Smartphones are reaching maturity, new models now offer little improvement over their predecessors. In contrast, second-hand smartphones aged two or three years are more attractive than ever: high-end models are sold at a third of their price at the exit, those of middle range are negotiated at half price and only models entry-level do not offer a dramatic discount.
We have selected four smartphones released in 2018 and 2019, which we present by increasing price. The price fluctuates around 300 euros with the reconditioners which seem to us the most recommendable – Smaaart and Certideal for reliability, BackMarket for prices. Buying refurbished smartphones from a merchant is slightly more expensive than buying from an individual, but also more reassuring: these second-hand professionals check the proper functioning of the mobile and offer a solid guarantee.
The models we have selected are not, however, free from flaws: none is equipped with a 5G antenna – a technology that we do not consider essential at the moment. Their batteries having started to decline, their autonomy could deteriorate quickly. You will probably feel the need to change it in a year or two, and it will cost you 40 to 80 euros.
These refurbished mobiles finally show signs of wear, except when choosing a “new condition” version invoiced for a few tens of euros more than the prices we have mentioned.
A good balance: the Oneplus 6T
From 250 euros. Launched at 520 euros in October 2018.
The cheapest smartphone of this selection is the winner of our Christmas comparison 2018. It certainly does not have the attributes of the top of the range, it is not waterproof and you cannot put it on a wireless charger. But he takes good photos and his battery is pretty tough. Its manufacture in aluminum and glass, robust materials, sets it apart from the ocean of plastic mobiles that can be found at 250 euros today. Its fairly large format favors the comfort of the eyes to that of touch: it is difficult to handle it with one hand – but most smartphones of 2021 have the same flaw. The OnePlus 6T is an interesting mobile at this price, but for a few tens of euros more, the smartphones that follow are even more tempting. Note, the 6T should continue to receive security updates from Android for another year.
Elegant, comfortable, efficient: the Samsung S10
From 280 euros. Launched at 910 euros in February 2019.
It’s our little favorite. Thanks to its thinness and its curved edges, the S10 manages to house a fairly large screen in a format that can be manipulated with one hand. If we add to this ergonomic feat the very good marks it receives in almost all areas, this Samsung appears to be a mobile without equivalent in its time. It would also be hard to find a successor today, as the S21 which replaces it is less pleasant in hand. The S10 is the last grand cru of the Samsung Galaxy S dynasty, but it has two flaws: its battery offers only average endurance and its night photos are noticeably worse than those of today’s best smartphones. On the software side, you can expect security updates for eighteen months.
A remarkable photographer: the Xiaomi Mi Note 10
From 300 euros, launched at 550 euros in November 2019.
This model will be of interest to photography lovers: at Christmas 2019, it won our comparison of the most gifted smartphones for images. Its shots are better than those of our favorite refurbished phone, the Samsung S10. Its superiority appears particularly at night or when zooming in. For the rest, this Xiaomi is dominated by the S10: it is neither waterproof nor wireless rechargeable, and above all it is much less comfortable in the hand. But it is a very recommendable mobile, the price of which was a real bargain in its time. Like the Samsung S10, the edges of the Xiaomi Mi Note 10 are dressed in aluminum, a material that protects well against wear and shocks. Unfortunately, it is likely that this smartphone will no longer receive a security update from Android: this will make it more vulnerable to hacks than its competitors.
A spectacular display: the Samsung Note 10 +
From 430 euros, launched at 1,010 euros in August 2019.
This smartphone has a huge screen, much larger than that of the S10 recommended above; a screen with very fine margins, which give it a modern and slender look. This display is particularly readable and pleasant, but it makes the Note 10 + a gargantuan mobile – a problem only partially mitigated by its contained thickness and its rounded edges. Few will be able to use it with one hand, while a lot of users do with the S10. This mobile is intended more for sedentary people, for example professionals who combine car, office, car and sofa. Despite its age, the Note 10 + still captures great photos and its battery life remains remarkable. It should receive security updates from Android for another eighteen months.