Refurbished cell phones

When I look at Amazon and BestBuy, they each have a plethora of refurbished (read: used) cell phones for sale. I’ve never bought a phone without my old one being worthless, and I always buy new. Do that many people need a new phone every two years or so? Are they reliable? Do they come with a guarantee or new battery? What’s your advice.

I ask because I want to develop an app for an iPhone, but I’ve never had one before. Up to now, a $150 Android (new) does just fine by me and I don’t want to spend $800 for a phone.

I think it’s hard to say for sure because there are so many resellers of phones, but I just bought a refurbished iPad and I can’t detect a single flaw in it. It is truly like new, though it was refurbished by Apple and comes with a warranty. Most other places I’ve looked at have grades for their refurbished tablets/phones, so you can surely choose whether you’re fine with a dinged-up one or one that barely has a scratch.

And yes, people used to go through phones every two years. Major cell phone companies now have special plans for those who only keep their phones for two years. But I think this frequent changing of technology is becoming less common, now that people tend to pay $600 or more for a new phone, as opposed to $200 or so just a few years ago.

Every cell phone I’ve ever had I’ve purchased refurbished from E-bay. I just make sure that I use a seller with a very high rating. My phones are usually last years model and a fraction of the cost of new. They have all lasted me at least 2 to 3 years.

For me, it would depend on if the battery is replaced as part of the refurb. Last year’s models are probably good but something 2-3 years old might be getting to a point where capacity has degraded to an annoying level. YMMY, depends a bit on the habits of the prior owner.

I literally just got a used iPhone 8 from Best Buy a few days ago. Now that carriers aren’t really offering a heavily discounted phone with a two year contract anymore, I kind of balked at paying full price for a brand new phone, even an older model. Used ones were hundreds of dollars cheaper, and it’s unlocked. I’ve only been using it for a couple of days but it seems almost like new so far. The only downside is that it didn’t come with headphones like a new one from Apple would, and it came packaged with some cheap aftermarket charger rather than a genuine Apple one. But I just ordered a pair cheap Bluetooth headphones along with it, and I’ve got several Apple chargers laying around anyway.

Every smartphone I’ve ever had has ultimately become unusable when the battery no longer held a charge. And that almost always happens around the two year mark. So yeah, if “refurbish” includes a new battery, it could be a good deal. Otherwise, no.

But you can also find year-old models on eBay, but unused, new-in-box. So the technology is old, but the phone has no mileage on it. These, in my opinion, are the best deal around if you don’t need absolutely cutting-edge technology.

Beware of the Li-On battery. If those things are defective, or punctured, and start a fire, it’ll emit hydrofluoric acid fumes and you’ll be in for serious harm.

On the other hand, I’ve been using a device with a lithium battery daily for around seven years now. The time between recharges is much lower than when it was new, but it still works. I’d be much more worried about the remaining life on the USB port, as that is usually the first thing to run out of furb for me.

Sometimes they team up with refrigerators to kill you!

On a related note, I just saw this new article where Apple is continuing their long-standing policy of “whenever possible, be a dick.”

The last time I switched phones, in 2016, I went with the then-current Nexus 6P phone. The contract and the clerk clearly stated that I had a few days to change my mind (I think it was stated in terms of “30 minutes of talk or 20 megabytes of cell data, whichever comes first” – which is really silly when you think about it).

So anyway, I got home with the phone and found out that it didn’t have inductive charging like my previous phone, and I also determined that it was much larger than I thought. So the next day I brought it back to get another model instead.

The clerk filled out a form from a U.S. company that recycled electronics. They were sending the thousand-dollar phone to recycling.

Sorry, clicked Submit too soon. My point was that the phone probably wasn’t scrapped but the recycling company ended up selling it (along with 200 other returned Nexus 6Ps) as “refurbished” even though they were effectively brand-new.

In my case, I returned a phone I had picked in person, which made me feel pretty dumb. But many (most?) people get their phones from a Web site (Amazon or their cell company), so there must be a significant fraction of those that get returned and end up feeding the “refurbished” channel.

The last few phones my husband and I have bought have been refurbished (from Amazon), usually one model older than the current one. They’ve all come to us pristine and apparently brand new, and less than half the price of a new one. I suspect they’re customer returns, rather than used phones.

Sometimes USB ports do go bad, but sometimes they just get too gunked up. Before you write them off as having failed, get a toothpick and try to scrape the oil and dust and lint out of them.

Your next post: explaining to your grandmother how to suck eggs.

You know, the battery is usually pretty easy to replace, except on some of the later iPhones. Many phones you can just take to your local iFixIt or similar store and they’ll swap the battery with a new li-ion for like $100 or so, good for another 2 years ish.

I had an S4 for easily five years and the battery was fine, though I wore out the headphone jack and had to go to Bluetooth. We replaced our phones with refurbished S8s, worked perfectly and the Verizon store installed an app to move our data. We got them from Amazon.
Reviews are always a bit spotty since only people with problems post, but no problem at all. Who can afford to buy new these days?

I’m sorry if I offended you with my intended-to-be-helpful post. Somebody told me that a few years ago, which I hadn’t previously known, and I thought it might be of value to pass it along.

FWIW, in some USB failures I’ve had, one port had the “tongue” that supports the gold contacts broke off, one port had the wires lift from the “tongue” and squish against the back of the connector, and one entire port broke loose from the motherboard and was loose in the case. And I’ve spent much time attempting to clean out ports over and over, and attempting to hold cables just right in the one position in the port that charging still works using the one cable that it works with for long enough for the device to charge. (And even then, the charge might trickle down at a couple of hundred mAh, as shown by this essential-to-me-app.)