Are you in the market for a new smartphone, laptop, or tablet? Whether you’re looking to save a few dollars or take a step toward reducing e-waste, opting for a “new-to-you” device instead of a brand new one can make a big difference.

refurbished vs used

When you start shopping online, you’re likely to find pre-owned devices described in a variety of ways. Two of the most common descriptors are “used” and “refurbished”.

What’s the difference between refurbished vs. used products, and is there any reason that you should buy one over the other? We answer all your questions below in this quick guide to bargain electronics.

What Is a Used Product?

A used device is one that’s had a previous owner. Depending on the seller, this can mean anything from a brand-new item that was returned out-of-box to an ancient, completely broken device. Used products are usually cleaned up prior to being resold, but they won’t undergo any major repairs.

What Is a Refurbished Product?

The experts at iParts4U explain in this post that refurbished products are those that go through a repair or restoration process before they’re resold. This might include fixing a cracked screen, replacing a worn-out battery, or upgrading faulty software.

Once an item is certified refurbished, it should be in like-new or excellent condition. There shouldn’t be any functional problems or major defects. The one sign of wear that you may encounter is mild surface damage, but it should be shown clearly in product photos and outlined in the item description.

Refurbished vs. Used: Which Should You Buy?

The biggest difference between refurbished and used electronics is often a warranty or satisfaction guarantee. Sellers can list used items as-is, while refurbished ones are guaranteed to work. Refurbished items may also come with a tech support plan on top of the warranty.

In general, used electronics also have more obvious wear and tear than refurbished ones. They may have cracks in the screen, broken keyboard keys, or large scratches and gouges on the case. If you buy a used device with the intent to replace a broken part yourself, make sure it isn’t discontinued first.

When you have the choice between used vs. refurbished cell phones, you should almost always choose refurbished. While these terms were almost synonymous in the past, today’s refurbished items are of much higher quality. The one exception to this rule is when you are buying a device from someone you know in person and can test it out before committing.

Getting a Bargain With Used and Refurbished Appliances and Electronics

Understanding the differences between seller refurbished vs. used electronics can help ensure you’re getting an item that will last while still saving money. Whichever type you settle on, make sure it comes from a reputable seller and that you can return it without penalty if it arrives broken or in poor condition.

Are you in the market for more tech advice and buying guides like this one? Check out the other articles on our site for more info on all the latest and greatest gadgets.