The Benefits of Buying a Refurbished Cell Phone


We live in a world of shiny new objects. Every week, it seems, some manufacturer is releasing a new, powerful Android handset. We’ve seen plenty already in 2012, and we know of many more to come. And then there’s Apple, which leaves us in suspense for its yearly iPhone release. These factors put a premium on brand new smarrtphones. But they might not be the best idea.

There are plenty of entanglements that come with a new cell phone. Thankfully, there are alternatives. From many carriers, and many more third-party retailers, you can find better deals with refurbished phones. There are plenty of upsides, while the downsides are mostly superficial and cosmetic.

1. You can get one without a contract

Your cell phone is more expensive than you think. U.S. smartphone users are accustomed to paying about $200 for each new phone they buy. That happens once every two years or so, since contracts last two years. The price and the contract are more intertwined than many people know. At retail, most smartphones cost in the $500 to $600 range. Cellular carriers offer such a steep discount so that customers will commit to two years. That’s predictable income for them.

Refurbished phones are often older models. Since they’re also used, they come at a steep discount. You can often buy one for less than the cost of a new, subsidized smartphone. That means you don’t have to sign a two-year contract, which gives you the freedom to change services if you aren’t happy. You’ll probably have to buy a new phone at your new carrier, but at least you won’t be stuck with your old one.

2. It can hold you over

Cell phones break. It’s just part of the risk involved. Some people nip that in the bud by purchasing insurance, but that’s not for everyone. It can cost upwards of $12 per month, which is just not something many people are willing to pay — that’s $288 over the course of a two-year contract. If you end up needing it, it’s worth it. But if you don’t, that’s $288 down the drain.

You might want to hold onto that money and buy a refurbished phone if yours ends up breaking. It might even cost you less than the $288 insurance. You’ll still be stuck in that two-year contract, but after it expires you can just go month-to-month with your refurbished phone. Or you can use your upgrade. You’re much more flexible when buying refurbished than you are when paying a monthly insurance fee.

3. It is adequate

Refurbished smartphones sometimes get a bum rap, because they are used cell phones. But that doesn’t make them poor replacements for new ones. In fact, many of them run like new. They’re sent back to the manufacturer or third-party repair service, and so they mostly come with a warranty. In many ways, a refurbished phone is just as good as a new one. It is, at the very least, and adequate solution if you’re looking for a decent phone at an affordable price.

It’s much like a used, or “preowned” car. Sure, we can go buy a new one, but that comes with entanglements. With cars it means finance charges. With cell phones it means contracts. Refurbished phones are adequate. They fulfill their purposes. Can you really ask more from an affordable smartphone?

They might not be your first choices, but refurbished smartphones can in many ways make life easier. They’re not as bright or shiny as a brand new Android or iPhone. But they get the job done just the same. When we’re shopping for technology, isn’t that the No. 1 consideration?

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