How one can purchase a secondhand smartphone – and what to look out for | Cell phones

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Smartphones are a key a part of trendy life however with costs routinely in extra of £1,000 for the most recent high-end handsets, must you be contemplating cheaper secondhand or refurbished fashions as a substitute?

These have the potential to be good to your pockets and the planet, as any system that’s given a second life as a substitute of being recycled reduces its lifetime environmental influence and, with it, your footprint.

Amongst these more likely to be mulling over their cell phone choices in the intervening time are many dad and mom of youngsters going again to high school after the summer season break. Beginning secondary college particularly is historically a time when many children obtain their first – or an upgraded – telephone.

However when shopping for secondhand, there are some potential pitfalls to keep away from, so right here’s what that you must know to seize your self a cut price.

Secondhand, preowned or refurbished?

Second-hand smartphones come in a plethora of different types, conditions and prices.
Secondhand smartphones are available a plethora of various sorts, situations and costs. Simply keep away from these marked ‘for spares or restore’. {Photograph}: Damien Meyer/AFP through Getty Photographs

There are a number of several types of secondhand telephone. There are the preowned or used telephones which are offered on when not wished, sometimes through web sites similar to eBay or sure excessive avenue retailers.

Then there are these which are refurbished or reconditioned, which broadly are available two differing kinds: manufacturer-refurbished and retailer-refurbished.

The primary is a tool that has been totally reconditioned to be “as new”, sometimes together with a brand new battery and sometimes a brand new outer casing. These are the costliest kind of secondhand telephone and often include new equipment and a full guarantee. Should you simply need a new telephone with a decrease environmental footprint than brand-new, that is the choice to go for.

Retailer-refurbished gadgets are a step down. They’re secondhand telephones which have been examined to test they work and repaired if crucial however they range in situation. There are an incredible many extra retailer-refurbished fashions, and they’re sometimes cheaper than manufacturer-refurbished telephones. They’re usually offered utilizing grades, which describe the exterior situation of the telephone.

Whereas the grades of secondhand telephones should not authorized definitions and subsequently range between retailers, right here’s what you may roughly count on:

  • Grade A – nearly equivalent in situation to a brand new telephone with out marks on the skin, usually with the unique field and equipment. These are sometimes buyer returns relatively than trade-ins.

  • Grade B – in full working order however not in excellent nick. Sometimes there might be mild scratches, dents or nicks. They could include authentic equipment.

  • Grade C – in full working order however visibly worn and sometimes offered with out their authentic equipment.

  • Grade D – often known as “for spares and repairs” or comparable. These are damaged gadgets offered for individuals to repair or intestine for elements.

If you’re desirous about a telephone to your youngster, some would argue that it is best to get them an inexpensive handset that isn’t going to draw consideration and enchantment to thieves.

Dad and mom usually use returning to high school as a chance to improve their very own telephone and move on their well-used handset to their youngster, and in lots of circumstances that could be one of the best wager so long as it’s nonetheless supported with safety updates – though many children would likely have one thing to say about that.

What protections do you get?

Beware any private sale that doesn’t have a thorough description of the condition of the phone or show a picture of the screen.
Beware any non-public sale that doesn’t have an intensive description of the situation of the telephone or present an image of the display. {Photograph}: Paul Airs/Alamy

Secondhand non-refurbished telephones are sometimes the most affordable however be very cautious when shopping for from non-public sellers as your authorized protections are completely different to buying with a enterprise.

A personal vendor should not misrepresent the telephone however they don’t have to reveal faults both. They’re unlikely to offer a guaranty however you’ll be nonetheless lined by any producer’s guarantee that’s left – until, say, the earlier proprietor had a restore performed that voided it. It’s also value making certain that the telephone you’re shopping for isn’t stolen by checking its 15-digit identification quantity, referred to as the IMEI, in opposition to a database of stolen telephones by way of a service similar to CheckMEND or comparable.

Be sure you examine any listings rigorously, learn opinions or suggestions of the vendor and ask questions if unsure.

Your rights when shopping for secondhand or refurbished from a enterprise are much like when shopping for new. Underneath the Client Rights Act 2015, you could have 30 days to return the telephone if it isn’t as described or match for goal, and if the telephone develops a fault inside six months, it’s as much as the retailer to show it was fault-free when offered. Retailers will sometimes present a 12-month or longer guarantee, too, and you should still be lined by the unique producer’s guarantee, if there’s any remaining.

What to look out for

The charging port is one of the few wear points on a modern smartphone, so check its condition.
The USB-C or Lightning charging port is without doubt one of the few put on factors on a contemporary smartphone, so test its situation. {Photograph}: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

When shopping for a secondhand or refurbished telephone, there are some things to maintain an eye fixed out for:

  • Battery well being Batteries put on out sooner than the remainder of the telephone, sometimes solely sustaining as much as 80% of their authentic capability after 500 full-charge cycles, or about two years charging each evening. Has it been changed?

  • Charging port Verify for indicators of harm because the charging port might be one of many first elements to wear down or break.

  • Buttons Verify all of the buttons work, even once you don’t press too onerous, as a defective button may render the telephone very troublesome to make use of and could also be costly to repair.

  • Community locks Verify the telephone works with the cell phone supplier of your selection as some smartphones are initially offered locked to sure suppliers and should be unlocked earlier than getting used on one other.

  • Repairs utilizing unauthorised elements Not all repairs are performed by the producer or utilizing licensed elements, which may trigger issues.

The place to purchase

CeX is one of a handful of second-hand goods stores still on the high street that has a range of used smartphones both in-store and online.
CeX is one among a handful of secondhand items shops nonetheless on the excessive avenue that has a spread of used smartphones in-store and on-line. {Photograph}: Artur Widak/NurPhoto/Rex/Shutterstock

The patron physique Which? printed an article final month that mentions various names together with the secondhand items chain CeX and the retailer Recreation.

The latter’s web site this week featured a spread of refurbished handsets from corporations similar to Apple and Samsung. Recreation says it conducts 20 checks on all its refurbished telephones, and that each one preowned handsets include a 12-month guarantee.

Additionally talked about by Which? is Envirofone, one of many best-known names on this sector, which says it shares “a colossal vary of refurbished telephones at a fraction of excessive avenue costs” and in addition supplies a 12-month guarantee. This week its web site was itemizing telephones made by Apple, Google, OnePlus, Samsung and Sony, amongst others. Envirofone’s authentic guardian firm, Redeem, went into administration in July final yr however the UK property, together with the Envirofone model, had been shortly snapped up by the IT group TES.

One other well-known vendor of refurbished smartphones is the web site musicMagpie, which once more presents a 12-month guarantee. It says it’s “one of many UK’s largest sellers of refurbished iPhones, with over 150,000 gadgets offered a yr”.

Again Market, in the meantime, is basically a market for smaller refurbishers, and its web site was this week itemizing greater than 1,300 smartphones with a mean worth of £228. It presents a “12-month minimal” guarantee.

When wanting into retailers and web sites, try the opinions on websites similar to Trustpilot. On Trustpilot this week, Envirofone, musicMagpie and Again Market all had “wonderful” scores of 4.6 to 4.7, whereas CeX had a rating of 4.3.

Which? factors out that along with the varied retailers and web sites, most main UK networks may also have offers on refurbished handsets, though you’ll be tied right into a contract with that community.

Beware outdated telephones

The iPhone 6 may still work just fine, but its software is no longer supported and therefore vulnerable to security bugs that make it a risk to use.
The iPhone 6 should work tremendous however its software program is
not supported and subsequently susceptible to safety bugs that make it a threat to make use of.
{Photograph}: Michaela Rehle/Reuters

One of many largest issues with shopping for secondhand or refurbished fashions is that smartphones have a restricted software program help life.

Disappointingly, most producers will solely present updates for his or her smartphones for 3 years from launch – not from the purpose you purchase it. The exceptions are Samsung, which supplies at the least 4 years of updates for a wide range of its flagship and mid-range smartphones launched since 2019, and Apple, which generally helps all of its smartphones for at the least 5 years from launch.

Smartphones comprise a treasure trove of knowledge relating to each side of contemporary life, so that you shouldn’t be utilizing a mannequin that not receives updates as it will likely be susceptible to hackers.

“Malicious actors have gotten higher at exploiting gadgets left to age with out safety, and this isn’t one thing to be taken evenly,” says Jake Moore, a cybersecurity specialist on the web safety and antivirus firm ESET.

“Cellphone updates do way over many individuals might ever realise, as they patch a number of bugs within the background which have come to the eye of builders. As soon as safety updates are not relevant, your telephone enters a hazard zone, making it a case of not if however when.” Unpatched gadgets stay susceptible to issues similar to knowledge theft and different severe points.

Earlier than shopping for a secondhand smartphone, discover out when it was first launched and the way lengthy it should obtain updates for as many two-year-old smartphones may successfully solely be protected to make use of for a single yr.

Earlier than you begin utilizing a preowned telephone

Make sure the phone you’ve bought has been factory reset to erase all previous data and allow you to set it up as new.
Be sure that the telephone you could have purchased has been manufacturing facility reset to erase all earlier knowledge and will let you set it up as new. {Photograph}: Kiichiro Sato/AP

If you find yourself shopping for a preowned or used telephone, the UK’s Nationwide Cyber Safety Centre presents recommendation about what to do earlier than you begin utilizing it.

It says it’s a good suggestion to erase all the non-public knowledge on it (in fact, this will have already been performed) by performing a “manufacturing facility reset”. This reset will delete the earlier proprietor’s knowledge and settings, together with messages, contacts, images, looking historical past, wifi codes, passwords and any apps they put in. This may also guarantee your telephone is in the very best state earlier than you begin utilizing it.

Nonetheless, in the event you purchase a secondhand telephone that’s not refurbished, that you must be sure that it doesn’t have an activation lock nonetheless on it. All Apple telephones and most good Android telephones can’t be arrange once more after a manufacturing facility reset until the telephone has been faraway from the earlier proprietor’s account and the activation lock has been deactivated. It’s a system that stops thieves resetting stolen telephones and promoting them on.

The moral and repairable various

If you want the most ethical new smartphone you can buy, the Fairphone 3+ is it.
In order for you probably the most moral new smartphone you should buy, the Fairphone 3+ is it. {Photograph}: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

In case your motivation for getting a refurbished telephone is extra to do with the atmosphere than the worth, the Fairphone 3+ is a viable various, costing £399.

Made by a Dutch social enterprise from recycled supplies, Fairtrade gold and conflict-free minerals, the Fairphone 3+ is probably the most moral smartphone you should buy. It has a user-replaceable battery, similar to the great outdated days, and is made from modular elements that you would be able to swap out your self with the included screwdriver if one thing breaks. It is going to even get 5 years of software program help from launch, that means it is best to get at the least 4 extra years of use.

Prime picks and the way a lot they price

If you’re satisfied {that a} refurbished telephone is for you, be sure to store round and purchase direct from a good retailer similar to Apple, a cell phone community similar to O2 or a specialist refurbisher similar to musicMagpie. Listed below are my picks of the at present obtainable fashions.

iPhone 11 Professional

iPhone 11 pro
The iPhone 11 Professional was the decide of 2019’s Apple smartphone lineup and is accessible refurbished direct from the producer. {Photograph}: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

Worth: £759

In order for you a manufacturer-refurbished iPhone, the Apple refurbished retailer is the one place to get them. Inventory varies, with one of the best obtainable on the time of writing being 2019’s iPhone 11 Professional at £759 with 64GB of storage. On the time of its launch in September 2019, it price £1,049 and was one of the best small telephone obtainable. It has a 5.8in display, 12-megapixel triple rear digital camera, affordable battery life when new, and Face ID face recognition.

It is going to most likely obtain software program updates till at the least September 2024 – and possibly past that date – that means you’ll get three-plus years out of it. Observe that it doesn’t have 5G.

iPhone SE (2020)

iphone se 2020
The iPhone SE (2020) was unbeatable worth when new and is simply as a lot of a cut price refurbished. {Photograph}: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

Worth: £248-£320

The perfect-value Apple telephone is the iPhone SE (2020), which nonetheless has an older design however was launched in April 2020 and will
obtain updates till at the least September 2025.

It was an absolute cut price when new, costing £399 for 64GB, and matching the iPhone 11 on processor and software program. It has a relatively small 4.7in display, the old-style iPhone dwelling button with Contact ID fingerprint scanner, a day’s battery (when new) and a easy 12-megapixel digital camera on the again.

Buying round, you will discover it retailer-refurbished for as little as £248, with “pristine” examples across the £320 mark. You need to get at the least 4 years of software program updates. The battery may be changed by Apple for £49 to maintain it going longer down the street. Observe that it doesn’t have 5G.

Samsung Galaxy S10e

samsung galaxy s10e
The Galaxy S10e was Samsung’s smaller and cheaper 2019 mannequin however will nonetheless get at the least 4 years of updates from launch. {Photograph}: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

Worth: £170-£300

The most effective-value retailer-refurbished Android telephones is the Samsung Galaxy S10e. It was good on launch in March 2019, that includes a smaller design, a extra dependable conventional fingerprint scanner and an honest digital camera on the again.

New, it had a day’s battery, stable efficiency and display. Samsung’s four-year software program replace coverage means it ought to obtain help till at the least March 2023, that means it is best to get about two years use out of it. Costs vary from about £170 to £305 for pristine examples. A battery alternative by Samsung will price £99, or about £60 at third-party restore outlets.


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