Refurbished Grade A, B, C and D guide

Refurbished Cosmetic Condition: What Is Refurbished Grade A, B, and C?

When buying a refurbished product – whether that be a refurbished iPhone or a refurbished MacBook – one of the most important factors is the cosmetic condition. You want to be confident that the refurbished device you’re buying doesn’t look beat up. Or that the device won’t just completely fall to tatters the minute that you open the box.

You want to buy a refurbished phone or laptop that has been treated right by its previous owner. You want to make sure that it has been repaired properly by the retailer or manufacturer and has gone through a rigorous testing process before it has gone on sale.

We’ve already addressed the question “do refurbished phones have scratches?” on the RefurbMe blog, detailing the cosmetic quality you can expect from refurbished handsets. However, this question only scratches the surface (no pun intended!) of the topic of refurbished cosmetic conditions. There is an entire system in place regarding the cosmetic quality of a refurbished iPhone or MacBook, including grades and ratings and below you will find definitions and all of the other information that you need to know.

What Are Refurbished Grades?

A refurbished grade is a grade which denotes the quality of a refurbished product or device. Refurbished products are graded depending on how many cosmetic imperfections they have e.g. scratches, scuffs, and other marks as well as how much the product has been used by its previous owner and what packaging it comes 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 tiny scratches you can see on the lid of that refurbished MacBook but grading systems are designed to give you as much information as possible so that you can be confident in your purchase.

The standard system of refurbished grades runs on a scale from refurbished Grade A all the way to refurbished Grade C, with refurbished Grade A offering the best quality and refurbished Grade C offering the lowest quality of a refurbished device. Below, we explore the definitions of each of these refurbished grades.

Refurbished Grade A, B, C, and D definition

Refurbished Grade A Definition

Refurbished Grade A is the very best quality that you could reasonably expect from a refurbished MacBook or iPhone. Grade A refurbished devices are in near-mint condition, they will be at an excellent cosmetic level and will 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, while a refurbished Grade A laptop will display very minimal amounts of scuffing and marks and the lid, keyboard and other areas of its design. With a Grade A device there will be the 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.

Refurbished Grade B Definition

Refurbished Grade B is the second best quality you can expect from a refurbished device. While refurbished Grade B devices will have been tested thoroughly and are confirmed to be in working order, you may notice some light scuffing on the bevel or light scratches on the body.

Your refurbished Grade B device will have been gently used by its previous owner. However, refurbished Grade B products are also more affordable than refurbished Grade A products and so they may better suit your budget.

Refurbished Grade C Definition

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 are confirmed to work, they do show the 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. Though, Grade C devices are cheaper still than Grade B and Grade A devices, making them ideal for those who need a new phone or laptop but have very little money to spare.

What are refurbished grades A, B, C, and D

What About Retailers Who Don’t List Refurbished Grade A, B, C, and D?

Refurbished grade A, B, and C are the most commonly used ways that refurbished retailers tell you about the quality of their products. But not all retailers use a lettered grading system. Because our refurbished retail partners use so many different terms, on RefurbMe, we list just two different cosmetic conditions – “Good” and “Excellent.” Excellent devices are like new (equivalent to refurbished Grade A) and Good devices are in working condition but have some light cosmetic issues (equivalent to refurbished Grade B). All of the devices that we list work 100%, but we use “Good” and “Excellent” to make buying refurbished products accessible and easier to understand than the refurbished letter system.

For example, refurbished retailer Backmarket uses five different grading terms: Stallone, Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Shiny, with Stallone being poorest quality and Shiny being the best. Shiny is equivalent to refurbished Grade A, as Shiny products will look “brand new,” while Stallone is like Grade C as there will be “visible scratches” and some dents. We recognize that this can be confusing so at RefurbMe, we just use two grades instead.

Backmarket refurbished grade system
How Backmarket grades its refurbished devices.

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

For more information about the refurbished MacBook/refurbished iPhone testing process, you can also read our helpful guides (Refurbished MacBook testing guide/Refurbished iPhone testing guide.)

Do Refurbished Products Come With a Warranty?

When buying a refurbished product – of any refurbished grade – it’s important to get a warranty. While refurbished devices are typically tested thoroughly, these warranty offers will protect you if anything goes wrong, or, if the refurbished device you’ve purchased isn’t the cosmetic quality you expected.

It’s worth noting that every device listed on RefurbMe (including refurbished iPhones, MacBooks, Apple Watches, iPads, and iMacs) all include a minimum 30-day warranty. Many retailers will also have no-hassle money back or return policies, allowing you to return a device or get a replacement if need be.

The warranty offers and the refurbished grades help you to be confident when you’re buying a refurbished device. It lets you know that you’re paying for a reliable device – and the warranty will support that.

In Conclusion

  • Refurbished Grade A: The best quality of refurbished device. Near-mint condition, excellent cosmetic level, and little signs of previous use.
  • Refurbished Grade B: The second-best quality of refurbished device. Light scuffing on the bezel and light scratches on the case or body as a result of gentle use.
  • Refurbished Grade C: The lowest-quality of 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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