Compare and Recycle

Busting 6 Common Myths About Refurbished Phones

Two men in a phone shop swapping mobile phones

Smartphones have become less affordable over the years and noticeably lack innovation to justify the high price tags. That’s why it isn’t surprising that more people have decided to look at buying a refurbished phone. However, there are quite a few myths surrounding them that push people away from making the choice to buy a refurbished phone. Customers tend to associate refurbished phones with old, broken or second-hand. But, these misconceptions exist due to the fact that there’s not enough information around to prove otherwise. So, we’ve decided to breakdown 6 common misconceptions about refurbished phones below.

In this article:

Myth One: Refurbished phones are not safe

Our verdict: False

Many regard refurbished phones as being unsafe in comparison to new phones which is a false belief. Refurbished phones remain supported by manufacturer software and security updates for the same time period as when buying new. Meaning your refurbished phone will receive manufacturer updates for as long as the model is supported.

iPhones will receive iOS updates for 5-6 years from the release date, whilst Android models will be updated for 2-4 years after launch depending on the manufacturer. Samsung has promised 4 years of OS support for its Galaxy lineup starting with 2021 models. Google software updates are getting better as well, with Pixel 6 lineup remaining supported until 2024.

Whenever you buy a phone, whether it be new or refurbished, it’s important to be aware of how long the manufacturer is committed to delivering operating system updates, so the use of your phone won't be at risk.

Relevant reading:

Myth Two: A refurbished phone is the same as a used phone

Our verdict: False

There are significant differences between a used phone and a refurbished phone and they are not the same thing.

  • Quality

Refurbished phone: Sold by a reseller, retailer or manufacturer, which means the phone will be graded, professionally repaired if needed, tested to ensure it is in fully working condition and data-wiped.

Used phone: Sold by its previous owner, which doesn’t guarantee its complete functionality, might come with faults, network or activation lock.

  • Warranty

Refurbished phone: Comes with at least 12-month warranty offering a peace of mind that it can be repaired in case over time it develops a functionality fault.

Used phone: Likely to have an expired warranty which can’t be renewed when the phone changes hands between owners.

  • After sale support

Refurbished phone: Offers return policies, customer support and full refunds in case you’re not happy with your purchase as well as proof of purchase.

Used phone: Buying on a peer-to-peer marketplace is an unregulated transaction and can be hit and miss with no contact, refund or support after the purchase.

Myth Three: Refurbished phones do not work as well as a new phone

Our verdict: False

Different studies have shown that the functionality of a refurbished phone is as good as a new one in terms of battery life and launching apps happens just as fast or marginally slower which is hardly noticeable. Battery health of refurbished phones is at least at 80% of its original capacity and before being available to buy, refurbished phones go through a rigorous testing process to check for any issues or faulty parts which are replaced if required. As we mentioned previously, refurbished phones have return policies provided by the retailer which helps if you’re not happy with the phone received and gives you the option to return or exchange it.

Myth Four: A refurbished phone is not original and may have been stolen

Our verdict: False

Another belief surrounding refurbished phones is that the phone sold is not an original unit and could have been stolen. This is not true - these devices are genuine Apple or Android models that have been legally purchased from their previous owner, an insurance company or retailer.

Upon the purchase, IMEI numbers of these units are checked against the blacklist database to ensure they haven’t been reported as lost or stolen, because this will render the device unusable. If a phone needs a refurbishment of some level, genuine parts are used to ensure compatibility and functionality.

We know how important it is to buy refurbished phones from a reputable retailer, that’s why in our Refurbished Phones Explained guide we list retailers that are trusted and are safeguard buyers of any risk.

Relevant reading:

Myth Five: You never know what quality refurbished phone you will receive

Our verdict: False

Refurbished phones are graded depending on their cosmetic condition in order to indicate the physical appearance of the phone. When buying a refurbished phone, paying attention to the listed condition is important, because it determines what the buyer will expect when the phone arrives.

Refurbished phone retailers recommended by Compare and Recycle grade refurbished phones from Pristine (almost like new) to Average (with noticeable wear and tear) in order to manage buyer expectations. Prices on refurbished phones will vary depending on the condition of the phone, so you can choose to go for a lower grade to save more.

Myth Six: Refurbished phones are not much cheaper

Our verdict: False

Refurbished phones are sold at much lower prices than brand new phones. This is because of lower production costs as they don’t need to be manufactured from scratch, rather than due to lower quality.

This also means that choosing a refurbished phone over a brand new smartphone saves 77.59kg of carbon dioxide.

At Compare and Recycle you can save at least 20% when buying a refurbished phone compared to a brand new model, and the savings can reach up to 50%. It means you could save between £100 and £200 on a phone that wouldn’t be much different from a newly manufactured one.


Getting a refurbished phone doesn’t just save money, but also helps to keep valuable components and materials in circulation. Besides, you can sell your old phone and get some extra money to help with the purchase of your new phone. When purchasing a refurbished iPhone or Android, you will get a fully functional phone with the same features and specifications as a new one. When you’re looking at which refurbished phone to choose, it is important to do your research and not fall for false information.


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