If you want to buy a new mobile phone, you're looking at a pretty big chunk of cash. Top end mobiles are going to set you back over five hundred pounds, and a decent mid-range phone goes for at least a couple of hundred. And you can't even depend on those free hand sets that you get offered when you sign a mobile operator contract. Sure, you get the phone for little or no money up front, but you do end up paying for it over time. If you look at the price of the contract and phone that you're offered and compare it to the price off a contract with just a calling plan, you'll notice that you're paying a lot more. These extra charges are how the mobile operator makes up for giving you a free phone, and over the course of your contract the extra fees usually add up to more than the cost of the phone that you're given. If you're really looking for a discount, you might want to consider going with a refurbished mobile. They're not for everyone, but for some people they can mean big savings. Today we're looking at all you need to know about refurbished mobile phones, so you can see if they're a good choice for you...

What are Refurbished Mobile Phones?

Refurbished mobile phones are not second hand or used phones, there is a difference. A refurbished phone is a device that has been bought and then returned, usually because the customer has changed his or her mind. Companies can't just then go on to sell the phone again immediately, since that would classify the mobile as second hand or used. Instead, the phone is sent back to the factory, and there it's cleaned, rebooted and given a complete inspection before it's certified to be resold. Refurbished phones are often sold without their original box, and sometimes come with reprinted manuals or generic chargers. But in look and functionality a refurbished mobile should be completely identical to a brand new model, but will cost you a lot less. There are a couple of exceptions. Sometimes a phone is returned because it has a defect. The factory check should fix this defect and test the phone again before it's resold, so it shouldn't be an issue, but you should be aware that it can happen. Rarely, a phone is a rental model that has been returned at the end of its lease period. This means that the phone has undergone much heavier use than a regular refurbished model. This isn't particularly common in the UK, though it is in the US. A refurbished mobile bought through a reputable retailer should come with a full ninety day warranty. In case you do happen to experience a problem with your phone, you should be able to return it, which is one distinct advantage of a refurbished mobile over a second hand device, which usually cannot be returned.

Should I Buy One?

If you're looking for a decent phone at a decent discounted price, a refurbished model is the best and most reliable way to get one. Refurbished models tend to be older, phones that have been on the market for at least six to eight months, rather than newly launched models. You're also far more likely to see mid-range models or budget models than anything top end. If this is what you're looking for, then you will have plenty of choice on the refurbished market. You also need to be willing to do a little work for it. Buying refurbished isn't usually as simple as walking into a shop and picking one off a shelf. You'll need to take the time to search for the model that you want, who has it, and what the best prices are.

When Should I Not Buy One?

If you're looking for a newly released model, or a top of the range mobile phone then you're unlikely to find what you want on the refurbished market. Newly released devices simply haven't been on the market long enough to appear as refurbished models. Top end phones are likely to be purchasing decisions that are made more seriously because they're so expensive, and are therefore generally not returned particularly often. If you need a phone immediately, refurbished is probably not for you. A lot of the best deals come online, so you're going to have to wait a few days to get your phone. If you want the protection of a full warranty, then refurbished models also aren't for you. Whilst a refurbished phone will generally come with a ninety day warranty, brand new phones tend to come with a year-long warranty. Finally, if you're looking for regular basic cell phones, rather than smart phones, you're probably better off looking at the second hand market than the refurbished market, since most manufacturers won't accept old models back to the factory for refurbishment.

Where Should I Look?

You have a variety of options. Mobile service providers occasionally sell refurbished models, you can look on their web site or ask in a retail store. The most reliable method of getting a good refurbished phone is to go straight to the manufacturer’s web site and look there. There are some retail stores that sell refurbished phones too. By far the biggest resource will be the internet, since there are plenty of web sites dealing in refurbished phones. Do make sure that you're dealing with a reputable provider though. It's a good idea to check out some customer reviews to see what kind of experience others have had with the site before purchasing. If you're looking for an iPhone, it's important to note that Apple does sell refurbished models. Check their web site for options. They sell fast though, so you'll need to keep checking back and buy immediately when you find what you're looking for. And then all you need to do is benefit from the savings that you've made by being smart enough to buy refurbished...