When buying a refurbished product, one of the most important factors to consider is the cosmetic condition. Whether a refurbished iPhone, a refurbished MacBook, or any other tech item, you want to be confident that the device you’re buying doesn’t look beat up and won’t entirely fall to pieces the minute you open the box.

Keep in mind that a good refurbished product has:

  • been treated right by its previous owner;
  • been appropriately repaired by the retailer or manufacturer;
  • gone through a rigorous testing process before going on the market.

The good news is that there is an entire grading scale in place regarding the cosmetic quality of refurbished devices. We’ll get into the specific definitions and cover all the essential information you need to know below.

What exactly is a refurbished grade?

A refurbished grade is a quality classification of a refurbished product regarding its cosmetic condition. It can also be called cosmetic grade or refurb grade.

The refurbished grade of a product mainly depends on three factors:

  • How many cosmetic imperfections do they have (e.g., scratches, scuffs, and other marks)?
  • How much has the product been used by its previous owner?
  • What packaging does it come in?

Refurbished grades are designed to give you a better idea of what to expect from a refurbished product. It’s unlikely that refurbished retailers will count exactly how many noticeable scratches you can see on the lid of a refurbished MacBook. Still, the grade provides you with as much information as possible to be confident in your purchase.

The standard system of refurbished grades runs on a scale from Grade A to Grade C. Grade A offers the best quality, and Grade C provides the lowest quality refurbished device. Some merchants even include additional grades, such as Grade D, which would be the lowest on their scale.

Let’s dive into the definitions of refurbished grades A, B, and C.

What does refurbished Grade A mean?

Refurbished Grade A

Refurbished Grade A is the very best quality that you could expect from a refurbished product. In short, Grade A refurbished devices are in near-mint condition. Their cosmetic aspect is excellent, and they show next to no signs of previous use.

With a refurbished Grade A cell phone, you will see minimal amounts of scuffing on the case. A refurbished Grade A laptop will look like new, with minimal scuffing and marks on the lid, keyboard, and other areas.

Grade A devices will likely show typical signs of light usage (e.g., slight marks on the keys), but you shouldn’t expect to see any scratches, noteworthy cosmetic damage, or moderate blemishes.

As an example, the Apple Certified Refurbished program only sells refurbished iPhones, MacBooks, and iPads with the same high-quality standards as brand-new products and in an excellent condition (Grade A).

What does refurbished Grade B mean?

Refurbished Grade B

Refurbished Grade B is the second-best cosmetic quality you can get from a refurbished device and feature some light scratches or scuffs.

These minor imperfections refer only to a cosmetic condition, and it’s usually the only difference with Grade A devices. Grade B laptops and phones are tested thoroughly and are perfectly functional.

Because of these minor signs of use, Grade B products are more affordable than refurbished Grade A devices. If you have a limited budget, this might help.

What does refurbished Grade C mean?

Refurbished Grade C

Refurbished Grade C is the lowest cosmetic quality of a refurbished phone or laptop still in working order. Although refurbished Grade C devices have been tested, cleaned, and confirmed to work, they show signs of intense usage by their previous owner.

You will see very noticeable cosmetic issues in a refurbished Grade C device, including more significant scratches and signs of wear and tear on the case or lid. Grade C devices are cheaper than Grade A and Grade B items, making them ideal for those who need a new phone or laptop but have less money to spare.

How do merchants grade their refurbished devices?

Refurbished grades A, B, and C are the most commonly used ways that refurbisher retailers tell you about the cosmetic quality of their products. However, not all retailers use this lettered grading system.

RefurbMe

RefurbMe screenshot with refurbished grades
RefurbMe Grading system

Because our refurbished retail partners use so many different terms, on RefurbMe, we list three cosmetic conditions: Excellent, Good, and Fair.

  • Excellent (Grade A) devices are like new.
  • Good (Grade B) devices are in working condition but have light cosmetic issues.
  • Fair (Grade C) devices have light but visible scratches on the body.

All of the devices that we list work perfectly. Our Excellent, Good, and Fair rating is there to make buying refurbished products more accessible and intuitive than the grading system.

BackMarket

Back Market screenshot with refurbished grades and different prices
BackMarket Grading system

Back Market uses three different grading terms:

  • Excellent (Grade A): the best cosmetic quality for a refurbished item. The product’s appearance is like new, and there are no scratches on the screen.
  • Good (Grade B): the devices present obvious signs of use with light signs of wear but no scratches on the screen.
  • Fair (Grade C): there will be visible scratches and moderate cosmetic defects. It still complies with Back Market’s quality standards.

Gazelle

Gazelle screenshot with refurbished grades and different prices

Gazelle lists three different refurbished grades:

  • Excellent (Grade A): the screen and the device’s body are in excellent condition.
  • Good (Grade B): a very good condition, although with light aesthetic blemishes. The functionality is the same.
  • Fair (Grade C): a good condition with visible wear and tear.

Mac of All Trades

Mac of All Trades lists five cosmetic conditions for its refurbished MacBooks:

  • Excellent (Grade A): possible signs of minimal wear.
  • Very Good (Grade B): light signs of physical wear and no visible defects when the screen is on.
  • Good (Grade B): moderate blemishes and apparent signs of use based on the product’s age.
  • Fair (Grade C): important signs of use or imperfections.
  • Vintage: they refer to functional products that can’t run the latest OS and thus may be incompatible with newer apps and features.

Decluttr

Decluttr's refurbished grades

Decluttr uses three refurbished grades for its devices:

  • Pristine (Grade A): excellent cosmetic condition with no marks or scratches.
  • Very Good (Grade B): minimal wear and light signs of use.
  • Good (Grade C): moderate signs of use but still in perfect working condition.

Do refurbished products come with a warranty?

Yes. When buying a refurbished product—of any grade—it’s crucial to get a warranty. While refurbished devices are typically tested thoroughly, a warranty will protect you if anything goes wrong or if the refurbished device you’ve purchased doesn’t have the cosmetic quality you expected.

It’s worth noting that every device listed on RefurbMe comes with a minimum 30-day warranty, although most of them have one-year warranty coverage or more. This includes refurbished iPhones, MacBooks, Apple Watches, iPads, and iMacs, among others.

Several retailers will also have no-hassle money back or return policies, allowing you to return a device or get a replacement if needed.

Warranties and refurbished grades help you feel confident that you’re getting a quality product along with a good discount. These indicators let you know that you’re paying for a reliable device supported by the warranty period.

Are batteries of refurbished products in good condition?

Yes. The condition of batteries of refurbished devices depends on every merchant or refurbisher. Still, the batteries will usually be replaced if their health is below 80% in the refurbishing process and they are in good working condition.

Other merchants, such as Apple, always replace the batteries of their iPhones and iPads regardless of battery health.

We have a complete article covering all you need to know about batteries of refurbished products and how to compare their condition between refurbishers.

Takeaway

To sum up:

  • Refurbished Grade A: The best quality of a refurbished device. Near-mint condition, excellent cosmetic level, and little to no signs of previous use.
  • Refurbished Grade B: The second-best quality of a refurbished device. There is light scuffing on the bezel and minor scratches on the case. It can be on the body as a result of gentle use.
  • Refurbished Grade C: The lowest cosmetic quality of a refurbished device. In perfect working order but will show more scratches and signs of wear and tear due to intense or long-term use.

Bonus: Where to find the best discounts when buying refurbished devices?

Buying refurbished devices is easier than before if you have a comparison platform that does all the work for you. There are many reliable sellers out there, and comparing not only the refurbished grades but also any other specification can take you a while.

On RefurbMe, we specialize in comparing hundreds of refurbished Apple products from multiple certified refurbishers. They all offer a warranty and a wide variety of devices to choose from at competitive prices. Our platform is completely free to use, and you can also set price drop alerts to get your device at the lowest price possible.

Have a look at our most popular refurbished products in real time below, and don’t hesitate to browse our site to find more special deals.

Good luck!

Cosmetic conditions