Apple products are known for delivering high performance and carrying a premium price tag. If you are on a tight budget, should you consider buying a refurbished Apple product instead?
Apple’s Certified Refurbished store offers a great way to get a like-new product while letting you save hundreds of dollars on your purchase. Here’s what you need to know about Apple’s refurbished gear.
What is an Apple Certified Refurbished product?
Before discussing the pros and cons of buying from Apple’s Certified Refurbished store, it is important to know more about the company’s refurbished process and the store itself.
While you can get refurbished Apple products from other retailers, Apple’s Certified Refurbished products are better in several ways. This is despite the company charging more for them than other retailers typically do.
Separately from its regular online store, Apple operates a Certified Refurbished store. The company puts all products returned by its customers on sale here. The devices may have been returned for multiple reasons, including issues with the product, poor performance, etc.
All returned products go through Apple’s rigorous refurbishing process. They are thoroughly inspected and cleaned, with genuine Apple replacement parts installed if needed. Apple then puts them in its Certified Refurbished store at a lower price than their MSRP.
Refurbished Apple products are not available for purchase from retail Apple Stores. You must order them from the company’s Certified Refurbished online store. However, you can get refurbished products shipped to your nearest Apple Store for in-store pickup.
What refurbished products does Apple sell?
In the United States, Apple sells refurbished products across the following categories:
- Apple Watch
- Mac, including iMac, MacBook and Mac Studio
- Apple TV
- Apple Studio Display
- Accessories, like Apple Pencil
The list of refurbished products available for sale could vary depending on where you live. Apple’s refurbished store is also not available in every country.
Apple typically puts its refurbished items on sale eight to 10 months after the product’s launch. For example, you can purchase the M1 Pro/Max MacBook Pro through the company’s refurbished store. But listings for the newer M2 Pro/Max models are not yet live. Similarly, the M1 iPad Air has not yet gone on sale through Apple’s Certified Refurbished store.
With iPhones, this wait is usually even longer. (iPhone 13 models went on sale this week in Apple’s Certified Refurbished store.)
What makes Apple’s Certified Refurbished products special?
Apple’s Certified Refurbished products offer multiple advantages over refurbished devices sold by other retailers. You get a one-year warranty with all Apple Certified Refurbished products, including iPhone, iPad, Mac and Apple Watch. This includes standard 90-day complimentary technical support as well.
As with a new Apple product, you can purchase AppleCare+ protection to extend your Certified Refurbished product’s warranty. This way, you can protect your refurbished Apple product for up to three years from the date of purchase.
The company also installs a new battery and outer shell on all iOS devices, making them as good as new. And just like a new Apple product, you’ll get all the accessories inside the box, including the cables. Refurbished MacBooks do not ship with a new battery, but this should not be a cause for concern.
Apple wipes and reinstalls the operating systems on refurbished devices for privacy and safety. Compared to a retail Apple product, the only difference is that refurbished products ship in white boxes without labels and stickers.
You might find refurbished Apple products with third-party retailers at a lower price than Apple’s offerings. However, Apple won’t cover them with the same policies as its Certified Refurbished devices.
How much money can you save in Apple’s Certified Refurbished store?
You can save between 15% and 25% on most products by purchasing a refurbished unit direct from Apple With older iPhones and Macs, the gap could stretch even further.
The catch is that Apple calculates the discount on the device’s retail price irrespective of its age. This skews the discount shown on the page, which might not always be correct.
Apple’s Certified Refurbished store is your best bet for buying used Macs, especially high-end models with build-to-order specs. This is because you’ll rarely find them on discount with third-party retailers.
For instance, you can save $200 by purchasing a refurbished M1 iMac from Apple instead of buying a new one. Likewise, the M2 MacBook Air is available with a $120 discount, making it a better option than buying a new retail unit. Even better, you can save up to $400 on a Mac Studio with beefed-up specs if you buy a refurbished unit.
One issue with Apple’s Certified Refurbished store is that the product or configuration you want might not always be in stock. In such cases, you’ll have to keep checking the store regularly and wait for Apple to restock that product. Depending on the device’s popularity, this could take anywhere from a couple of days to a few weeks.
Buying from Apple’s refurbished store won’t always get you the best value
You can often find better deals on Apple’s products through third-party retailers like Amazon, Best Buy and B&H Photo Video. This is especially true when buying popular products like iPhones and iPads.
Apple currently lists the 2020 iPad Air for $469 in its refurbished store after an $80 discount. While this might sound tempting, you can get the newer M1 iPad Air at the same price from Amazon or other retailers. Similarly, Apple lists the iPhone 11 Pro for $649, while you can get it at a much lower price from other retailers.
During shopping events like Black Friday or the holiday season, third-party retailers often deliver bigger discounts on Apple products than what you can find in the company’s refurbished store.
Always check multiple stores before buying an Apple product
If you don’t mind buying a refurbished Apple product, stick to the company’s Certified Refurbished store for the best price and experience. The standard warranty coverage is important, and will give you complete peace of mind. But before buying any Apple product, you should check its price across multiple retailers.
Amazon, Best Buy and B&H keep offering heavy discounts on popular iPads, Apple Watch and MacBook models. But if you are short of time and Apple’s refurbished store has the product you want in stock, going the refurbished route is a great option.