There have been six generations of Apple Watch, all available in a variety of screen sizes, connectivity options, case materials, and straps, spanning from a couple of hundred pounds to literally thousands. Anyone else remember the original £8k/$10k Apple Watch Edition?
While not all are available to buy directly from Apple – the company only sells the Series 3 – there is still a big choice to make: do I get the latest generation Apple Watch, or should I consider a refurbished older model?
While you might scoff at the prospect of buying what is technically a second-hand Apple Watch, the company’s refurbishing process is undoubtedly rigorous. In fact, apart from the packaging, we don’t think you’d be able to tell the difference between a refurbished and new Apple Watch. And when you take the potential savings into consideration, buying a refurbished Apple Watch becomes a more tempting option.
We break down everything you need to know about buying a refurbished Apple Watch from the Apple Refurbished Store – and elsewhere – right here.
What’s the difference between a new Apple Watch and a refurbished one?
Technically speaking, Refurbished Apple products are pre-owned, but with such a meticulous refurbishing process undertaken by the company, it’s unlikely you’ll even notice.
It’s not to say that the product has been used for years on end – it could’ve been used by a journalist for review purposes, or it could’ve been returned by a customer that decided on a different make or model. Even if it was returned for being faulty after a period of use, Apple rectifies any issues before being sold on, providing a product that’s, essentially, as new.
When you buy a refurbished Apple Watch directly from Apple, you’ll get the same one-year warranty that you’d get when buying a brand-new Apple Watch, along with all the manuals and accessories that come with the smartwatch.
The only noticeable difference is the packaging; refurbished Apple products come in a plain white box with no branding or imagery. We imagine this is something to do with stopping untrustworthy customers from buying a refurbished product and trying to resell it as new, but only Apple knows the real reasons why. Perhaps it’s just cheaper…
Apple replaces the battery and case for every refurbished unit as standard, but it goes further than that. The company promises that all refurbished Apple Watches are in full working order, and each unit is thoroughly tested to guarantee this. Any parts that were defective when the Apple Watch was originally returned will have been replaced, and the Watch would’ve been thoroughly cleaned and inspected to make sure it holds up to Apple’s high standards – it doesn’t just apply to brand-new products!
Like with new Apple products, you’ve got the option of extending the warranty from one to two years by taking out AppleCare+ for your refurbished Watch. This provides two years’ worth of technical support, 24/7 access to Apple experts and hardware coverage for two accidents, although there’s an additional £49/$69 fee for repairs.
Is it worth buying a refurbished Apple Watch?
We think it’s certainly worth considering, as top-quality refurbished products can look as good as new and, packaging aside, your experience will be identical to that of a first-time buyer. It also offers better value for money than simply buying used or second-hand for one key reason: the battery will have been replaced.
Battery replacements cost £82.44 from Apple – money you might as well put towards a good quality refurbished model.
Which refurbished Apple Watch should I buy?
If you’re on the hunt for the latest Apple Watch Series 6, you likely won’t find any at the Apple Refurbished Store just yet, so you’ll have to go elsewhere (see our suggestions below). We wouldn’t recommend buying a refurbished Apple Watch older than the Apple Watch 4.
Even though the Apple Watch 3 is widely available – and Apple itself still sells it (!) – it’s now four years old, which means it’s pretty much a relic when it comes to processing power and features. It’s also likely Apple will stop supporting soon.
If you’re struggling to decide on which Apple Watch is best for your needs, we recommend taking a look at our Apple Watch buying guide.
What Apple Watch models are available from Apple’s Refurbished Store?
With an ever-evolving stock, it should come as no surprise that products available in Apple’s Refurbished Store change quite frequently. You’ll want to check back regularly if the particular model of Apple Watch isn’t available when you first look.
At the time of writing, you can pick up refurbished Apple Watch Series 3, Series 4, and Series 5 models in GPS and cellular configurations, and all are available in a variety of colour options – in the UK at least.
As we say, keep checking if the combination you want isn’t there right now, and if you want to save some money on an Apple Watch, we recommend keeping an eye on our roundup of the best Apple Watch deals.
How to choose a refurbished Apple Watch
If the Apple Refurbished Store doesn’t have the model you’re after, you might need to go to a third-party reseller. There are a few things to note before you hand over your cash of course.
Unlike Apple’s refurbished devices, which will be virtually indistinguishable from new, third-party refurbished sellers will often offer Apple Watches in a range of conditions. The most common of these refurbished conditions include Grade A, Grade B, and Grade C.
Like grades on a report card, a Grade A refurbished Apple Watch will be as close to new as possible. Any sign of wear will be so minimal, you probably won’t be able to tell. Unsurprisingly, Grade A refurbished devices will always be more expensive.
Grade B, may show some signs of wear but these will be mostly minor. Finally, a Grade C refurbished Apple Watch will show obvious signs of wear like scratches or scuffs.
Keep in mind, these grades are only a rough indication of what to expect. There isn’t a standard that oversees these grades – which means a Grade A from one reseller may be closer to a Grade B elsewhere. This is why it’s also important to look at all the individual policies of the reseller before you part with your money.
Most trusted refurbished sellers offer a one-year warranty on purchases, which means you can get a refund or free repair should you run into any trouble.
Where to buy a refurbished Apple Watch
Here are some of the leading refurbished resellers of Apple products, including the Apple Watch.
- Music Magpie – Music Magpie is one of the most reputable refurbished sellers. It often has sales that reduce prices further. Plus, it also accepts old tech, gadgets, and media (including books and CDs) which you can trade in for more money off.
- Decluttr – This is Music Magpie’s brand in the US. You get the same trade-in services, 12-month warranty, and 14-day money-back guarantee.
- The iOutlet – The iOutlet is another reseller with great prices on refurbished devices, including the Apple Watch Series 3, 4, and 5. You can also trade in other gadgets such as iPhones, iPads, and gaming consoles to earn cashback.
- Amazon Renewed Store – The Amazon Renewed Store is another solid option for refurbished Apple Watch deals. Purchases are not only backed by Amazon’s standard returns policy, but the “Renewed Guarantee” as well, which lets you get a refund or replacement within 1 year of receiving your product.
- 4Gadgets – 4Gadgets also offer competitive prices, along with free next-day delivery and a 12-month warranty, though battery life is only covered for six months.
- Walmart – US shoppers can also find refurbished Apple Watches from Walmart. Keep in mind, it’s not directly from the retailer but from other sellers. The beauty is if you run into any trouble you can return the device at Walmart location.
We’d also recommend checking out the following retailers:
Best refurbished Apple Watch deals right now
1. Apple Watch 6 (40mm, Cellular) – Refurbished
Now: £409.49 (£45 off with SWEET10)
You can pick up the latest Apple Watch with GPS and Cellular in Pristine condition for just above £400 – which makes it £69.51 cheaper than buying new.
2. Apple Watch 6 (GPS + Cellular, 44mm) – Refurbished
Now: £474.99 (£74 off, includes bonus £40 off at checkout)
MusicMagpie is one of our top choices when it comes to refurbished resellers. Pick up the brand new Watch 6 in pristine condition with over £70 off the RRP. You also get a 12-month warranty and free delivery.
3. Apple Watch Series 5 (40mm, cellular, refurbished)
From: Apple Refurbished Store
Now: £369 (£60 off)
If you want the smaller 40mm version of the Apple Watch Series 5 complete with cellular connectivity, Apple’s Refurb Store offers the cheapest price we’ve seen to date. It’s refurbished, admittedly, but to an Apple-level standard.
4. Apple Watch Series 5 (44mm, cellular, refurbished)
From: Apple Refurbished Store
Now: £399 (£60 off)
If you’re not put off by the refurb nature of the deal, you can grab the latest Apple Watch Series 5 44mm complete with cellular connectivity for less than £450 right now.
5. Apple Watch Series 4 Nike+ (44mm, cellular, refurbished)
From: Apple Refurbished Store
Now: £359 (£120 off)
You can grab yourself a sweet deal on a refurb of the larger 44mm variant of Apple Watch Series 4 right now. It’s the Nike+ edition too, with a cool matching sports band and Nike+ watchfaces available too.
6. Apple Watch Series 4 Stainless Steel (40mm, cellular, refurbished)
From: Apple Refurbished Store
Now: £449 (£180 off)
If you can live without the always-on display of the Series 5, you can grab an Apple-refurbished Series 4 with stainless steel finish, GPS and cellular connectivity for £180 less than it cost when it was on sale.