We are distributors of

Cell Phones

that are used, tested, graded, and ready for resale.


Arthur Bronfman / June 2, 2022

When you decide to buy any type of electronic device — from laptops to tablets and smartphones — you need to take your time and decide what’s most important to you in this purchase. Keep in mind, the refurbished phone market can offer a range of smartphones in good cosmetic condition with a warranty and top-notch functionality at an affordable cost, assigning refurbished grades to all refurb devices. 

You can look at many factors to see if refurbished smartphone providers offer a good value for your needs. One of these is a refurbished smartphone grade. To make it easier to understand product quality, sellers typically use a grading system to evaluate their refurbished products. This includes manufacturers like Apple and Samsung, retailers like BestBuy and Amazon, and wholesale providers.

Our guide explains how used phones are graded, why grading matters, grading criteria, considerations, and what’s included in RecirQ’s grading system.

Refurbished Grades for Smartphones

Refurbished grades help the consumer understand the cosmetic condition of refurbished products like smartphones. 

The grading system for devices uses letter grades: Grade A, Grade B, and Grade C. Sometimes, a refurbished device provider might include a plus or minus sign with that letter grade. This further clarifies the cosmetic look of each refurbished smartphone inspected by that provider. 

There is no standardized definition for each grade, but we’ve put together some of the most common descriptions below:

Refurbished Grade A

Grade A devices are in the best condition and show minimal signs of use. These Grade A products can even look brand new. Buying these products might be the closest you can get to buying a new phone without paying full-price. 

Most staff members would expect company-provided refurbished phones to be at this level.

Refurbished Grade B

Grade B products are in good condition. This grade means that the phone shows signs of wear. However, these phones don’t have cracks, dents, or deep blemishes that indicate greater use. There may be light scratches and smudging on the back or side of the smartphone as well as small dings or minor dents. 

This grade may be acceptable if you don’t want to spend a lot of money on yourself as a business owner or entrepreneur, but it may not be ideal for your team members.

Refurbished Grade C

As the lowest grade of this grading system, Grade C shows signs of heavy wear and tear with more cracks, dings, and scuffs. However, there should not be any functional damage to the actual screen. Screen damage should be fixed during the inspection and repair process of refurbishment. 

You might consider purchasing phones at this grade level to save money, or for a young child who is still learning to be a responsible smartphone owner. These phones may also be suitable for a consumer who isn’t worried about what others think of the phone’s appearance.

All Grading Levels

All graded refurbished smartphones tend to come with generic packaging and not the original packaging materials sold with new phones. There may or may not be a charging cord or charger. If these are included, they would also be generic versus branded, such as an Apple charger.

Why Refurbished Grades Matter

Knowing the grade of a refurbished phone means you have a better idea of its condition, how its previous owner cared for it, and if you want to invest in it. 

A refurbished grade also helps show the true value of the smartphone. Knowing its general cosmetic condition can inform your overall impression of the state of the smartphone.

By reviewing the grade, you may be able to avoid purchasing a used phone that isn’t the quality advertised. That can save you money on repairs and time without your primary communication channel. 

The grading system builds confidence that you are buying a product that will deliver what you want. 

Grading Criteria and Considerations for Refurbished Phones

Again, although the grading system is intended to standardize the process for assessing what shape a smartphone is in, resellers might grade smartphones in different ways. Instead of choosing a phone solely on a grade provided by a certain refurb provider, you should factor in some additional considerations.

To start, since each reseller uses their own standards chart for grading, it’s important to read the terms and conditions chart for each of the resellers you are considering. That’s because some grading criteria does not necessarily account for any issues with the actual device in terms of overall working condition, including the state of the battery or any existing mechanical problem. 

While a reseller should put in a new battery and test the overall working condition of the phone, this may not be guaranteed unless the reseller has provided some type of certification for the refurb device. Also, a grading system most likely does not refer to accessories or packaging, even if they come with the refurbished smartphone.

Returns, Warranties, and Certifications

Along with the refurbished grade, it’s important to research the return policy. Look for sellers that offer a year warranty or longer. 

Also, check if the phone has been certified. The reseller should be able to explain or show you what the phone went through to achieve certification. Many resellers will provide paperwork that describes the certification process or add a sticker to show it has been certified to match a certain refurbished grade,

Inspection and Reviews

It’s also worth asking what type of inspection and cleaning process each phone goes through. While this most likely will be included within the certification paperwork, it is helpful to have the seller explain or show you what they have used to inspect and clean it. You can also find videos that show how some companies prepare their refurb devices for resale. 

Finally, take the time to read any reviews about the reseller to get a complete picture of the potential purchase experience.

RecirQ’s Grading Process for Smartphones

Consistency and a high quality standard drive everything that RecirQ does. This includes the development and implementation of our grading process to offer high-quality refurbished products.

 Here is a breakdown of the RecirQ grading system used to analyze previous use:

  • Grade A is a like-new condition. We consider this type of refurbished product to be in pristine condition.
  • Grade B is any device that shows minimal wear and tear.  
  • Grade C has notable wear and tear.  
  • Grade BX has more wear and tear, which may include the front glass. The housings (the back and side plastic frame of the phone) are in A or B grade condition.  
  • Grade A-BX smartphones have also been cleared of any functional issue. Our priority is ensuring that all devices we offer as refurbished are in good working order, including internal working parts and all essential functionality.
  • Grade PTG means there may be some functional or cosmetic issues. When you look at a phone with this grade, we’ll provide specific information about what these issues might be. 

Unlike RecirQ, other resellers do not necessarily include functional capabilities of each phone in their grading system. 

All of our refurbished devices undergo a stringent inspection, testing, cleaning and disinfection, and repair and refurbishment process to ensure we optimize the working condition for all our devices.

RecirQ Offers Top-Graded iPhones and Androids

Sellers use refurbished grades so buyers understand a smartphone’s condition. However, not all sellers use the same grading system. In addition to familiarizing yourself with general descriptions of each grade, it’s important to look into how a certain seller grades their products along with their warranties, return policy, and repair process.

RecirQ offers wholesale refurbished phones and devices that allow you to confidently buy devices for your team. These top-grade refurbished phones, Macbooks, iPads, and laptops, including many different models and generations, are now available for you.

Check out our selection of high-quality, refurbished-grade smartphones and devices to get the latest models at the best prices.