Apple is known for producing some of the most reliable, durable, and high-quality devices in the world. Their iPhones (as well as other electronic devices) truly have amazing specifications, and they are without a doubt some of the best smartphones on the market. As such, it’s no wonder that their phones and other electronics are considerably expensive. The high price tag is the main reason why some people decide to purchase another less pricey smartphone instead.
However, if you purchase a refurbished iPhone, you get all the same wonderful features and specifications for a much lower price. Therefore, buying a refurbished iPhone that is basically as good as new may be a great option for you.
What is a Refurbished iPhone?
The term ‘refurbished’ is quite broad. A refurbished iPhone can be a demo iPhone from a store, a phone that somebody returned as soon as they bought it, or one that has been used for several months before the user decided to sell or return it.
1. What is the Difference Between a Used and Refurbished iPhone?
Considering that all the iPhones (as well as other electronics) that are not brand new are often labeled as ‘used, pre-owned, open box, renewed, refurnished’, the users tend to be confused about the exact difference between used and refurbished iPhones. The difference is actually quite simple…
Used iPhones are generally not repaired or inspected – at least not majorly. They usually come with restored iOS, which means that the previous owner’s personal information has been cleared, otherwise they are sold ‘as is’. Any scratches, cosmetic and other issues are still present, but they must be listed by the seller. Sellers in such cases are usually private and they have often decided to upgrade their device.
Refurbished iPhones tend to be inspected by professionals and properly repaired. These professionals return the device to like-new condition before selling them. The exact quality of the refurbishment generally depends on the retailer. Sometimes the iPhones are refurbished by the manufacturers themselves. In this case, at least when it comes to iPhones, the battery and outer shell also get replaced. As such, the new user really gets a nearly new phone for a lower price.
Used and refurbished are the two basic options of non-new phones, however, different stores and sellers sometimes use different terms. For example, Amazon labels refurbished phones as ‘renewed’.
2. What is the Difference Between a Refurbished iPhone and a Certified Refurbished iPhone?
The difference is in who is the one who refurbished it. If a third-party store examines and repairs the device if needed, then the iPhone has been ‘refurbished’. If the manufacturer (in this case, Apple) itself has refurbished it, then the refurbishment is certified. Certified refurbishment means that the device underwent strict diagnostic tests to ensure the device meets certain criteria, that it got properly repaired, that the essential parts have been replaced, and that it has been restored to a new-like condition.
What is a Brand New iPhone and the Difference Between a Brand New and a Refurbished iPhone
An iPhone is considered brand new when the box in which it comes hasn’t been opened yet and the phone hasn’t been used in any way by retailers, customers, or anyone else.
The main difference between a brand new iPhone and a refurbished one is that a refurbished iPhone has already been used (even if in the smallest amount) by someone else. A refurbished phone may have had a previous owner for a short while or it may have simply been used as a demo phone in a store.
1. Brand new iPhone vs refurbished iPhone with pros and cons
Both a brand new iPhone and a refurbished one have their pros and cons. You have to consider these advantages and disadvantages to decide which option would be the best for you.
The benefits of a brand new iPhone
- Contract and monthly payments : On the other hand, if you don’t have the budget to buy an iPhone in one payment, getting a contract, which allows you to pay 24 monthly installments instead of the full price at once, maybe the better option for you. This type of arrangement usually comes with buying a new phone.
- Warranty : Both new and refurbished phones tend to come with a warranty, but the warranty of refurbished phones depends on the retailer. Some retailers will give you a 30 or 90-day warranty, while Apple-certified refurbished iPhones come with their standard one-year Apple Care limited warranty. Check out the warranty and choose your device accordingly.
- Available on launch day : If you are one of those Apple enthusiasts that absolutely needs to have the new device the second they launch it, then you definitely have to buy the new version. However, if you are willing to wait for a few months or even weeks, then you can get a cheaper refurbished version of the newest model.
The cons of a brand new iPhone
- More expensive.
- Less sustainable.
The benefits of a refurbished iPhone
- Lower price : Probably the biggest advantage of buying a refurbished iPhone is that refurbished iPhones are less expensive. For example, a tested, repaired, and restored iPhone X with new earbuds, a new charger, and a warranty cost $749, while a brand new iPhone X costs $999. The price difference is considerable, and some customers are convinced that a brand new phone just isn’t worth the extra $250, especially as refurbished phones are basically as good as new anyway.
- Environmentally friendly : Buying a refurbished iPhone is more environmentally friendly as you help prolong the product’s life span.
- No contracts : Another major benefit of refurbished iPhones is that they often come contract-free. If you have the money to buy the phone in one payment it is way cheaper to buy the less costly refurbished iPhone than to buy a brand new iPhone on a 2-year contract and pay off the full price in installments for 24 months. Having no contracts gives the user certain freedom, which is priceless for some customers.
The cons of a refurbished iPhone
- You have to check the refurbishment process and quality before buying to know exactly what you are getting.
- Different retailers offer different guarantees, warranties, and return policies, and these safety features and periods tend to be shorter when buying a refurbished phone. Again, you have to check to know what to expect.
How does Apple Test Refurbished iPhones or Brand New iPhones?
Apple uses rigorous testing procedures for both refurbished and brand new products. These tests make sure that the device is in optimal working condition and free from blemishes and other defects. In other words, they make sure each product is perfect inside and out. Refurbishment procedures use the same basic technical guidelines, which are used during the ‘Finished Goods’ tests for retail devices.
Apple’s general refurbishing process includes several tests to determine whether the device is in full working condition. They replacement of potentially defective parts, replacement of batteries and outer shell, thorough cleaning, software installment, repackaging, and a final quality insurance inspection.
Refurbished iPhone Buying Guide
There is a number of very important considerations and steps to take before buying a refurbished iPhone, just to make sure you’re buying the right one – one that is in great like-new condition and will fit your needs.
1. Know What You’re Buying
First of all, when you buy a refurbished iPhone you have to know what exactly you are buying and getting. As different retailers refurbish phones in very different ways, you should check exactly how the retailer in question defines ‘refurbished’. The manufacturer promises restoration to the original condition, a thorough examination, replacement of parts, new packaging, and many other great benefits that ensure a safe and reliable purchase. When the phone is refurbished by another retailer, you may not get the same benefits. For example, many users have reported that they did not get a new battery, charging cord, or original earphones. As such it may be best to buy ‘certified refurbished’ or at least ask the retailer about the refurbishment process and the part and accessories that come with the device.
2. Make Sure You’re Protected
As lots of credit card companies provide coverage on refurbished goods as long as they are under a warranty. You may want to make sure to purchase a device that comes with a warranty. The manufacturer provides the longest warranty (a standard one-year Apple Care limited warranty), while other retailers tend to offer significantly shorter warranty periods. For example, Amazon and Best Buy only offer a 90-day warranty.
3. Ask About the Returns Policy
Other than the warranties, you may also want to ask about the return policies. As it usually takes some time for a potential technical issue to appear, make sure to buy your refurbished iPhone at a retailer that offers at least a month of the return period (for example, Amazon).
4. Inspect The iPhone When Possible
Ask the vendor to see the device before you buy it. If you are buying online, they can and should send you some photos so you can inspect the phone yourself. Make sure it includes all the physical buttons, the speakers, the cameras, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity, all the ports, and the undamaged screen and outer shell. Buying a refurbished iPhone in person also gives you the opportunity to check the battery. Go to ‘Settings’, ‘Battery’, ‘Battery health’ and make sure it’s above 80%. If you are buying online, make sure to thoroughly inspect everything as soon as the package arrives. As the sooner you want to return the device, the better the chances that you succeed.
5. Make Sure the Phone is Reset Before Buying
As unlinking iCloud, a user account, and Apple’s various security features is a bit challenging, you also want to make sure the phone is reset and that the previous owner’s personal information has been cleared before you buy the device. It is tricky to unlock a device with a locked iCloud or Apple account, plus, the fact that the seller didn’t reset it may indicate that the phone is stolen.
» MORE: How Do You Unlock An iPhone
Brand New iPhone Buying Guide
When buying a new iPhone, the things to consider before buying are slightly different.
If you are buying a new iPhone, it also means that you’re buying one of the newest models. All new iPhones are reliable, sturdy, powerful, high-quality, and have great specifications and features. As such, your choice really depends solely on your personal preferences. Here are some of the most important considerations.
1. Battery life
If you are planning to spend a lot of time outdoors or otherwise away from any electric plugs, you may want to make sure the model you are looking for has long battery life. One of the models with the longest battery life is the iPhone 12 Pro Max. It features a large battery that can last up to 12 hours of video streaming, 20 hours of video playback, and up to 80 hours of audio playback.
For those of you who are photography enthusiasts, choosing a device with the best camera is very important. If you are planning to take lots of photos and video, make sure to opt for a phone with the best camera quality. Currently, the iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max have the best camera quality. Both models come with a 12-megapixel Ultra-Wide lens.
Some prefer larger phones with larger screens that are more comfortable for typing, reading, and watching movies. Others prefer smaller phones that can be used in one hand and are lighter and more portable. Currently, iPhone 12 mini is the smallest iPhone on the market.
Different iPhones have different features. First, you have to figure out which features are the ones that you need or value the most, then you can look at the phone’s specifications and choose the model that offers most of your favorite options. Both iPhone 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max come with lots of amazing features, including a glass body, a stainless steel frame, an OLED display, triple-lens cameras, large storage, and a super-advanced and powerful processor.
Unless you have an unlimited budget, the price also tends to be a major consideration. When it comes to Apple, you can be sure that you will get great value, no matter which model you buy. However, none of Apple’s iPhones is cheap – unless you buy a refurbished model.
Why It’s Better to Buy a Refurbished iPhone Instead of a New One
As you have seen in chapter 2, there are lots of benefits to buying a refurbished iPhone instead of a new one. Let’s review them once more.
- First of all, it’s way more affordable to buy a refurbished model. Depending on the model and its condition, you can get a refurbished iPhone for 40% cheaper than a new one. As all the refurbished phones are inspected, tested, and restored to like-new condition, the condition categories that are often listed are purely cosmetic. Therefore, other than a few potential cosmetic blemishes you can expect a perfectly functional iPhone, regardless of the price.
- Secondly, most refurbished iPhones come without a contract, allowing the customer more freedom and more money saved, even in the long run.
- Also, a very strong point when it comes to the reasons why it is smarter to buy a refurbished device is the fact that refurbished phones are more sustainable. The production of a new phone takes a lot of raw materials, polluting chemicals, electricity, and carbon emissions. In fact, most carbon emissions caused by mobile phones arise during production. By buying a refurbished phone you are lowering your carbon footprint, contributing to recycling, sustainability, and a better future.
- Refurbished phones tend to be just as good as new ones, depending on the refurbishment process, of course. Their lifespan is just as long and due to the fact that these phones go through a very detailed examination and reparation process. They come with a perfect battery (sometimes even brand new), smooth and fast performance, and all the same amazing features.
- Depending on the retailer, you may even get a great warranty and return policy. Some retailers offer the same warranty period for refurbished phones as they do for new phones, which gives you the same protection.
Where Can I Buy Refurbished iPhones?
We have established that when it comes to buying refurbished phones, a lot depends on the retailer. Different retailers have different refurbishment processes, offer different warranties, return policies, and generally sell devices of different qualities. As such, it is very important to point out the best retailers.
Some customers swear by buying refurbished devices directly from the manufacturer – in our case, the Apple store. As these phones undergo rigorous tests, get a new battery and outer shell, and are basically just as good as new, you can expect only the best quality that also comes with a slightly higher price tag than other retailers tend to offer.
Based on customer ratings, other top retailers include eBay, Amazon, Consumer Cellular, Swappa, and DeCluttr. All of these retailers use proper tests and refurbishment processes and they also provide comfortable warranties, return policies, and other customer benefits. Moreover, in comparison to the Apple store, they grant lower prices and better deals.
You can also buy refurbished phones in excellent condition in Best Buy, Target, Walmart, other phone companies, mobile shops, resellers of refurbished phones, online classifieds and auction sites, carrier and electronics stores. When it comes to carrier stores, keep in mind that Verizon and AT&T have lower ratings when it comes to refurbished phones, but they do offer some other benefits and advantages.
Where Can I Buy Brand New iPhones?
Brand new iPhones can be bought at more or less the same places as refurbished iPhones.
Obviously, you can buy a brand new iPhone at the Apple store. They rarely offer any special deals or discounts, but they do offer many original benefits. The Apple Store is the best place to get answers to all your questions about carriers, customer support, payment options, setup, and the newly purchased device itself.
You can also buy brand new iPhones with other retailers, including Best Buy, Target, Walmart, Sprint, mobile shops, carrier and electronic stores, such as AT&T stores, T-Mobile, and Verizon authorized phone company resellers, and major online stores, such as Amazon, eBay, Craigslist, and many more.
Do You Want an iPhone On Launch Day?
If you are unable to wait a couple of weeks or months to buy a refurbished phone and wish to buy one on launch day, then you have no choice but to buy a brand new one. To see where you can buy a brand new iPhone, you can take a look at the previous chapter. Keep in mind though, that launch days are generally very busy, especially in Apple stores.
Are Refurbished iPhones Available From Apple?
Yes, they are. Apple stores offer a large variety of refurbished products, including iPhones. They sell both the newest models as well as older ones with different configurations and specifications.
Why Buy a Used or Refurbished iPhone?
There are many good reasons why we should all consider buying used or refurbished phones, instead of new ones. The short answer is because used and refurbished phones are cheaper, way more environmentally-friendly, and generally just as good as new ones – at least the refurbished ones, as they come tested, repaired, with all the accessories, and a warranty.
Is it Cheaper to Buy a Refurbished iPhone?
Yes, refurbished iPhones tend to be significantly cheaper than new ones. In fact, depending on the model and its condition. A refurbished iPhone can be as much as 40% cheaper than a new one.
Are Refurbished Phones Available Contract-Free?
Yes, most refurbished phones are available contract-free. This gives customers more freedom and saves them money in the long run.
Does Refurbished Mean Secondhand?
Yes, most refurbished phones have been previously used. However, they have not been used for a long time, as most refurbished phones are either used to serve as display units or have been returned shortly after the purchase for a different color or model.
Do Refurbished iPhones Have New Screens and Batteries?
It depends on the retailer. If you buy a refurbished phone directly from Apple, you will get a new battery and outer shell. The screen, however, will only be new in case the original one was broken or damaged in any way.
Do refurbished iPhones come with accessories?
This too, depends on the retailer. If you buy a refurbished phone at the Apple store, you will get all the same accessories as if you were buying a new one. When it comes to other retailers, it’s best to thoroughly check their offers or ask them directly to find out what exactly you are getting.