Shopping for an Apple product? Apple's Certified Refurbished store should be your first stop
You can save up to 15%, sometimes more, without making any sacrifices.
Rick BroidaSenior Editor
Rick Broida is the author of numerous books and thousands of reviews, features and blog posts. He writes CNET's popular Cheapskate blog and co-hosts Protocol 1: A Travelers Podcast (about the TV show Travelers). He lives in Michigan, where he previously owned two escape rooms (chronicled in the ebook "I Was a Middle-Aged Zombie").
Every now and again I find myself in an Apple Store. When I see customers buying things like
, I want to grab them by the shoulders and cry, "Wait! You can get these for less!"
How? By venturing online, where Apple's Refurbished Store carries a rotating selection of products that are discounted by as much as 15 percent -- sometimes more. And although some buyers believe that "refurbished" is code for "used or defective in some way," much of Apple's gear is quite literally good as new.
In fact, I see no reason to choose anything but refurbs, especially when it comes to iOS devices (namely
and iPads). Let's take a look at how much you stand to save and what potential pitfalls to avoid.
You can even get a refurbished HomePod speaker for $259, a savings of $40. That said, don't automatically assume that Apple's refurb deals are the best deals. That HomePod, for example, is currently on sale for $198 at MacSales, and it's new (though in bulk, nonretail packaging). And right now, many of Apple's prices on refurbished Apple Watches are actually the same as for new ones.
What's the catch?
Needless to say, you should always do your homework when shopping for Apple gear. There might be a sale at, say, Amazon or Best Buy that would net you a new item for the same price or less than an Apple refurb. (The aforementioned HomePod is a perfect example.)
Anyway, those refurbs must be "less than" in some way, right? What exactly do you give up by opting for refurbished Apple gear over new?
In some cases, absolutely nothing. iPhones and iPads, for example, come with a new outer shell and new battery, meaning you get same-as-new appearance and performance. Just as good, you get the same one-year warranty Apple extends to new hardware. There's literally no downside.
Refurbished MacBooks don't get quite the same loving treatment -- no new shell, no new battery -- but you still get a full one-year warranty. For any product category you're evaluating, click the Learn more link at the top of the page to see exactly what you're getting.
One more consideration: Apple's refurb offerings and inventory change over time, so you can't always get what you want. (
are still MIA from the store, in case you're wondering.) But I think it's the only logical place to start your shopping. I've purchased several refurbished products this way, and every one of them arrived in perfect, like-new condition. Consequently, when it comes to Apple gear (especially iOS devices), I can't see any reason to pay extra for the new stuff.
If you want an easy way to keep tabs on what's available in Apple's Certified Refurbished Store (and other stores as well), check out RefurbMe. This free service will alert you when a desired product is in stock.
Originally published two years ago. Updated with new information.