Will Refurbished Smart Phones Be the New Hot Trend?

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According to a recent Msnbc.com report, refurbished smart phones could be making a comeback in popularity in today’s economy.

Refurbished phones are generally devices that users returned during their standard 30-day trial period. Recently, AT&T, one of the nation’s largest wireless carriers, offered refurbished iPhones for $99. Typically, the phones retail for $149 or more, depending on memory size.

National retailers are already jumping on the refurbished phone bandwagon. Best Buy, for example, recently announced it will begin selling these “like new” iPhones at its stores. Initially, the used phones will be available at 350 Best Buy stores nationwide, but by the end of January all U.S. Best Buy stores that offer AT&T will carry them.

In 2008, about 1.2 billion handsets shipped worldwide. Of these, 40.7 million were refurbished phones – a number some expect to grow to as much as 46 million.

The market for refurbished phones is expected to grow due to economic concerns and growing availability.

The market for refurbished smart phones is expected to grow due to economic concerns and growing availability. -iOffer.com

Who’s Buying?

Refurbished phones, especially smart phones, offer a great “bang” for your buck if you’re watching your budget. Especially for first time users who may or may not want all the bells and whistles smart phones offer, refurbished is an easy way to get the technology you want at a lower price. In fact, some refurbished phones can sell for up to 60 percent less than their new counterparts.

Refurbished phones also carry an environmental perk. By buying “lightly used,” you’re reducing the need for more virgin product to be utilized and therefore require less resources for your phone. Also, you prevent a perfectly usable unit from being landfilled, which would be a shame if you’ve been coveting an apparatus with fun features like a touchscreen or the ability to recognize the music on your radio.

Like most items in the refurbished game, patience is a virtue when it comes to gadgets. In general, most people upgrade their phones every 18 months or so. If you’ve had your eye on a particular phone, just sit tight. ReCellular, one of the largest cell phone recyclers in the country, expects the popular models of today (like the iPhone or BlackBerry Curve) to appear on the list of top recycled models in 2009 or 2010.

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