phone. Buying a refurbished phone is also better for the environment, and they’re better than picking up a “used” phone, given the refurbished status. You’ll also be entitled to a 12-month warranty, on top of any benefits offered by the reseller.

What is a refurbished phone?

When someone upgrades their phone, they typically have two options with their old one. They can either let it sit in their sock drawer, thinking of holding onto it if they need a backup phone, or they can sell it on to a phone shop which buys used phones. These are typically in shopping centres or in phone shops, but you can find others online.

If your phone is damaged (for example, the screen is cracked or the battery is in poor quality), the shop will try to repair it with spare parts. They’ll bring down their purchasing price significantly depending on how damaged the device is, but at least trading in your old phone gives you cash in your pocket.

Sometimes though, the shop will sell phones that are in poor quality. Naturally, these phones will be sold for less.

There’s no restrictions on what phone can or can’t be refurbished, but typically they need to be relevant phones. Apple and Samsung phones are some of the most common brands of phone you’ll find refurbished, but older iPhones and older-model Samsungs would be harder to come across. You could easy find an iPhone 6 or a Samsung Galaxy Note 8 for sale in a refurbished condition.

SIM-only plans for refurbished phones

If you have an unlocked refurbished phone (meaning it’s not locked in to a single network), you can use it with any SIM-only postpaid or prepaid mobile plan. This gives you a chance to shop around and save money, and avoid being stuck on a lengthy contract while you pay off a new smartphone.

The following table shows comparable published postpaid SIM-only plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of standard monthly cost, from the lowest to highest and then by data allowance, largest to smallest. Use our comparison tool to see plans from a range of providers. This is a selection of products with links to a referral partner.

Why refurbished phones are cheap

There’s superstition around if refurbished phones are as reliable as new phones. Simply put, they’re not going to have the same glimmer and speed as a phone released more recently, but they’ll still do the job.

There is the chance that your refurbished phone won’t run as well as a new phone, but buying anything second hand comes with that risk.

However, you should be safe. Under Australian Consumer Law, you’re entitled to a replacement or refund if your phone breaks. Some refurbished phone sellers even have strong warranty periods, with Boost Mobile and TeleChoice offering a 12-month warranty.

But don’t be scammed! It’s better to buy a refurbished phone from a trusted retailer than it is from eBay or Amazon, as you’re more covered by Australian Consumer Law and by warranties set in place by the retailer. Think about the purchase before you make it.

Just keep in mind…

Older phones are less likely to get new software updates. Apple and Android like to keep their operating systems bright and fresh, and older model phones can’t really keep up.

Also, they will be naturally slower – that’s okay if you’re just using your phone as a phone, but if you’re expecting it to be a great gaming system or great at a range of other apps, you might be set up for some disappointment.

On the bright side, you are helping the Earth by buying a second-hand device!

Phone plans to couple with a refurbished phone

TeleChoice and Boost Mobile offer some really good phone plans that could couple well with a refurbished phone if you’re looking to save some money. Both of these companies also sell refurbished phones, so it saves the hassle of setting up your phone plan elsewhere.

TeleChoice offers post-paid SIM plans, meaning you pay for the service after the period of using it.

The following table shows all published TeleChoice on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of standard monthly cost, from the lowest to highest and then by data allowance, largest to smallest. Use our comparison tool to see plans from a range of providers. This is a selection of products with links to a referral partner.

Boost Mobile offers prepaid SIM plans, which you pay for prior to using the service for the period.

The following table shows all published Boost Mobile on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of standard monthly cost, from the lowest to highest and then by data allowance, largest to smallest. Use our comparison tool to see plans from a range of providers. This is a selection of products with links to a referral partner.

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Image: Dean Drobot / Shutterstock

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