Do you need a new cell phone? Are you working with a tight budget? Don't worry. You don't have to wait in line for hours and spend hundreds of dollars to get the latest and greatest mobile phone innovation. In fact, you don't have to get a brand new phone at all. One of the best ways to save money on a cell phone is to buy a refurbished phone.

What is a refurbished phone?

A refurbished phone is exactly what it sounds like. It's a used phone that a previous owner has sold or traded in. The dealer then wipes the phone clean and restores it to factory settings before reselling it. You can usually find refurbished mobile phones at steep discounts, but there are a few things that you'll want to check:

There should be no saved information

Look through the phone before you buy it. Are there any random contacts in the address book? If you start to dial a number, does the phone fill it based on a saved contact? Are there any pictures or apps on the phone?

If so, this is a sign that the phone wasn't completely wiped clean and restored to factory settings before it was put out for sale. If that's the case, you should move on to another phone or possibly even go to a different discount mobile phones dealer.

Check the ESN

If you pull out the phone's battery, you should see a sticker with a bar code and a series of numbers. One set of numbers will be labeled "ESN." This is the phone's electronic serial number. You can call the phone's manufacturer and give them the ESN.

They will then be able to tell you whether the phone was ever returned to them for damage or serious malfunction. If it was, you may want to look for a different phone. Many refurbished phones are sold without warranties, so there's a possibility that a previous problem could reappear after you buy the phone.

Is it locked or unlocked?

This is an important distinction to understand before you buy the phone. A "locked" phone is one that can only be used with a specific service provider. An "unlocked" phone is one that has been reconfigured to work with any service provider.

There's nothing necessarily wrong with a locked phone, as long as you're okay with using that specific provider. In fact that prices on locked phones are often lower because there's a smaller potential market. Looking at locked phones specific to your provider may be a great way to find even more savings.

Visit a reputable discount mobile phones dealer for more information on how you can buy a new phone on a tight budget. Their sales staff can get an idea of what you're looking for and recommend several different options. For other answers to your questions, contact a company like Eagle Wireless services  to learn more.