Refurbished iPhones: Everything you need to know about buying a secondhand iPhone

Apple’s latest fleet of flagship smartphones, the iPhone 12 mini, iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max, aren’t cheap devices. Even older models such as the iPhone Xs and iPhone XR are still quite expensive when purchased new. So, what do you do if you’re in the market for an iOS device and don’t want to spend an arm and a leg on a new phone? Well, the best method is to buy a refurbished model.

If you are willing to buy secondhand or refurbished you could save yourself some serious money. If you spend a little time shopping around, you might be able to find a like-new iPhone for a fraction of the price. Below, we highlight the best places to buy refurbished and secondhand iPhones as well as running through a few key things to look out for, potentially saving you from getting stung with a secondhand paperweight.

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At a glance: The best secondhand iPhones

Where are the best places to pick up a refurbished or secondhand iPhone?

1. Amazon Renewed

It’s no surprise that Amazon is the best place to turn to if you’re searching for a renewed iPhone. Amazon’s renewed section is as trustworthy as they come, with promises that all items for sale have been tested and checked to high standards. However, it’s important to distinguish between the Renewed section and the Amazon Marketplace – the latter isn’t as well-regulated.

Buy now from Amazon Renewed

2. Music Magpie

Music Magpie is one of the UK’s most popular smartphone resellers. Music Magpie prides itself on the quality of its refurbishment and, as a bonus, you get free delivery and a free 12-month warranty on every single order.

Buy now from Music Magpie

3. eBay

eBay is always a solid source for secondhand kit, but do be wary of that terminology. “Secondhand” does not mean “refurbished”. Often, secondhand products will not have been tested, checked, or cleaned. If you want to be safe, check the eBay accounts of high-street stores such as Currys PC World, read any feedback or message the seller directly.

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4. Apple Refurbished Store

Of course, Apple themselves is another dependable source for refurbished iPhones (and other Apple equipment). You will inevitably have to pay more for products from the Apple Refurbished Store, but you pay for the quality of the refurbishment and the safety of the transaction. All products sold through the Apple Refurbished Store are tested, checked and cleaned. The list isn’t quite as comprehensive as some of the other refurb retailers, though: the iPhone X (£679), iPhone Xs (£759) and iPhone Xs Max (£1,019) are currently only listed.

Buy now from Apple Refurbished Store

Otherwise, there are various other repair shops either around the UK and online that sell refurbished or used iPhones. But, for tried-and-tested results, it’s best to stick to the ones that we’ve outlined above.

Top tips for buying a secondhand, refurbished or used iPhone

It’s important to know the dangers associated with buying a secondhand iPhone before taking the plunge. The most common scam is to buy a stolen phone. Not only is it a crime to buy a stolen phone, but it could also lead to the phone being locked later down the line. There are several ways to ensure that you’re making a safe investment.

1. Ask for an original receipt or a proof of purchase

Documentation is a good way to determine if the seller is genuine. Whether the seller bought the iPhone from Apple or a third-party seller, they should have the original receipt, even if it’s in an electronic format. Official documentation helps with warranty claims, but will also reassure you that the iPhone is genuine.

2. Check the IMEI number

An IMEI is a unique number that identifies any phone in the world. If it is stolen, the IMEI will be reported to the carrier, and be locked. This means that your SIM will not work with a locked phone, so you’ll want to double-check the IMEI in iPhoneox.com to see if it has been reported as lost or stolen.

3. Check the seller’s return policy

Some sellers offer a return policy, which gives extra peace of mind. These sellers are often big resellers who have an established brand or shop. You’ll not find private sellers offering a return policy, as there are no laws surrounding the sale of secondhand purchases.

4. Check for an iCloud account, reset and set up the iPhone

If you’re buying the phone in person (such as meeting a seller from Gumtree), it’s worth turning on the iPhone and making sure that it works – you should request the seller to charge the phone before bringing it to you.

If the phone currently has a SIM inside, it might be a good idea to text and call the phone to see if it can receive calls and texts. You’ll also want to ensure there is no iCloud account on the iPhone, as it’s a hassle to get it removed without a password, and if the seller flat-out refuses to remove it, it would indicate that it’s stolen.

5. Always meet in a safe public place

If the seller is honest and isn’t trying to scam you, they won’t feel uncomfortable to meet in a safe and secured location – take a friend along with you to be on the safe side, too. At a coffee shop, train station or even in front of an Apple store; these are all great places to meet a private seller.

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