Second-hand tech offers a cheaper way to get your hands on a phone, and help the environment

Used iPhone 14 Plus came in with a €300 saving over new

Adrian Weckler

Is it worth buying a second hand phone? Do the environmental benefits and financial savings outweigh the nagging worry about something being off? Is it safe to go hunting through small ads, or should you lower the risk by buying from established used tech retailers?

There are multiple online retailers that specialise in selling used phones, including Swappie, Refurbed, Mint+, Phonely and even Apple’s own certified refurbed online store. Then there are physical outlets, such as CEX, Gamestop and others.

But how does the process work? And what are the guarantees?

Swappie is one of the two or three largest of the online refurbed phone sellers.

Its process is relatively clean and quick. Like other platforms, it allows a prospective buyer to pick the condition of the phone, as well as its relative specification levels. An iPhone 14 Plus with 512GB of storage, for example, which would normally cost €1,569 new, costs from €1,139 at Swappie if the platform’s ‘excellent’ condition status is picked.

What about battery, though? One of the biggest issues in any rechargeable used tech is battery life. Batteries degrade with every charge; it’s normal for a one-year old phone, that was recharged every night, to have around 80pc of the initial battery life out of the box.

This factor is exacerbated when buying privately through online ads. Professional retailers often swap the battery in for a new one.

In general, used phone resellers guarantee at least 80pc for all the phones they sell. Swappie has a 100pc capacity battery option for most of its phones, but this bumps the price up more; an iPhone 14 Plus with 512GB of storage, that would cost €1,569 new and €1,139 at the ‘excellent’ condition status, costs €1,219 with a 100pc capacity battery and a ‘buyback guarantee’.

That’s still more than €300 cheaper, though, a hefty saving on buying it new. For those who think of such things, it’s also a environmental gesture in not buying something new, but consuming something that was already made.

So is it worth it?

I tried Swappie’s process by ordering an iPhone 14 Plus online and had no problems. The device came in a Swappie-branded box with the usual charging cable and sim-tray fork. The phone itself, upon close inspection, looks absolutely new and, so far, works absolutely fine.