My name is Quentyn, and I suffer from refurbaphobia. Yes, I made that term up, but I’m submitting it to Merriam-Webster for consideration and you can’t stop me.
If you’re anything like me, you tend to nope the f*$% out on purchasing used products, especially technology. Between worn batteries, scuffs and scratches, and that weird smell that assaults my nose hairs upon opening someone else’s sloppy seconds, I’m more than happy to pay the premium for peace of mind that my expensive new toy wasn’t some other being’s chew toy.
But after receiving a mint condition iPhone 8 from Back Market to test, I’m swaying the other way. It might have cured the deadly condition that kept my wallet on life support for so many years. Let’s talk about why.
We’ll get to that iPhone 8 in just a second, but first, a primer: Back Market is like the best flea market you’ve ever been to. Not only do you avoid dealing with said fleas in a stuffy abandoned warehouse, but unlike that musty merchant fishing for profit, you get an honest product evaluation on anything you buy.
Back Market only works with well-established recertification factories—whether third-party or the original manufacturer—to source and sell everything in its inventory at steep discounts. (Pro-Tip: You’ll find the best prices featured in constant flash sales.)
Launched in November 2014 by three tech-obsessed amigos, Back Market leans unashamedly into preservative values. Their message? The tech industry is wasteful, and they ain’t having that shit.
The planet goes through a lot of hardship to make the future of our dreams reality. That’s fine for something you’ll keep forever, but planned obsolescence is a harsh reality for many gadgets, and once they’re spent, the unaware masses let them collect dust in drawers, or worse—wilt away in landfills.
And it doesn’t stop at the device itself. There’s also the excess materials discarded to craft all those little microchips, waste from production lines and general building upkeep, the paper to make the manuals and boxes we toss after our warranties expire, energy consumption for the factories that produce them, the resources needed to distribute the products, and last but by far most important, the labor from the workers—humane or otherwise. You might feel differently about that iPhone you love after reading about the horrid working conditions and labor practices inside some of the third-party manufacturing facilities worldwide. There’s also the mineral mines where child slavery is totally a thing.
After journalists helped expose this ugly side of tech, many major brands have worked to change their practices for the better, but even the best of them would need several hundred Tour de France races’ worth of progress to reach 100% cleanliness.
Short of stopping production, there’s little any company can do on its own to affect global change, but you can move the needle by changing the rhetoric about used devices one sale at a time. Recirculation and reuse is key to the effort, and that’s what Back Market does all too well.
How does it work?
So, instead of doing all the refurbishing work in-house, Back Market is more like the middleman. It does all the background heavy lifting to strike deals with the best refurbishing companies and device makers in the US and EU, keeping tabs on them to ensure quality doesn’t slip.
The beauty of Back Market is it’s no less usable a marketplace than Amazon, and it even bests the shopping giant in various respects. You start by searching for the thing you want to buy—there are smartphones, laptops, cameras, TVs, drones, and almost anything else in the 200,000-long inventory full of things designed to marry electrical sockets.
Whether you’re using specific keywords or browsing by category, the results populate in a clean card-style layout that gives a glance at the product’s cost and condition. Look toward the left, and you’ll find tons of filters to cull the selection, including price, brand, model, and individual specs, and product features.
For instance, I’m just about ready to take the next step in my ultrawide journey (the PC monitor apex) and replace my 34″ 1080p LG with something that can push more pixels. All I have to do is head to the monitors section, and because Back Market only has five such items available as of writing, all I have to do is click the 21:9 filter for a glanceable view of all my options. If I had more to digest, I could drill down even further by checking multiple boxes and adjusting the price slider.
You’ll see similar fittings for the Unlocked Phones category, including additional carrier filters to ensure you’re buying something that works with your wireless provider.
Head to the page of the item you want, and you’ll instantly see all the information you need. The first thing to catch your eyes is the bold price tag, but go further down the page and you’ll be able to choose your desired aesthetic condition on a sliding scale from Stallone (have I mentioned Back Market’s refreshing humor?) to Mint, your total increasing with each step. There are rare exceptions where the higher quality device has the better price, and Back Market highlights those instances anywhere it can.
Beneath that, you’ll find a quick description of the condition, plus specific comments by the seller pointing out a few particulars. Most are helpful with additional information about what you’re buying. Others are not so forthcoming with usable deets. I saw one seller mention that their product ships in a brown box. That’s … better than nothing, I guess?
Item reviews are at your disposal to get an idea of a seller’s consistency, and on their profile, you’ll find an average overall rating, how long they’ve been on Back Market, and how much merchandise they’ve sold overall.
I’m a lot more comfortable buying a refurbished device through Back Market than my preferred marketplace (Amazon) for this information alone, and the ability to select your exact desired condition is 100% a killer feature. Other platforms feel more like a gamble.
Is Back Market Legit?
Absolutely! It may adopt their slick marketplace-style user experience, but Back Market isn’t like eBay or Amazon where any old Joe Schmo can post the dusty tech they misplaced for two years. It works exclusively with established, certified refurbishing companies with proven track records, and they all abide by the same rules.
Back Market guarantees anything it sells works perfectly, even if you’re settling on one of those Stallones. You’re always taking a risk buying used, but Back Market offers a 30-day money-back guarantee, and you’ll get a 12-month warranty included with any purchase.
Even if you don’t trust the generally positive reviews at places like TrustPilot and Google, you can find comfort in knowing that Back Market has generated millions of dollars from investors and just snapped up an ex-Amazon exec as its chief operating officer, which means it’s serious bidness, yo.
How about that iPhone 8?
Oh, right! This 256GB iPhone 8 from Back Market is CLEAN. It came with the original packaging with all the extra accessories tucked inside. If not for the first-time setup already taken care of (albeit with the regional setting set to China) and the lack of protective plastic, I might have assumed it came straight from an Apple store.
I spent at least 30 minutes just looking at the thing trying to scope out the faintest of scratches and scuffs. I came up empty. Even on the camera module. Honestly, I don’t even think I saw a speck of dust or a fingerprint.
I haven’t had a ton of time to test this iPhone 8, and I don’t know if the battery in this unit was refreshed, but on the few charge cycles I performed, a 16-hour day of heavy usage was possible. I’m sure I could stretch it into the next day when I’m not poking at the thing 24/7. There weren’t any noticeable hardware issues or weird software niggles, either.
You can buy an iPhone 8 just like this one at varying conditions and their corresponding prices. Although the iPhone SE has arrived to take the throne as grand baron of cheap iPhones, the iPhone 8 is still a fast, feature-packed device with a great camera that runs the latest version of iOS flawlessly (though not with every feature the newer phones have).
But are the prices any good?
The iPhone 8 I received is a 256GB model by Recellit that was listed as mint condition for $370. As of writing, there’s only one other mint model in the same range, and it’s $20 cheaper.
For comparison’s sake, Apple is selling Space Gray models of similar ilk for $470, while Amazon says its units look and work like new for $350. You may not always find the best deal at Back Market, but when you consider everything we discussed above—including the peace of mind you so deserve—that might not matter to you.
Prefer something newer? Shop Back Market’s other iPhone deals and see if you can’t find a (re) certifiable steal. As a limited time bonus, you can take $10 off any Back Market order of $250 using promo code BACKMARKETNOL. The only catch is you can’t order with PayPal.