We visited Swappie! Here’s how to rebuild a refurbished iPhone

I’ll start this article with a question: Have you ever thought about buying a refurbished smartphone? If your answer is yes, then surely you will already know Swappie, is currently one of the largest retailers of refurbished iPhones. We are talking about a company that has its origin and headquarters in Finland, to be precise in Helsinki, which was born in 2016 from the mind of Sami Martinen, the current CEO and co-founder of the company. The latter, after being scammed while buying a used smartphone online, decided to try to develop a safe and secure process, which could allow users to purchase used smartphones with complete peace of mind.

Hence the idea came Swappie, a company that has grown exponentially over the years, So much so that it now has more than 300 employees and a turnover (number 2020) of more than 97 million euros; An increase of 200% compared to 2018. This Finnish company took first place in the ranking, which is placed annually by the Financial Times, for the fastest growing European startups. In short, a strong company that will likely continue to grow along with an unparalleled market today, representing an opportunity for users of all ages and above all budgets.


Well, the numbers are so beautiful and the numbers are amazing, but the one that needs to be emphasized over and over from my point of view is that at the bottom of everything there is a very important concept like that of sustainability. The production of new smartphones is the process that has the greatest impact on the amount of carbon dioxide emitted in the pathway leading to their purchase. Over the years, it is estimated that more than 85% of the carbon footprint of these electronic devices is caused by their production.

Thus, refurbishing and buying used smartphones significantly reduces these emissions; to the point where Extending mobile phone use by just one year means reducing the impact by a third It has in terms of carbon dioxide “emitted” in the course of its life. This is because, obviously, with an increase in the number of smartphones used in circulation, the demand for the new phone and, accordingly, production decreases, with a positive impact on the demand for resources and on emissions related to the production and transportation of the smartphone itself.

With this in mind, we can’t help but appreciate the strong increase in the flea market. The IDC report from 2021 predicts that By 2024 it will be shipped worldwide Over 350 million refurbished smartphonesvalued at approximately $65 billion. At an annual growth rate of about 11% from 2019 to 2024. According to Counterpoint, moreover, the global market for used or refurbished smartphones was valued at €46.5 billion in 2020 and registered a 15% increase between 2020 and 2021, with still not being explored . Growth potential as only a small portion of used smartphones are refurbished and resold.

In short, the ingredients needed to continue listening to the revamped market are all there, and we’re definitely talking about a business that will only grow going forward into the next few years. So Swappie entered this booming market with a very specific philosophy. Product quality is the core of everything Which you are going to buy, and for this very reason, on Swappie there are only iPhones, starting from the iPhone 8 up to the iPhone 13 Pro Max.

A very careful and conscious choice, which has been allowed over the years Optimize the reprocessing process as much as possible With the aim of making it scalable, and possibly in the future to replicate it with other products or models. In fact, by focusing on one type of smartphone, although rejected in different models, Swappie was able to build a process that guarantees a certain minimum quality that in any case ensures that you will always have a smartphone that works perfectly. With varying degrees of wear, yes, but they are always tested to make sure everything is working as it should.

Process tested within your own company Swappie has set up a training center, Swappy Academy specifically, which aims to train newcomers so that they can fit perfectly into the gears of this super-lubricated machine.

reformatting process

Well, numbers by numbers but I also want to tell you how the process of renewing an iPhone goes in a practical way. The Regeneration Center in Helsinki is open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. and has 300 employees About who works there divided into two shifts of 8 hours each: 6.00-14.00 and 14.00-22.00. It is clear that the organization is taken care of to the smallest detail and the process basically takes place in 6 stages, which can also be 4 or 5 depending on the state in which the smartphone arrives at the sorting center.

And let’s start from here, from The first step, mandatory for all products Access to the renewal center. In the first step, smartphones are disassembled and divided between iPhones and non-iPhones. Android smartphones (Swappie pulls any kind of smartphone) are turned over to partners who properly refurbish or recycle this type of solution; While iPhones first charge to 100%, so you don’t have to interrupt the process in the next stages and receive your first functional check.

This first process serves first of all to check if the iPhone is turned on, whether it has been properly restored and whether or not it has been blacklisted (eg because it has been stolen). In the event that the smartphone was not properly removed from the iCloud account of the previous owner or was blacklisted, it is returned to the sender because it cannot be configured. On the other hand, if the iPhone is configured correctly, then move on to the next step.

After the first check on receipt, The second step involves a much deeper analysis of the smartphone, which will allow you to specify the path that the smartphone will take in the next steps. At this juncture, various checks are performed, up to 52 steps, which provide verification of different aspects of the smartphone. The program allows you to check the condition of the battery and all other electronic components inside the smartphone, while the operator works directly on possible problems that can be found “by eye”, from the full functionality of the touch screen in all its parts to the presence of spots in the cameras.

Once these checks are complete, a label is printed with a barcode applied to the smartphone that will follow along its path, so that the different operators can at any time keep track of all previous checks as well as any potential repairs that have already been carried out.

At this point, the iPhone can take different paths. If all is well and a thorough cleaning is sufficient It immediately goes to the classification stage, if instead of repairs are necessary, the smartphone goes through two successive steps depending on what kind of interventions it will have to undergo.

For most incoming products, what we can define as simple interventions are sufficient, or routine. what is he talking about? Simple, replace the battery, screen or cameras. 80% of smartphones Passes through the Swappie Regeneration Center requires battery replacement, 22% require display repair or replacement while 7% of products require cameras to be replaced. However, only 1% of iPhones received are too old or damaged to be renewed. In this case Swappie recovers pieces Which can be used as spare parts and disposed of the rest in the right way.

Thus, the battery is the element in which further interventions are made by decoupling. Apple usually replaces iPhone batteries under warranty when their capacity reaches less than 80% of the original capacity. However, Swappie often makes these repairs even at higher rates.

about spare parts. Swappie does not use original Apple parts I decided not to join the company’s apple repair program. Therefore, inside your refurbished iPhone there may be original parts taken from other iPhones or third-party parts that still undergo rigorous testing before using them. In addition, all iPhones that require repair include unlocking the smartphone They lose the water resistance guarantee.

In the face of all this Swappie still offers one 12 months warranty And a return service that allows you to return your smartphone within 14 days at no additional cost.

However, once the above-mentioned fixes are performed, the smartphone can take two different paths here as well. If this step is completed, the smartphone is fully functional, and proceeds to the classification stage, if instead it requires more and more in-depth interventions, it is entrusted to Partial welding section. Here the operators, trained at Swappie Academy, intervene directly on the internal components, replacing the damaged components to make the smartphone fully functional again.

Once all the necessary repairs are received, refurbished iPhones are only one way. go first classification Professional operators assess the extent of the aesthetic damage present on the body of each product and classify them on three levels of judgment: Acceptable, very good and excellent. The acceptable level is clearly the lower level, where the phone shows obvious scratches and dents, while the excellent is the one that certifies the best conditions, and is characterized by few and inconspicuous scratches. Once this classification is completed, the iPhones are placed on the site and made available for purchase by the users.

When this is purchased Logistics Department shipment, but not before any accessories are inserted into the package, and the optional protective glass and the insertion of the lightning cable and manuals in the language of the destination country are placed in the box.


Well, this is it The process that every iPhone Swappie receives goes through To be renewed and then put back on the market. Swappie’s refinement process is, as we mentioned at the beginning, in order to always ensure the highest possible quality in the product we will purchase.

What did I like? Certainly the ultimate goal of this kind of business which is still based on the philosophy of circular economy which, in my opinion, should nowadays be the basis of every production process. Purchasing a refurbished product is not only a matter of lowering costs but also and above all a method To encourage market sustainabilityAs with technology that leads us to produce mountains of electronic trash every year.

I would like to conclude with a few words about Swappie in Italy. The company has been operating in our country since 2018 and has expanded so rapidly that it is now Italy for Swappie. The most important market in terms of sales. This means that although almost all operations are based in Helsinki, the team that tracks the Italian market now consists of about 20 people.

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