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Are Refurbished iPads Good? Pros and Cons of Buying Used or Refurbished Tablets

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Have you ever wanted to grab an iPad on the cheap, but the “refurbished” tag always stopping you from doing so? We’re here to bust out the myths and give you the full scoop on whether a refurbished iPad is worth your hard-earned money.

Considering the overall demand for Apple products, it should not come to you as a surprise that even on the second-hand market, an iPad can fetch you a reasonable price. The iPad series has been segmented into the more affordable traditional iPad and the premium range of iPad Pro models. Since most Apple products start at a premium price point, the demand for used, renewed, and even refurbished iPads is vast.

What is Exactly a Refurbished iPad?

Generally speaking, a refurbished electronic is any piece of gadget that was found to be either malfunctioning or damaged either externally or internally. This particular device is then sent for repair either to the official Apple-certified retailer or any third-party service center.

The product is then sent directly to the customer or sold by retail channels with the “refurbished” label and a slashed price tag since it isn’t brand new anymore. Refurbished iPads, iPhones, or any other product for that matter, is priced at least a few hundred dollars less than the brand new one you could pick off the shelves.

Second Hand Vs. Refurbished – What’s the Difference?

Whether you purchase a used iPad from a user directly through Craigslist or pick a refurbished iPad from an Apple-certified seller, general wear and tear are to be expected. But then, what sets apart a second-hand iPad from a refurbished one? Well, the devil lies in the details, which in this case, is the manufacturer’s warranty which comes with most refurbished Apple iPads.

In most cases, a refurbished iPad will bring along some form of warranty on the parts that were replaced or on the entire iPad itself, but you don’t get this same assurance with a used iPad. Apple will only entertain the second-hand iPad for any manufacturing defects if it is still under warranty, putting you at risk of shelling out money when something goes wrong with the device.  

Apple Certified Refurbished Vs. Others – Are Apple’s Refurbished iPads Good?

Even if you are convinced to buy a refurbished iPad, you still have to decide whether to pick a refurbished iPad from Apple Certified Refurbished catalog or get one from a third-party seller. The deciding factor here would most likely be the warranty you are being given with the refurbished iPad. For instance, the Apple Certified Refurbished products come with a limited 1-year warranty on all products.

You can further opt for Apple Care to completely secure your iPad against accidental damage, loss, or theft. Considering the fact that you would have Apple itself backing your refurbished products against any damages and technical issues, picking an iPad from the Apple Certified Refurbished catalog is always the safest bet. Apart from Apple, other big-box retailers offer a wide range of refurbished and open-box items that have been lightly used and returned.

Buying a Refurbished iPad – Is It Worth It?

While refurbished iPads are considerably cheaper than a brand new one you would pick out from the Apple Store, it would still cost you hundreds of dollars. Although there is some peace of mind offered with refurbished iPads in the form of manufacturer or seller warranty, you should not only be aware of what you’re getting into but also the places where to look for a great bargain when fetching a refurbished iPad.

Pros of Buying a Refurbished iPad

Excellent value for money

While a brand-new iPad can set up back hundreds, even thousands of dollars for the iPad Pro models, you can shave off around 15% – 30% off the cost with a refurbished pick. Additionally, other third-party sellers tend to give out refurbished devices at an even steeper discount, but that does seem to tip the risk-to-reward scale.

Backed by warranty

When buying a refurbished iPad directly from a certified seller such as Apple or Best Buy, you get the same warranty options that you would on a brand-new iPad. Apple gives out a 1-year warranty with all of its refurbished iDevices, making it just as good as buying a fresh one from the store, keeping your investment secure, and safeguards against any future issues.

Plenty of choices

To maximize company profits, Apple tends to discontinue the older version of their devices once the new one sets in. However, suppose there was a particular reason you wanted to get the previous generation iPad Pro, especially because it would be much cheaper now. In that case, getting a refurbished one might be the only way.

Cons of Buying a Refurbished iPad

Not “brand new”

While a no-brainer, it is worth mentioning that although you get the support of an extended warranty on the refurbished iPad, it is still pretty much a “used” device. Light usage marks and general wear and tear are expected, although the iPad and its accessories are most likely to be in excellent cosmetic condition.

Third-party seller risk

While there is little to no risk involved when buying directly from the Apple Certified Refurbished store, you’ll always end up saving more when getting one from a third-party seller. For instance, Best Buy, Amazon, and Newegg sell refurbished products through third-party sellers, whose authenticity largely varies.

Where to Buy a Refurbished iPad?

Apple – The company makes easy work out of getting a cheap iPad, right from the Certified Refurbished section, monetizing on the devices sent back to Apple for repairs.

Best Buy – In case Apple does not offer the iPad you are looking for, Best Buy also holds a decent collection of older refurbished iPads that, according to Best Buy, have been “repaired and restored to a like-new state”, all backed by a 90-day warranty.

Gazelle –  A platform explicitly built for used and refurbished electronics, you can find a wide range of refurbished and used iPad Pro models on Gazelle. With their testing and certification program under the “Gazelle Certified” name, a layer of quality assurance is in place to secure your investment.

eBay – One of the oldest platforms for selling all forms of used and refurbished products, eBay offers a long list of Apple devices from sellers all across the country and even abroad. The added layer of security where eBay is the middle-man between you and the seller offers some form of assurance, but we strongly suggest you do your due diligence before falling prey to a low-priced deal that is too good to be true.

iOutlet – Apart from Apple products such as iPads, iPhones, MacBooks and more, iOutlet is an all-in-one store for trading old gaming consoles, smartwatches, smartphones, and more. Albeit the latest iPad models are hard to find here, but almost all of them are covered with 1-year warranty and come with a grading system to help you anticipate the condition of the device.

Amazon – The online shopping giant runs a dedicated program called “Amazon Renewed” for hundreds of refurbished products, some of which are even available under Amazon Prime for quick delivery. The products are testing and inspected by a third-party seller or Amazon itself, with a warranty of up to 6 months offered on most devices.

Checklist for Buy a Refurbished iPad

  1. When buying from a third-party seller, confirm the available warranty either directly from Apple, or a certified Apple service center.
  2. Examine the physical condition of the iPad to ensure it is in decent shape, with no fine cracks on the glass screen or the camera lens.
  3. Check the network connectivity of the iPad by connecting multiple wireless devices (Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Cellular) and open apps such as Safari or YouTube to confirm they work ideally.
  4. Perform a battery charging cycle by charging up the iPad to 100% and then letting it drain down to 0% a few times to determine the battery’s health.
  5. User feedback is key when it comes to purchasing any product, but different refurbished iPads may be available in varying conditions or use and functionality. However, you can always look at the reviews that the seller has received to estimate if they are trustworthy or not.
  6. While the return window is still open, make sure you go to Settings – General – About and confirm that you were given the suitable iPad model with the storage space you paid for.

Which Refurbished iPad to Buy?

Apple builds its devices to last several years, so getting an iPad from the previous year might not take the performance down by much, it will cut down hundreds on the price tag. The best part about buying a refurbished iPad is that you aren’t limited to the latest model, but we still recommend that you don’t try to skimp too much and get a refurbished iPad that is more than two years old.

To maximize your savings, you can look towards the 2020 lineup of Apple iPad:

iPad, 7th generation, 10.2-inch

iPad Mini, 5th generation, 7.9-inch

iPad Pro, 4th generation, 12.9-inch and 11-inch

iPad Air, 3rd generation, 10.5-inch

Final Notes on Buying a Refurbished iPad

Even if you are a complete newbie at buying refurbished electronics, this guide above on refurbished iPads should help you cover the basics and more. Although there is some amount of risk involved when it comes to picking up a refurbished iPad in comparison to a brand-new one, the cost-cutting rewards are worth it.

We highly recommend that when deciding on which seller to pick, go for the one that offers a guaranteed 1-year warranty. Also, as a safe measure, always choose an iPad model with more storage than you need, since it is better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it. However, if you do end up with an iPad with full storage, we’re here to help you empty trash on iPad the easy way.

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