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

The good news is that there is an entire grading scale in place regarding the cosmetic quality of a refurbished iPhone or MacBook. Moreover, we’ll get into the specific definitions below and cover all the critical information you need to know.

Keep in mind that a good refurbished product has:

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

We have already addressed the question “Do refurbished phones have scratches?” on the RefurbMe blog, but this question only scratches the surface. We further explain each refurbished grade that describes the cosmetic condition of a refurbished product.

Refurbished grades: what are they?

A refurbished grade is a quality classification of a refurbished product or device regarding its cosmetic condition. The grading of refurbished products depends on these three factors:

  • How many cosmetic imperfections they have (e.g. scratches, scuffs, and other marks)?
  • How much the product has 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. Moreover, it’s unlikely that refurbished retailers will count exactly how many tiny scratches you can see on the lid of a refurbished MacBook. Still, the grade provides you 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. Let’s dive into the definitions of each of these grades.

What does refurbished Grade A mean?


Refurbished Grade A is the very best quality that you could expect from a refurbished MacBook or iPhone. Additionally, Grade A refurbished devices are in near-mint condition. As a result, their cosmetic aspect is excellent, and they show next to no signs of previous use.

With a refurbished Grade A phone, you will see very minimal amounts of scuffing on the case. Furthermore, a refurbished Grade A laptop will look (almost) like new, with very minimal amounts of scuffing and marks and the lid, keyboard, and other areas of its design. 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, chips, or significant blemishes.

What does refurbished Grade B mean?


Refurbished Grade B is the second-best quality you can expect from a refurbished device. In addition, refurbished Grade B products feature some light scratches or scuffs. Furthermore, this is only a cosmetic condition 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 is the lowest quality of a refurbished phone or laptop that is still in working order. Although refurbished Grade C devices have been tested and confirmed to work, they show signs of heavy or even excessive usage by their previous owner.

You will see very noticeable cosmetic issues with 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 products, making them ideal for those who need a new phone or laptop but have less money to spare.

Grading system used by other refurbishers

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

How RefurbMe grades their refurbished devices?

RefurbMe Grading system

Because our refurbished retail partners use so many different terms, on RefurbMe, we list three different cosmetic conditions: Fair, Good, and Excellent. Excellent devices are like new (equivalent to Grade A), and Good devices are in working condition but have some light cosmetic issues (equal to Grade B). Fair devices have light but plainly visible scratches on the body.

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

How BackMarket grades their refurbished devices?

BackMarket Grading system

Refurbished retailer BackMarket uses five different grading terms. Fair, Good, and Excellent, with Fair being the poorest quality and Excellent being the best. It is equivalent to refurbished Grade A.

Fair is Grade C as there will be “visible scratches” and some dents. At the same time, Good is considered as Grade B.

How Gazelle grades their refurbished devices?

Meanwhile, refurbished retailer Gazelle lists three different grading terms. They are Excellent, Good, and Fair, equivalent to refurbished grades A, B, and C, respectively. Mac of All Trades, on the other hand, lists five cosmetic conditions for its refurbished MacBook. Subsequently, they are Fair (only available on clearance), Good, Excellent, Mint, and New–Open Box. The last means the device is in mint condition that comes with all of its original packaging and items from Apple.

If you’re curious about the testing process of refurbished MacBook/refurbished iPhone devices, head over to our helpful guides. We have a Refurbished MacBook testing guide and a Refurbished iPhone testing guide.

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. In addition, this includes refurbished iPhones, MacBooks, Apple Watches, iPads, and iMacs. Also, most of them have a 1-year warranty. Many 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 the refurbished grades help you feel confident that you’re getting a quality product along with a good discount. Furthermore, these indicators let you know that you’re paying for a reliable device. The refurbished device warranty will support that.

To Sum Up

  • Refurbished Grade A: The best quality of a refurbished device. Near-mint condition, excellent cosmetic level, and little signs of previous use.
  • Refurbished Grade B: The second-best quality of a refurbished device. There is light scuffing on the bezel and light scratches on the case. Also, it can be on body as a result of a gentle use.
  • Refurbished Grade C: The lowest quality of a refurbished device. 100% in working order, but will have more scratches and signs of wear and tear as a result of heavy, daily use.

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Cosmetic conditions