Refurbished phones comes with some stigma. The lower prices implies, to some, that there’s something wrong with the phone. You may also have seen refurbished phones presented as “pre-owed” or “”reconditioned”. You might even see an “open box” phone. These are all interchangeable terms describing the same thing.
All of these terms mean that someone previously purchased the phone, then returned to the maker, wireless carrier, or retailer. Most times there was nothing wrong with refurbished phones even before they were “repaired”; the person may have simply decided that they didn’t want it. In other cases, the refurbished phone did have some kind of small hardware problem, like a display that popped out or a cracked case. In that case, the phone was fixed and sold it again as a “refurbished” item.
But what does manufacturer refurbished mean? The difference with a manufacturer refurbished phone is that the repairs needed to get it up to “like new” condition were done directly by the original manufacturer, as opposed to a third party. As you can imagine, this is typically preferred but 3rd party refurbished phones usually are still a good deal, just shop carefully.
When it comes to refurbished vs new, there’s really no other difference beyond the fact it was lightly used before coming into your ownership. A refurbished phone should work just like new. It’s not technically a “new” phone anymore, so the term “refurbished” signals that distinction. The person who bought the phone originally may have never even used it. They may have even left it in its originally packaging. That’s why refurbished phones can be such a great deal — they’re basically new, but you get them at a discount.