Should I buy a second-hand iPhone to save money, or is it safer to buy one that's brand new? Also, what should I be checking when buying an old or second-hand iPhone?

If you're desperate for an iPhone but your budget doesn't quite stretch to Apple's newest models, buying an old iPhone is a great way to pick up a bargain. Armed with our guide to buying an old iPhone, you'll be able to buy second-hand, old or refurbished iPhones with confidence.

Apple makes prestigious products, but the latest Apple kit tends to command a premium price. It's true that, if you visit an Apple Store (online or on your high street) to buy an iPhone, you'll get the support that comes with buying direct from the manufacturer, and you'll get good advice if you speak to anyone in store.

However, you're not going to get any special discounts or deals on iPhones if you visit an Apple Store Genius - it's full price or nothing there, I'm afraid.

Because of this, many people on a budget consider switching to non-Apple kit, but that's not the only option. It's often possible to pick up an older model of Apple's iPhone with a big discount if you know where to look.

Read next: What is the iPhone Upgrade Program, and how to get a brand-new iPhone every year for half price

Buy direct 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 has stopped selling the iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus, which disappeared from the store when Apple unveiled the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. But you can still pick up the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus at a cheaper price than the latest iPhone models.

With the 6s and 6s Plus you'll miss out on some features: they don't get the faster processor included in the iPhone 7 handsets, not to mention the twin-lens camera (and Portrait Mode) in the 7 Plus. But they'll cost you less cash. (And they come with headphone ports!)

The iPhone 6s with a 4.7in screen starts at £499, while the iPhone 6s Plus with its 5.5in screen costs from £599.

The Apple Refurbished Store doesn't do iPhones in the UK

Sadly Apple still doesn't sell second-hand iPhones on its UK Refurbished Store - normally an excellent place to get a good deal on an Apple product with the peace of mind that comes with knowing that it's been thoroughly checked and fixed up by Apple employees, and comes with a warranty. The UK refurb store offers Apple TVs, iPads, Macs and even iPods and accessories, but no iPhones.

That may not be the case for much longer, however. After a gap of nine years, Apple has finally started selling older iPhones on its US Refurbished Store (at the moment it's all iPhone 6s and 6s Plus models), and while we wouldn't wholly recommend scouting for bargains over there and getting them shipped to the UK, we're hopeful that this development could signal a change of heart in the UK store in the near future.

How to buy an old or second-hand iPhone: Third-party retailers

You'll find the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s Plus, frequently the iPhone 5s, and occasionally the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus in the online stores of various UK carriers, on much cheaper contracts than the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. These carriers include EE, Three, O2, Vodafone, Virgin Mobile, Tesco Mobile and Carphone Warehouse.

You might also like: iPhone buying guide

Where to buy an iPhone 5s

The iPhone 5s may no longer be on sale through Apple, but it's widely available from third parties both on contract and SIM-free. There are hundreds of iPhone 5s deals available, but you'll want to get in quickly as Apple will no longer be manufacturing the phone. They're bound to be completely out of stock before too long.

You can see our full list of iPhone 5s deals here.

Buying an iPhone 5 or earlier

The oldest iPhone you can get on the Apple Store is the iPhone 6s, but what about picking up an even older model?

The iPhone 4s and older are no longer supported with new iOS updates: iOS 10 is available for the iPhone 5 and later only. The iPhone 5 also comes with a Lightning connector, while the iPhone 4s still has the old 30-pin connector; this will limit the accessories available for your device.

The iPhone 4 and earlier, however, won't run iOS 8 or iOS 9, so they've been unsupported by Apple for a while now, which is why we wouldn't recommend buying an iPhone older than the iPhone 4s.

You'll find models of the iPhone 5, iPhone 4s and older on Amazon, but there are also ways to buy the iPhone 5 brand new or refurbished from the likes of Tesco, Carphone Warehouse and more. Then of course there's eBay, which has lots of unused iPhones on offer but is perhaps not the most reliable source.

CEX will sell an iPhone 5 for as little as £110.

Second-hand and reconditioned iPhones

One of the best ways to get an old iPhone at a bargain price, including models such as the iPhone 5s that are no longer available from Apple, is buying it second-hand or refurbished.

In fact, you can buy and sell second-hand iPhones with our partner Mresell. Mresell runs a service via which you can sell your unwanted Macs, iPhones and iPads. Once a price is agreed Mresell either picks up your iPhone, or you can take it to a certified Apple reseller after which payment is made. Either way the iPhone is then thoroughly checked, refurbished and reconditioned, and listed for sale.

Other places that offer second-hand or reconditioned iPhones include Amazon, eBay (but be sure to check the seller's reviews), Argos, Tesco, O2, GAME and more.

How often do you update your iPhone?

That's the end of our guide to buying older and second-hand iPhones. But we're interested to hear how often our readers update their smartphones. Let us know by filling in our poll:

If you want to erase the contents of your iPhone because you are selling it, or because it's not working properly, here's how to reset an iPhone, erase the contents of an iPhone and restore from a backup.