Vodafone is to sell refurbished smartphones, including the iPhone 4 and Samsung Galaxy S3, at a hefty discount to pay-as-you-go and monthly contract customers.
The 'nearly new' phones have been returned to the phone operator and will go through a strict set of checks and cleaning before being re-boxed for sale.
While refurbished phones are already available in some places, Vodafone's move represents a significant push into the widespread selling of second-hand cut-price handsets by a major operator.
A pay-as-you-go customer can get an 8GB iPhone 4 for £250, a whopping £155 less than the new price of £405. They will be sold with at least a 12-month warranty.
Pay monthly customers will be able to get contracts with the Samsung Galaxy S3 and HTC One X at a discount.
For example, the SG3 will be free on a £33 a month contract with free calls and texts, compared to the usual price of £37 a month for a brand new phone – saving £96 over a two-year contract.
Some phone companies already offer 'refurbished' phones to existing customers at a discount, usually as part of the upgrade process, but Vodafone is now launching its 'Nearly New' service to attract new customers. All pay-as-you-go refurbished handsets come with a 12-month warranty and monthly contract phones will be covered in the same way for 24 months. The Nearly New service is available in store now and online from next week.
A Vodafone spokesman said: "Nearly New is designed to make it even more affordable for people, especially those who prefer pay-as-you-go services, to get their hands on a smartphone and start using the mobile internet. It is part of our ambition to get the internet into the hands of our customers."