Every year, the latest round of flagships gets a little more expensive. The Pixel 3, priced at $799, gained $150 on the Pixel 2, while the Pixel 3 XL, priced at $899, is $50 pricier than its predecessor. Unless you’re made of money, you can’t always take these price hikes lying down. Luckily, you don’t have to if you’re willing to buy refurbished.

But wait—before you run off to buy a cheaper, used Pixel make sure you check in with these tips. This guide will help you make the right choice with your “new-to-you” phone.

Know your options

There are a lot of terms used when it comes to refurbished smartphones. People often say “used”, “pre-owned”, and “refurbished” as if they’re the same, but they aren’t perfect synonyms. They all have slightly different meanings that impact the kind of handset you may end up with.

  • Used: This one is straight forward. It means simply any phone with this label has been used before by another person. It could be for a few weeks, several months, or a full year before the owner decided to sell.]


  • Pre-owned:By definition, any used phone is pre-owned, but not all pre-owned phones are used. Confused? Don’t worry — it’s simple; pre-owned just means it’s not new. It could be a phone used and returned within someone’s 14-day trial. Alternatively, it could describe a phone given to someone at Christmas, and the person opened the box before realizing it wasn’t the model they wanted. Even though they never turned it on, the fact that they opened the box means a carrier or retailer can’t resell it as new — they must label it as pre-owned.


  • Refurbished:Refurbished phone implies a previous owner returned the handset to the manufacturer for any reason, and the manufacturer performed repairs and testing to ensure the device works well.

Make sure it’s “certified”

Now, on paper, refurbished looks like the best deal for someone like you. Having undergone rigorous testing, the phone should work like new even if it was returned for a cracked screen, hardware issue, or simple personal preference.

In reality, it’s a little trickier. Anyone can slap refurbished onto their classified ad selling their used phone — whether they repaired or reset it. If they’re lying, you can inherit all of the issues that caused the person to sell their phone in the first place.

Shopping from certified refurbished gear might protect you from this. The trick is purchasing your refurbished Pixel from a trusted retailer that clearly states they repair phones and test them before they resell them.

Typically, buying straight from the manufacturer is your best bet. While Google has yet to get into the refurbishment game, it could be on the alphabet company’s horizon considering Apple’s latest GiveBack program.

Even without Refurbished by Google products, you can still purchase reliable refurbed Pixels from:

  • Amazon
  • BestBuy
  • Gazella
  • Swappa
  • Your wireless carrier

Look for a warranty

A warranty is an additional guarantee protecting consumers from glitches, bugs, and other issues affecting refurbed phones. The length of warranties will vary depending on where you purchase your Pixel from, as will their claims. The important part is that you have one. Research your options to make sure you have the right to a full refund or exchange should a hardware or software issue make your refurbed smartphone not work as advertised.

Get a skin

Although a certified refurbished seller may do all the necessary actions to return your Pixel to its original condition, guaranteeing it will perform to factory standards, it may still look used.

Depending on the seller, you may be able to choose what condition you want your “new” phone to be in — with options like fair, good, or excellent. As the name suggests, excellent is practically new in every way and would show very little (if any) evidence of a previous user, and it’s priced accordingly. You’ll have to pay extra to get an excellent refurbished phone compared to a less expensive handset in good condition.

In saving a hundred or so bucks by choosing anything less than excellent, you could wind up with a smartphone that shows some cosmetic damages — things like scuffs along the backing, minor scratches in the bezels, or chips around the charging ports.

Fortunately, there are never any greater damages than these issues. (After all, something like a cracked screen would be covered by your warranty)! And minor cosmetic damage has an easy fix. You can hide them with a tailormade Pixel skin. Companies like dbrand customize each skin for the specific model, so they fit perfectly and cover any possible trouble area for your phone. They’ve even developed a new screen protector that makes your phone practically invincible, giving your Pixel full coverage from top to bottom.

A Pixel skin does more than cover up — it shows off, too. Personalizing your refurbished phone is easy when you check out these cool custom options like black matrix and purple carbon fiber Pixel skins. Shop around to find something that will fit your fashion sense as well as your phone.

Never settle with your phone — even when it comes to refurbished tech. You can make sure you get a quality Pixel that works just as good as new for not-new prices as long as you remember these tips. Do your research and look for certified refurbished smartphones covered by warranties, and your biggest issue you’ll face with your refurb is choosing which Pixel skin you should try out first.

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Vineet Maheshwari is a passionate blogger and relationship oriented digital marketing consultant with over 10 years of experience in SEO, PPC management, web analytics, domain investing, affiliate marketing and digital strategy. He has helped high tech brands connect with customers in an engaging manner, thereby ensuring that high quality leads are generated over time.