You might wish to purchase an iPhone, but you feel that, for one reason or another, you don’t want to get a brand-new one. If so, then you may be looking into refurbished iPhones, as well as used ones. You may have heard this term before, “refurbished,” but what exactly does it mean? How does a refurbished iPhone differ from a used one, for instance? And what are the compelling reasons for buying one? We’ll cover all of those questions, and more, in this article. Once we’re finished, you should be able to tell whether a refurbished iPhone is the best choice for your needs.
What is a Refurbished iPhone?
Refurbished is a situation where the iPhone in question (or some other item) had a previous owner. In most instances, that owner was not in possession of the object in question for very long. They took it home, decided that they didn’t want it for whatever reason, and then they returned it.
In the case of an iPhone, the person who bought it would have sent it back to Apple, or a licensed retailer of Apple products. The company then looks over the phone to determine that it is still in pristine condition. If they find anything wrong with it, they repair it. They then repackage it and put it back in one of their stores so that someone else can buy it, or they make it available for sale on their website. They advertise it as being refurbished rather than brand-new, and then they knock a hundred or a couple of hundred dollars off of the original asking price.
The appeal of the refurbished iPhone is that you’re getting a device that is “used,” but it has been looked over by Apple staff to ensure that it is still in excellent working order. They are putting the title of refurbished on it, and that indicates that they are backing it and standing behind the phone working precisely as it should.
You will sometimes hear the term “refurbished” applied to other things besides iPhones. Other items might be described as refurbished, like TVs, car speaker systems, musical instruments, etc. Vehicles that are gently used but are being resold by the manufacturer might get this same description as well. The concept for any of these is the same: a commodity that was briefly owned, and then returned, scrutinized and put back on the market at a slightly reduced price.
What is the Difference Between Used and Refurbished?
Technically, you could describe a refurbished iPhone, or some other item, as used. It was taken out of the package, removed from the store, or driven off the lot by the original owner. However, when something is described as refurbished, this indicates that the prior owner didn’t do very much with it. It might have been in their possession for mere hours or a couple of days before they decided that they wanted to return it.
When you hear “used,” you can take that to mean that the last owner was in possession of the iPhone, or whatever else, for an extended length of time before selling it or giving it away. Some used items are going to be in better condition than others, and that is certainly true of iPhones.
The point, though, is that a used iPhone might show a lot more signs of wear than one which has gotten the refurbished designation. The price difference between a used iPhone and a refurbished one will also likely reflect this. A phone that is refurbished is still going to be considered in very good condition, and the price concession, as we mentioned, might be in the area of a hundred or a couple of hundred dollars. When an iPhone is being called “used,” that will likely mean a much more dramatic price reduction.
Who Refurbishes iPhones?
This line of thought should then lead to the obvious question of who or what refurbishes iPhones. In most circumstances, it’s going to be the manufacturer that does so. For iPhones, that will be Apple, the multinational electronics and computing powerhouse.
Certified Apple technicians look over the iPhone that is up for the refurbished classification. They do a multiple-point inspection and make any repairs that are necessary. If they determine that the device cannot be classified as refurbished, then they might still be able to sell it as used, but at a lower price point. You can find refurbished iPhones at brick-and-mortar Apple Stores, and they are also available on the Apple website.
You can get used iPhones in all sorts of other places. You can find them at Best Buy and GameStop locations, as well as pawnshops, on eBay, or Craigslist. Some cellular service providers sell them. You might just come across someone you know who is trying to unload a used one. In none of these situations, though, are the phones likely to be described as “refurbished.” The term “used” is much more likely to be applied.
The Pros of Buying Refurbished
If you buy a refurbished iPhone from Apple, then the biggest pro is that Apple is a known commodity. Most consumers trust them. If Apple says that the device you’re getting is in good enough shape that they’re calling it refurbished, then you can feel better about it than if you were buying a used iPhone from a less reputable source.
Also, with a refurbished iPhone from Apple, you can often get one of the more recent models. In such instances, you’re getting all the bells and whistles that come with this newer-model phone. You’re getting it at a slightly lower price point, though, than you would pay if you were buying the device brand-new. If an iPhone 11 costs $1,200, for instance, and you can get a refurbished one for $1,000, then that price difference is likely to appeal to you.
One more point in favor of a refurbished device is that you can often get one with a warranty. It might not be as long as the standard one-year warranty that comes with a brand-new Apple device. Even if you can get a 90-day warranty for a refurbished model, though, that should make you feel better than if you were getting no kind of warranty at all.
The Cons of Refurbished iPhones
As for cons, let’s look at the scenario we just mentioned, where you’re thinking about an iPhone 11 for $1,000 rather than $1,200. On the one hand, it seems like a good deal, because you’re getting that discount of a couple of hundred bucks. You can look at it from the opposite viewpoint, though, which is that $1,000 still isn’t exactly cheap. It’s one of those glass-half-full vs. glass-half-empty types of situations.
If cost is the biggest concern for you when you are iPhone shopping, then you might want to look into used devices instead of refurbished. That refurbished iPhone 11 might cost you $1,000, but a gently-used one might be on sale for considerably less than that. If you’re willing to dismiss the comfort that comes with a warranty, then going cheaper with a used version might be more to your liking. Also, if you’re willing to consider used phones as well as refurbished ones, then that’s going to open up your choices significantly. You can now look at all of those other places that we mentioned in addition to Apple Stores and the Apple website.
Is Getting a Refurbished iPhone Worth It?
When it’s decision time, and you’re looking at refurbished iPhones as well as used ones, there are several factors that will likely come into play. The first one is whether you have your heart set on a particular model of iPhone, or whether you would be satisfied with a few different versions. If you want a specific model, then you’ll have to figure out whether there is a refurbished version of that one that is available for purchase. If you’re more flexible, then you might settle on a used iPhone instead.
The cost will be the next issue. You likely have a set amount of money if you are looking at refurbished or used iPhones. If money were no object, then you’d probably get yourself a brand-new device. Whether you propose to buy your phone outright or you are setting up some kind of installment plan with the entity from which you are buying it, look carefully at your finances.
You do not want to spend beyond your means just to get a phone that’s newer or fancier. Functionality is more important than getting the latest toys, and that applies to all areas of your life, not just phone shopping.
Be smart with your purchase. If you have the ready cash for a refurbished or used iPhone, then it’s probably fine to take the deal. If you can afford the phone, but then you’ll be struggling with rent or mortgage payment in a couple of weeks, then you should rethink your strategy. You might put off getting the phone if that’s an option for you. You may look at earlier iPhone models or a different brand.
Ultimately, the concept of buying a refurbished iPhone is a sound one. You’re likely getting a reliable device at a bit of a lower price than the same one would cost if it were new. Look at what’s available, and then take a moment to mentally review the points that we’ve mentioned. You ought to be able to figure out whether buying refurbished makes sense for your situation.