Is Buying a Refurbished iPhone or MacBook Worth It?


Unboxing a brand new iPhone, iPad or MacBook is exciting, but what if you could save some money in the process?

Apple offers certified refurbished versions of its products, allowing you to pick up your favorite Apple electronics with discounts around 23% and higher. We found a certified refurbished iPhone for 50% less than a comparable new phone.

But, what are Apple refurbished products, and are the savings worth it? We explore the Apple refurbishment process to help you decide if a refurbished iPhone, iPad, Mac, Watch or Apple TV is worth it.

(Spoiler alert: Buying a certified refurbished Apple product can absolutely be worth it.)

What Does Apple Certified Refurbished Mean?

Apple refurbished products are electronics that can no longer be sold as brand new. They may have been floor models, returned unused or used for a short period. Apple takes these electronics and restores them to their original factory condition.

When you purchase a refurbished Apple product, it is delivered in a sealed white Apple box. The experience of unboxing a refurbished iPhone is the same as buying one brand new. You should see no discernible difference. It’s not like buying a used device.

Preparing an Apple product for a refurbished sale includes a thorough inspection, cleaning and testing process for each iPad, MacBook or other device. Apple also replaces defective or worn components with genuine replacement parts to keep them up to standard.

Apple refurbished electronics are technically used, but they’re as good as new when they return to the market. Most products come with 90 days of free tech support and a one-year limited warranty too — just like a brand new product.

If you’re looking to save money on an Apple Watch or other product, you can buy a certified refurbished device with confidence.

Pro Tip

To speed through the Apple Store checkout process, use Apple Pay. If you haven’t set up Apple Pay on your iPhone, Mac or Apple Watch, we’ll show you how in our Apple Pay beginner’s guide.

How Much Can You Save on Refurbished Apple Products?

Apple offers most of its products in a refurbished state, including iPhones, iPads, Macs, Watches and Apple TVs.

While the refurbishment process is similar for most Apple products, some devices receive specific areas of attention to have them operating as new.

You’ll save around 23% by buying a certified refurbished Apple product, though you could save more on higher end electronics. (The highest discount we found was 50%.)

Keep in mind that stock and deals fluctuate with used products. What’s available today may be gone tomorrow.

Refurbished Macs

Buyers can see significant savings with refurbished MacBooks, iMacs, Mac minis, Mac Studios and Mac Pro computers. As Macs are one of the more expensive purchases from Apple, the refurbishment savings can go a long way.

Refurbished Macs are cleaned, inspected and include a standard one-year limited warranty. You get all original accessories and cables too.

Here are a few refurbished Macs we saw in the online Apple Store.

Refurbished Macs

Refurbished Model Refurbished Price Equivalent New Model New Price Savings
13.3-inch MacBook Air Apple M1 Chip with 8-Core CPU and 7-Core GPU $849 13.3-inch MacBook Air M1, 8-Core CPU, 7-Core GPU $999 $150
Mac Mini Apple M1 Chip with 8-Core CPU and 8-Core GPU $759 Mac Mini M1 Chip with 8-Core CPU and 8-Core GPU $899 $140

Refurbished iPhones

Since Steve Jobs introduced the original iPhone in 2007, the world has never been the same. Today, the iPhone is the company’s most popular product — and the refurbished shop allows you to purchase one at a healthy discount.

All certified refurbished iPhones go through a rigorous refurbishment process that includes repairs. Additionally, all iPhones include brand new batteries and outer shells, so you don’t need to worry about a single scratch. Original accessories and cables are also included with your purchase and you get a one-year limited warranty.

Here are a few refurbished iPhones on sale at this time in the online Apple Store.

Refurbished iPhones

Refurbished Model Refurbished Price Equivalent New Model New Price Savings
Refurbished iPhone 12 Pro 256GB $849 iPhone 13 Pro 128GB $1,099 $250
Refurbished iPhone 12 Pro Max 128GB $549 iPhone 13 Pro Max 128GB $1,099 $550

Refurbished iPads

iPads have become more powerful over the years as Apple continues to update iPadOS and include additional features. A refurbished iPad can be an excellent alternative to a traditional MacBook — and buying refurbished can save money.

All refurbished iPads are cleaned, inspected and come standard with a one-year limited warranty. All iPads get a new battery and outer shell too. Original accessories and cables are also included with your iPad.

Here are a few refurbished iPads we found listed in the online Apple Store.

Refurbished iPads

Refurbished Model Refurbished Price Equivalent New Model New Price Savings
iPad Air Wi-Fi 256GB (4th Generation) $599 iPad Air Wi-Fi 256GB (5th Generation) $749 $150
11-inch iPad Pro Wi-Fi 512GB $769 11-inch iPad Pro Wi-Fi 512GB $1,099 $230
Pro Tip

If you’re looking to spend even less on a tablet, check out our guide to the best budget tablets. Affordable tablets from Apple, Samsung and Amazon may be cheaper than you might think.

Refurbished Apple Watches and Apple TVs

While the Apple world centers on Macs, iPads and iPhones, Apple has more to offer with the Apple Watch and Apple TV.

A refurbished Apple Watch is an excellent companion to your iPhone, delivering fitness information and notifications to your wrist. You can even buy groceries with a tap of your watch, thanks to Apple Pay.

You can then crash on the couch with a refurbished Apple TV when you’re done working out and enjoy your favorite shows.

All refurbished Apple Watches and Apple TVs are cleaned, inspected and warrantied. Original accessories and cables are also included with your purchase.

Here are a few refurbished Apple Watches and Apple TVs from the online Apple Store.

Refurbished Apple Watch and Apple TV

Refurbished Model Refurbished Price Equivalent New Model New Price Savings
Refurbished Apple Watch Series 7 GPS + Cellular, 45mm $449 Apple Watch Series 7 GPS + Cellular, 45mm $529 $80
Refurbished Apple TV 4K 32GB $129 Apple TV 4K 32GB $179 $50

Where to Buy Refurbished Apple Products

Unfortunately, you can’t simply walk into a local Apple Store and walk out the same day with a refurbished product. All Apple refurbished products have to be purchased through Apple’s online store. They can then be shipped to your home or local Apple Store.

So far, we’ve only covered certified refurbished products directly from Apple. However, third-party companies specializing in selling refurbished Apple products exist.

While you may save more with a third party, you should take the time to understand their refurbishment process before purchasing. An ideal refurbisher will clean, inspect, and perform maintenance on every device to ensure they are in top condition.

If you opt for a third-party Mac refurbishment service, we recommend selecting a retailer with a hardware warranty lasting at least a full year. Retailers with free return policies are also encouraged so that you have an option to return the product if you are dissatisfied.

Be sure to check out our detailed article on whether refurbished electronics are worth it. You can learn more about the refurbishment process and what to keep an eye out for when shopping.

Some third-party Apple refurbished retailers we recommend include:

Pro Tip

Where are the refurbished iPods? Well, Apple discontinued the iPod in 2022. While you might find refurbished iPods elsewhere, Apple no longer sells iPods — new or refurbished.

Is Buying Apple Refurbished Products Worth the Savings?

We highly recommend Apple refurbished products if purchased directly from Apple or a reputable third party. Buying a refurbished product provides an experience comparable to a new product — you just don’t pay as much.

Our research found that you could save an average of about 23% on all Apple certified refurbished electronics instead of buying a comparable new model. You may see the highest savings with a refurbished iPhone though.

You can shop confidently as all refurbished Apple products are thoroughly inspected, cleaned and repaired with genuine Apple replacement parts if needed. We also love that Apple includes the same warranty with refurbished devices that comes standard on new devices along with the option for AppleCare+.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is a Refurbished iPhone from Apple Safe?

Yes, we highly recommend certified refurbished iPhones from Apple. When you buy directly from Apple, you’ll receive a device that has been thoroughly cleaned and inspected to operate as though it were brand new. 

Apple also replaces the battery and outer shell on iPhones and includes all original accessories in a sealed box.

Is Buying a Refurbished Apple Watch a Good Idea?

Purchasing a refurbished Apple Watch directly from Apple can be a good idea. Any Watches that Apple sells as refurbished are thoroughly cleaned and inspected. You’ll be able to enjoy a Watch that is as good as new. 

We found refurbished Apple Watches to offer savings around 15%, depending on the desired model.

Can I Trust Certified Refurbished Apple Devices?

You probably can’t tell the difference between a new Apple product and a refurbished one. Apple’s refurbishment process includes meticulously cleaning, inspecting and replacing any worn or defective parts. Apple also replaces the outer shell and battery on all iPhones and iPads.

Refurbished Apple devices come in the same packaging as new devices with all of the original cables and accessories. You get a one-year limited warranty and 90 days of free tech support. If you aren’t happy, there’s a 14-day return policy.

Michael Archambault is a senior writer for The Penny Hoarder specializing in technology.

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