Refurbishment (electronics)

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Refurbishment is the distribution of products (generally electronics) that have been previously returned to a manufacturer or vendor for various reasons, not sold in the market or new launch of a product. Refurbished products are normally tested for functionality and defects before they are sold to the public. They are repaired by the original manufacturer and resold.


The main difference between "refurbished" and "used"[1] products is that refurbished products have been tested and verified to function properly, and are thus free of defects, while "used" products may or may not be defective. Refurbished products may be unused customer returns that are essentially "new" items, or they may be defective products that were returned under warranty, and resold by the manufacturer after repairing the defects and ensuring proper function.

Other types of products that may be sold as "refurbished" include:

  • Items used in field tests, sales displays or demonstrations
  • Items returned for reasons other than defect, and tested by the manufacturer
  • Items returned to the manufacturer because the box or item was damaged in shipping
  • Used items that have been donated to a charity or non-profit organization[2]
  • Leftover equipment sold by a downsized company to a third party refurbisher

However, the following types of products are considered[by whom?] recycled, not refurbished:

Various types[edit]

Different companies and industries may have different types of "refurbished" products. Since the electronics industry doesn't have a firm, widely accepted definition of "refurbished", its exact meaning may vary from one product to the next, or one company to the next.[2] In various cases "refurbished" may be synonymous with "reconditioned", "refreshed", "repaired", "recertified", or "like new". Note: The term "remanufacture", however, is a distinct term used for products that are returned to the identical-to-new condition in industrial closed-loop processes, and which often possess the same warranties and guarantees as a new product.

In the refurbished mobile phone sector, it is very likely that the mobile phones have been used on a daily basis by the original user. It's very common for them to then sell their current phone when looking for upgrades. This is when refurbished phone sellers would receive them through various methods (such as trade-in sites) and use modern-day software to check that all hardware & software on the phone is working as intended.[4]

Market fragmentation[edit]

Due to the fact that there's no legal definition for refurbishment, the quality of a refurbished product[5] will depend on the source who reconditioned it. And not every refurbisher provides what customers expect. In a Consumer Reports Survey, only 52% of respondents said their refurbished phones included new batteries. Another common occurrence is refurbishers who don't adequately wipe the data before reselling a smart device. This leads to major privacy breaches and consumer distrust, according to a Blancco study.[6]

While the majority of refurbishers have the best intentions to inspect, clean, repair and repackage items to the best possible condition, consumers are taking a risk if they don't do their due diligence before buying. The most reputable companies offer warranties, easy returns, and verified batteries and accessories.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Refurbished Servers vs. Used Servers". Cloud Ninjas. Scott Flowers. May 21, 2015. Retrieved May 26, 2017.
  2. ^ a b c Pollette, Chris (27 February 2008). "How Refurbished Electronics Work". Retrieved November 19, 2012.
  3. ^ "refurbished". Webopedia. 26 March 2002. Retrieved November 19, 2012.
  4. ^ Gill, Mannie. "The Big Phone Store". The Big Phone Store. Retrieved 2020-04-02.
  5. ^
  6. ^ Blancco study