Almost two weeks ago Samsung announced its plan to sell refurbished handsets to customers. This would be done via its yearly upgrade program. Customers would hand in their old sets in exchange for the latest flagship and their old phone would get a facelift, perhaps a software upgrade and then be sold for a lower price to another customer. Reuters claimed this would begin as early as 2017. Apparently Samsung moved up its timetable. Now that practice has begun in the US.
Samsung’s US website now has a section called “Samsung Certified Pre-owned Phones”. The phones are Rebuilt (completely refurbished by Samsung engineers), Refreshed (include new headphones and a charger) and Covered (come with the same one year warranty as a new device). There is no mention of a software update anywhere. That’s a shame.
Phones available for purchase now include the Samsung Galaxy Note 3, S4 ($219), S5 ($299.99), S6 ($449.99), S6 Edge ($449.99) and the Note 4. None of the units are unlocked mind you but you can save up to $265 on a device. That’s a great bargain. There’s even free shipping on all devices.
Five carriers are available on the website: Sprint, T-Mobile, AT&T, Verizon Wireless and U.S. Cellular. Phones are available for each one except U.S. Cellular.
Interestingly, some refurbished tablets are available on the site too, including the Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 32 GB and the Galaxy Tab 4 7.0.
This move comes at a time when the company is surrounded by controversy. Since the Samsung Galaxy Note 7, what was supposed to be the best phone in the world, blew up multiple times all over the world, the company has been busy with damage control. The phablets caught fire while charging and it turned out that 1 in 42,000 sets had a battery fault. 2.5 million phones were recalled for replacement and Samsung promptly apologized for the inconvenience. One can’t help but notice that the move to introduce this refurbishment program so quickly is to take a little bit of heat off the company.
The plan is poised to be very popular among customers that wish to own high tier smartphones but can’t due to the high price point. However, there is the danger that the refurbished handsets may eat in to the business of the company’s mid level and low level smartphones. The A Series and the J series are quite popular among low income families, it’s what makes the Samsung device market share the highest in the world. Losing that may negatively impact its sales and show losses in its annual revenue stream.