India has always had a large market for second-hand goods, but with refurbished gadgets gaining popularity online, e-commerce websites are sweetening the deal with stringent quality checks, easy returns and warranties.
According to Counterpoint Research, the volume of refurbished smartphones in India grew by 25 percent in 2017, crossing 12 million units. More than a third of these phones were from Apple and Samsung.
It isn’t just the refurbished smartphone category that’s growing – other electronics like laptops, tablets, accessories and home appliances are also gaining popularity. E-commerce website Shopclues claims to have netted sales of Rs 4.5 crores from the sale of unboxed and pre-owned devices in the month of July alone, while refurbished goods store Togofogo witnessed a three-fold growth in sales of refurbished items for the same period. Amazon too is betting big on refurbished products, and recorded a 300 percent year-on-year growth in the category, with 70 percent of orders coming from Tier 2 and 3 cities. With users on a budget increasingly turning towards refurbished gadgets as an option, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide on everything you need to know about buying them online in India.
What exactly is a refurbished gadget?
Refurbished gadgets are those that have been pre-owned and restored to near-perfect working condition before being offered for sale at lower price points. In India, gadgets are usually refurbished by certified third-party refurbishers, but some manufacturers like Samsung do provide company refurbished phones with a six-month brand warranty. A certified refurbished phone will have undergone several hardware checks including the ports and buttons, battery, display, connectivity and more. The refurbisher will also completely wipe the phone, and in some cases, even perform the latest available software update. In India, refurbished gadgets usually come under the following three categories – unboxed, certified refurbished and pre-owned/used.
Unboxed devices are brand new, and have usually been returned to the seller because the customer received a wrong model number, or simply changed their mind. They are unused, but the seal on the box has been opened. They come with the original manufacturer warranty and original box and all accessories. The products go through a series of hardware and software tests before going up for sale again.
Certified refurbished gadgets are usually returned to the seller because of a manufacturing defect, or they might be demo units placed in stores. They are repaired to full working condition and rigorously tested either by the manufacturer or a certified refurbisher. The devices are as good as new, although they may have some scratches and scuffs. They are usually sold with the original box and accessories, and in most cases come with a minimum six-month manufacturer or seller warranty.
Pre-owned phones are those that have been used and returned by the previous user. These come with the usual wear and tear associated with a used phone, but are tested and restored before being sold at a much lower price point. In this case, you might not get the original box or accessories, but a minimum six-month seller warranty is usually available.
Benefits of refurbished gadgets – why should you buy?
There are several reasons why you should consider buying a refurbished gadget, but the primary one is price. You might want a flagship phone or laptop, but not have the budget for it. In this case, a device that’s a year or two old but still in pristine working condition is a wise purchase. For example, if a new OnePlus 6 is out of your budget, you could look at a refurbished OnePlus 5 or 5T. Alternatively, you might already own a device which you might have broken, lost or had stolen. If you want the same model but can’t afford a new one, you might find a good deal on an unboxed or refurbished unit.
When it comes to refurbished smartphones, Soumitra Gupta, CEO of Togofogo says, “A smartphone is still an aspirational product for many in India. It is connotative of a specific lifestyle, one that is in tune with the digital, information age. Used or refurbished smartphones basically perform the nearly the same as their newer counterparts but sell for a lot less, sometimes at half the price of the original in the second-hand market. The bottom-line remains that smartphones do not lose value easily, and this is especially the case with premium segment devices, that fetch a good value both for second-hand buyer and owners who are upgrading to newer models.”
Where to buy refurbished gadgets
A simple Google search will reveal several websites that sell refurbished gadgets in India, but it’s important to purchase only from reputed ones. Amazon India launched the ‘Amazon Renew’ program last year, which is dedicated to the sale of box-opened and refurbished goods. Amazon initially started out by selling phones refurbished by Samsung and Xiaomi, but you can now find phones from OnePlus, ASUS, Honor, Motorola and a bunch of other brands. Apart from phones, Amazon also sells refurbished laptops, headphones, Kindles, wearables and more.
According to Vivek Somareddy, Director – Seller Services, Amazon India, “We have a very strict policy regarding quality and under this program, only selected sellers who maintain a high quality & performance bar are allowed to offer certified refurbished products on Amazon.in. The refurbishment process for this category typically includes a full diagnostic test performed through industry standard applications, replacement of any defective or damaged parts, a thorough cleaning and data wiping process, and finally the repackaging in a brand-new box. The products come with a minimum of 6 months warranty offered by the brand or the seller of the product and are available for free and fast shipping with Amazon’s Fulfilled by Amazon (FBA) shipping service.”
A popular website for refurbished goods, Togofogo has a wide-range of mobile phones, tablets and accessories for sale. The website sells manufacturer/seller refurbished devices, but also has its own facility where it undertakes refurbishment. The company claims that all gadgets sold through its portal go through a 75-point quality check process. The original manufacturer warranty is provided where available, while the residual warranty is covered by Warranty Bazaar, a notable warranty extension provider.
If you’re in the market for a refurbished phone, Yaantra has a big selection available from brands like Apple, Xiaomi, Samsung, Lenovo and more. They sell unboxed, refurbished and pre-owned phones, which are further classified as ‘excellent’, ‘good’ and ‘acceptable’, depending on their quality. The company repairs and refurbishes phones before putting them up for sale, and offers a six-month warranty as well.
Apart from these, websites like Shopclues, GoZefo, GreenDust, Snapdeal, Quikr and OLX also offer refurbished gadgets.
What to check for when buying refurbished gadgets
The most important factor to keep in mind when buying a refurbished device is the seller. Always buy from a reputed website – if not, you’ll likely land up with a fake product, a dud or in some cases, even a stolen device. Pick a website that offers a transparent return policy, and bundleds a minimum warranty of six months. Ensure that the website guarantees quality-checked products from a certified refurbisher – many products come with a ‘refurbished’ tag but are just used and resold. If you receive a product that’s damaged or defective, report this to the seller immediately, since refurbished goods have a small returns window – usually between three to seven days.
Another thing to consider is the condition of the product you’re buying. If you want a device that looks new, pick something that’s box-opened – this way you’ll get it in the original box and accessories. This also makes a subsequent resale easier, provided the device is still in good condition. A refurbished or pre-owned item on the other hand is likely to have a shorter shelf life, and lower resale value as well.
If you’re buying a refurbished phone, make sure its’s not outdated. When buying an iPhone for example, any model older than the iPhone 6 will be sluggish and is likely to have poor battery life, especially if its pre-owned. For Android phones as well, stick to devices which are not more than a year or two old, since most manufacturers don’t support software updates beyond this.
With upgrade cycles for gadgets becoming shorter, you can get lucky with some great deals on refurbished goods, provided you do your research. Have you ever purchased a refurbished gadget online? Do share your experience in the comments to help others decide.