Millions of Brits now considering buying a refurbished smartphone

iPhone 13
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More than 22 million mobile users in the UK are considering buying a refurbished mobile phone rather than a new one, according to new research that highlights the growth of the second-hand market.

A study by uSwitch found that Brits are becoming more comfortable with using preowned technology, with one million people purchasing a refurbished handset in the past year alone.

A third of people considering a refurbished handset are motivated by the need to be more sustainable. Every device recycled and reused helps reduce emissions caused by manufacturing and transport, while it also reduces the need to mine for precious metals and tackles the growing problem of eWaste.

UK refurbished sales

Another 24% are looking for ways to save money. Premium handsets are increasingly expensive, while the rising cost of living means not everyone has money to spend on a new device. Four in tne people believe new handsets are simply too expensive.

The rising quality and ease of use of refurbishment programmes is increasing the stock and quality of technology available too, with many vendors offering checks and guarantees that are inspiring confidence among buyers.

“With budgets being squeezed more than ever, buying a new top-of-the-range phone might not be a priority for many consumers right now,” said Ru Bhikha, mobiles expert at Uswitch.

“Choosing a premium refurbished device is an easy way to get your hands on the phone you want, at a price you can afford, and not have to sacrifice on its quality and condition.

“Buying refurbished is also an easy way to be more eco-friendly, giving a pre-owned phone a fresh lease of life and cutting the e-waste produced from buying a new device. It also encourages more mobile consumers to get into the habit of recycling and reusing handsets.

“Our research shows millions of people are considering buying a refurbished phone in the near future and we expect more people to make the switch soon.

However, two fifths (39%) say they would not consider buying a refurbished handset in any circumstance over fears that it could be faulty or have a poor battery life.

“Sceptics should remember that refurbished does not mean faulty — all phones are tested the same way as new devices and some will have been returned without ever being used. They often come with a one-year guarantee for added assurance,” added Bhikha.

“For those wanting peace of mind when buying a refurbished phone, be sure to use a trusted seller. And if you want a handset which is as good as new, look out for one labelled as Grade A, which is the only grade available on Uswitch.”

Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.