Buying a Refurbished Device Saves Just Makes Sense

With these tips you can purchase a recently-released smartphone or tablet at a great price.

Oct 29, 2020

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It’s almost impossible to get by these days without a smartphone; and with all the instant benefits at your fingertips, it's harder to refuse one too. Need a recipe? Voilà! Want to check up on grandma? No problem!

However, the newest versions of our favorite electronic devices are also more expensive and unsustainable than ever before, which begs the question; should you buy a refurbished device instead of a new one? Refurbished devices, according to The Verge are pre-owned electronics that have been repaired, renewed, and tested in order to be resold. Some have been returned and are still in their original untouched condition. 

There are many reasons to buy refurbished goods. Chief among them is the desire to purchase a relatively new device at a cheaper price. According to Digital Trends, refurbished goods can be discounted by up to 50 percent of the original price. Buying refurbished also enables one to purchase goods that are out-of-stock and that aren’t tied into expensive contracts, which minimizes long-term costs as well. 

Additionally, a growing group of concerned consumers prefer purchasing refurbished electronics because it minimizes the social and environmental impacts associated with new devices. Research from McMaster University and published in the Journal of Cleaner Production found that the carbon footprint of devices is growing at a very fast pace.

Apple, for example, has disclosed that its iPhone 7 Plus emits approximately 10 percent more carbon emissions than its iPhone 6, according to Fast Company. Another reason that new phones are more environmentally damaging than older ones is due to the rare sourced minerals needed to make the device. The mining of these minerals’ accounts for 85-95 percent of the overall cellphone’s carbon footprint.

Still,  with all these reasons to purchase refurbished, people are justifiably concerned that their product will be sold in poorer condition than a new one. But this is not necessarily the case since many refurbished phones go through a meticulous repair – sometimes with original and authentic components – and can be restored to near-perfect condition. 

There are a number of ways to verify that a refurbished good has been properly restored and is worth purchasing.  One of the best ways to verify is to buy through a credible and authenticated source such as Amazon Warehouse, Google Refurbished, Apple, and others. These suppliers ensure rigorous testing before being sold, and will often come with a good warranty, which The Verge suggests is one of the most important things to look for when buying a refurbished product. 

Buying from the original manufacturer who has access to authentic materials and original accessories is the best way. Many third-party companies who specialize in refurbished products can supply reliable devices too, but make sure to look for proper documentation or an “open box” which means that someone returned the product in the original packaging after minimal use. 

By doing some research and sharing successful experiences, consumers can take back power away from massive corporations and back into a circular framework that is more sustainable and more cost-effective.  As the second-hand and upcycled culture gets richer, more consumers find that they can get good quality products at great prices, which is a mini consumer revolution in the making! 

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HILLA BENZAKEN, CONTRIBUTOR
Hilla Benzaken is a dedicated optimist. Her happy place involves cooking, acting, gardening, and fighting for social justice. She writes about all things sustainability, innovation, and DIY.