Can you trust up-to-date phones and laptops? 5 questions to ask before you make a purchase

Bundle redecoration tools can save you.

Angela Lang / CNET

Buying a used phone or laptop is an easy way to save some money. While there are plenty of sites where you can buy a used device directly from its current owner, it is difficult to know exactly what you are getting when you do so.

That’s not to say it’s not a good idea to buy a used device from someone on Swappa or eBay – both sites have customer protection policies to make sure you get what you paid for. However, you have another option: Buy a refurbished phone or laptop.

There are some important questions you should ask yourself when browsing through a reputable store, whether it’s Apple or Gazelle. Here are the key things to consider.

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What does the company do to upgrade equipment?

When you sell or trade your old devices to a company like Gazelle, Best Buy or even your wireless carrier, it goes through an evaluation process. If it is a newer device and in working order, it is strange that it goes through a redesign process and is sold as a used or refurbished tool.

But every company deals with how it updates and ensures that a phone or laptop keeps working. For example, Apple classifies all of its refurbished devices as “like new,” after all devices are cleaned, any defective parts are replaced and the device is tested to detailed. Revamped iPhone ($ 900 at Boost Mobile) comes with a new battery and housing.

Amazon’s refurbished program for refurbished products uses the same method of inspecting, testing and repairing broken parts. Amazon promises 80% battery capacity and alerts that you will see some scratches outside of refreshed products.


There are plenty of redesigned options available.


Is there a return policy for phones, laptops and so on?

Whether new or refurbished, lemons happen. It is possible that a machine will not turn on or not work as expected. Some companies like Gazelle and Amazon won’t replace device housing, so you can get a phone or laptop with little cosmic damage. Gazelle does a good job explaining what to expect when buying a phone in good condition and even providing examples of photos.

To be clear, the pictures are not of the device you are buying, but they are examples of the appearance of the various levels of wear and tear on machines it sells. But what if you get a phone that has more damage (although it still works fine) than you expected?

In most cases, you should be able to return a device you are not happy with. I recommend looking through the FAQ or site policies, often linked to at the bottom of the site, to find the return policy. If you’re having a hard time finding it, a Google search that includes the site name and return policy (for example, “Gazelle return policy”) will usually get you to the right place.


An extended warranty may be a good idea.

Josh Miller / CNET

What kind of warranty applies to upgraded electronics?

Just because a device has been upgraded does not mean that it should not be warranted. Things happen, components stop working and if a company wants you to feel confident in your purchase, it should offer some sort of warranty beyond the return period.

All Apple refurbished products come with a standard one-year warranty. Gazelle has a 30-day return policy which is also considered a warranty, but it sells for an additional year of protection with an extended warranty that will also cover unintentional damage. Prices start at $ 55 depending on the device. For comparison, AT&T wireless costs $ 8.99 per month for a similar service.

Amazon offers a 90-day satisfaction guarantee when you can return a refurbished device for a refund.

As you can see, the warranty for second hand tools varies dramatically. Take a few extra minutes to review a seller’s policy before clicking that pay button.

sim cards

Does the phone work with your carrier?

Jason Cipriani / CNET

Will a refurbished phone work with my carrier?

When browsing refurbished phones, pay close attention to any behavioral restrictions. Redesigned sites like Apple, Amazon or Gazelle clearly state what carrier is intended to be used on the device, or if it is unopened and can be used on any carrier.

This is an important step when buying a phone, new or used. If you buy a locked phone to Verizon and want to use it on T-Mobile, chances are you’ll have issues. There is a possibility that you can call a carrier to unlock a phone for you, but you can save yourself time and buy a phone that works with your favorite carrier.

Do decorations come with refurbished products or do I buy those separately?

If a product listing does not list everything that is included with your purchase, such as a charger or cable, I recommend reaching out to the company or individual. -sell and asking what it is.

Apple carries everything you need to use the device. The most important of them, is a charger. Like Amazon, but the charger may not be the official charger that would come with the phone or laptop if it were a new purchase.

If you are comfortable with the idea of ​​buying a refurbished phone or laptop, remember that you can save even more money by selling your device to the real companies that sell refurbished products. . Can I offer some personal advice? Don’t buy or sell these seven technical devices.