Refurbished phones continue to grow in popularity. Research conducted by Assurant saw that ‘78% of customers who already purchased a refurbished smartphone in the past would do it again in the future.’[1] Whilst research from CCS Insight, ‘60 percent of UK consumers would consider a pre-owned purchase next time they change or upgrade their smartphone.’[2] There are many factors that have contributed to the rise in popularity in purchasing a refurbished mobile device, over a brand new handset. Refurbished phones are growing in acceptance and preference over new phones, as many of the latest handsets have become unobtainable for many consumers, without spending a small fortune or taking out a lengthy contract. With phones in the modern age now slowing in innovation, mobiles tend to have a longer life cycle, than over the past two or three decades, and consumers are happier to keep their current devices for longer, ownership is now 34-35 months between upgrade cycles.


When we use the phrase ‘refurbished’ it generally refers to a ‘pre-owned handset that has been sent back due to a fault and has been repaired for re-sale[3], this also includes phones that have been traded in for newer models. Refurbished phones can have a bad reputation for having low battery life, that they are the same as ‘used’ phones or they are as expensive as new mobiles. From an Assurant perspective, these are myths. At Assurant, refurbished devices go through a rigorous testing and cleaning process, to ensure that any repairs that are required are carried out, and the mobile will be in the best possible condition. Refurbished phones include a grading system so that consumers know exactly what condition the device will be in. At the Assurant Device Care Centre, each device that is received is graded from A – D.

 A Grade - ‘A’ refurbished phones are as close to new as it gets and should have virtually no signs that the device has been used before.  This could be a phone that has been returned during the 30-day cooling-off period or one that has only very minor signs of wear.

B Grade - This device is in good cosmetic condition and may have the odd scratch on surfaces including the screen but nothing more.

C Grade - These are refurbished phones that will have cosmetic wear such as scratches or minor imperfections that can be on any surface of the device and look like they’ve been used.

D Grade - A grade ‘D’ refurbished phone is likely to be broken in some way and will be well used. Most retailers don’t sell grade ‘D’ phones although you may find them on eBay.[1]


‘One in six people in (the UK market) said they have bought a refurbished phone in the past.’[4] But there are a few things to consider when looking to own a refurbished phone.

1.     Original packaging is very unlikely, and it may not include all the accessories – however if you’re only after a handset, and you already have items like headphones and chargers, a refurbished device can be a perfect option.

2.     Another important consideration is warranty, as this provides your protection if your refurbished mobile develops a fault. With Assurant, our warranty lasts 12 months – so you have peace of mind should anything go wrong.

3.     Cost - Opting for a refurbished phone can reduce the cost by 20-40%[5], meaning consumers could make a huge saving and leave more cash in their pocket.


Choosing a refurbished phone ‘helps to reduce the carbon emissions and resource demand associated with building a new phone, while also preventing an old phone from going to landfill.’ [6] According to the Journal of Cleaner Production by research conducted at McMaster University, Canada, producing a new smartphone accounts for 85% to 95% of its CO2 emissions over its average two-year lifecycle. The research shows that the carbon impact of the whole Information and Communication Industry (ICT), will exceed 14% by 2040. That’s half as large as the carbon impact of the entire transportation industry.[7]

Purchasing a refurbished phone can help save the planet and form part of what is known as ‘The Circular Economy’. This is defined as being ‘based on the principles of designing out waste and pollution, keeping products and materials in use, and regenerating natural systems.’[8] By keeping our phones for longer, refurbishing phones that are in need of repair and reselling them, we as a society are able to contribute to a more sustainable way of using devices that would have otherwise ended up in landfill. At Assurant, our Device Care Centre also looks to address this issue by harvesting parts that can be reused or recycled from other mobiles.

Discover about Assurant’s Device Care Centre and how we harvest parts for refurbished phones, by watching our SoundBytes episode here .

The Rise of the Refurbished Phone blog part 2 will be released soon, where you can gain insights into The Insurance Market: Heading towards Social and Environmental Consciousness, Ethical Providers, E-Waste and more on Assurant’s Device Care Centre.