Beat excessive costs with a used telephone and get a new-to-you flagship

You can get monetary savings by shopping for a used or refurbished telephone, however is it value it?

Phone costs acquired you down? Need one thing to exchange your lifeless or dying smartphone however do not need to break the financial institution? You ought to check out the used and refurbished telephone market the place the most effective Android telephones of the previous nonetheless stay on.

To take a look at how viable a used or refurbished telephone is in 2021, Android Central examined two: the Samsung Galaxy S20, which was bought from Samsung’s Certified Re-Newed program, and a Samsung Galaxy S10e, purchased used from a Craigslist advert.

AC’s Michael Hicks and Jerry Hildenbrand put each telephones by way of per week’s value of testing, with Hicks utilizing the Galaxy S20 and Hildenbrand wielding the Galaxy S10e to see how nicely they’d maintain up doing the identical duties as some other telephone. Spoiler: Things went rather well. They two additionally checked out the most effective locations to purchase a refurbished telephone, so if this piques your pursuits, you must have a look.

Battery life

You can purchase a used telephone in a few alternative ways. Buying a refurbished system can value just a little extra, however you get the luxurious of a guaranty, and most firms will drop in a model new battery. On the opposite hand, shopping for a straight-out used system can prevent some cash, however you are most likely not getting any new components. This could be actually essential whenever you’re speaking about battery life.

Galaxy S20: It’s like new

Most respected resellers put model new batteries within refurbished telephones. Thankfully, Samsung adopted that pattern. My Galaxy S20 has a brand new 4,000mAh battery, matching the identical dimension discovered within the S21. So anybody who’s purchased a brand new Galaxy S within the final couple of years has an concept what to anticipate.

On customary settings, my refurbed S20 is a workhorse. It simply retains chugging alongside, dealing with just a few hours of display screen time with none severe battery drain. I all the time had loads of juice on the finish of the day, and also you see minimal drain whereas it idles in a single day.

The solely exception, unsurprisingly, is that if I crank on 120Hz mode and play some Android video games or Xbox Cloud Gaming or use it in direct daylight for lengthy intervals. With heavy utilization, you may want a conveyable charger earlier than the top of the day. But that was additionally a difficulty again in March 2020 when the S20 launched.

Galaxy S10e: Bring a charger

I’m unsure what the battery life was on the Galaxy S10e when it was new, nevertheless it was barely acceptable from what I’ve learn on the web. In 2021, it is not one thing you may love.

Using the telephone usually — which for me means messaging loads, perhaps a while with a sport, and an hour or two of YouTube at evening — I must high it up within the afternoon. This is whereas I’m house utilizing Wi-Fi, so issues are a bit worse when I’m away from house.

I am unable to say I hate it or that I’m stunned, although. The battery life simply would not meet the requirements we have set for in the present day’s newest and best. So I simply carried a battery pack in my bag in case I wanted to high it off.

App compatibility

A telephone is simply as helpful because the apps it could use. Google works arduous to be sure that a more recent model of Android will nonetheless run all of the apps in Google Play, and it appears to be like like they’ve finished a superb job. This is not one thing you must ever have to fret about, however we needed to present it a glance to verify the expertise was nonetheless nice.

Galaxy S10e: Slightly small

My little Galaxy S10e runs Android 11 identical to nearly each different Samsung telephone does. Every app I’ve tried works as anticipated. This means some older “abandoned” apps do not account for the opening that is offset to the suitable of the show, however none path over the sting as a result of the show is flat.

The greatest problem is that some apps have been designed for telephones with a a lot larger show (dimension, not decision), so issues can really feel small. Really, although, there are not any app compatibility points to talk of.

Galaxy S20: It simply works

An additional 0.4-inches of display screen area makes all of the distinction. The Galaxy S20 is not a big telephone by any means, however apps typically look as they need to. In truth, because of the WQHD+ decision and vibrant show, video games or apps with small textual content look completely readable and vibrant. The solely cause you’d miss out is if you happen to determine to ditch 1440p for 120Hz.


When you purchase a brand new telephone, you understand what to anticipate in the case of efficiency, however we frequently overlook how issues “used to be.” Things like high-refresh-rate shows and super-fast chips (and even comparatively super-fast mid-range chips) imply issues occur in a flash more often than not.

When you return, even only one 12 months, you may discover the distinction, which could possibly be the deciding issue.

Galaxy S20: Still speedy

The Snapdragon 865 trounces the 855 by any metric, even when it falls in need of the 888. For now, a minimum of, the Galaxy S20 and its 8GB of RAM nonetheless affords speedy efficiency by in the present day’s requirements. However, app loading instances stay suitably quick.

No doubt, the S20 and its chip will decelerate over time. With the brand new emphasis on AI-backed software program, it’s going to fall behind newer telephones in that space. But for simply searching the web or enjoying Android video games, it would not really feel prefer it’s misplaced a lot floor.

Galaxy S10e: The battle could be actual

OK, here is one place the place you won’t like utilizing a telephone as outdated (and mid-range) because the S10e as a result of it exhibits its age. The Snapdragon 855 is not a sluggish chip by any means, however you possibly can inform the distinction between the S10e and the S21.

It’s not dangerous, and there are model new telephones that “suffer” the identical destiny. You’ll wait just a little bit longer whenever you open an enormous app or sport. Sometimes, particularly if you happen to’re utilizing a number of apps without delay, the telephone can stutter or freeze for a second. Is it value spending a whole bunch extra on one thing newer or sooner? To me, it is not, nevertheless it does occur.

Software options

Everyone loves updates and software program options, so that is essential. Know that having a telephone that is a 12 months or two outdated implies that you are not going to see as lengthy of a assist window, and in a 12 months or two, your new-to-you telephone might attain what telephone makers name end-of-life.

In the meantime, It’s good to understand how Samsung and google have stored older Galaxy telephones in step with newer fashions, and issues look actually good right here. For now.

Galaxy S10e: Good for now

Here’s the most effective a part of utilizing a Samsung telephone that is probably not outdated — it has nearly the entire software program options newer fashions have.

Sure, issues are lacking, like digicam options and choices, however a visit by way of the settings menu on my S10e is just about the identical expertise as it’s on a Galaxy S21. This is one thing that Samsung has finished nicely, and the highlights of One UI are the identical throughout the completely different fashions.

One factor I like concerning the S10e is the side-mounted fingerprint sensor. To me, that is a flagship function that the flagships of the Galaxy S10 era did not embrace.

Galaxy S20: All the most recent

Another wonderful thing about Samsung telephones: Samsung lastly found out learn how to replace its telephones rapidly. I simply managed to obtain the One UI 4 (Android 12) beta on the S20, with a deliberate February launch which means I will not have lengthy to attend for the actual factor.

As somebody who examined Android 12 on my Pixel for months, I’m a fan of Samsung’s spin on it. Samsung’s colour picker instrument and adaptive darkish mode give the UI a delicate however candy replace. Adding animated stickers to the AOD was an lovable contact. The new privateness controls have been a significant addition. And the recent digital reminiscence and battery utilization knowledge could possibly be useful for the telephone’s longevity.

Best of all, it appears to run completely easily on the S20 regardless of its barely older {hardware}. It makes me assured it’s going to deal with Android 13 simply as nicely subsequent 12 months.


These are nonetheless telephones! That means you may need to know that you would be able to keep linked in case it’s essential make a name or ship a message, in addition to have the ability to chew by way of copious quantities of knowledge for all of the issues they’ll do.

Since 5G means carriers are busy altering the whole lot about their networks, we needed to see how nicely these older fashions arise once we’re out of the home.

Galaxy S20: 5G prepared

Samsung’s Certified Re-newed telephones are all Unlocked so as to pair them with any community. In my case, Samsung gave me one with a Verizon SIM card, which works simply fantastic for my space. And in contrast to the S10e, it initially launched with 5G assist.

Unfortunately, as a result of it is a refurbished unlocked telephone reasonably than the Verizon provider mannequin launched in summer time 2020, you will not get mmWave assist. Of course, if you happen to purchased a used S20 FE, S21, or one other newer telephone, it ought to have each sub-6 and mmWave assist, even in Unlocked type.

Galaxy S10e: A ache level

I used the S10e on T-Mobile’s community in an space the place Sprint was once the most effective community round. Yes, these locations actually did exist. If I had a model new Galaxy telephone that supported T-Mobile’s mid-band 5G community just like the Galaxy S21, that is superior. The Galaxy S10e, although, just isn’t a 5G telephone.

Because of this, it is not arduous to seek out locations the place the sign is horrible. I nearly all the time have a good connection for calls and SMS, however life on the sting is not nice in the case of knowledge. So community connectivity is one factor you actually want to think about before you purchase an S10e in 2021.

Used or Refurbished (is it value it?)

Galaxy S20: Cheap flagship

Regarding a manufacturing unit refurbished S20, you are getting a flagship telephone for $650 almost two years after launch, with the promise of yet one more OS replace and safety updates by way of early 2024. So you may have the ability to rating a Black Friday telephone deal for a flagship telephone that is newer and cheaper, just like the Galaxy S21 or OnePlus 9.

Here’s the factor, although. The Galaxy S20 predates Samsung’s change to extra inexpensive flagships. It has QHD+ and a glass again — options that Samsung reserves for its large Ultra telephones now — plus expandable storage.

With Samsung altering a lot about its lineups yearly, and with provide chain points prone to persist for some time, it is good to know {that a} Samsung Certified Re-Newed telephone works as supposed, so you possibly can skip again to an older era if the brand new one fails to wow you. The shrunk-down Galaxy S22 will not thrill everybody; perhaps a refurbed S21 must be your 2022 telephone as a substitute.

Galaxy S10e: Decision time

Yes and no. I do know that seems like a cop-out reply, nevertheless it’s true — there are many methods the place an “old” mid-range telephone just like the Galaxy S10e was nice, however there are additionally ways in which it wasn’t.

I might use the Galaxy S10e full-time if it weren’t for connectivity points. I do not thoughts that it is not as quick as a Galaxy S21 when opening apps or that it would not have a high-refresh-rate display screen once I think about the value I paid for it. But I want a telephone that may keep linked to the community the place I wish to go.

Some folks will not have the identical community points due to the place they stay, and if that have been the case, I’d take saving over $500 day-after-day of the week. Once the S10e is now not supported, I can simply purchase a used Galaxy S21!

Ultimately, you may must determine if you happen to can stay with the problems an older telephone with out correct 2021 community assist has. If you possibly can take care of these and are OK with the smaller form-factor and older specs, it can save you a boatload of cash. Like Michael says, you can even purchase a used or refurbed Galaxy S21 subsequent 12 months and have the most effective of each worlds.

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