If you’re shopping for a new phone this year, opting for one of the best refurbished phones can save money and reduce electronic waste. Refurbished phones can be a fantastic deal, getting you top performance at a fraction of the price of a new phone. How do you know which used phones are worth buying, though?
This guide covers the best refurbished phones you can buy in 2024. We chose these based on value, performance and software update support. All of the phones on this list are iPhones and Samsung phones, the two brands which tend to hold their value best over time. Our picks range from sub-$200 budget picks to foldable phone bargains and everything in between.
1. iPhone 12/12 Pro
If you want a modern iPhone without paying over $800 for one, a refurbished iPhone 12 or iPhone 12 Pro is a great alternative. The iPhone 12 series is from 2020, so these phones are only a few years old, meaning they still have a long life of software updates ahead of them.
You have a few models to choose from here, all of which are great buys in 2024: the iPhone 12, 12 Pro, 12 Pro Max and 12 Mini. The Mini is virtually identical to the regular iPhone 12 only it has a smaller screen. The iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max have some noticeable hardware upgrades compared to both the 12 and 12 Mini, particularly when it comes to the camera.
All around, any of the iPhone 12 models are great mid-range phones in 2024. Even the most expensive model, the 12 Pro Max, can be found refurbished for around $500. If you have an older iPhone you want to upgrade or you’re looking to switch from Android without breaking the bank, any phones in the iPhone 12 line-up will get you good value for your money with several more years of software updates from Apple.
2. iPhone XR
The iPhone XR is the oldest phone on this list, originally released in 2018, but it’s still one of the best refurbished phones you can buy in 2024. It was once a flagship phone but these days it makes a fantastic budget phone, often retailing for around $200 refurbished.
By choosing a refurbished iPhone XR, you can get a modern iPhone form factor for a small fraction of the price of a new phone. The iPhone XR is scheduled to continue receiving software updates through 2025, so you should be able to get at least a couple more years of use out of this phone. Given the budget-friendly price, it’s still a pretty good deal in 2024.
3. Samsung Galaxy Z Flip4
Foldable phones are one of the most interesting developments in the smartphone market in the past few years. You don’t need to break the bank to try one out anymore, though. The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip4 is one of the best refurbished phones you can buy in 2024, especially if you’re looking for a foldable.
The Flip4 offers some upgrades from the previous generation Flip3 for less than $400. This phone originally retailed for about $1000 when it was released in 2022. Only a year later, you can get it for less than half that price. The Flip4 is a great device and as a flagship phone it will give you better performance than most new phones at this price.
4. iPhone SE (2nd Generation)
If you’re looking for the best cheap refurbished phone, look no further than the iPhone SE. Both the 2020 and 2022 editions go for less than $300 on the used market. You can find the 2nd Generation 2020 edition for around $130 on refurbished marketplaces like Back Market.
The iPhone SE is a great pick because it’s a new enough phone to still have several more years of software updates while also being extremely affordable. This phone is also a fantastic option for anyone who has an older iPhone but doesn’t want to lose their convenient home button by upgrading to a newer device. The iPhone SE keeps the design of the iPhone 8 but puts newer hardware and software in it.
This would also make a great first phone for a child or teen. It has a small screen that’s easy to handle and the low price means it’s less of a loss if it gets dropped or broken.
iPhone SE vs iPhone XR
It’s worth noting that a refurbished iPhone SE is comparable in price to a refurbished iPhone XR. The iPhone SE is newer, so it will get more software updates. However, it does have an older design with the home button. Both phones have the same camera quality, but the iPhone XR has a longer battery life. The iPhone XR also has a larger screen.
5. Samsung Galaxy S22/S22 Ultra
Samsung and Android fans can get a great deal with a used Galaxy S22 or S22 Ultra. This is not only one of the best refurbished phones in 2024, but also one of the most modern you can get at a budget-friendly price. With the S22 Ultra you can even get the much-loved S pen!
The S22 and S22 Ultra are the newest phones on this list, originally released in 2022. So, they’ll get plenty of software updates. You can find refurbished models in good condition for half the original price. For instance, on Back Market a refurbished S22 Ultra with the S pen goes for just around $550! The S22 is a bit less at around $300. Both are a steal in 2024.
Of all the refurbished phones on this list, the S22 Ultra has the best camera quality. So, if the camera is a top concern for you, it’s definitely worth considering an S22 Ultra. If you don’t care about the included S pen, go for the slightly smaller S22 instead.
What to Look for in a Refurbished Phone
Buying a refurbished phone can save money and reduce electronic waste while still getting you a great device. However, not all refurbished phones are worth buying. For instance, an iPhone 6 might seem like a great deal, but phones from before roughly 2018 are not worth buying in 2024. There’s one important reason for this: software updates.
Phone manufacturers don’t support their devices forever. Eventually, a phone’s hardware can no longer support new software updates. So, when you buy a refurbished phone, you need to make sure that it’s modern enough to have at least a couple years of software updates left. So, that iPhone 6S that costs less than $100 might seem like a bargain, but it can’t support anything later than iOS 15.
The oldest phone on this list, the iPhone XR, will continue receiving software updates from Apple through 2025. As a general rule, you want a refurbished phone with at least 2 more years of support like this. This will ensure you balance a good price with functionality.
Refurbished Phone Retailers
Software updates should be a top consideration when choosing what refurbished phone model to look for. When you’re shopping for an individual phone to buy, your top priority should shift to seller reliability. Unfortunately, it’s easy to get scammed or get a low-quality device on the used phone market. However, there are some trustworthy refurbished marketplaces, including:
Many people turn to Amazon first when shopping for one of the best refurbished phones. Sometimes Amazon can be a great place to get a good deal. You do need to be careful, though.
Look at the profile for the individual seller you are considering buying a device from (product reviews on Amazon contain purchases from a mix of sellers for the same item). Carefully investigate the seller’s recent reviews and return policy before buying. When using Amazon to buy a refurbished phone, it’s also a good idea to buy a protection plan, just in case.
Finally, before buying a refurbished phone, you should always double check that it is compatible with your phone carrier. The safest and easiest solution is to get an “unlocked” phone, which means the phone can work with any carrier. Luckily, most refurbished phones are fully unlocked, so this shouldn’t be a problem. However, it’s always a good idea to check before buying.
Go for a Refurbished Phone in 2024
Shopping refurbished is a great way to save money on your next smartphone. You want to make sure you’re still getting good value for your money, though. The phones on this list are among the very best refurbished phones you can buy in 2024. They balance a great price with at least two more years of software updates from manufacturers.
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