Portable electronic devices have become an integral part of our lives. Be it an iPhone, MacBook, or iMac, it is hard to imagine working or relaxing without them. With the latest flagship prices for these portable electronic devices rising, you’re probably looking to save some cash on your next device.

The best alternative to save money getting your next tech item is buying used or refurbished devices. Firstly, they are just a cheaper option. Secondly, they are also better for the environment. But, what do these preowned and refurbished devices entail? Let’s take a look to better understand it.

What is the difference between new, used, and refurbished Apple devices?

The first thing that needs to be addressed is what we mean by new, used, and refurbished Apple devices.

New Apple devices

A new Apple device goes straight from the factory to the store to your hands and comes with the manufacturer’s full warranty, usually 12 months or more. It also includes all the accessories you can expect from a brand new product.

Used Apple devices

A used or pre-owned apple device comes from an individual who used the device and has moved on. Besides, they may sell it through an intermediary site. It is not factory or professionally repaired and may come with light scratches, heavy cosmetic damage, battery degradation, and other wear and tear.

Refurbished Apple devices

A refurbished Apple device lies somewhere in between used and new. In particular, they may be units returned shortly after the sale or were used as a display model.

The manufacturer or seller may have replaced the battery or other components, cleaned up the device, and included a fresh warranty with the product. Normally, refurbished Apple devices are thoroughly checked, repaired, and cleaned before being sold again.

Check out our related article to understand the difference between refurbished and pre-owned products.

Used vs. refurbished vs. new graphic

What are Apple Certified Refurbished products?

Refurbished Apple devices can be the best of both worlds. They come at a lower price than new Apple devices and lower risks than used ones.

The Apple Store devices compared on RefurbMe are classified as Apple Certified Refurbished. Every product completes a rigorous refurbishment process, including full testing that meets the same functional standards as factory-new Apple products. As a result, your refurbished device is like new, with great double-digit discounts.

The device you receive is almost like a new product with the same quality standards and genuine Apple replacement parts. They have been thoroughly cleaned and inspected.

In addition, refurbished iOS devices will come with a new battery and outer shell as well as all the accessories, cables, and operating systems. All Apple Certified Refurbished products are packaged in a brand new white box and will be sent to you with free shipping and returns.

👉 Learn more: What Is Apple Certified Refurbished and Why Does It Matter?

How do the three categories fair up?

New Apple devicesUsed Apple devicesRefurbished Apple devices
Working condition & physical appearanceIdeal It depends on the seller/individual, can have signs of wear & tear, and may have damage that affects usability.The device is like new with genuine Apple replacement parts as needed. The cosmetic conditions of the device are notified with grade A (excellent), grade B (good), and grade C (fair).
Inspected & cleanedYes NoYes
Battery conditionExcellentIt can vary based on the previous usage.Apple Certified Refurbished devices come with a new battery. Third-party seller refurbished devices may not replace the battery if it is not flawed or has not come up during the hardware and software testing. 
Warranty1-year warranty + Apple Care+ offersIt may or may not come with a warranty. Depends on the seller.Apple Certified Refurbished devices come with a 1-year warranty + Apple Care+ offer. Third-party sellers can have different warranty conditions.
PriceFull price. It can go on sale occasionally. Reduced or heavily discounted price. Again depends on the seller.Apple Certified Refurbished products come at a discounted price of a minimum of 15%.

Some third-party refurbished devices can also come at an 80% discounted price.
Shipping & return policyFree shipping. The return policy depends on the seller. Apple Store gives you a 14 days return time, whereas Amazon gives you 30 days.It depends on the origin of the seller. Most sellers have free shipping and 30 days return policy. On RefurbMe, you can compare shipping and return policies from our list of refurbishers.
Packaging & accessoriesStandard packaging and includes all the authorized accessories.It can come in standard packaging, but the accessories depend on the seller. Apple Certified Refurbished products are packaged in a brand new white box. The device will come with all accessories and cables.
OS and storageLatest OS with fresh storageThe OS depends on the model being sold by the seller.Restored OS and cleared.
Merchants (third-party sellers)You can buy new Apple devices directly from the Apple Store or any e-commerce site, or a third-party seller. Sellers usually go with intermediary sites, like eBay, Craiglist, and Swappa, or can get into any trade-in program by Amazon, Apple Store, etc. Apple Certified Refurbished devices are sold by the Apple Store or certified refurbishers like Gazelle, Mac of All Trades, and Decluttr. Amazon also has its refurbished program called Amazon Renewed.  

Purchasing a new, used, or refurbished Apple device

Now that we have compared the three categories, it is easier to say which one is a better suite for you. If you are someone who wants the latest release within the first few weeks of the release, then buying a new Apple device is the best option for you.

If you don’t mind waiting until a few months after the Apple device’s release, there’s no reason to choose a used device over a refurbished device. Buying a used Apple device is definitely cheap, but it’s also risky since they often don’t come with a warranty or return policy.

Buying a refurbished Apple device gives you a sense of security. It takes a little more work, and you must carefully examine the goods and the seller. However, if you are willing to put in the effort, it’s a suitable way to save money in a safer way.

Final verdict

A refurbished Apple device is an excellent option if you want the functionality of a new device at a lower price. On RefurbMe, we have a wide selection of refurbished Apple products compared in real time from multiple reputable sellers with thorough refurbishment processes.

As long as you buy from a reputable source, you can get a product that works just like new for a fraction of the cost. Every seller has slightly different practices, so it’s always good to know whether your device comes with cosmetic damage or not, what accessories will be included, and if a warranty is in the cards.

Here is where RefurbMe comes into play to help you understand which seller has the best deal. Our list of refurbishers gives you a clear idea of what you can expect from each concerning warranty, shipping, and return policy. The more you learn about the product and the seller, the better your chances of receiving a product in excellent working condition.

Happy buying!