What Is a Reconditioned Cellphone?

By Jo Jackson

Once a cell phone has been returned it cannot be resold as a new phone.
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A reconditioned, or refurbished, cellphone is a pre-owned phone that has been returned either because the buyer changed their mind during the first 30 days after purchase, or because it had some sort of defect. These phones are brought back to as-new condition and are fully tested before being sold as a reconditioned phone. You will find these phones on most carriers’ websites and at eBay and Amazon.

Factory-Reconditioned Cellphones

Factory-reconditioned cellphones have been refurbished by the original manufacturer, such as Sony or Nokia. They may have been returned with defects like scratches, cracked screens or problem buttons. The company replaces any broken or damaged components and restores them in compliance with their production standards. Older models are often completely restructured with a new microprocessor and new casing. They will be sold with warranties and sometimes even include accessories and user manuals.

Standard or Vendor-Reconditioned Phones

Cellphones are sometimes reconditioned by someone other than the manufacturer. Although they will try and restore them to the original condition, they may not be to full manufacturer's specifications or inspected by certified inspectors. Because of this, it is better to purchase a factory-reconditioned phone. If you decide to buy a standard refurbished phone, make sure you get a warranty, and check the company has a good reputation and track record.

Pros of a Reconditioned Cellphone

The major advantage of buying a reconditioned cell phone is the cost savings over buying the same model new. You can buy a top-of-the-line reconditioned phone for the same or less as an everyday phone bought new. Make sure you get a warranty. Another advantage of a reconditioned phone is it is environmentally friendly. It is a form of recycling that reduces the number of cellphones going into landfills.

Cons of a Reconditioned Cellphone

Warranties on reconditioned phones are generally not as long as for new phones. New phones often have a one-year warranty, while a refurbished one may have 90 days. It is important to test your phone fully when you get it and check that everything works, such as the camera, and the sound is at a suitable level. Some refurbished phones are locked to a particular network, which means you will not be able to switch carriers easily.