An open-box product is an item that a customer returns after opening and is sold again by the retailer. There are many reasons why customers return these open-box items, but they don’t have to be necessarily faulty or even have been used in some cases. Typically, retailers or manufacturers ensure that these goods are in working condition before selling them again.

Should you buy an open-box product?

If you see an item marked as open-box or a discounted open-box deal, it means that the item’s packaging has been opened. This doesn’t imply that the product is damaged or that the possibility of malfunction of any of its parts is higher; it just indicates that a consumer opened the original packaging before returning it or that it was a product used as a floor model.

Indeed, it can be a great deal. If you want to purchase a mobile phone, laptop, or any other device, an open-box product can be completely new, unused, and at an excellent discount.

Conversely, open-box electronics can also have some use because the previous user could have had it for two weeks before returning it to the seller, for example, or can have an intense use because they were employed as a display model in the store.

Should you buy an open-box product? When it comes to saving money and the option to get a completely new device for a discounted price with the merchant’s warranty, chances are it can be a good deal.

However, you also risk buying an open-box appliance that may present any undetected malfunction or an intense use as a display model, which wouldn’t benefit a potential buyer even with a discount—batteries and displays could have deteriorated as a result.

iPhone in open box

An honest answer would be to look for refurbished products instead, that have been restored to complete working condition by professional refurbishers and have had their batteries replaced if needed. They have a warranty, and the discounts can also be high. Their main difference lies in the cosmetic condition or refurbished grades they are in, but it’s a much safer bet.

What is the difference between open-box, used, second-hand, and refurbished?

Open-box products are often mistaken for refurbished products. It’s no wonder since there are many terms to refer to second-hand or previously used devices, accessories, and electronics. In fact, other terms are used interchangeably to refer to a refurbished product itself, such as recertified and certified refurbished

Whatever the case, the main difference between open-box and refurbished devices is that the former are not usually repaired by the manufacturer when going on sale again, while the latter undergo a thorough inspection process to work as a brand-new model. One of the best examples of this is the Apple Certified Refurbished program, whose products are almost indistinguishable from new ones.

Yes, open-box and refurbished items are second-hand or used products, but their functionality could be completely different. A product refurbished by a trusted merchant is what offers the most ease of mind since it is examined and cleaned extensively and has a new professional warranty, typically with a hassle-free return policy. 

A used or second-hand product may not have been inspected or cleaned and may not include a warranty or function as it should.

What to consider before purchasing an open-box item

We’ve seen what open-box means. If you wish to purchase a product with this label and maybe score a good deal or get a new product at a discounted price, make sure you find out the following:

  1. Origins. There is a major difference between a returned product (and the reason for its return) and a floor model. Explore where it came from, and you will be able to tell if the product has had an intense use.
  2. Return policy. Some open-box devices can work well, while others may not—the same as in new and refurbished appliances. Learn about the company’s return policy period and see if there’s a restocking fee or if you have to pay anything to return your purchase.
  3. Warranty. The manufacturer’s warranty may still apply to your purchase. If it doesn’t, consider a refurbished option with a professional warranty.
  4. Cosmetic condition. If you buy the product in a store, look for signs of wear and tear to see if it has any obvious damage or functional defects. If you buy it online, look for pictures or ask for them if you can’t find any.
  5. Accessories. Some open-box items don’t include cables, manuals, or other accessories that come in the original box. These missing accessories can make you spend an extra amount of money, ruining your savings potential.
  6. Is it worth the risk? This is one of the most important questions to answer. Is the discount worth the risk, especially considering that refurbished products from reputable sellers always offer a warranty and have their products thoroughly inspected?

Our recommendation: buying refurbished products is much safer

Sometimes, buying an open-box product is not the best option. Although you can find the best bargain out there, there’s also some risk that the original owner may have used it intensively and that it doesn’t include a professional warranty.

A great way to acquire a device at a cheaper price and keep your hard-earned money is to buy refurbished devices. On RefurbMe, we compare hundreds of Apple refurbished devices from multiple merchants that undergo a professional refurbishing process. The result is a perfectly working item at a lower price.

Find some of the most popular items below in real time:

Lastly, you find the differences between open box and refurbished devices in detail in our article.

Happy buying!