How Refurbished Mobile Phones Are Tested and Graded

Here at Mazuma HQ, we test, grade and refurbish thousands of phones people send to us every month. Our thorough grading system allows us to be transparent about the condition of any refurbished phones we go on to sell. It also helps our team decide whether the phone can be refurbished and given a new home or if it’s reached the end of its working life and is ready for recycling.

Whether you’re looking to trade in your phone for cash or buy a refurbished phone, understanding the grading system and what happens to a device when it finds its way to Mazuma will give you peace of mind that you’re getting a great deal, every time.

What is a Refurbished Phone?

The first thing we need to establish: what is a refurbished phone? We’ve got a whole article on that, but in summary, a refurbished phone is a device that has had a previous owner. The difference between refurbished and used phones is that whilst a used phone will be sold as-is, typically by an individual, a refurbished phone has undergone rigorous testing and sometimes repairs to make sure it meets a certain standard before resale.

Electronic testing

There are certain tests that have to happen to figure out the working condition of the device and grade it correctly. One of these is electronic testing, which helps determine whether the device is in good enough condition to be refurbished. This means testing for things like:

  • Camera functionality
  • Touchscreen responsiveness
  • Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity
  • Button functionality
  • Speaker and microphone quality
  • Battery capacity

These are just a handful of things the device will be assessed for. If it passes the tests, the device is a good candidate for refurbishment. It’s worth pointing out that at this point, the device will be wiped of all existing data from the previous owner if it hasn’t already, unlocked from its network and factory reset.

Cosmetic grading

All the devices that pass the electronic testing stage will then be sent for cosmetic grading. Refurbished phones can include anything from an unwanted upgrade that’s barely been used to well-loved devices that have had their fair share of bumps and scrapes over the years. This is why cosmetic inspection and grading are so important, as they help determine the quality of the phone ahead of resale.

When phones are traded-in, devices will be thoroughly inspected for scratches, dents and scuffs to the screen, casing, camera lens, camera surrounds and ports. At this point, if a device has deep scratches, chips, a damaged screen or any significant physical damage, it won’t be suitable for refurbishment and will need to be recycled.

The refurbished grading system

The grading system identifies the condition of a refurbished phone and gives people an idea of what to expect from the device. Phones are graded from A-C, which A being the best and C being the lowest.

Grade A

Grade A is the best quality you can get for a refurbished phone. It generally means the device is like-new, with very few signs of previous use and only extremely light scuffing or scratches on the casing, if any. The phone will be thoroughly tested and in full working condition.

Grade B

A slight step down from Grade A, Grade B devices will have some signs of use in light scratches or scuffs. However, these imperfections will only ever be cosmetic and won’t impact the device’s functionality. The phone will be thoroughly tested and in full working condition.

Grade C

Grade C is the lowest quality refurbished phone you can get and will show significant signs of use by the previous owner; this could mean dents, scratches or scuffs. However, it’s worth pointing out that any damage is purely cosmetic, and the phone will have been tested and in full working condition, just like Grade A and B.

So if you’ve been wondering, why choose a refurbished phone? There’s your answer! You can pick up a near-mint condition device for significantly less than buying brand new.

What happens to a phone once it’s been graded?

Once a phone has received its grading, it’s ready for a new home. Some of them end up for sale online, like the ones you’ll find on our Mazuma Shop. Others are sent to our reuse partners, which include mobile phone retailers, repair centres and insurance companies, where they find their way into the hands of people all across the country looking for an affordable phone.

For the phones we can’t refurbish because of their condition, it’s not quite the end of the road. We’re committed to making the most of every device we receive here at Mazuma. Broken phones or those that don’t quite make the cut for refurbishment are stripped of all their recyclable parts, and any working components can even be used to repair other devices that go on to find a new home.

That’s why we encourage everyone with old devices they want to trade in, no matter the condition, to head over to our Sell My Phone page and find out what we can give you for your old devices.

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