Apple Certified Refurbished Products: Worth it or No?

Apple is a company with some serious cultural cachet. Anyone cool or cutting-edge in movies or TV uses Apple products, and you see them in all sorts of hip-ish places. The company also caters to creatives in a way that Microsoft and Android haven’t historically, with (arguably) better support for photo, audio and video applications.
Gaining access to this desirability and exclusivity comes at a cost, though. Apple’s products are notoriously expensive. Though Apple has made strides in recent years to lower the low end with the iPhone SE and a sub-$1000 MacBook Air.
One way that some budget-conscious consumers have found a way into the Apple ecosystem is through purchasing Apple certified refurbished products. What is this program, and are products in this program worth it?

What are refurbished products?

Refurbished products are products that someone has fixed and cleaned up to offer for resale. They are usually used, though some may simply be open-box or display models. Most refurbished products were returned to the seller for some kind of flaw, whether a cosmetic problem, a mechanical/operational problem, or just because it was an unwanted purchase.
Refurbished products aren’t new, so they are sold for a discount.
The refurbishing process can vary widely, so it’s important to know who refurbished something and what their process is. Some “refurbished” products have merely been dusted off and put through cursory testing to ensure they work. Others are more carefully restored. And some – like Apple Certified Refurbished products – are pretty much good as new.

What are Apple Certified Refurbished products?

Apple Certified Refurbished products are those that have been through Apple’s impressively stringent refurbishment process. Apple tests internal components of returned devices. Those that are in good order or can be efficiently repaired are then paired with a brand-new battery and outer shell and sold as Apple Certified Refurbished.
Apple offers the same one year warranty on their Certified Refurbished products that they offer on brand-new ones, and you can even add AppleCare to an Apple Certified Refurbished device. This speaks to the level of confidence Apple places in its refurbishment process. There’s more to learn about this program if you’re interested.

What are the advantages of buying Apple Certified Refurbished?

There are numerous advantages. For one, Apple has earned high praise for its Apple Certified Refurbished program. By restoring malfunctioning units rather than trashing them, Apple reduces its ecological footprint.
The biggest consumer-facing benefit, of course, is cost. Apple Certified Refurbished products are significantly cheaper than brand-new Apple kit, often saving 15%. Refurbished last-gen products save you even more cash.

But aren’t there cheaper alternatives out there?

Yes, there are, but proceed with caution. Apple is still a premium company, and their premium refurbishment process has a cost to them. They pass that cost along to you, as any company would.
You can find cheaper used or refurbished iPhones out there. But do you know what you’re getting on a resale market or discount site? Do they disclose what was and wasn’t done in the refurbishment process? Can you return the device if it doesn’t meet your expectations?
One of the biggest points of concern in mobile devices and laptops is battery. If the battery isn’t functioning well, your experience won’t be pleasant. By buying direct from Apple, you know you get a fresh battery every time.
For many shoppers, the convenience and peace of mind of dealing directly with Apple is worth the difference in cost.

What are the disadvantages of buying Apple Certified Refurbished?

One disadvantage is the inconsistent stock. Apple offers what they have in sufficient numbers right now, and the stock in the refurbished store is always changing. At publishing time, the company didn’t have any iPhone XRs in stock, for example. So if you want a deal on a budget-priced phone, you’ll have to wait until they show up.
The other disadvantage is cost. When Apple has current-gen devices in the refurbished shop, they tend to be worth it. But older devices? It depends. Sure, that iPhone X “saves $350” over the original price, but it’s a three-year-old phone already. It’s hard to recommend buying it for $549 when you can get a brand-new phone for just a bit more.

Should I buy an Apple Certified Refurbished device?

If you want into the Apple ecosystem and can’t afford a new device (and don’t qualify for education pricing), then you should consider it. Apple Certified Refurbished devices are nearly as good as new, and they are certainly more reliable than non-Apple-refurbished products.

Protect Your Refurbished Apple Product with a Phenomenal Extended Warranty

If you’re picking up an Apple Certified Refurbished product soon, don’t settle for AppleCare. Upsie offers similar stellar extended warranty protection with accident protection at a far lower cost. You can even get your device serviced at an Apple Genius Bar if you need to make a claim!

Learn More About Apple Warranties:

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* This article is over 6 months old and may or may not be updated.