Interested in a used phone from Verizon but not sure how it works? From condition and battery life to user satisfaction and cost, we're answering all of the questions you might have about pre-owned devices versus new.

1. What’s the difference?

If you think you may be in the market for a previously owned phone, it's important to know that anyone can sell an old device and call it a "used phone" or a "pre-owned phone." That's why it's important to understand a couple of terms.

  • Refurbished phones: This typically refers to devices that have undergone some sort of repair. The previous users’ data has been wiped and the factory settings are typically restored, allowing you to set up the device the same way you would a brand-new phone. 

  • Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) phones: This refers to all of the pre-owned smartphones Verizon sells. These devices have been inspected and are in full working order. “Certified Pre-Owned” is also potentially more accurate than “used” or “refurbished” — some smartphones are returned in full working order after only a few days. While these devices are definitely pre-owned and cannot be sold as new, some may not have been used at all by previous owners.

2. Where do pre-owned and used phones come from?

It's a common misconception that all pre-owned or refurbished phones were returned due to defects. While it's true that some pre-owned devices require repairs, many people bring back smartphones within the allowed return window simply because they've decided they want a different model or color. Other pre-owned phones find their way back onto store shelves via trade-ins.

3. What kind of shape are these phones in? 

It depends. 

Refurbished phones may seem identical to brand-new devices, or they may have a fair number of dings and scratches. (Generally speaking: the worse the condition, the lower the price.)

When phones are returned or recycled due to defects, the refurbishment process may involve repairs such as new internal components, new screens and fixed ports. But before these smartphones can be sold as Certified Pre-Owned devices, they must be fully inspected by Verizon to ensure they work properly.

All of Verizon’s Certified Pre-Owned devices are assigned 1 of 4 grades according to their cosmetic condition. 

  1. “Like New” devices are just what they sound like; they look and feel like a new phone, and they’ve either been used very minimally or have been completely rebuilt. 
  2. A phone in “Great” condition will have a few light scratches and scuffs.
  3. A “Very Good” device will be slightly more scratched up. 
  4. Finally, a device in “Good” condition will have more substantial scratches, scuffs or dents on the phone case and may also have minor scratches on the screen. 

4. How do I know a pre-owned device is reliable? 

All Verizon Certified Pre-Owned devices have passed Verizon’s Total Quality Inspection, which ensures the following: 

  • The battery charges up, and the battery charge indicator works
  • All ports are completely functional, and all card slots work
  • Each pixel on the display works, and images on the screen are clear and bright
  • Wi-Fi and other connectivity functions work properly
  • Speakers, microphones and Bluetooth audio all work
  • All buttons and soft keyboards work, and the software is up to date

A warranty is one way to reduce concerns about a used or refurbished device.  Certified Pre-Owned phones are also eligible for Total Mobile Protection insurance, which covers loss, theft, damage and many defects that pop up post-warranty. If you purchase a Certified Pre-Owned device with a credit card, your card may also provide extended protection. 

If battery life is one of your top priorities, it’s worth asking whether the battery in a pre-owned device was replaced as part of the refurbishment process. 

5. Why would I get a pre-owned phone instead of buying new? 

The short — and most common — answer is budget. 

A Certified Pre-Owned smartphone will often sell for $100 less than an identical new model. This allows buyers to move up to a model they otherwise wouldn't be able to afford or to simply save if they don't really care about unboxing a brand-new phone. Buying a Certified Pre-Owned model is also an affordable way to replace a lost or broken device, especially if you weren't planning to buy a new one for another year or more.

Some people are also drawn to refurbished phones due to the reduced environmental footprint. Purchasing a Certified Pre-Owned device helps to keep old phones out of landfills and saves energy, water and other resources required to make new devices.

6. Why not buy “regular” used phones? 

You may find lower prices from individuals selling their used smartphones online. But a lower price may not turn out to be a better "deal" if the phone comes with technical problems (or, even worse, turns out to be stolen). If you buy a used phone from someone you don't know, you'll be unprotected when something goes wrong.

7. How do other people feel about their used phones? 

According to one consumer survey, more than two-thirds (67%) of refurbished phone owners said they had no complaints about their devices — very near to the portion of new smartphone owners who said the same thing about their devices (69%). In fact, more than 4 out of 5 people who bought a refurbished device said they were “highly satisfied” with their products. 

Quality savings and protection from Verizon.

Now that you know a little more about Certified Pre-Owned phones, are you ready to take the plunge? Verizon CPO devices are guaranteed to be fully functional and are eligible for Total Mobile Protection. It’s a win-win: a quality device at a lower price. Shop for a new-to-you device now.  

Interested in finding the right pre-owned smartphone to fit your lifestyle? Check out a large selection of refurbished devices here. And if you're a loyal Apple iPhone user, take a look at used and refurbished iPhone devices here.