How Selling Refurbished Phones Can Help Boost Your Bottom Line

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Every year, we see new smartphones release into the market that are packed with the latest features, look incredible, and cost astronomically high. A high-end smartphone can easily run you close to USD 1,000 now, and different variants for flagships complicates matters more. So it’s no surprise that refurbished phones have been steadily gaining traction over the past few years.

Refurbished phones have had a lot of skepticism associated with them. Obviously, you’d think there was something wrong with them, and that one should spring for a new phone instead of buying one refurbished. But back in 2017, the refurbished phone market had swelled over to nearly USD 19 billion in worth globally. This shows that people are actually buying refurbished phones quite a lot, and the numbers are projected to grow annually at a rate of 10% all the way through 2022.

So why are refurbished phones so popular, and how can they help boost your cell phone repair shop’s bottom line? Let’s find out.

The Reason Refurbished Phones are Popular

Let’s start with determining why refurbished phones are bought at large today. There are several factors that contribute to people going for refurbs right now, and we’ll be discussing each one at length.

The Price is Right

As mentioned before, modern smartphones are going for up to USD 1,000 in value because of the cutting-edge technology that they house. All major smartphone manufacturers these days have some form of flagship that’s priced way outside of the average consumer’s reach.

Compare that to the refurbished market and you’ll find genuinely great phones at about half the price. A refurbished phone doesn’t play into the FOMO strategy that new flagships take advantage of. They are much better positioned in the market and are a lot more affordable once they’ve been fixed up, making them popular with budget-conscious people.

It’s why phones like the OnePlus 5T are still popular and actively being sold. For the same price as the base-model of this year’s Samsung flagship, you can buy a refurbished Note 10 that is plenty powerful.

It’s What’s Inside That Counts

For those that need great tech without having to pay a hefty price for it, the refurbished market gives a good set of options to choose from. Most phones that pass through the refurbished market are still considered to be great in terms of specs. Finding last year’s flagship on the refurb market is easy, and it still has some great components that can keep up with today’s phones.

Furthermore, you can easily cellphones that still receive updates from manufacturers. Whether it’s the latest version of the operating system or a security patch, refurbished phones will take care of them. And even if they stop receiving updates officially – at least on Android – you can easily throw in a custom firmware like Lineage OS that further extends their life.

Pandemic Practicality

The pandemic of 2020 saw a lot of people lose their jobs and be a lot more careful with their spending. With the economy all over the world struggling, people cannot afford to buy expensive luxury devices en masse. 

However, the need for smartphones has not declined, in fact reaching its highest during the midst of the pandemic. Lots of people faced lockdowns, and even with the rollout of vaccines globally, it’s still difficult for people to move around. This means that they need technology to do the heavy lifting for them, and refurbished smartphones are much easier to acquire than brand-new products. 

Since refurbished smartphones are cheaper, they can be used easily as a stand-by phone or a work phone for specific tasks. You could even get a refurbished phone for your children so that they can take online classes or be distracted by YouTube while you’re working. The point is, it’s more practical to have a refurbished phone that costs cheap for all your tasks where an extra phone would be “nice to have”.

How To Acquire Refurbished or Used Phones

Since refurbished phones generate pretty good business, you’ll want to learn how to acquire and sell them as soon as possible. 

Getting your hands on refurbished or used phones isn’t all that hard, though there are a couple of things you need to watch out for.

Ask for the IMEI Number

The IMEI number is the unique code your specific phone possesses. Not only does it prove the identity of the phone, but it makes it so that that specific phone can be identified anywhere in the world. No two IMEIs are supposed to match, so it’s a good idea to ask for the IMEI number first.

Using the IMEI, you can check to see if the phone you’re getting is legitimate and not a counterfeit. You’ll also be able to verify the details of the phone you’re acquiring, so make sure you go for it.

Ask if the phone is paid off or under financing

Once you’ve verified that the phone is indeed legit, you need to ask if it’s been paid off or under any financing options currently. This is so that you know what you’re buying into and don’t have to face any undue liabilities later down the line.

Ideally, it would be great if the refurbished phone you’re getting is completely paid off. That’s what you should be aiming for. If it’s currently under financing, you can ask about how much of the financing is left, and then use your own discretion to accept or reject the phone.

Make sure it isn’t reported as lost or stolen

A quick sidenote, but one that you should be very careful about. Always be sure that the phone you’re buying isn’t claimed as “stolen” or “lost” before the deal. You can check with the seller about it and then double-check with the carrier just to be sure. 

Stolen phones being pawned off in the market under the guise of “refurbished” can be a real problem. Always look to protect your investment and cut down on any liabilities.

Make sure the phone has been reset to factory settings

When dealing with a phone that’s already been used, you’re going to find data that’s been programmed into it. Account information, iCloud access, settings, apps – they’re all personalized, and they need to be removed before you make the trade.

Remember to ask your vendors/dealers to wipe the phone completely and reset everything to factory settings. This saves you a whole load of trouble so you don’t have to deal with a bad sale later. Be very particular about iPhones, since they are usually tied to a single iCloud account, and will be locked to it with no recourse unless deactivated first.

Remember You Can Do the Refurbishing Too

Once you’ve gotten your phones, you can even work on them yourself before putting them on the market. As a cell phone repair shop, you have all the tools necessary to be able to fix phones, so go for it.

Opening up and fixing used phones can be very cost-effective if you’re not buying phones that are already refurbished. You could also make the case that refurbished phones should be opened up and checked as well to see if they have been properly serviced. Your cellphone repair shop software can help you keep track of any phones you’ve bought, which ones need to be worked on, and which ones are up for sale.

Get Ready to Make the Sale

Now that you have everything squared away, it’s finally time to make those sales. The best way to get your refurbished phones out the door is by posting ads for them online. You can use services like Facebook Marketplace to your advantage and make sales through there. Using Instagram ads is also a good idea if you want to get good reach.

Your refurbished phones can be sold at a special discount to people if they come through specific channels. For example, customers who find your deals on Twitter can receive a 5% discount on top of the already good price they’re getting.

To motivate people even more towards a sale, try bundling together items and accessories with the phone. Throw in a case, a power bank, or a Bluetooth speaker in, and watch as the sales start flying. People love finding great deals that are value for money, so make sure you increase your takings by bundling items together. It’s also a great way of moving inventory that’s been sitting at your store for a while.

And if you’re willing for it, throw in a lifetime warranty to retain your customers once a sale has been made. Giving them a lifetime warranty on the product they bought off of you ensures that your customers will always come back, and when they do, you can easily upsell them any new items you’ve got.


Refurbished phones are a great way to boost business at your cell phone repair shop. They make for great value and are quite easy to procure, from big services like Swappa, eBay, or Amazon. Once you have them in, you can work on them yourself and put them up for sale at attractive rates and with special deals. This makes the prospect of buying a refurbished phone a lot better for customers, since they’re getting a lot more value for their money than they would have from picking up a new flagship device that costs an arm and a leg. Who knows, maybe selling refurbished phones at your shop might open up a completely new revenue stream that can pay off big in the future.