What Is a Refurbished iPhone and Is it Safe to Buy?

Mobile Phone

Planning to buy an iPhone but your budget is constrained? Or you might want an iPhone as a backup phone while still earning up for the latest iPhone. We all know that iPhones have pretty steep price tags. So, it is no easy task to save up and buy the iPhone that you are dreaming of. In this case, it might be worth considering buying a refurbished iPhone.

This may be unfamiliar to you, but this is the new cool in today’s market. Purchasing refurbished phones is a practical option because it is like getting a “brand new” device without burning a hole in your pocket. Sounds too good to be true? Then, hop on and read more on why should you buy a refurbished iPhone.


What Is a Refurbished iPhone?

two iphones and apple watch
Photo by Jeanson Wong from Unsplash

The term “refurbished” might confuse some of the prospective buyers. They fear that they may get a defective phone when they buy one. Don’t fret, though, for refurbished phones are as good as new ones. Basically, refurbished phones are phones that are returned to the manufacturer by their initial buyers. They are then repaired and inspected for any cosmetic or hardware damages.

The phones are sometimes graded as A, B, or C, based on their looks. “Grade A” phones are usually in a mint condition. “Grade B” has some slight cosmetic damages, and “Grade C” has some obvious wear and tear on it. You can check our guide to refurbished phones so you can learn more about the benefits and drawbacks of buying refurbished phones.

With this in mind, a refurbished iPhone is something that is returned to the store, either because of defects or the previous owner upgraded to a new phone. The store then checks and diagnoses any damages or software errors on the iPhone. Then, they resell this iPhone at a much more affordable price.


Used iPhone vs Refurbished iPhone: What Is the Difference?

You might get confused by some shops selling used iPhones and refurbished iPhones. “Used” and “refurbished” are two terms in the smartphone market that can be constantly interchanged. Before buying that iPhone, be aware that these devices are most likely used by other people. Therefore, refurbished iPhones are technically used iPhones. But still, you must know the key differences between used iPhones and refurbished iPhones.

Defining “used iPhones” have become a little bit vague these days. You can tell that an iPhone is classified as “used” when it has not undergone any factory repairs. Cosmetic damages or slight software slowdown may be obvious. Since they have not gone through repairs, expect that these iPhones are sold cheaper than refurbished ones. These iPhones are usually sold by an individual owner and found on online marketplaces like eBay or Craigslist.

As already mentioned, refurbished iPhones have gone through meticulous repairs and inspection. So, you can be certain of buying a high-quality iPhone that is as good as new. Since they are described as “like new,” the prices of these iPhones are slightly lower than a brand new iPhone. Refurbished iPhones are usually sold by Apple itself, major carriers, and major online shopping sites. You can also trade in refurbished iPhones so you can purchase a new iPhone.


Where to Buy Refurbished iPhones?

Now that you know everything about refurbished iPhones, you are now in search of the most affordable, high-quality refurbished iPhone. The good thing is nowadays you can conveniently check and buy everything online.

Check out these websites where you can purchase a refurbished iPhone:


1. Amazon

amazon logo
© Photo from Wikimedia Commons

If you want a trusty online marketplace where you can buy refurbished iPhones, Amazon is the right place for you. You can be assured that every refurbished iPhone from them have undergone diagnostic testing. Their package comes with a generic charging cable and charger. If you are not happy with the device, you can return the iPhone within 90 days from purchase. To make sure you are buying a legitimate, refurbished iPhone, check if it is labeled “Amazon Renewed.”

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2. eBay

ebay logo
© Photo from Wikimedia Commons

One of the most popular online marketplaces out there is eBay. There are tons of refurbished iPhones that you can buy from here. Do check out the reviews and warranty policy first before buying a refurbished iPhone from eBay. Also, check out the location of the seller, so you won’t have any headache when doing a warranty claim.

You can browse through tons of refurbished iPhones at affordable prices on this platform.

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3. Decluttr

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Photo by Decluttr

Decluttr is a shopping website dedicated to selling refurbished gadgets and devices. When you buy devices from them, you’ll be assured of a 12-month limited warranty and 14-day money-back guarantee. The iPhones have also undergone a 70-step test that Decluttr calls “PhoneCheck.” They test everything from its hardware (microphone, GPS, camera) to its software (iOS activation and iCloud account removal). You can have peace of mind when buying phones from Decluttr.

You can choose a variety of carrier-locked or unlocked iPhone 5S to iPhone XS. The prices start at $84.99.

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4. Best Buy

Best Buy logo
Photo by Wikimedia Commons

We all know that Best Buy is one of the best places to shop for gadgets. Best Buy is an established shopping center dedicated to gadgets and appliances. Make sure you buy a “Geek Squad Certified” refurbished iPhone. This will ensure that the phone is thoroughly checked by the “Geek Squad” of Best Buy. You can opt for a straight payment or a financing plan that you can pay on a monthly basis.

Ensure first the availability of the refurbished iPhone by checking on the app or their website. You can buy carrier-locked iPhone 8 or iPhone X, starting at $299.99.

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5. Apple

apple website
Screenshot from Apple

No doubt about it, the best site to get a refurbished iPhone is from the official Apple store. You can get a ton of perks when you get a refurbished iPhone from the original manufacturer. It is like buying a spankingly new iPhone because you’ll get this iPhone in their distinctive white box, complete with the essential Apple-certified peripherals. The parts of these iPhones are replaced with genuine parts from Apple. Just like newly-released iPhones, you can get a one-year warranty and purchase AppleCare for an extended warranty. The best part is, if you plan to upgrade your refurbished iPhone, you can trade this refurbished iPhone so you can get a discount on your purchase for a new iPhone.

You won’t see physical Apple Stores sell them, though. You can only browse refurbished iPhones on their online store. Get a refurbished and unlocked iPhone X, XR, and XS from Apple ranging from $599 to $1,099.

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Is It Safe to Buy a Refurbished iPhone?

We get that fear of buying anything refurbished, including iPhones because we often read reviews online that refurbished phones are of no good. That is why we need to know: is it really safe to buy a refurbished iPhone?

Let us know first how Apple refurbishes its iPhones. You can surrender your old iPhone in exchange for a credit on your next iPhone purchase. You can also get an Apple gift card. They will then assess the returned iPhones for refurbishing.

Apple is assuring everyone that the refurbished iPhones have undergone a “rigorous refurbishment process.” The process involves cleaning, replacement of essential parts, and even a new external shell. Apple guarantees that the quality of these refurbished iPhones will be the same as the newly-released ones. They say that these iPhones can save you up to 15% on your purchase. With these savings, you can use the money you just saved to purchase the best accessories for your iPhone.

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On the other hand, iPhones that are not refurbished by Apple itself are normally checked and inspected by third-party technicians. More often than not, they use parts that are not sourced from Apple, which is why they come relatively cheaper. You have to be extra careful when buying an iPhone from these sources, so you won’t regret every penny you have spent on that cheaper iPhone.

So going back to our question: is it safe to buy a refurbished iPhone? The answer is yes. You will have no regrets about buying a refurbished iPhone, provided that you take a careful look at the device you buy.


Tips on Buying a Refurbished iPhone

Ready to buy that refurbished iPhone? Don’t be so quick, for you might regret buying one if you are not cautious enough. Here are our tips on buying a refurbished iPhone:


1. Check If the Store Offers Refund and Warranty Policies

How To Sell or Trade In Your Old iPhone
Photo by ITAR-TASS News Agency on Alamy Stock Photo

This is the most important tip we can give to you: when you buy an iPhone (or any devices) in any store, make sure that they have a refund and warranty policy. Phone technicians may have thoroughly checked the iPhone for damages, dents, or software errors, but you must still double-check if there are any hidden physical damages or technical problems to the unit. If you think there are any flaws to your newly-bought unit, contact the store then claim the warranty of your device. You can also request for a refund if the problem is unmanageable.


2. Search for Fair and Legit Deals

Some stores may offer cheap prices, but it does not mean that they are worth every penny. Search and compare online for affordable but fair deals so your purchase is truly worth it. We recommend that you buy from stores that have extended warranty and return policies. For example, Apple has a return policy of 14 days. At Amazon, you can return your device 90 days after its purchase. So, go ahead and search for that sweet deal for a refurbished iPhone.


3. Purchase From Your Trusted Carrier

Photo by JESHOOTS-COM from Pixabay

If you are not that keen on changing your network, you can check out some deals from your trusty carriers. Some carriers offer refurbished iPhones, too. Carriers do the same testing as with Apple and other companies to ensure that the iPhones are truly working. They even sell well-loved old iPhone models that some may have just forgotten. For instance, AT&T still sells the iPhone 6 because of its one nifty feature—the headphone jack. Inquire with your most trusted carrier on the best deals on a refurbished iPhone.


4. Inspect Everything From Hardware to Software

Usually, refurbished phones have a slightly bogged down battery health. This is the number one problem of consumers who have previously bought refurbished phones. So, you might want to take a double look at that. You also need to check the security of your iPhone. Some users might have forgotten to clear their iPhones of their private information. Check if all the data has been wiped; you can factory reset your phone if you are unsure. If you see any defects on the device, do not hesitate to contact the dealer and claim a warranty for the iPhone.


5. Check the Purpose of Your Purchase

Have you ever tried to ask yourself why you are on a hunt for a brand new device? If yes, then good. This is also applicable when buying a refurbished iPhone. So, assess first on what is the purpose of why you are planning to buy a refurbished iPhone.

Will you take scenic photos and videos with it? Are you planning to watch movies with it? Or do you just want it as a backup phone? If you plan to use it as your primary phone, get an iPhone that has a beefy storage capacity. Get at least a 64 GB iPhone for this instance. When you want to buy a refurbished iPhone for capturing stunning photos and videos, get an iPhone that has a high-quality camera on it. You also need quite a large storage capacity for this. We would recommend at least an iPhone X in that situation. But if you just want a backup phone for your messages and transactions, just get the older iterations of iPhone, like the iPhone 6.


Final Word

Saving a little bit can never hurt, especially when buying phones. We all know how ridiculously expensive a brand new iPhone is. So, if you’re on a tight budget, one of the most practical ways to cut down on costs is to buy refurbished iPhones instead. It might have some drawbacks but with this guide, we hope you can find the perfect iPhone companion for you.