Refurbished Smartphone Buyer's Guide: Choosing the Right Phone For Your Needs

Choosing the right refurbished smartphone isn’t always easy. The problem isn’t a lack of decent options but having so many that just going online can send you into choice overload. Whether you’re dedicated to Apple’s iPhone, love Samsung Galaxy or prefer Google Pixel, there are certain factors that most people look for when smartphone shopping: excellent camera quality, long battery life and a large amount of storage, among others.

There’s a lot that comes down to personal preference, too: iOS vs. the Android operating system, design features, specs like headphones and audio jacks. Most people’s purchasing choices are driven by their preference for their favourite brand, yet even that doesn’t guarantee your choice will be an easy one. When you go online shopping for refurbished phones from any brand, you’ll find a mixture of old and new, flagship and entry-level and more.

From a second-hand smartphone’s lifespan to its operating system and price, here are the most important qualities to look for when buying a refurbished phone.

Buying a Refurbished Phone vs. Second-hand or Used Phone

Choosing the right refurbished smartphone means finding exactly what you want from a sea of options that can feel almost limitless. But if you haven’t heard of refurbished smartphones before, you may be wondering how they’re different from other second-hand and used phones.

Unlocked, affordable and environmentally friendly, refurbished devices are electrical goods like smartphones, laptops and tablets that a professional has restored to full working order. A refurbishing specialist will buy a second-hand smartphone, perform a factory reset and make sure every component on the smartphone, from the camera to the battery life, still works.

Like used or second-hand smartphones, refurbished smartphones are more affordable than store-bought models. But unlike regular used smartphones, refurbished phones typically come with guarantees of quality and warranties in case anything goes wrong.  

Buying a refurbished phone instead of a new one is better for your hip pocket, better for the environment and provides you with the high standards of quality you’d expect. But when you start to explore all the options out there, choosing the right refurbished smartphone can turn into a tricky decision.

Factors to Consider When Buying a Refurbished Smartphone

Two men holding a phone in their hands each with man point at the other screen.

Here’s a short list of the most important things to look out for when you go smartphone shopping.

Operating Systems

The iOS vs. Android debate is a famous one, but there are even more operating systems to consider when you’re choosing the right smartphone. Select Google Pixel devices run on Graphene OS, which focuses on strong privacy and security. Huawei developed its own Android operating system HarmonyOS, which has its own unique native app ecosystem. Deciding what you value most in an operating system, whether that’s useability, support or choice in apps, will help you decide which smartphone is best for you.

Battery Life

The longer a smartphone’s battery lasts, the better. Smartphone manufacturers know how important this aspect is to most buyers and have been working to improve their battery tech in each new generation of their flagship smartphones. Sometimes you may decide to compromise on battery life for the affordability of buying an older smartphone. The choice is yours, and there’s a lot to choose from.

Camera Quality

These days, most people’s first choice of camera is on their smartphone. Phone manufacturers work hard to bring the latest and greatest in photo quality and camera tech (including machine learning) to the public. Brands like Apple, Samsung Galaxy and Google Pixel lead the pack. The best smartphone cameras maintain top-notch photo quality in a variety of lighting conditions. New developments in AI and processing power are pushing the limits of what smartphone cameras are capable of, and the best brands are riding the wave of that.  

Display & Appearance

The look and style of your smartphone and its screen specs are more factors that come down to your personal preference. Yet one thing’s for sure: your smartphone’s screen is an important factor in buying a refurbished phone. You spend so much time looking at it that it really should be one of your main concerns. Samsung’s Super AMOLED screens offer striking levels of vibrancy, while Apple’s OLED displays are well-known for their high levels of brightness, accurate colour ranges and sharp contrast.


Your smartphone’s memory is how much storage space the manufacturer has included on the smartphone. While 64GB has become the standard for many smartphones, you may want to go for 128GB instead if you regularly stream movies and TV shows.


Connectivity is an important factor when choosing the right refurbished smartphone: connectivity to other devices, Bluetooth, wireless networks, portable Wi-Fi hotspots and more. It’s almost best to check how connected a smartphone is before you buy, so that you can stay connected on the go.

A Guide to Buying Quality Refurbished Phones

If your new second-hand smartphone’s lifespan and the quality of your experience are important to you (as they should be), here are some other important points to consider.

Check Warranty

One thing that makes buying a refurbished phone different to shopping for a regular used smartphone is the guarantee of a warranty. You can refund or exchange a refurbished phone if something goes well. The same can’t be said for a lot of used phones. But as always, it’s important to check the details of the warranty.

Check Customer Reviews

It’s easy to find customer reviews on sources like Google these days. Reading up on the retailer you’re buying from will give you a good idea of a second-hand smartphone’s lifespan and general quality.

Check Return Policy

Can you refund your smartphone if you don’t get what you ordered? It’s worth checking that out before you commit to a purchase.  

Ensure The Price is Right

Choosing the right refurbished smartphone often involves striking a balance between features, quality, the condition the device is in and that all-important one: affordability. Is the phone within your budget, or are you prepared to pay a little more for the quality?

Ensure The Phone is Unlocked

When you buy a regular used smartphone, there’s no guarantee it isn’t still locked to a particular provider. Refurbished smartphones, on the other hand, tend to come unlocked and ready to use. All you have to do is insert your SIM card.

Buy Quality Refurbished Smartphones at OzMobiles

A woman holding her phone and a pen in the other hand with a book open in front of her while she is smiling.

A big part of choosing the right refurbished smartphone is finding a trustworthy seller to buy it from. OzMobiles has refurbished iPhones, Samsung Galaxy smartphones and other Android smartphones that have been tested and repaired to the highest standards of quality.

OzMobiles sells second-hand refurbished smartphones with lifespans you can count on, thanks to our detailed refurbishment process. We test every device we sell using our Blancco testing software to make sure every component meets the high standards you’d expect in Australia. This includes battery life, which we make sure is at least at 80%. Every device we sell on our website is 100% fully functional and comes with a 12-month warranty and a 30-day money-back guarantee.

For help choosing the right refurbished smartphone or if you have any questions about refurbished smartphones, contact the OzMobiles team

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