Refurbished smartphone: what you need to know to choose it well

Ordering a refurbished smartphone is more ecological and less expensive than buying it new. But it is not always easy to see clearly in this market. Here are some details to keep in mind before you get started.

Less expensive than a new device, more ecological, the advantages of refurbished smartphones are numerous. But before embarking on this type of purchase, you have to know what to look for.

The refurbished is different from the occasion

Often used to refer to the same thing, the terms “used” and “refurbished” actually cover slightly different sectors. Refurbished devices necessarily go through a company that will ensure that they are functional. A refurbished smartphone will go through tests to verify that the screen, speaker, or buttons are in good working order. It won’t necessarily be flawless, but it has to be functional.

The second-hand market refers to all devices that are resold after a first life. This even encompasses devices sold as is on LeBonCoin, hand to hand without any guarantees.

The refurbished is part of the second-hand sector, but meets more stringent requirements.

The aesthetic grade

All refurbished smartphones benefit from an “aesthetic grade”. One way to indicate to the public the general condition of the device. If the screen has scratches or if the shell has suffered impacts, for example. This aesthetic grade is displayed in several forms: letters (A, B, C) or more explicit with labels “good condition”, “very good condition” or “excellent condition”.

Unfortunately, there is no law governing this rating. It is up to the reconditioner to judge, ideally with as much good faith as possible, the aesthetic condition of the device. We are therefore forced to trust them, but aesthetic grades remain a means of having an idea of ​​what we are buying.

The origin of the device

The refurbished market, like the new one, is open to resellers from all walks of life. As a result, it is possible to buy (often for much less) refurbished gadgets from China.

Beyond the ecological contradiction (making a refurbished smartphone take a plane explodes its carbon footprint), buying devices from abroad can pose problems of guarantees or compatibility. A phone bought in China will, for example, not always be compatible with the French 4G frequency bands.

A piece of the Smaaart labs, a French reconditioner // Source: Smaaart

It is therefore advisable to always check the nationality of the dealer. On a site like BackMarket, this information is displayed on the page of each device. Buying from French or European resellers reduces the risks, in addition to being more ecological.


In addition to the legal guarantee of conformity and the guarantee against hidden defects, some refurbished smartphones are covered by a commercial guarantee offered by the reseller. This warranty can range from 6 to 24 months depending on the company.

If you want an additional safety net, it is therefore advisable to check if your dealer offers a commercial guarantee, in addition to the legal guarantees.

The price

It might sound silly, but before buying a refurbished device, it’s a good idea to compare the prices offered by different retailers. If a product is priced far below average, there may be a wolf.

Refurbished phones are often much cheaper than new ones, but they also follow market fluctuations. We must therefore take a look at the prices charged elsewhere, in order to avoid scams.

Note that reconditioned does not necessarily rhyme with “old models”. For example, we can easily find a refurbished version of the iPhone SE 2 or Pixel 5 which, in our opinion, ranks among the best smartphones of 2021.

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