Apple’s current tablet line-up includes the iPad mini, iPad (9th and 10th gen), iPad Air, and 11-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pros. There’s an iPad at a price to suit most budgets, but what if you want a more powerful iPad for less money? Thanks to the refurbished iPad market you can find a powerful iPad without having to spend a fortune.
There are lots of places offering to sell you a refurbished iPad, including Apple’s Refurbished and Clearance store, which is a section on Apple’s website where you can buy refurbished iPads (you can also buy Macs and MacBooks, iPhones, Apple Watch, HomePod and Apple TV.) Apple’s not the only company selling refurbished iPads though, and you may be able to save more if you shop elsewhere.
Not all refurbished iPads are as good as the ones Apple sells though, so you should beware of the pitfalls. We will run through the things to avoid in this article, so you can be confident you will get the best refurbished iPad for your needs.
We’ll explain what the Apple Refurbished Store is and what Apple Certified Refurbished means. We’ll list the best places to buy a refurbished or used iPad, and we will share the price you can expect to pay for a refurbished iPad, iPad Air, iPad mini or iPad Pro.
Why buy a refurbished iPad?
Refurbished offers you more peace of mind than buying a second-hand or used iPad because, to describe a product as “refurbished”, the company selling it should have rigorously tested and repaired it in order to get it to work just like new.
In contrast, buying an iPad that is pre-owned but not refurbished–from eBay or GumTree, for example–means you’re buying the device “as is,” with no post-purchase protection, which makes it slightly riskier if you don’t know the seller. If the previous owner has forgotten to dissociate their Apple ID from the iPad, you may potentially be locked out from the device. Apple’s customer service won’t be able to help you unlock it without the original Apple ID details because of their strict security policies.
If the device is factory refurbished or certified refurbished, you can be confident the quality and reliability will match a new device–yet you will make a decent saving. The company selling it may also offer you some sort of warranty with the device so that if anything goes wrong they will address it.
Not all ‘refurbished’ iPads are equal though. So you should establish what checks have been performed by the company before you buy from them. The safest place to buy a refurbished iPad is from Apple Refurbished Store where all products sold will have undergone rigorous testing to be Apple Certified refurbished (which we will discuss in the next section).
Before we explain what Apple does before it can sell an iPad in the refurbished store, you are probably wondering where these iPads have come from. You might be concerned that they have been returned to Apple because they are faulty, for example. While it’s possible that a customer returned the iPad due to a fault, that fault would have been rectified by Apple before the iPad could be resold.
These refurbished iPads could also be ex-demonstration models used during Apple teaching programs, or it could be a unit sold to a customer who decided to return it under the standard sale-and-returns procedure. (Apple allows any customer to return a Mac bought from the Apple Store within 14 days for a refund – see Apple’s Standard Returns Policy U.S. and Standard Returns Policy U.K.).
It’s not even the case that you can only buy old iPads Apple’s refurbished store–you will find models from previous years as well as current models. The same is true of other refurbished resellers, although some offer much older iPad than Apple does (which can be problematic if they aren’t supported by software–we’ll elaborate further below).
Dominik Tomaszewski / Foundry
What is Apple Certified refurbished?
Apple states that: “Every Apple Certified Refurbished product completes a rigorous refurbishment process that includes full testing that meets the same functional standards as new Apple products. Your refurbished device is truly ‘like new'”.
Therefore it shouldn’t concern you that a customer may have returned the iPad due to a fault, because that fault would have been rectified by Apple before the iPad could be resold (and if the fault couldn’t be rectified it would be scrapped). Parts that don’t work or are damaged will be replaced so that the final product works just like new. For even more peace of mind, every refurbished iPad sold by Apple comes with a one-year warranty.
If you’d prefer to have a longer warranty than the one-year version that’s included, you can buy AppleCare+ for your refurbished iPad. AppleCare+ extends your warranty to two years and allows additional technical support, 24/7 access to Apple experts, and hardware coverage for up to two accidental damage incidents. Each damage claim will cost an additional $49/£39, though.
Each ‘certified refurbished’ iPad:
Will be thoroughly cleaned and inspected
Includes Apple’s standard one-year limited warranty
And up to 90 days of complimentary technical support
Comes with all accessories, cables, and operating systems
Is packaged in a brand-new white box
Is dispatched with free shipping and returns
Can be purchased via financing options
And can be delivered next day
That is Apple’s procedure, other shops that sell refurbished iPads may follow a similar series of checks–or at least they should if they are to claim that the iPad is certified refurbished. Other stores will label the refurbished products according to their quality, with bigger savings to be had on the less good examples. We’ll list the best options below, including whether or not a warranty is included.
Dominik Tomaszewski / Foundry
How much can you save in the Apple Refurbished Store
Standard iPad (9th generation), save from £50 – £80
iPad Air (4th generation), save from £80 – £120
11-inch iPad Pro (2nd and 3rd generation), save from £110 – £260
12.9-inch iPad Pro (5th generation), save from £110 – £320
iPad mini (5th and 6th generation), save from £170 – £480
What to look for and what to avoid
Quality: Refurbish quality can vary from retailer to retailer. First off, look at the refurbished grade. Often you’ll see this noted as Grade A, Grade B, or Grade C. Or similarly, Pristine, Excellent, Good and Fair. As you’ve guessed, this correlates with the condition of the device. It’s not an exact science, as each retailer will have its own standards for each grade, but it generally indicates what to expect (especially if you’re buying online). Grade A refurbished devices should look just like new or have very, very faint signs of use. Meanwhile, Grade B devices may have minor scratches or wear, while Grade C devices will show obvious signs of wear. OfFten these ‘Fair’ graded devices will lack the full year warranty. You get what you pay for.
Warranty: Second, ensure the refurbished iPad comes with a warranty. This shouldn’t be too difficult as most resellers will offer coverage for at least one year. A warranty allows you to get repairs and other technical help should the device have any issues. Just beware that it might be difficult to get additional tech support after the warranty expires.
Age: Don’t buy an iPad that is more than a few years old. Apple updates the iPad operating system every year, and each time it does a few iPad’s fall off the supported list. For example when iPad OS 16 launched in 2022 iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 4 were not compatible, and, when iPadOS 17 arrives in late 2023 the following iPads will not support it: 2016 iPad Pro 9.7-inch, A9X chip, 2015 iPad Pro 12.9-inch (1st generation), A9X chip, 2017 iPad (5th generation) A9 processor. This doesn’t mean that Apple won’t issue software updates when security flaws become known, it will do that for a few more years, but it does mean that those older devices will not be as safe to use in a few years time as they are right now. It’s not just software support that you lose over time, Apple first moves a product into the vintage list, and then to the obsolete list, once the product is in that list you won’t be able to get rel=palcement parts should something go wrong, so be sure to check Apple’s list of vintage and obsolete products. We run through how long Apple supports iPads for separately.
Storage: Older iPads generally have less storage, which is likely to be insufficient for your more modern needs. We suggest you steer clear of any iPad with less than 64GB storage as this simply won’t be enough, unfortunately, many refurbished iPads have a paltry 32GB or even 16GB storage.
Resale: Resale value of a refurbished device won’t be very high if you want to sell the iPad later.
Dominik Tomaszewski / Foundry
Best places to buy refurbished iPads
While the Apple Refurbished Store is an excellent place to buy a reconditioned iPad, you may find stock is limited; and in some cases, other retailers offer newer models second-hand or refurbished at better prices too. Here are a few retailers worth checking out (in alphabetical order):
U.S. refurbished resellers
Amazon: Amazon has a rigorous refurbishing process (see this explainer) which ensures that devices look and work just like new. All devices from Amazon Renewed are backed with a one-year guarantee, which means you can get a refund or replacement within a year of receiving the iPad. Just avoid the older iPads with less than 64GB storage.
Back Market: There are some big discounts here. The site says its mission is “to build trust and desire for renewed devices.” Back Market states that “All iPad purchases on Back Market come with free standard shipping, a 1-year warranty, and a 30-day money-back guarantee.” You can also trade in old iPads.
Best Buy: It’s important to check the grade of pre-owned iPads on Best Buy; some are certified by the site’s Geek Squad subsidiary and others aren’t. You can lower the price by trading in your old device.
Decluttr: This is an excellent destination for refurbished tech. Not only does it often have competitive prices, you can also reduce prices further by trading in your old tech, books, CDs, and other media. They say “Our refurbished iPads have been careful: lly selected and refurbed to give them a new lease of life thanks to our extensive checks and fixes,” and they offer free shipping and a 12-month limited warranty.
Gazelle: You can buy refurbished iPads from Gazelle, which they describe as “premium used iPads”.
Mac of all Trades: Sells refurbished iPads as well as Macs. All iPads are tested and refurbished by certified technicians, according to the company each “iPad undergoes a 40-point visual inspection and passes hardware quality assurance tests”. This includes a “comprehensive 30-point inspection”. There’s a one-year warranty and free shipping.
RefurbMe: Pulls together refurbished iPad options from Back Market, Amazon and other refurbished stockists. They state that “Every product is fully tested and inspected by professional refurbishers and comes with a warranty.” Just heed our advice and don’t buy really old iPads with insufficient storage.
Walmart: Sels refurbished iPads under the Walmart Restored brand. You can choose from Premium or Restored Premium.
You may also want to check out the following refurbished retailers:
Affordable Mac: Also sells refurbished iPads with a one-year warranty.
Amazon: As on the US site, Amazon’s refurbished devices look and work like new and are backed with a one-year guarantee. Avoid older models and any with less than 64GB storage. Amazon says: “This pre-owned product has been professionally inspected, tested and cleaned by Amazon-qualified vendors. It is not certified by Apple.” And: “This product is eligible for a replacement or refund within 1-Year of receipt if it does not work as expected.” Just confirm it’s Amazon selling and not another party.
The Big Phone Store: says it is “rigorous in our testing and refurbishing procedures”. They offer free delivery on orders over £30.00 and all their refurbished iPads come with a 12-month warranty (with the exception of those described as ‘Fair’ which come with a 3-month warranty).
Envirofone: Envirofone also buys your old phones and tech, including damaged devices. If you choose to get paid in Envirofone credits called “Envirocash“, you can get an extra 12 percent back to spend on a refurbished device. You will find some really old iPads here, that we don’t recommend buying. Envirofone does claim that products are “thoroughly checked and tested by our tech experts,” who follow a “100-point testing process”. A 12-month warranty is offered. They also say: “if you decide an iPad isn’t for you, we’ll refund you if it’s sent back within 30 days.”
Hoxton Macs: Despite the name, Hoxton Macs also sells refurbished iPads at good prices. Hoxton Macs says: “Every device we sell is first inspected and tested by one of our expert technicians.” iPads are given the Hoxton Approval seal before they can be resold. There is a one-year warranty that includes replacing batteries free of charge if necessary.
The iOutlet: The iOutlet is similar to MusicMagpie: you can trade-in your old gadgets such as gaming consoles, phones, tablets, or watches to earn cash towards other purchases. You may not find the absolute latest iPad models, but the iOutlet has an extensive range of Apple products and prices that are pretty much on par with MusicMagpie. iOutlet says: “Our team purchases iPads from reliable sources, and our trained experts refurbish them to ensure that they’re in excellent working condition. We replace screens, fix buttons, and perform other necessary repairs to guarantee reliability. Every refurbished iPad we sell is fully tested and comes with a 365-day warranty.”
MusicMagpie: (Decluttr in the U.S.) A great place to pick up refurbished tech, with competitive prices and the option to trade in your old stuff. You get a 12-month warranty and the products are Certified refurbished, with the company claiming: “Each device undergoes extensive in-house refurbishment with up to 90 checks performed on some items to ensure the tech you buy is of fantastic quality at a fraction of the original price.”
4Gadgets: Sells graded refurbished iPads, with the grades being determined by a detailed inspection process “where our in-house team provides a grade for the Apple tablet depending on its current condition.”
You could also check out the following refurbished retailers:
All being well, the advice above has helped you reach a decision about how to buy your iPad. If you’re still not sure which model to go for, take a look at our iPad buying guide, as well as our guide to the best iPad deals.
We look at the process of selling an iPad in far more detail in a separate article: How to sell an iPad.