Refurbished Apple products are second-hand, really, but the fact they've been refurbished by Apple means you can be a little more confident in the quality and reliability of what you're getting. It's a nice halfway house between new and second-hand, in effect, and you can save loads of money by opting to buy a refurbished iPad from Apple rather than splashing out on a brand-new iPad.
At time of writing, aside from the Air 1 and mini 3, all the other iPad models you can get refurbished are also available to buy brand new from Apple - the iPad Air 2, the iPad mini 2 and iPad mini 4.
Here, we weigh up the pros and cons of buying a refurbished iPad, so you can work out which option is best for you. See also: iPad buying guide 2016
What does refurbished mean?
Refurbished Apple products are technically pre-owned, but they undergo such a rigorous refurbishing process that it's unlikely you'll even notice. In fact pre-owned may mean only used once, perhaps it's a unit that was loaned to a journalist, or it was returned by a customer who decided they wanted a different model, or maybe there was a fault with it - a fault that Apple will have rectified as part of its refurbishment when it got it ready for sale. Read on for more information about the differences between the new iPad and a refurbished iPad, and what you can expect if you buy a refurbished iPad from Apple.
What's the difference between a refurbished iPad and a brand-new iPad?
If you buy a refurbished iPad from Apple, you'll get the same one-year warranty as if you bought a brand-new iPad, all of the manuals and accessories that come with a new iPad, a brand new battery and outer shell and a new white box for it too.
The new box is not the same as the box you would get if you purchased a new iPad, and we assume that this is to prevent people from buying a refurbished iPad and attempting to sell it on as new. However, we think you'll struggle to spot anything about the contents of that box that indicates that it is not a new iPad.
Apple promises that all refurbished iPads it sells are in full working condition, and they have each been fully tested to ensure this. Any parts that were defective when the iPad was returned by its previous owner will have been replaced, and the entire iPad will have been cleaned and inspected to make sure it's in top-notch condition.
If you'd prefer to have a longer warranty than the one-year warranty you'll get included, you can buy an AppleCare Protection Plan for your refurbished iPad. This will extend your warranty to two years, but it will set you back £79.
What iPad models can I buy from Apple's Refurbished store?
The products in Apple's Refurbished store can change quite frequently, so you'll want to check back regularly if the particular Apple product you're after isn't available. (Note: Apple does not currently offer refurbished iPhones.)
To give you an idea of what you can save by opting for a refurbished iPad, a refurbished Wi-Fi and cellular iPad mini 3 with 16GB storage costs £269. Comparatively, the previous generation refurbished Wi-Fi and cellular iPad mini 2 with 16 storage also costs £269. The only difference between these models is the mini 3’s Touch ID fingerprint scanner, so the fact they are the same price represents a good saving.
The refurbished store is also a way to get hold of models no longer sold by Apple. It no longer sells the iPad mini 3 at all, and no longer sells 16GB models of any iPad - so the Refurbished Store is the only place you can buy a 16GB iPad directly from Apple now.
In September 2016 the Refurbished Store also started stocking the original iPad Pro 12.9in that debuted in November 2015.
You can pick up the base Wi-Fi only 32GB iPad Pro 12.9in for £579, which is £150 less than the current RRP. View the iPad Pro on the Refurbished Store here.
If you are looking for a good deal on an iPad Pro, here are our best iPad Pro deals.
See also: iPad mini 2 vs iPad mini 3
A Refurbished iPad Air with WiFi + Cellular and 64GB capacity is availabe for £329 from Apple's Refurbished store, which is a saving of £170 on its original RRP. By comparison, that's actually £50 cheaper than a brand new WiFi + Cellular iPad Air 2 with just 16GB capacity.
So, should I buy a refurbished iPad?
We think it is absolutely worth considering buying a refurbished iPad from Apple's Refurbished store before purchasing a brand-new one. It'll look as good as new, so you won't notice the difference anywhere other than in your bank balance and that giveaway packaging as mentioned above.
Right now, anyone looking for one of Apple's latest iPads has no choice but to buy brand-new from Apple or a third-party reseller, but if you'd be happy with an older generation of iPad you may find you can get a bigger capacity model or a WiFi + Cellular model for less money than it would cost you for a new model with less impressive specs. See: Best cheap iPad deals: iPad Pro, iPad Air 2, iPad mini 4, iPad mini 2
Here in the Macworld office, we've purchased Apple products from the Refurbished store and have been completely happy with them, so we can recommend the option first hand.
Buying and selling iPads second-hand
We think that the Refurbished store is a strong option offering good deals on iPads. But it's not the only one.
Macworld itself offers a service for buying and selling iPads and other Apple products. It's worth taking a look to see if this is right for you.
And of course there are numerous other options for buying and selling second-hand iPads. Here are just a few:
We look at the process of selling an iPad in far more detail in a separate article: How to sell an iPad.
To help you with your buying decision, here's our full range of iPad reviews:
- iPad mini
- iPad mini 2
- iPad mini 3
- iPad mini 4
- iPad 2
- iPad 3
- iPad 4
- iPad Air 1
- iPad Air 2
- iPad Pro 9.7
- iPad Pro 12.9
And, for those who prefer to get their buying advice in video form, here's our most recent iPad buying guide: