What is the difference between a Refurbished and Second-hand Phone?

Updated: Apr 18

We understand that on our site we have used the words ‘refurbished phones’ and ‘second-hand’ phones quite a few times. But what do they mean? Are they the same thing? They are aren’t they? Well, no, not exactly. We think we should explain to you exactly what the difference (and similarities) are, and what the simple definition of each one actually is. You would probably want to know which one is better, and which one you should buy to get yourself the best deal, so we will throw that information in for you as well! Lucky you!

Refurbished Phones

Refurbished phones refers to the phones that have previously been owned by someone else from new, before being sold on to someone else. However, before being sold on, they have been fixed, updated or modified, to make the phone more desirable for the new user. This could, for example, include having a new battery, a new screen or home button. A phone can be refurbished to get the new user to enjoy a previously owned phone, with the sense of having a brand new one.

They should always be cheaper than the brand-new version of the phone, which is a huge positive, as they are often of the very same high quality (obviously depending on the retailer). It is thought that refurbished phones could at least be 30% cheaper than their never before used counterparts. As we briefly already mentioned, refurbished phones are often a very high-quality phone, except from maybe the odd and very occasional exception, for example, they might have one tiny weeny mark on the back of it.

The negative thing to think about when it comes to refurbished phones, is that there are no restrictions, or a particular standard the phone has to reach when it comes to selling, so you have to make sure you know who the seller is OR know that the seller is a registered business. Here at Ontaria Mobile, you can see exactly how we grade our refurbished phones, so there are no hidden surprises!

Refurbished phones, although cheaper than brand new phones, are, however, most likely to be more expensive than second-hand phones, and there might not be that much difference in what you are buying. We don’t class this issue as a positive or a negative. This could see you save huge amounts of money! How does that work?! For example, you could find yourself buying a refurbished phone which is the same price as your average second-hand version. You have to have a good eye for these things (average prices for refurbished AND second-hand phones) when you’re looking!

So why are second-hand phones cheaper?

Second-hand Phones

Quite simply, they are used phones which haven’t been fixed, modified or altered with in any way, and they can be sold to anyone in the condition they are if they are described that way. Is this a bad thing. No way!

First of all, whether the second-hand phone is in great or poor condition, you are looking at great prices, especially compared to the brand-new counterpart. The even better news is that, sometimes, they are in as good condition as a refurbished (or even brand-new) phone. That being said, this is not always the case, and if you don’t research what you are buying correctly, you could find yourself buying something for way too much money that is not worth it.

To make sure that you get the best deal, we recommend that you double check the item and ask any questions you have to the retailer first. Ensure that you can see as many pictures as possible if the second-hand phone is from an auction site. If you are buying from an independent E-Commerce store (Like ourselves!) You can always ask for specific pictures before your purchase. We will be more than happy to show you more, and other companies should too.


In short, a refurbished phone is a used phone which has been upgraded (for example, having a new screen or battery) and a second-hand phone is a used phone which has not had any modifications to it.

But is one better than the other?

No. We don’t believe that there is, because every single phone is different and each phone, whether refurbished or second-hand is different. It really depends on your specific deal and where you are buying the phone from.

We always, always, recommend you being confident in what you’re buying and have all the facts!

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