Each year, we see the emergence of new technology. Items such as phones, laptops, tablets, and other smart devices are continuously evolving. New smartphones, in particular, seem to be multiplying at an exponential rate, and unfortunately, this doesn’t mean they’re getting cheaper. A new phone can set you back over $1000, easily. For those that actually need a new phone, saving up this amount isn’t always doable. On top of the exorbitant price, there are also some environmental ramifications that result from this process of overconsumption and production.

Each year, five million new phones are purchased – and it can be assumed, five million phones are thrown in the rubbish, cupboard, or gifted to a younger sibling or cousin. Over the years 23 million phones have been left abandoned since the transition to smartphones, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. As reported by SBS, the Australian Bureau of Statistics finds that electronic waste, or e-waste, is currently growing at three times the rate of general waste in Australia, and mobile phones are one of its biggest culprits. Overconsumption is a major environmental issue: we buy more than we need, and we have no contingency plan for when the landfills reach capacity. Thankfully, you have some options that are more environmentally friendly when it comes to disposing of an old phone (see below).

In this digital age, there are consequences to disposing of old tech that reach beyond environmental destruction. Throwing phones is not only an environmental issue but is also an issue of data security. Do you completely wipe the data from your phone before disposing of it? Not many people do; however, this puts you at risk of being hacked if someone were to collect that device – and hackers are getting smarter these days. That’s a lot of personal information, images, and passwords that could fall into the wrong hands. So, what can you do?

What to do With an Old Phone?

  • Give it to a recycling centre
  • Sell it (if it’s in workable condition – remember to erase all data)
  • Give it to someone in need
  • Give it to a family member
  • Keep it as a backup
  • Sell its parts
  • Read about more super creative ways to repurpose an old phone!

If You’re Thinking About Getting a New Phone

If you’re on the market for a new phone, perhaps because yours is damaged, lost, or stolen, then it’d be smart to consider buying second-hand. Pre-loved items get a bad rap, but with technology, you’re usually in safe hands (we say usually because some retailers might cut corners – beware of cheap services). Refurbished phones are essentially second-hand phones that have been completely restored. There are many advantages to buying a refurbished phone.

1. It’s cheaper!

The most obvious difference between new and second-hand is the price. Buying a refurbished phone can save you hundreds of dollars.

2. It’s guaranteed to work.

Refurbished phones have been put through strenuous tests to ensure they work properly. New phones, on the other hand, are reliant on quality control testing (where one phone in a batch of thousands might be checked). This means your brand new phone may come with a bunch of hiccups, even though it’s never been used.

3. You still receive a warranty.

Your refurbished phone will be covered under warranty should you find a fault or damage. The length of this warranty usually depends on the retailer and the item you are purchasing.

4. It’s better for the environment.

As mentioned, e-waste recycling (or lack thereof) is a major issue globally. Only 20% of all of the world’s e-waste is recycled, according to Mobile Muster. Refurbishing phones is an excellent method of recycling, and purchasing one takes a little pressure off the Earth.

So, what exactly goes into refurbishing a second-hand phone?

Before they get into your hands, refurbished phones go through a lengthy process of restoration. Initially, there needs to be a phone that is disposed of. A phone that becomes ‘refurbished’ might be a pre-owned handset with a fault and that has been sent back to a company or manufacturer. Sometimes, however, there isn’t a fault at all. Sometimes refurbished phones come from customers who have changed their mind and returned a phone within the cooling-off period – these also go through some restoration processes.

The Process

1. Checking the exterior

Before any refurbishing begins, tech teams thoroughly inspect phones that are turned over for obvious external faults. The severity of the exterior damage is typically graded (usually from A–B, best to worst). The more dinged up a phone appears the cheaper the phone will be sold for, and of course, the newer it appears, the higher the price (though not as high as new-new of course…).

2. Erasing data

Apart from checking the outside of the phone, checking its inner working is also super important. So is checking whether the phone has been reported as stolen against a police database. If the phone is found to be legally acquired, then diagnostics are run to check for any internal issues (problems with connecting to WiFi, Bluetooth, 3G/4G, troubles with the operating system, etc.). All of the phone’s data is then erased – with extra precaution taken to delete iPhone iCloud storage.

3. Checking the battery

The battery is checked for its performance and whether it is capable of charging.

4. Checking the touchscreen and other functions

A bunch of checks are conducted to test each phone’s features. Should any issues be reported, these are resolved with the repair or replacement of parts.

5. Repairing or replacing faulty parts

Upon finding any issues, repairs and replacements are performed. This might include the replacement of the battery, or repairing any connections in the housing of the phone.

6. Final check and cleaning

A final check is done to make sure every feature is working properly and the phone is restored to factory settings. To make it look shiny and new, the exterior is given a clean and polish.

7. Repackaging

Lastly, the phone is packaged for sale. The phone is typically placed in a generic box and without all of the usual tidbits that come with a new phone. While this makes the phone feel less ‘new’, rest assured that the phone inside is practically as good as new.

Depending on the condition of the phone, some of the following components may be refurbished.

Components of a Refurbished Phone

The Screen and Exterior

Phones naturally encounter some wear and tear, even after a short period of ownership. To get minor scratches and abrasions out of a screen or surface, phones are lightly buffed. That being said, thanks to the ubiquitous nature of glass screen protectors and phone cases, phones don’t damage as readily. In the case of phones with excessive scratches, these are buffed and polished to appear as presentable as possible; however, it may be obvious with some phones that it has been dinged up slightly. As a plus, these phones are usually cheaper.

The Battery

As part of the refurbishing process, batteries are checked for their capacity and ability to be charged. Batteries that still function at 70–80% capacity are still considered in good condition and are not in need of a replacement. Batteries that fall under this capacity may need replacement.


There are up to 70 minor check-points tech specialists go through when examining a used phone. There’s the touch screen functionality, the audio, camera, buttons, speakers, headphone jack and a whole bunch of other features and systems that need to be looked over. Of course, should any faults be found, these are repaired and further tested before being moved to the next stage of the restoration process.


Phones are restored to their factory settings so that they can be configured to each user. It’s the same as switching on a new phone for the first time, you’re able to sync your accounts and set your preferences for all of the phone’s features.

Other Refurbished Tech you can Purchase!

When purchasing refurbished tech, you aren’t just limited to smartphones. There are many retailers that sell refurbished gadgets such as laptops, computers, tablets, printers, game consoles, and more. Buying these comes with the same advantages. So, next time you’re considering getting new tech, or have run into an emergency and need a new device, consider buying second-hand, and more specifically, refurbished technology. Just be wary as not all retailers are the same. Do your homework before you choose where to buy your refurbished phone.

Some things to be wary of…

  • No warranty. Products that are properly refurbished should come with a warranty as an assurance that they work. No warranty may indicate a product hasn’t gone through the necessary checks.
  • Buying online. You may be unintentionally buying a stolen phone when buying online, especially through public marketplaces. Buying through retailers, in this case, is more trustworthy.

The Computer Market is a buyer and seller of used IT. The Computer Market will buy bulk used IT equipment to refurbish and sell to the public at an affordable price. Browse through their extensive catalogue today, or contact The Computer Market if you’re in need of IT collection.

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