What Are Renewed Electronics?

Buyer Beware

Normally when you talk about cheap electronics you are talking about “cheap” chipsets, features, and usually a shorter life span.

“Inexpensive” vs “Cheap”. That is a meaningful distinction. Retailers selling the same product where one is $169.99 and the other is $139.99, then obviously one is simply less expensive. But if the products don’t list their specs, the $139.99 product might be a cheaper product to begin with. Buyer Beware!

February And March Christmas Bonus

One side effect of Christmas gifts is that millions of items are sold and most of them are purchased as gifts. That means many of these gifts end up being returned, for one reason or another. A tablet already on sale on Black Friday might have been given to a person who tries it out and decides they would rather have something else, so they have it returned. Most returns must be made by February which means that retailers’ shelves are now stocked with returns, which is a sad thing for them but a good thing for us. In most cases, the discounts are considerable. Retailers must reduce their inventory and recover income as fast as possible. That is why you will often see “Limited Time Deal” under a Certified Refurbished item.

Amazon Renewed – Dell Outlet

Returns are enough of a problem that Amazon now has Amazon Renewed and Dell has Dell Outlet, where they sell the same products that were purchased before Christmas. These are not the only retailers, but I decided to limit the names to give you an idea of what is out there. Each retailer has the products professionally inspected and tested before they qualify as a Renewed product.



Regardless of the retailer, most are sold under one of four conditions and depending on your degree of acceptance might be able to score a great deal. The following guide is from Amazon, but I have checked several and they are all remarkably similar.


  • Cosmetic Conditions: Premium > No Scratches on the screen. No visible defects when held 12” away
  • Functional Condition: Premium > Battery greater than 90% of original life
  • Accessories: Generic or original equipment manufacturer accessories and packaging provided
  • Guarantee: 1-year Amazon Renewed Guarantee


  • It offers the features as premium except the Condition is Fully Functional, the battery is greater than 80% of its original life and a 90-day Amazon Renewed Guarantee


  • Cosmetic Condition: Good > No scratches to the screen > Light scratches. Barely visible when holding the product 12 inches away and imperceptible to the touch
  • Battery is greater than 80% of original life
  • Guarantee: 90-day Amazon Renewed Guarantee


  • Cosmetic Condition: Acceptable > screen may have a small number of shallow scratches that are invisible when the screen is turned on > Body light scratches when held at 12” away.
  • Guarantee: 90-day Amazon Renewed Guarantee
  • Wireless devices don’t come with headphones. Refurbished phones aren’t guaranteed to maintain their waterproof seal, and the product may be packaged in a generic box, and the accessories may be generic

When you are talking about a phone, tablet, or laptop, it you want to look new. When you are talking about electronics, where performance matters more than a scratch. For vacuum cleaners, shop tools, appliances, or a desktop computer, if the screen doesn’t have scratches, it shouldn’t matter if the case is blemished.

Even if it is now supplied with a generic peripheral instead of the OEM or the items are no longer packaged in the original box, it means a bigger discount for you.

As far as guarantees, I have found that most electronic devices that function for 90 days will continue to function like a normal purchase. Most of these products still offer extended warranties for an additional charge.

Other Retailers

There are plenty of other retailers that offer refurbished products and several third-party retailers that purchase returns in bulk to resell them online. They often perform the same type of inspections and offer great discounts. Places like “”, “” and “” are certainly worth checking out. Visit Apple Refurbished for comparisons.


Personally, I favor buying a renewed product from the vendor that originally sold it but that does not mean you will always get a better deal. Often a large retailer like Lenovo or HP would rather wholesale a model to third-party vendors in bulk to clear their shelves as soon as possible and it also allows them to discontinue that model from their website making it difficult for you to make a “New” vs “Renewed” comparison. I have noticed that recent models sold before Christmas are no longer available on the manufacturer’s website. So, if you are looking for a tablet you could not afford before, it just might be available now.

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