If money’s tight -and it is for most people at the moment – then a cheaper way to get yourself a new phone is to buy a refurbished one. It’s much cheaper than buying a new phone, but comes with the huge benefit of a warranty, which means peace of mind.
Plus, it’s good for the environment, compared to buy a new phone, which makes it the greener choice.
Now’s a good time of the year to buy one because you can get extra money off because of the sales.
Of course, you won’t find the very latest models available refurbished and, if you do, they’ll be almost as expensive as brand new models. The best deals you will find are on older phones, such as the iPhone 13 and Samsung Galaxy S21. You can also find deals on refurbished Samsung Galaxy S22 phones, with big savings compared to buying one new.
Prices vary a lot depending upon condition and, because they’re refurbished, there isn’t endless stock of phones in every condition and every colour.
This means that if you see a deal you like, don’t wait: someone else could snap it up.
Where to find refurbished phone deals in the UK (SIM-free)
Here are the best places to browse for a refurbished phone, along with any promotions you might be able to use:
Where to buy refurbished phones on contract
You can also get refurbished handsets on a monthly contract (and sometimes buy them outright) from network operators including:
Where to find refurbished phone deals in the US (SIM-free)
Here are the best places to buy a refurb phone in the US.
Best refurbished phone deals in the UK
Apple iPhone 12 (64GB) – Good condition
This refurbished iPhone 12 in Good condition is over £400 cheaper than when it originally launched – it was £799 back in 2020.
Reasons to buy from UR includes a free case, glass screen protector, a 12-month warranty and 12 months of insurance against theft and accidental damage.
Apple iPhone 11 (64GB) – Good condition
One of the most affordable refurbished iPhone deals on a model still worth buying: this iPhone 11 in ‘Good’ condition is a solid deal if you don’t mind some noticeable wear and tear.
You get a 12-month warranty as well, so you’re covered if anything goes wrong. Plus, giffgaff offers the option of paying monthly for two years (with a £25 upfront cost) if you can’t afford to buy it outright.
Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max – 128GB – Excellent condition
It may now be two years old, but the iPhone 12 Pro Max is still an excellent phone. And this chunky discount from Amazon Renewed is pretty appealing.
Apple iPhone 12 mini (64GB) – Good condition
This price is for a Good condition model, which means noticeable wear and tear, but you’re saving almost £240 compared to the iPhone 12 mini’s original RRP.
Plus, UR provides a case, glass screen protector, a 12-month warranty and 12 months of insurance against theft and accidental damage.
Samsung Galaxy S21 5G (128GB) – Fair condition
The price on last year’s Galaxy S21 has dropped a long way now that the S22 range has arrived – and you can save even more when you buy refurbished.
When we checked, a few colours were in stock and, in Fair condition, the price is very attractive indeed.
Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max – 64GB – Good condition
The iPhone 11 Pro Max is no longer available from Apple, but cost £1149 at release, which means this deal saves you over £800 on an unlocked, refurbished phone in ‘Good’ condition.MusicMagpie offers free delivery and a 12-month warranty.
In order to get this price enter the code Save10 at the checkout. It’s valid until 31 January.
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 – Good condition
The Z Flip 3 is one of the most popular clamshell-style folding phones. This one is in ‘Good’ condition, which means noticeable signs of use.
But you get a 12-month warranty and at least 80% of the original battery capacity.
What do refurbished grades mean?
Each retailer has its own grading system, which means a ‘Good’ condition phone from one might be in very different condition to a ‘Good’ phone bought from another.
That’s why it’s crucial to read the description of what each grade means on the retailer’s website.
Some start their grading at ‘Good’ (which means the worst condition they sell) and go up to Excellent or Like New.
Others are more honest, calling phones with obvious signs of wear and tear ‘Fair’ condition. Others still use A, B, C or other systems that aren’t so descriptive
Refurbished vs second-hand or used – what’s the difference?
There’s a difference between buying refurbished and simply buying second-hand. While refurbished devices are technically pre-owned, they are repaired and reconditioned to work like new. Buying a second-hand phone, however, means you get the device as is, which means the lifespan may not last as long.
Refurbished phones often come with a one-year warranty no matter where you buy from – in fact, we’d urge you to take a look at the warranty policy before you buy. Ensure there is one!
Read our guide to Refurbished vs Used, where we look at which is better and why.
If you’d still prefer to buy new, but are on a budget, read our round-up of the best budget phones.