Jonathan Wylie is a digital learning consultant who has a passion for helping others get the best out of their technology.
What Is a Refurbished Device?
Refurbished devices can definitely save you some hard earned cash, but are they worth it? It depends. A refurbished iPad or iPhone is typically a device that was returned or repaired and then restored to a condition that makes it available for sale again.The restoration may have been completed by the manufacturer, or it may have been completed by the seller. Apple refurbished products are typically superior to those that are restored by the seller, but they are not always the cheapest.
Refurbished devices can described in different ways. For instance, some products are listed as open box, while others may be called certified used. It usually means the same thing, but you should note that the condition of a refurbished device can vary. I've bought a lot of refurbished technology over the years, and I've had a lot of luck getting great devices I can rely on. So, here are some of my favorite online sellers for refurbished iPhones and iPads.
1. Apple's Refurbished Store
The first place to look for a refurbished iPhone or iPad is Apple's Certified Refurbished store. It's an online store that is dedicated to selling refurbished devices. These devices are not always the cheapest refurbs that you will find online, but they are always in excellent condition and they come with a warranty that is hard to beat.
Apple's refurbished iPhones and iPads include a brand new battery and new outer shell. This means that they look and function like a brand new device. They also come with a full one-year warranty, and this gives you a peace of mind that is hard to find elsewhere.
Apple's refurbished stock ships in a plain white box, as opposed to the retail boxes you may be used to, but they are still a great option if you are looking to save some money on a new iPhone or iPad, or are shopping for a gift for friends and family. Stock varies depending on the time of year, but you can shop for Apple Refurbished Products here.
Another great place to look is RefurbMe. This online store has a selection of refurbished and certified pre-owned products. RefurbMe is like a clearing house for products that are sold on other websites, and they earn an affiliate commission from the retailer every time you buy from a store that they list on their site.
Refurbished iPhones and iPads that are listed on RefurbMe will be in one of three cosmetic conditions:
- Excellent – The screen and body are in perfect condition.
- Good – The screen is in very good condition. There may be scuffs or nicks on the side or back.
- Fair – There are scuffs and nicks. It will look used but will be fully functional.
If you are just looking for a half decent device to last you until the next big release from Apple, then you can definitely save some money by opting for something in Good or Fair condition. However, warranty terms will vary, so be sure to check the small print.
Not all models will be in stock, but RefurbMe lets you set up product alerts where you can choose the color and specifications that you want. For instance, if you are looking for a silver iPhone XR with 256Gb of storage that also works on Verizon, RefurbMe will send you an email as soon as they get some in stock. Head over to www.refurb.me to get started.
3. Best Buy: Geek Squad Certified
The next time you are browsing for an iPad or iPhone at BestBuy.com, be sure to scroll all the way down to the bottom of the product listing where you can see all your buying options. This is where you will often find open box models that can save you some serious money.
Open box listings are typically customer returns that are sold in a variety of different conditions. The ones listed in excellent condition are like new, still eligible for Apple Care, and come with all the original packaging and accessories. You can also return them to the store if you change your mind. For peace of mind, look for the Geek Squad Certified items. These are put through a multi-point inspection, cleaned, reset to factory settings, and returned to an "as new" condition.
You can find these cheap, refurbished iPads and iPhones in store, or online at the Best Buy Outlet. Stock varies a lot, but check back often. I have got some great deals from buying open box electronics at Best Buy.
What Do Open Box Products Look Like?
4. Back Market
Every iOS device you buy from Back Market comes with a rating that tells you how much electronic waste you will save when you buy a refurbished product. That's because part of Back Market's mission is to try and limit the impact on our environment by giving new life to pre-owned devices. The condition of their refurbished iPhones and iPads range from Stallone, (visible scratches, and maybe even some dents on the exterior), to Mint (no scratches and have exteriors that look brand new).
Every purchase at Back Market comes with a 30-day money back guarantee, and a warranty of at least a year in case anything goes wrong. This is longer than you get with most other sellers. This means you can buy with confidence. Back Market also have a student discount program offering 6% off regular prices, and they sell a wide variety of other devices like laptops, TVs, gaming consoles, and more. You can find them at backmarket.com.
Amazon is another place where I have picked up some great refurbished products. However, you need to know what to look for. On Amazon, a refurbished product is usually listed as renewed. You can find renewed products by using the search bar at the top of the screen. Simply add the word "renewed" to any keyword search and you will see refurbished devices in your search results. If you buy a renewed iPhone on Amazon, it works and looks like new. It is also backed by the 90-day Amazon Renewed Guarantee. If it does not work as expected, you can return the device for a refund or a replacement within 90 days.
Another place to find refurbished products on Amazon is the Amazon Warehouse. Renewed devices are products that third party sellers have refurbished, but Amazon Warehouse deals are products that Amazon refurbishes themselves. Typically, they are open box items that have been returned by a customer. However, they are fully functional and often come with all the original packaging and accessories. Amazon Warehouse items may not be available for all products, but if you click the "New and Used offers" link underneath a product, then this is where you will find them.
Last but not least is Swappa.com. This online marketplace exists for people like you and me to buy and sell their favorite gadgets. They describe themselves as "a user-to-user marketplace for gently used technology." Devices that you find on Swappa are typically not refurbished. However, you can still find some careful owners who have taken good care of their iPhone or iPad, and sometimes you will even get a good deal on new devices too.
Pictures are included for all listings, and PayPal gives peace of mind to both parties when money is exchanged. Swappa have been around since 2010 and have a good reputation online. To date, they have handled over $100m in seller proceeds, so they are definitely worth a look. I have purchased and sold phones on Swappa with no problems. Visit their store at swappa.com.
Did You Buy Refurbished?
I'd by lying if I said I bought all my technology as refurbished devices. I don't. However, I buy more than you might think, and if you buy from the right stores, it is a great way to save some money while also doing your part for the environment. Have you bought a refurbished iPhone or iPad before? If so, leave a comment below and let us know about your buying experience. Where did you shop and how much did you save? Are you joining me on the refurbished band wagon?!
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2018 Jonathan Wylie