We all know that the prices of new high-end smartphones are increasing each year. This became clearer last September when Apple announced its flagship iPhone X priced at over £1000. Across the spectrum, monthly contracts for high-end handsets have increased in price.
However, something else is happening in the industry which is actually having the opposite effect. Because of this, more consumers are now upgrading to newer smartphones at heavily discounted prices. The secret is in how flexible you're willing to be when it comes to interpreting the word NEW.
The number of Refurbished handsets being sold is increasing. I decided to do some digging and was amazed by what I found out.
What does the term refurbished mobile phone actually mean?
At first, the term refurbished immediately leads one to believe that the phone was at some point broken and has since been repaired. However, that is not necessarily true and does not always mean something was broken or wrong with the handset when new. It usually just indicates that the phone has already been sold once as a new phone and was returned for whatever reason. This could be due to a minor technical fault or even something like a blemish on the casing which resulted in the first customer returning it to the manufacturer.
In this case, the manufacturer would repair the phone and re-deliver it to the supplier or re-sell direct but this time labelling it as a refurbished or reconditioned phone. There are different conditions of refurbished handsets ranging from "new" to used which vary slightly. To be considered "new" the phone should come with all the original packaging and be in pristine condition. A used handset, however, may not include the original packaging, headphones and other accessories. The hardware may contain some minor blemishes or signs of use but should nevertheless be in full working order.
Should you buy a refurbished phone?
After assessing a wealth of material online I have come up with four reasons I think you might buy only refurbished smart phones in the future. In an actual fact maybe this post should probably be entitled "Four reasons you'll now buy refurbished from now on". Anyhow, here is what you need to know.
1. Refurbished phones are just...cheaper, duh!
Well if you did not see that statement coming a mile off you must be the only one who didn't. Yes, they are not new but sometimes pre-owned and re-conditioned phones are like new. As soon as you open a brand new phone from the packaging it becomes pre-owned. Why not be smart? Next time, let someone take it out of the box first, then buy it afterwards for a significant discount.
I bought my old Xiaomi Mi 4i as a refurbished handset direct from Hong Kong in 2016 for only $100 US dollars. That was a big saving at the time. The phone was complete with packaging and the plastic wrapping around the user guide booklet and charger was still intact.
2. They come with a long warranty
It's not uncommon to consider purchasing a second-hand smartphone from a site like eBay or even finding one on your local Gumtree. Although sites like eBay offer the buyer protection and always decide in the buyers' favour, they do not supply warranties. For expensive purchases, you need to get a warranty included. Especially as the device may already have had some known issues or problems.
The good news is all refurbished phones from sites like Envirofone, Giff Gaff and Music Magpie come with a 12-month warranty. Long warranties have always been the reason to buy new. But now they are a reason to buy refurbished devices too!
3. You can EARN more money when trading in your old device
Sites such as Envirofone and Music Magpie offer discounted prices and incentives to users who recycle their old device when purchasing a newly refurbished device. Envirofone will pay you an extra 10% on top of the quoted recycling price if you also purchase a refurbished phone.
4. It pays to be patient when upgrading
If you want to upgrade to a new flagship handset the month, week or even day it is released then a refurbished handset isn't an option. It takes time for new handsets to trickle down through the system into the refurbished handsets market. I don't think however this is necessarily a negative point for everyone.
While waiting for your next dream handset to become available you have a chance to get real feedback from friends, family members and co-workers who purchased the handset new. It may be that the hype surrounding the next new Apple or Samsung device was just in fact hype after all.
It is not uncommon for us to be blown away by the specs but our perception quickly changes after a longer period of use. Suddenly, the remaining 11 months of that new contract start to feel very slow indeed.
Patience is completely the wrong word to use when describing the rate at which new smartphones are being developed and then consumed. However, if you can take advice from Take That and "...have a little patience", the wait might pay off!