If you're desperate for an iPhone but your budget doesn't quite stretch to Apple's newest models, buying an old, used or refurbished iPhone is a great way to pick up a bargain. While this might sound like a risky route to take, it doesn't have to be the case, as there are a number of specialist retailers that offer warranties and check all devices before sending them out.

Apple Refurbished Store

Now is a particularly great time to buy a refurbished iPhone, as Apple itself sells iPhones in its own Certified Refurbished Store in the UK, something that it's been doing in the US Refurbished Store for some time.

Refurbished iPhone Store

One of the main reasons for buying from the Apple Refurbished Store, aside from the lower cost, is that the devices all come with the same one-year limited warranty that you'll find on the brand-new versions. It's also worth noting that any parts used in the refurb will be official Apple ones and all come with brand-new batteries.

The standard reduction on the Apple Refurbished Store is 15 percent.

Buying older models from Apple

If you're not worried about getting the absolute latest kit, an older Apple iPhone is an option and it doesn't have to be second-hand.

Apple may be touting the virtues of its latest iPhone models, but if you look on the Apple Store you'll see that the iPhone 8, 8 Plus, X, XS and XS Max, and the iPhone XR are still on sale.

Of course, you'll miss out on some of the newer features offered in the latest models, but these older iPhones remain an excellent choice if you're happy with the 'old' designs. At the time of writing you can pick up a 64GB iPhone 8 Plus for £379/$379 or an iPhone XR for £499/$499, and these can be even cheaper if you have a previous iPhone you can use as a trade-in.

Should I buy a refurbished iPhone?

You might be concerned about buying a refurbished handset, thinking that it would be like buying a second hand iPhone, but there's no reason to be worried. The iPhones Apple sells in the Certified Refurbished store were returned to Apple for a variety of reasons:

  • The previous owner could have exercised their consumer rights and returned the handset unused within 14-days (as per Apple’s refund and exchange policy).
  • The iPhone may have been used as a demonstration model.
  • The iPhone may have been returned to Apple due to a fault.

This latter point may concern you, however you can be sure that Apple will have identified and fixed any faults before reselling it.

Apple says that refurbished products undergo "full functional testing, genuine Apple part replacements (if necessary)," as well as "a thorough cleaning".

There are plenty of benefits to buying a refurbished iPhone:

  • You will get a one-year warranty
  • You get 90 days of tech support
  • Currently you’ll qualify for one year of Apple TV+ for free.
  • Because you are buying from Apple directly there are no shipping costs and free returns.
  • You are also able to utilise Apple’s 14-day returns policy if you change your mind.

Buying older iPhones on contract

Another way to dampen the financial impact of buying a new iPhone is to go down the tried and tested route of contracts offered by mobile providers. You'll find older iPhone models in the online stores of various UK carriers, on much cheaper tariffs than the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro.

Prices change all the time, so we'd recommend reading our Best iPhone deals guide on a regular basis to see which offers are currently available.

Buying refurbished and pre-owned iPhones from retailers

Finally, one of the best ways to get an old or refurbished iPhone at a bargain price, including models such as the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus that are no longer available from Apple, is buying second-hand or refurbished devices from third-party retailers.

There is a wide selection of outlets to choose from, many of whom offer warranties, device checkups before dispatch, and even quality gradings so you can save a bit more money by opting for a device that's got a few minor scratches but still works fine.

Where to buy a second-hand iPhone: Third Party Retailers

We'd recommend the likes of Envirophone, Smartfone Store, 4Gadgets, and Music Magpie (know as DeCluttr in the US), all of which have proven reliable in the past. Outside of specialist retailers there's also eBay (just be sure to check the seller's feedback and read the descriptions carefully), and CeX. Finally, Amazon now has its Amazon Renewed range which is similar to the Apple Refurbished Store in that you get a discounted iPhones that come with a year's warranty and peace of mind.

So, if you want an iPhone but price has been holding you back, hopefully one of these solutions will meet your needs without draining your bank account.