Renewed vs. Refurbished Tech Gear: What’s The Difference?

When buying used tech gear, you will often see used products that have either been classified as renewed or refurbished, but what’s the difference?

When dealing with tech gadgets and devices, proper functionality is absolutely vital, which is why you want to ensure that any used products that you buy are in solid working condition. Understanding the difference between renewed vs. refurbished can help you with your decision-making when shopping for quality tech gear. 

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What’s the difference between renewed and refurbished tech gear?

The difference between renewed and refurbished tech gear is that renewed products are generally sold in a condition that is ‘as good as new’ – whereas refurbished tech gear generally implies that a product has been restored, upgraded, or repaired before being re-sold.

We live in a digital age where new and improved technology is being pumped out at a rampant pace. 

There is a new gadget or device being released faster than previous generations of the same model can even come close to expiring, which results in a lot of used tech gear being re-sold on the market. 

You can save money buying a renewed or refurbished phone. These can often be great buys and can be acquired at a considerably better price. The two main classifications for used gear are ‘renewed’ and ‘refurbished’, but it is important to understand that devices labeled this way have been used in different ways – with some being in better condition than others. 

When buying tech products, you want to have as much certainty as possible that what you are getting is going to last, which is why you should be able to distinguish the difference between renewed vs. refurbished gear.

After extensively researching renewed and refurbished tech products, I have been able to gather enough information to determine the difference between these two classifications. 

My research has shown me that the definition of renewed vs refurbished can vary depending on the retailer, manufacturer, or wholesaler selling the product, which is why you should always carefully read the condition of the gear before committing to a purchase.

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Renewed vs. Refurbished Tech Gear

If you are buying tech gear that has been labeled as either renewed or refurbished, then you should know that you are buying a product that has been used in some way shape, or form. The biggest difference between renewed and refurbished tech gear is how used the product actually is.

Renewed tech gear is typically an item that is as good as new. This kind of gear should have no indication of being used and it should be 100% functional. 

Whereas refurbished tech products have generally been used to some extent by a previous owner and have either been repaired or revamped to be fully operational. However, there are exemptions to this based on how the product was renewed or refurbished.

The last position you want to find yourself in is unboxing your package only to find that the tech gear you bought does not meet your standards or expectations. 

Buying used tech gear can be a slippery slope sometimes, but if you know what you are doing and understand what to look out for, then you may have a great bargain to take advantage of. 

With that being said, when you evaluate tech gear that has been labeled as either renewed or refurbished, you must understand that each seller can have a different interpretation of these two classifications. 

To ensure that you know exactly what you are purchasing, read the terms and conditions of the product and how it was handled. Let’s break down the difference between renewed and refurbished tech gear. 

Renewed Tech Gear

‘Renewed’ tech gear is as good as new.

More often than not a renewed tech product was barely used by the previous owner – with no signs of damage or wear and tear. 

The bottom line is that if you are buying renewed tech gear, you can feel quite confident that the product is going to perform and function the way that it should as if it were new – with no sign of use. These are the different types of renewed tech products.


If you see a renewed product that has been labeled as ‘Pre-Owned’, then it will likely have been taken out of the box and used very briefly.

This often occurs when a product is bought and then returned within a short period of time.

Generally speaking, before any tech gear is re-sold after being pre-owned, it must go through a quality control inspection. The product is thoroughly evaluated and its condition is then confirmed as being virtually new and it is then sold as ‘pre-owned and renewed’.

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Un-Boxed or Open-Box

Renewed tech gear can quite literally be brand new and may have simply gone through an unboxing process.

It is very common for customers to buy products that they realize they do not want immediately after unboxing them – or they could have simply ordered the wrong package entirely. This kind of tech gear should not indicate any kind of use and it will essentially be a brand new product. 

However, given the fact that the product was opened at some point, sellers and manufacturers are still obliged to classify the tech gear as renewed. 

Factory Renewed

When a product has been classified as ‘Factory Renewed’ it means that it was never officially used by an owner. 

Factory renewed tech gear is generally any product that was sold from a manufacturer to a seller and then returned directly to the manufacturer without ever being used and, in most cases, even unboxed.

Manufacturers have return policies in effect with a lot of the items that they sell and if a retailer is not satisfied with the product for whatever reason (so long as it is within the sales agreement), they can request a return.

When this occurs, the tech gear is sent back to the manufacturer where it undergoes a cleaning and inspection process. If the item is in complete working order and has no indication of being used, it is in factory renewed condition and will be sold as such.

Refurbished Tech Gear

Unlike renewed tech gear, refurbished products do not provide as much certainty for quality assurance.

A refurbished product has probably been used considerably and may potentially have scratches, marks, or other physical signs of minor damage.

What generally occurs with refurbished tech gear is that the item was faulty or damaged and returned to the seller by the owner. The product undergoes an evaluation by the seller, they fix the issue and redistribute it. 

Refurbished tech gear can also imply that an item was recalled by the seller or manufacturer to replace dated or faulty parts. In this case, the item goes through a similar process and is inspected and fixed. 

The majority of refurbished tech products that are sold are tested thoroughly beforehand to ensure that they work properly. This is especially the case if the item went back to the official manufacturer for processing, as they have excellent quality assurance standards.

What you want to watch out for when buying refurbished tech gear is any product that has been handled by a third-party seller or potentially even an amateur. 

This is particularly common with sellers on platforms like eBay where used tech products have been refurbished by individuals rather than companies. Although this is not a guarantee of a poor product, you should approach this kind of refurbished gear with caution. 

Certified Refurbished

If you see any tech product that has been labeled as ‘Certified Refurbished’, it is a much better indication that the used item is in great working condition. This will signify that the product has gone through an official refurbishment process by the original manufacturer or certified re-distributor. 

These refurbished tech items go through a thorough and professional cleaning and evaluation process to ensure that the product is in excellent working order before being sold again. This often occurs when tech products are returned due to being damaged or having performance issues.

Depending on how poor the condition of the product is, the manufacturer will replace and restore any parts or components necessary.

The tech gear is then tested for quality assurance and certified as being refurbished by a professional. This is the safest option for buying refurbished tech products.

Factors to Consider When Buying Renewed vs. Refurbished Tech Gear

When dealing with renewed or refurbished tech gear, it is always smart to know what you are buying before you make any commitments. 

More often than not, renewed and refurbished tech products are quite safe to buy and they even come with some added benefits in some situations such as being more affordable. 

On the other hand, there can also be some drawbacks when dealing with used tech gear. To ensure that you are satisfied with the renewed or refurbished product that you are buying, keep the following factors in mind when shopping.


When you buy a used product, it should ideally have some kind of warranty attached to it. Whether you are buying renewed or refurbished tech gear, there could potentially be something wrong with the product that may arise down the line. 

This is particularly common with refurbished products that have been processed, disassembled, or repaired. 

A technical glitch, a faulty part, or poor refurbishment can easily result in the gear giving you issues after you buy it. If this were to occur, you want to be covered by a warranty so that you can claim your money back.

Credible redistributors, especially those selling products that have been classified as ‘Certified Refurbished’ by the original manufacturer, will pretty much always come with a warranty attached. In fact, you can even get Applecare on a used phone

However, third-party and amateur sellers may not offer a warranty on their refurbished items.

Return Policy

Regardless of whether you are dealing with a renewed or refurbished product, always make sure that it has a reasonable return policy. More often than not, if tech gear is faulty it will give you signs of this within a short timeframe.

If you spot any issues with the tech gear or are simply not happy with the product, you should be able to return it and claim your money back. This is rarely an issue with renewed items but it can happen. 

Much like with the warranty, a solid return policy is going to be essential for a refurbished product. Before making your purchase, always read the return policy carefully so that you know what you are in for.

Customer Reviews

The world of tech is expansive and there are customer reviews for virtually every single product on the market. When buying a renewed or refurbished tech item, always be thorough before the purchase and read what paying customers have said about the product. 

This will be a great indication of what kind of issues are prevalent with the tech gear and whether it is even worth buying at all.

Certain products are notorious for experiencing repeated issues and if you see that there is a pattern of performance problems or mechanical faults with an item, it is a good indication that you should avoid buying it – regardless of whether it is renewed or refurbished.

On the other hand, customer reviews can also assist your buying process by indicating that the product you are reviewing is a good purchase. 

Credible thirty-party resellers and manufacturers will have customer reviews on their sites for you to read through. If you see that the organization has built a solid reputation with its customers, it is a good sign that you can rely on them.

Missing Items

Missing items should never be a problem with renewed tech gear, as the product should be sold as if it were new.

However, this can become an easy factor to overlook with refurbished products. Each tech product is different and may have had a number of different items included with it when it was first sold.

Refurbished tech gear may be missing some of these items. For example, if you are buying a phone, this could mean a missing charger – a computer could be sold without its monitor or even with some of its original parts/components missing. 

Regardless, make sure that the tech gear that you are buying contains everything that it should.

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