Subscribe For Free

Industry: universal grading can spur refurbished market

Paul Lipscombe
July 1, 2021

The industry is unanimous in its view that a universal grading system is needed for refurbished smartphones

The mobile industry has called for a universal grading system for refurbished smartphones.

This came as Mobile News spoke to several industry figures about the topic, including refurbished distributors, repairers, traders and gadget insurers.

To date, there is no one specific set of criteria or regulations to adhere to when grading refurbished handsets in the UK.

This has led to contentious views as to what a universal grade A, B or C smartphone is, with many firms having different processes in place to certify their grading.

It is estimated that the refurbished industry will be worth £47 billion by 2023, according to IDC.

This has grown in importance in recent years as handset prices have soared and the average device lifecycle has grown, leading to industry figures calling for a regulated one-sized-fits-all grading system.

That comes after a panel at last year’s Mobile News XPO prior to the pandemic, at which industry figures including Mazuma’s Craig Smith discussed the idea.

Smith is unchanged in his view: “Last year, prior to the lockdown, I was part of the panel at the XPO and made the point then that there needs to be an industry standard in grading.

“With the growth in the market we’re currently experiencing, the industry is becoming much more mature and accepted, and it needs that level of confidence running through the supply chain.”

CCS Insight consumer and connectivity director Kester Mann also welcomes a universal framework.

“I think it would be very beneficial to have one, but it’s probably quite difficult to implement in terms of the industry coming together to decide what constitutes a near-perfect new device compared to one that has a few bumps and scratches on it,” he says.


Others that spoke to Mobile News have also acknowledged that implementing set criteria will prove challenging.

Pieter Waasdorp, MD of Renewd, which specialises in refurbished handsets, doesn’t expect a framework any time soon.

“All major players use and have their own grading criteria,” he says. “However, we feel due to how the structure of the secondary market, it’s highly unlikely that industry standards will be implemented soon.

“A framework can only be implemented if forced upon the market externally – for example, from government policy or if the secondary market join forces together – but we don’t see this happening yet.”

Reboxed co-founder Matt Thorne agrees it will be difficult to introduce such a measure.

“It’s hard to do consistently. It will require a lot of vigour that the supply chain probably isn’t ready for,” he says.

And it’s not just refurbished companies and repairers calling for more clarity, with mobile insurers also keen to have a clearer idea of graded refurbished handsets.

Bastion Insurance sales director John Fannon wants to see as minimal an amount of grades used as possible to simplify the process.

He said: “I think from a retail point of view, there should never be more than three grades, and this will help us keep things simple with more definitive categorisation.”

To see the full industry reaction read here 

Share this article