When buying refurbished electronics, you may come across the terms seller refurbished and manufacturer refurbished. You’ll probably read it in a product description or the title of a product listing. These terms designate how the product was refurbished and who did it.

Unfortunately, refurbished stores and platforms don’t often explain what exactly manufacturer refurbished and seller refurbished mean and their differences. As a result, you may feel puzzled about the product or concerned about its cosmetic quality and working condition.

In this article, we’ll explain the definitions of manufacturer refurbished and seller refurbished, so you make the best informed decision.

What is manufacturer refurbished?

A manufacturer refurbished product is an item reconditioned by the device’s original manufacturer rather than a third-party seller or retailer.

For example, a manufacturer refurbished iPhone is a smartphone that has been refurbished in-house by Apple technicians.

Manufacturer refurbished products are only ever sold by the manufacturer. You can still compare prices and deals on manufacturer refurbished phones and laptops through platforms such as RefurbMe (that’s us!).

iPhone and notebook

Are manufacturer refurbished phones and laptops better?

A common misconception regarding manufacturer refurbished phones and laptops is that they will be of a higher quality than seller refurbished products because they were reconditioned by the company that made them in the first place. This isn’t strictly true. Manufacturer and seller refurbished products can be equal in terms of quality.

Do manufacturer refurbished products include a warranty?

Manufacturer refurbished products tend to include a warranty. For instance, in the Apple Certified Refurbished program (Apple’s own refurbished service), a one-year, limited Apple warranty is included in the price. Though, you can also pay an additional fee to extend this warranty.

In addition to the warranty, Apple operates a 14-day returns policy. If something goes wrong with your device within two weeks of receiving it, you can return it.

MacBook and iPhone on a wooden table

What does seller refurbished mean?

A seller refurbished product is a device that was refurbished by someone other than the manufacturers, being a professional third-party refurbishment firm, an individual with the tools to renovate products in their own home, or a retailer with an in-house refurbishment team.

You will likely see the term seller refurbished on online shopping platforms such as eBay, allowing individuals to sell pre-owned goods they no longer want or need. On these platforms, the term seller refurbished means that the seller personally refurbished the product. This may include testing, repairing, and cleaning the device.

Online retail platforms such as Amazon also list products as seller refurbished, which can help you distinguish between a product that was refurbished by a reseller and a product that was refurbished by its manufacturer.

Laptop close image

Are seller refurbished phones and laptops good?

Seller refurbished phones and laptops can be good; they can be reliable, high-quality, and work as advertised. However, it very much depends on where you buy them from. Shop smart, so you don’t risk falling prey to misleading sellers.

Here are some things to consider when buying seller refurbished products.

What grading information does the reseller provide?

Please do your research into the refurbished grades the seller uses for their products. How do they highlight the cosmetic quality of their refurbished devices? The best quality is refurbished grade A which means that the phone or laptop will be like new. Refurbished grade B is also of decent quality, though it may display some blemishes. Grade C items present apparent signs of use.

How does the reseller refurbish its products?

Ask for information about how they ensure that their products are in working order, the care they take, the team of engineers and technicians responsible for the refurbishment, how long the company has been in business, and what customer reviews say. When purchasing a refurbished tech product, track record matters.

This info can sometimes be challenging to find. We’ve got some guides to finding reliable refurbished retailers:

👉 6 Best Places to Buy Refurbished iPhones
👉 5 Best Places to Buy a Refurbished MacBook in 2023
👉 5 Best Refurbished iPads You Can Buy in 2023

Do seller refurbished products include a warranty?

This is a crucial question to ask before buying a seller refurbished phone or laptop. Warranties give you some backup if something goes wrong with your purchased product. They’re also a sign that the seller is confident in the quality of the products they’re selling.

When buying a refurbished product, always seek out information about its warranty. The most trusted refurbished retailers include a default warranty in the purchase price but will generally offer the option to extend that default warranty by paying an additional fee.

All of the respected refurbished retailers listed on RefurbMe offer warranties with their products. Every refurbished deal includes a minimum warranty of 30 days, though these default warranties may be as long as one year from the time you receive the product.

Multiple Apple devices on a table

What are the main differences between manufacturer refurbished and seller refurbished devices?

What should you look out for: seller refurbished or manufacturer refurbished devices? Two main factors come into play when choosing between the two:

Manufacturer refurbished products are (usually) more expensive

The price is the most significant difference between manufacturer refurbished and seller refurbished products. You will generally pay more for the Apple-branded service than you would for seller refurbished devices. Even though they may be the same quality as a seller refurbished device tested and repaired by a trusted retailer, you can expect to pay a higher price.

The packaging is likely to differ

Devices bought through Apple Certified Refurbished come in labeled, Apple-branded packaging and include Apple-branded accessories. In comparison, seller refurbished devices will likely come in unbranded packaging. While they will come with a charger, they may not contain any accessories (e.g., headphones).

Some manufacturers may replace the battery with a new one

Some manufacturers may replace the old battery of a product when refurbishing it. For example, Apple’s iOS devices will come with a new battery.

Should you buy refurbished electronics?

On RefurbMe, we are big believers in buying high-quality refurbished electronics. When purchasing any tech device, we advise erring on the side of caution. Make sure you tick all of these boxes:

✔ You’re buying from a trusted source
✔ The cosmetic condition of the product is made clear
✔ The refurbished computer, phone, or iPad comes with a warranty
✔ Whether you opt for a seller refurbished or a manufacturer refurbished product, it’s a good deal

The refurbished industry can be complicated, which is why RefurbMe makes it as easy as possible. We only list trusted retailers; every product includes a warranty and is in top-notch condition. We compare prices so that you’ll get the best price, whether you want to buy seller refurbished or manufacturer refurbished.

Related article:

👉 Open Box vs. Refurbished
👉 Remanufactured vs. Refurbished

Bonus question: What is the difference between seller refurbished and used?

A common misconception is that seller refurbished phones and laptops are exactly the same as used devices. This confusion is especially prevalent because the terms seller refurbished and used are seen on sites like Amazon—a retailer that lists both seller refurbished and used goods. However, the two product types are very different.

A refurbished product is a product that had a previous owner but was traded, sold, or given back to a seller (either an individual or a retailer). The seller then repairs, cleans, and tests the product before selling it again. They were also called recertified products, although it’s not a commonly used term anymore.

In comparison, a used product is a product that had a previous owner but may not have been repaired, cleaned, or tested before going back on sale. This means that used products can be unreliable and are not guaranteed to work as they have not been rigorously tested.