To buy or not to buy – The British perspective on refurbished handsets
May 15th, 2024, Kineree Shah

To buy or not to buy – The British perspective on refurbished handsets

In a new survey conducted by YouGov with 2,544 mobile phone owners in the UK, we discovered that while a majority (91%) have heard of refurbished phone handsets, only 6% currently own one. Despite the awareness, there seems to be a knowledge gap: seven in 10 of those who know about refurbished handsets are unsure which networks offer them.

When asked about the likelihood of considering a refurbished handset as a replacement for their current phone, half of mobile owners felt they were unlikely to do so, while only one in five (22%) considered it likely.

Those likely to consider refurbished handsets cited cost savings and good value for money (71%) as the main advantage. Environmental benefits were also a significant factor for half (51%) of considerers, followed by confidence in testing before resale (43%), assurances like warranties (41%), and the quality being comparable to new handsets (36%). Previous positive experiences with refurbished handsets influenced three in 10 (31%) considerers, and one-tenth (11%) were swayed by recommendations from others.

On the other hand, among mobile owners unlikely to consider refurbished handsets, half (48%) are worried about a shorter lifespan. The reliability of refurbished handsets was questioned by 41%, and 37% doubted they would perform as well as brand new models. Three in 10 (31%) felt the price reduction was not sufficient to warrant a purchase while 26% were concerned about minor physical defects such as scratches or scuffs. A quarter of mobile owners did not see the need for purchasing a refurbished handset and concerns about security/ privacy were highlighted by 23% of the surveyed adults.

Despite some openness to the idea, only 17% of adults think it is likely that they will actually purchase a refurbished handset in the future, compared to 53% who believe it's unlikely.

This data shows that while there is considerable awareness and some interest in refurbished handsets, significant barriers remain due to concerns over quality, reliability, and overall value. It suggests a need for better consumer education and perhaps improvements in the offerings and guarantees provided by sellers to make refurbished handsets a more attractive option.

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Methodology: YouGov Surveys: Serviced and YouGov Custom Research provide quick survey results from nationally representative or targeted audiences in multiple markets. This study was conducted online on 20 December 2023 – 21 January 2024, with a nationally/ representative sample of 2,544 mobile owners (aged 18+ years) in the UK, using a questionnaire designed by YouGov. Data figures have been weighted by age, gender, education and social grade to be representative of mobile owners in the UK (18 years or older).