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Macquarie MVNO Takes On Boost Mobile Refurbished Phones

Days after Boost Mobile launched a program selling pre-owned phones, Macquarie Group-backed Nu Mobile has started to do the same.

Like Boost, Nu Mobile is a mobile virtual network operator targeting millennials with cheaper, flexible plans using the Telstra network.

While Boost has partnered with refurbishment specialists Alegre for its phones, Nu Mobile’s devices appear to come from Macquarie’s dealings with mobile retailers, according to the AFR.

Macquarie leases more than a million smartphones to retailers, who then lease them to customers.

Lease terms dictate customers return the phone after a couple of years, giving Macquarie access to a large inventory of former flagships.

Rather than refurbished phones, Nu Mobile sells pre-owned phones that have been “nu certified” through what the company calls a “51-point test”, with a 12-month warranty.

The testing includes ensuring the expected functions of the phone still work properly, as well as cosmetic assessment of the casing and screen.

Currently Nu Mobile is only selling pre-owned Apple and Samsung devices, starting at $360 for a 32GB iPhone 7 and $240 for a 32GB Galaxy S7.

Boost’s refurbished devices start at $249 for an iPhone SE, but its iPhone 7 and Galaxy S7 phones are more expensive than Nu Mobile’s, starting at $399 and $339.

Nu Mobile customers have the option of buying their phone outright or paying it off monthly on a plan, while Boost only offers outright purchases.

Customers can also return or swap their devices, so long as they’re in good working order.

Like many MVNOs, Nu Mobile’s plans are offered on a month-to-month basis.

Its cheapest $10 per month plan only offers 1GB of data while its most expensive provides 40GB per month for $50.

Nu Mobile also offers 4GB ($20), 16GB ($30) and 25GB ($40) plans, with data that rolls over monthly, allowing customers to bank up to 200GB of data.

Customers receive one-off bonus data to add to their data bank on activation, with all plans $30 and up getting 80GB, while the $10 and $20 plan get 2GB and 3GB respectively.

All plans provide unlimited talk and text within Australia while the $30 per month and up plans offer unlimited talk and text to 15 countries including China, India, and the UK.

Increasingly expensive flagship devices are causing users to hang on to their smartphones longer than before, and manufacturers have begun chasing budget-focused customers with cheaper device ranges such as Samsung’s A-series and Google’s Pixel 3a line.

The market for pre-owned and refurbished devices is expected to grow to be worth more than $52 billion by 2022 according to IDC.

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