It’s easy to see the appeal of buying a smartphone brand new. Not only do you get that satisfying feeling of ripping the clear plastic wrapping off the box and perhaps breathing in a factory-fresh smell given off by the device itself, but you could also have your hands on the latest smartphone tech currently available.
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However, while just-released smartphones like the iPhone 13 and Pixel 6 could currently be hard to come by on the used or refurbished market, buying a pre-owned device could very much be a practical option if you are considering a smartphone model that launched at least a few months ago.
When should you insist on buying a phone brand new?
This could be the best option if you tend to use a smartphone in ways that demand – or optimally benefit from – the most up-to-date technology commercially available. Perhaps you are a professional photographer who wants to capture high-definition images or you frequently play power-hungry games.
Now, if your smartphone usage is largely limited to just catching up on social media from time to time and snapping a few photos that don’t exactly need to be professional standard, you could be pleasantly surprised by the number of used and refurbished models of phone that would fit the bill.
What’s the difference between ‘used’ and ‘refurbished’?
When you see a phone on sale advertised as ‘used’, this likely means that someone originally bought it new, actually used it as a day-to-day smartphone for a certain amount of time, and then eventually decided to offload this time-worn phone to make a little money.
In contrast, Lifewire explains: “Refurbished phones generally have gone through a professional reconditioning process, either by the manufacturer or a qualified retailer.” Consequently, a refurbished device is often a less risky buy than what is simply dubbed a ‘used’ phone.
What used and refurbished phones do have in common, however, is the opportunity they offer for customers to make a big financial saving on the usual purchase price. Buying a refurbished phone, for example, could potentially save you up to 60%, according to one figure put forward by Digital Trends.
Two good reasons why buying new could still benefit your peace of mind
One of these reasons is the battery, which will wear out sooner than the rest of the phone. According to a Guardian article, smartphone batteries typically only preserve up to 80% of their original capacity following 500 full-charge cycles – roughly the equivalent of charging every night for two years.
Buying new means you will definitely be getting a new battery, too – though the same could also be said of many scenarios where you would buy refurbished. Then there’s the matter of the manufacturer’s warranty, which you are more likely to get with a whole new phone than a refurbished one.
If you are struggling to decide whether to go down the new, used, or refurbished route, you could find that perusing a range of mobile phones from all three categories helps you to overcome this indecisiveness.