As much as we love hearing about announcements for brand new phones and seeing how manufacturers push the limits of their portfolios, we definitely aren’t fans of the lack of sustainable offerings and hefty prices that manufacturers charge for their latest and greatest.
If you’re like us and want a decent phone for less while making your smartphone purchase a bit kinder to the environment, the refurbished smartphone market is the place to look. Refurbished phones offer ‘like new’ functionality at sometimes hefty discounts on what you’d typically pay for a brand new device.
Here are our top picks in 2021 for any budget:
Even 3 years after the release, the iPhone XS still feels like a flagship and you can get it for a very accessible price these days when buying refurbished. The Apple iPhone XS has a notch for its FaceID authentication technology on top of the 5.8-inch Super Retina OLED display. A 2,658 mAh battery will get you through the day, and the A12 Bionic chipset with 4GB of RAM will act more intuitively when it comes to system management settings.
The iPhone XS offers one of the best dual rear camera setups. It’s a wide-angle 12MP camera with F/1.8 aperture paired with a 12MP telephoto lens, OIS and 2x zoom. This camera combination will deliver quality photos in daylight and low-light conditions. The refurbished iPhone XS will continue to deliver a perfect balance of features and value for money three years down the line as Apple is not going to drop software support any time soon. It doesn't have an old-school design and if you don’t mind embracing FaceID technology and a powerful dual camera sounds like enough for you, the refurbished XS is your pick. On our comparison you can search for your perfect match among iPhone XS under £400.
The Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus has distinctive features and offers premium specs in an elegant body. The display tech consists of a Dynamic AMOLED panel at 6.4 inches at 1440 x 3040 resolution with HDR10+ coated with Gorilla Glass 6 and will deliver a crisp and sharp content viewing experience. The device is powered by a 8 nm large Exynos 9820 processor and offers up to 12 GB of RAM and 1TB of storage.
Spectacular shots in any lighting condition are delivered by the triple rear camera setup which features an ultra-wide 16 MP lens, a 12 MP telephoto with 2x optical zoom and a 12MP wide sensor. The Galaxy S10 Plus can easily be titled as one of the most feature-packed devices, even though it is two generations old now. In addition to a fantastic camera setup, the S10 Plus offers a long-lasting battery and launched with Android Pie it is going to receive Android 12 under Samsung’s promise of 3 years of guaranteed software support. Decent specifications list and OS support make the Galaxy S10 Plus a decent pick for under £400.
The iPhone X shifted the iPhone offering to a whole new level back in 2017, moving away from boring design upgrades year after year. It features a fantastic first-time-ever-on-an-iPhone OLED display, Face ID authentication technology, and a dual rear camera. The refurbished iPhone X features Super Retina OLED edge-to-edge display at 5.8 inches with a resolution of 2436 x 1125. The camera consists of a wide-angle 12 MP lens and a 12 MP telephoto lens with dual optical image stabilisation.
Since the iPhone X release, Apple has announced newer iPhones with more advanced cameras and processors, however the iPhone X is still an outstanding piece of hardware powered by A11 Bionic and on track to receive two more generations of iOS upgrades. We’re not surprised the iPhone X is the most popular refurbished device on our website. Comparing deals on a refurbished iPhone X will help you save a considerable amount of money and you can pocket yourself an unlocked iPhone X 64GB in Excellent condition for under £300.
The original iPhone SE was well received by the users and an upgraded version has been something smartphone enthusiasts have been asking for from Apple until April 2020 when Apple released the second generation of the iPhone SE. It packs the same powerful processor as iPhone 11 series, feels compact and offers a familiar look and feel. Nothing can compare to the good old Touch ID, right?
On the environmental side of things, the carbon footprint of the new iPhone SE 2020 hasn’t spiked too dramatically over its predecessor’s and compared to Apple’s current portfolio is one with the smallest lifetime CO2 emissions. On top of that, this model will receive as many software upgrades as the iPhone 11 lineup, serving its owner for a good three to four years from now and if you can save in the excess of £100 on the purchase, we think it’s a bargain.
The Galaxy S10e was Samsung’s first try at “budget flagships” and although Samsung decided not to upgrade the S10e model in the following years with a S20e or similar variant, the experiment resulted in Samsung releasing the Galaxy S20 Fan Edition to appeal to the customers who are after a flagship experience with competitive specs.
The specifications of the S10e don’t make you sacrifice performance over build quality as it comes with a premium Samsung OLED display at 5.8 inches with 2280 x 1080 resolution, a generous battery at 3,100 mAh. It features the same chipset as the S10 lineup, 6GB of RAM and up to 1TB of expandable internal storage. In order to achieve a greater depth in shots, Samsung fitted a 12MP wide angle lens with variable aperture F/1.5-2.4 with OIS and autofocus paired with a 16MP F/2.2 fixed focus ultra-wide lens.
The S10e also comes in vibrant colours and has a less curved screen which will appeal to those who find them inconvenient and trigger accidental touches. The Samsung Galaxy S10e did beat its rival in the budget flagship space - the iPhone XR hands down in 2018 and you’re new to the flagship experience and Android is your choice, then the S10e will be a superb handset. It’s worth keeping in mind that the S10e was first released in 2018 and it is expected to receive software updates for another 21 months.
When it was first announced, there was a lot of hype around the new and improved features of the iPhone 7, and even more around some of the features that Apple decided to leave behind. But this time has passed, and no headphone jack on an iPhone isn’t a big deal anymore.
With Apple releasing larger devices year after year, the iPhone 7 has cemented the compact phone spot in our hearts. Being one of the most popular headsets that get traded in daily on Compare and Recycle, it is also very popular among refurbished smartphone buyers as its a capable device expected to receive iOS 15 update and Apple’s generous software support makes it a budget friendly option for under £200.
The Galaxy S9 is a well-executed phone that was first to bring variable aperture into smartphone cameras. Super slow motion is one of the extras the S9 is equipped with and the 12 MP rear camera overall is great. The once-upon-a-time a flagship is powered by Exynos 9810 chipset, 4GB of RAM and up to 256GB expandable storage.
If you’re on a tight budget, the Galaxy S9 can be a good option, but keep in mind that Samsung has dropped software upgrades for this model since One UI 2.5 release which means that Android 10 is the last stable OS version for this device. The Galaxy S9 is now receiving only security updates which are going to be gradually terminated. So far in 2021 the Galaxy S9 has received its monthly security patches, but these will soon become available only once every quarter.
In the most comprehensive price tracking study that we have ever created, updated for 2021, we have looked at every iPhone recycling price since the iPhone 6 to understand what previous iPhone generations are worth now and how the upcoming iPhone 13 release will affect the value of older iPhones when you come to sell your iPhone.
Read on why we think that upgrading to a brand-new phone no longer makes sense.
Let's take a read of the Apple Environmental Reports