If you’re desperate for an iPhone but your budget doesn’t quite stretch to Apple’s newest models, buying an old, used or refurbished iPhone is a great way to pick up a bargain. While this might sound like a risky route to take, it doesn’t have to be the case, as there are a number of specialist retailers that offer warranties and check all devices before sending them out.
Apple Refurbished Store
Now is a particularly great time to buy a refurbished iPhone, as Apple itself sells iPhones in its own Certified Refurbished Store in the UK, something that it’s been doing in the US Refurbished Store for some time.
One of the main reasons for buying from the Apple Refurbished Store, aside from the lower cost, is that the devices all come with the same one-year limited warranty that you’ll find on the brand-new versions. It’s also worth noting that any parts used in the refurb will be official Apple ones and all come with brand-new batteries.
The standard reduction on the Apple Refurbished Store is 15 percent.
Best refurbished iPhone deals now
Buying older models from Apple
If you’re not worried about getting the absolute latest kit, an older Apple iPhone is an option and it doesn’t have to be second-hand.
Apple may be touting the virtues of its latest iPhone models, but if you look on the Apple Store you’ll see that the iPhone iPhone XR and iPhone 11 are still on sale.
Of course, you’ll miss out on some of the newer features offered in the latest models, but these older iPhones remain an excellent choice if you’re happy with the ‘old’ designs. At the time of writing you can pick up a 64GB iPhone XR for £549/$549.
Should I buy a refurbished iPhone? What is refurbished?
You might be concerned about buying a refurbished handset, thinking that it would be like buying a second hand iPhone, but there’s no reason to be worried. Remember: refurbished and second-hard aren’t the same thing. Refurbished iPhones are pre-owned but are totally wiped, tested and repaired to work like new.
The iPhones Apple sells in the Certified Refurbished store were returned to Apple for a variety of reasons:
- The previous owner could have exercised their consumer rights and returned the handset unused within 14-days (as per Apple’s refund and exchange policy).
- The iPhone may have been used as a demonstration model.
- The iPhone may have been returned to Apple due to a fault.
This latter point may concern you, however you can be sure that Apple will have identified and fixed any faults before reselling it.
Apple says that refurbished products undergo “full functional testing, genuine Apple part replacements (if necessary),” as well as “a thorough cleaning”.
There are plenty of benefits to buying a refurbished iPhone:
- You will get a one-year warranty
- You get 90 days of tech support
- Because you are buying from Apple directly there are no shipping costs and free returns.
- You are also able to utilise Apple’s 14-day returns policy if you change your mind.
What does the refurbished Grade A mean?
When you shop refurbished you might see grade scores A, B, or C – this indicates the condition of the phone. Is it dinged up? Does it have scratches? Or is it completely blemish-free and pristine? The grade will give you a general idea. We say “general” because these grades aren’t set by an independent body, which means it can vary from retailer to retailer. This is how the grades usually break down:
- Grade A – Looks like new or has very few signs of wear
- Grade B – Might have some minor scratches and some wear
- Grade C – Looks used and has obvious signs of wear
Of course, Grade A refurbished devices will be more expensive than Grade C, but you’ll still be paying much less than paying for a brand new device.
Pay attention to refurbished warranties
Given the quality of refurbished iPhone devices can vary from retailer to retailer, it’s important to pay attention to the warranty . How long is the phone covered? The warranty allows you to get help or free repairs from the seller if you run into any issues after purchase. Most retailers typically offer up to a year.
Where to get refurbished and pre-owned iPhones – best retailers
One of the best ways to get an old or refurbished iPhone at a bargain price, including models such as the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus that are no longer available from Apple, is buying second-hand or refurbished devices from third-party retailers.
There is a wide selection of outlets to choose from, many of whom offer warranties, device checkups before dispatch, and quality gradings so you can save a bit more money by opting for a device that’s got a few minor scratches but still works fine.
Check out the following retailers for excellent prices on refurbished and pre-owned iPhones.
Where to buy a refurbished iPhone SIM-free
Where to buy a refurbished iPhone on contract
You can pick up refurbished phones on contract as well from the following carriers and resellers:
Finally, Amazon now has its Amazon Renewed range which is similar to the Apple Refurbished Store in that you get a discounted iPhones that come with a year’s warranty and peace of mind.
Buying older iPhones new on contract
Another way to dampen the financial impact of buying a new iPhone is to go down the tried and tested route of contracts offered by mobile providers. You’ll find older iPhone models in the online stores of various UK carriers, such as the iPhone 7 or iPhone 8, on much cheaper tariffs than the iPhone 12 range.
Prices change all the time, so we’d recommend reading our Best iPhone deals guide on a regular basis to see which offers are currently available.
Best refurbished iPhone deals right now
1. Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max (256GB, unlocked) – refurbished
Now: £789.99 (£100 off)
musicMagpie currently has its Christmas offer with up to £100 off handsets, including the iPhone range. The iPhone 11 Pro Max is no longer available from Apple, but costs £1149 from other retailers, which means this deal saves you £359 on an unlocked, refurbished phone in pristine condition. MusicMagpie also offers free delivery and a free 12-month warranty.
There’s also an option graded in Good condition for £669.
2. Apple iPhone SE 2020 (64GB, unlokced) – refurbished
Now: £369.99 (£30 off)
Pick up the new iPhone SE in Pristine condition for £30 less than the RRP from MusicMapgie.
3. MusicMagpie Christmas Offers
Now: Up to £100 off iPhone
It might be Cyber Week, but musicMagpie’s already launched its Christmas sale with £100 off every iPhone 11 model. The offer outdoes its Black Friday sale!
4. Apple iPhone 11 Pro (256GB) – refurbished
Now: £49.99, £48.82 per month (with 6 months of Disney+ for free)
This plan is over a 36 month period so you’re paying more than the RRP of the phone alone in the long term, but it’s still a £120 saving compared to getting the same plan on a new iPhone 11 Pro from O2. You also get Disney+ free for six months.
5. Apple iPhone XR (64GB) – refurbished
Was: From £359
Now: From £339 (£20 off with XR20BF)
A brand new iPhone XR costs £499 directly from Apple. Save £160 on the RRP from 4Gadgets with code XR20BF which knocks £20 off the price. There’s also £20 off the iPhone XS Max with XSMAX20BF and the iPhone XS with 20XSBF.
Like MusicMagpie, 4Gadget offers a 12-month warranty and free next-day delivery. You also get a new genuine Apple Lightning cable.
So, if you want an iPhone but the price has been holding you back, hopefully one of these solutions will meet your needs without draining your bank account.