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How To Determine If A Samsung Phone Is Brand New Or Refurbished? [Know It!]

2 different Samsung phones
A Samsung phone

To distinguish between refurbished and original phones, consider factors such as the place of purchase, the phone’s physical condition (including scratches and weight), packaging and included accessories, screen brightness, and checking the IMEI number or condition status.

In today’s world, our daily expenses keep going up, and there’s a widespread increase in prices due to inflation everywhere. As a result, when it comes to buying a new phone, it’s a decision that requires careful consideration.

Even after you’ve made up your mind to get a new phone, the actual price tags might make you think twice. Your wallet might feel the pinch when you see those prices.

To avoid such hefty expenses and spare your wallet from the pain, you might consider purchasing a refurbished phone that’s been renewed and is ready for its new owner.

Many people choose refurbished phones because they are more budget-friendly compared to brand-new ones. If you’re curious about what refurbished phones are and would like to learn more, keep reading this article to get a better understanding.

What Exactly Is A Refurbished Phone?

Multiple tools used to repair phone
Phone Repair

In simpler terms, a refurbished phone is also known as a second-hand or pre-owned phone. These are phones that were previously used by someone else and then sold to retailers, wireless carriers, or phone manufacturers. From there, they are resold to other customers.

You might wonder how it’s possible to sell someone else’s used phone to another person, considering both price and quality.

The common perception about refurbished phones is that they might be defective. However, rest assured that refurbished phones undergo a thorough process before they are resold.

They are repaired, and cleaned, and all hardware issues are addressed to ensure they are in like-new condition before being offered for sale.

The top priority is to restore the phone to a clean and working state before considering it for resale. These phones go through specific checks to certify their functionality and often come with warranties. If a phone is found to have irreparable problems, it is not sold further.

Refurbished phones may sometimes have minor scratches or cosmetic blemishes, but if the screen is severely damaged, it is repaired before resale. If the damage is beyond repair, the phone is not sold.

Now, when it comes to pricing, you’ll notice a range of prices for the same model at places where refurbished phones are sold. This variation is due to the condition of the phone. Even if a phone is in excellent condition, it’s still considered used, so its price is lower compared to a new one.

The extent of any issues with the phone directly influences the price. Generally, the better the condition, the closer the price is to that of a new phone. However, no matter your budget, when you shop for a refurbished phone, you can find one that looks good and functions well within your range.

However, people often have questions and concerns about whether it’s worth the risk to buy such phones. To help you make an informed decision, I’ve compiled a list of pros and cons below:

Refurbished phones offer a cost-effective way to own a sleek, like-new phone without being heavy on the pockets.Keep in mind that these phones are not brand new, so the experience of using them might be a bit different from a brand-new phone.
They are not only available in physical stores but also on various trustworthy online platforms.Usually, refurbished phones may have some minor scratches, especially if they have been previously used a lot.
When you opt for an unlocked refurbished phone, you have the freedom to use it with the carrier of your choice.Another common issue you might encounter is a battery that doesn’t work as well as it used to, which can be frustrating.
You can rest easy about warranty concerns since most of these phones are dependable and come with a warranty.Refurbished phones often do not come with extra accessories like charging cords, headphones, or phone covers. This could be seen as a downside for some people who expect these accessories to be included.
By not purchasing a brand-new phone, you help reduce carbon emissions associated with the production of new devices. So, it’s a win-win situation where you save money and make an eco-friendly choice.Additionally, refurbished phones typically receive limited software updates and may not have robust customer support. As a result, your phone might be at risk of security vulnerabilities, and you could encounter compatibility issues with certain apps or features.
Pros and cons of refurbished phones

How Do I Differentiate Between A New And Refurbished Samsung Phone?

Samsung phone models, especially those in the A series, Note, and Galaxy series, are quite popular. Because of their widespread use, it’s common to find Samsung devices being sold as refurbished.

However, it’s important to note that these differences between original and refurbished phones apply not only to Samsung but also to other phone brands.

Let’s get into them:

The Place Of Sale

A smiling girl showing her newly bought phone.
Buying a phone

Where you choose to buy your phone is very important when it comes to knowing if it’s genuine. Usually, official brand stores are a safe bet for getting original phones with a guarantee of authenticity.

In some cities, there are well-known places where people trust that only new phones are sold, so you can be more certain about the phone’s authenticity.

Licensed retailers are also reliable sources. They typically make it clear whether the phone they’re selling is brand new or refurbished.

However, if you decide to shop online or at local stores that are not official retailers, there’s a higher chance that the phone might be refurbished, so you should be cautious.

Phone Case And Weight

A blue phone case
Phone case

The phone’s case and its weight actually play a key role in distinguishing between refurbished and original phones. Even though these factors might not seem very important, they can provide valuable clues about your phone. Here’s why:

  1. Refurbished phones and their associated accessories tend to be lighter than original ones. So, if you notice that your phone feels noticeably lighter, it could indicate that it’s refurbished.
  2. Sometimes, refurbished phones might show signs of repairs, like marks on the screws or other subtle indications. However, you’d need a keen eye to spot these details.
  3. Both the phone and its accessories, like chargers or earphones, typically have warranty stickers or other labels that confirm their authenticity. If these stickers are missing or tampered with, it might be a sign that you have a refurbished phone.

Observe The Packaging

A packed phone on a green surface.
Packed phone

Many of us are familiar with those satisfying unboxing videos that both relax us (ASMR) and provide information about the phone model. These videos give us an idea of what the original packaging should look like.

However, if a phone is refurbished, the packaging may be quite different, or the box might lack the sealing that new phones usually have.

If you’re aware of the concept of open-box phones, you might know that it’s quite challenging to tell whether a phone is new or not. Your eyes need to be extra observant because it’s tough to distinguish the packaging. Nevertheless, there are likely to be some signs of wear and tear on the packaging in such cases.

Look For Accessories

Multiple phone accessories like headphones, phone case, charging cord, etc.
Phone Accessories

When you buy a brand-new phone, it usually comes with accessories in the box. In the past, this would include not just a charger but also earphones. Nowadays, you’ll often find a clear phone case in addition to the charger inside the box.

However, if you open the box and discover that there are no accessories at all or some of them are missing, it’s a clear sign that your phone is refurbished. Original phones typically come with all these accessories intact.

Check For Scuffs

Scratches on a phone lying on a black surface
Phone scuffs

As I mentioned earlier, refurbished phones often have small scratches on them. It’s commonly observed that most refurbished phones, no matter how minor the scratches are, tend to have them.

So, this can serve as a way to tell the difference between an original phone and a refurbished one.

LCD Brightness

A hand holding a bright phone in the dark
Screen brightness

Another way to distinguish between original and refurbished phones is by looking at the screen brightness. Typically, original phones have a brighter and more vibrant screen.

However, in the case of refurbished phones, you might notice a slightly dimmer or less vibrant appearance with a somewhat muted brightness.

Condition Status

A man check marking the boxes.
Condition status

You can check whether your phone is original or refurbished by looking at its condition status, which is stored in your phone’s data. Here’s how you can find it:

  1. Open your phone’s dialer.
  2. Dial either “##786#” or “##786##” (this is a hidden menu).
  3. The RTN menu will appear with two options: “View” or “Reset.”
  4. Click on “View.”
  5. Scroll down to find your “Reconditioned status.”
  6. You’ll see either “Yes” or “No” written underneath it. “No” means the phone is brand new, and “Yes” means it’s refurbished.

With newer phones, you might notice that the RTN option is disabled. In such cases, you can download an app from the Google Play Store, and grant it the necessary access permissions. Then access the refurbishment check from the phone information section.

This will provide you with a message indicating whether your phone is original or refurbished.

How to check if your Samsung phone is refurbished or new


An app launcher on a phone in purple background.
Illustration of an app launcher

You can also use launcher apps to access the hidden menu. Here’s how:

  1. Install a launcher app that enables you to access the hidden menu.
  2. Open the app.
  3. Press and hold on to any empty space on your home screen.
  4. From the “Add to home screen” menu, select “Shortcuts.”
  5. Next, choose “Activities.”
  6. You will then see the hidden menu, and you can navigate to the “RTN hidden number” to access the code you need.

IMEI Number

IMEI number

Your phone’s IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) number can also help determine if it’s an original or refurbished device. To find your IMEI number, you can do the following:

  1. Open your phone’s dialer.
  2. Type “*#06#.”
  3. Your IMEI number will be displayed.


  1. Go to your device’s settings.
  2. Navigate to the “About device” section.
  3. Tap on “Status” to find your IMEI number.

Once you have your IMEI number, enter it into the provided dialogue box and click “Check.” You’ll receive information about your phone, and if it doesn’t match the system’s available data, it may suggest that you are using a refurbished device.

To Conclude

  • Because original phones can be quite expensive, some people opt for refurbished phones.
  • Refurbished phones are devices that have been repaired and then resold by retailers, manufacturers, or carriers at a lower cost.
  • There are several advantages to choosing refurbished phones, such as being more eco-friendly and often coming with a warranty. However, there are also some downsides, like limited software updates and the possibility of minor scratches.
  • You can distinguish between original and refurbished phones in various ways, including checking the IMEI number, assessing the phone’s weight, examining the packaging, looking for scuffs or scratches, and considering the screen brightness, among other methods.

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