Everything you need to know about Apple Certified Refurbished Products

Summer is always exciting for students looking to get a deal on new technology. Right now, Apple is running a back-to-school promotion, where post-secondary students can get an Apple Store gift card of up to $210 by purchasing an eligible Mac or iPad. As far as Apple’s offerings go, that’s pretty good. But, eventually, this promotion will end in the fall. When that’s the case, you may still want to get a good deal on an Apple device.

Apple has a hidden gem on its website for those looking to save a little cash any time of the year. This hidden gem lets customers buy iPhones, iPads, Macs, Apple TVs, and sometimes even accessories for up to 15% off, with all the benefits of buying a brand new product.

Sounds too good to be true?

Well – it’s not. Apple has a poorly advertised section on its website where it lists Apple Certified Refurbished products for sale. Not sure if you trust buying refurbished products? Let’s dive into a breakdown of what it means to buy Apple Certified Refurbished products.

What is considered refurbished?

Apple Certified Refurbished products are usually (if not always) devices that customers return to Apple within the company’s fifteen-day return period. It’s usually because a customer wanted more storage, a different color, or a better model. The defective device returned by a customer is returned for recycling.

Devices eligible for the program then go through an extensive refurbishment process. First, devices are visually inspected for damage that would render the device ineligible for the program or require repair. Second, the devices are thoroughly cleaned for sanitary purposes. Third, the devices have diagnostic tests, pass full functional tests, and have their original operating system installed.

iOS devices always get a new case and a new battery. Other parts requiring replacement are to maintain product quality. Finally, every Apple Certified Refurbished device ships with new cables and in a freshly sealed box. Apple Certified Refurbished products undergo a much higher level of care, quality control, and testing than a factory-new Apple device. In large part, I believe this is why I feel so comfortable buying Apple’s Certified Refurbished products.

Why buy refurbished?

There are many great reasons to buy an Apple Certified Refurbished product.

First, of course, there are cost savings. Shoppers can save up to 15% like with this 64GB Space Gray iPad Air or 256GB Space Gray MacBook Air M1. Sometimes you can save even more. Currently, 64GB iPhone 11 Pros are available in all colors for $899 or 27% off their regular price of $1,244. Except for a different white box, you will never be able to tell the difference between an Apple Certified Refurbished product and a brand new device. For a business that rarely offers sales or discounts, purchasing an Apple Certified Refurbished product is a great way to save money.

Second, as discussed in the first section, Apple Certified Refurbished products go through a very vigorous screening, testing, and cleaning process to make them nearly indistinguishable from a factory-new device. This level of quality assurance is not seen at other “Certified Refurbished” retailers.

Third, Apple has an excellent return policy. Apple offers free shipping and returns on all devices, including Apple Certified Refurbished products. If you don’t love your purchased device, simply return it to an Apple Store or ask Apple to provide you with a prepaid postage label within 15 days for a full refund. Many “Certified Refurbished” retailers do not offer you a return period and consider the device final sale.

Fourth, Apple provides all of its Apple Certified Refurbished products with a one-year manufacturer’s warranty, just like a factory-new device. In fact, Genius Bar and Apple Support treat a refurbished device the same as a new device when it comes to service or repair.

Apple even allows customers to purchase AppleCare+ for their Apple Certified Refurbished device. AppleCare+ extends a device’s warranty from one year to two or three years, depending on the device, and covers accidental damage. The warranty is another big difference between Apple and most other “certified refurbished” vendors, who may only offer customers a 90-day warranty or less, or none at all.

Fifth and last, Apple includes a new box and accessories with every Apple Certified Refurbished product. Any charger that comes with the factory new device comes with an Apple Certified Refurbished product. Apple also seals the device in a brand new box, clearly indicating its refurbished status so as not to mislead buyers.

What are the disadvantages ?

I would say that there is no more risk in buying an Apple Certified Refurbished product than in buying a brand new product. However, suppose you are considering buying a refurbished product from another vendor, I urge you to be more careful. Apple, as always, takes great pride in its products, and refurbished products are no different.

If there’s a problem, Apple will gladly take the device back within its 15-day return period or repair it under its limited manufacturer’s warranty or AppleCare+ plan.

There are two notable downsides to ordering from Apple’s online store. The former is not a same-day pickup from a physical Apple store. All refurbished products ship from warehouses and must be ordered online. Don’t bother walking into an Apple Store to ask for a refurbished device because there won’t be any in stock. If speed of delivery is essential to you, refurbished won’t be your best bet.

Second, there is a limited selection and stock. We’ve already established that Apple only refurbishes iPhones, iPads, Macs, Apple TVs, and certain accessories. Apple does not stock Apple Watch, AirPods, or HomePods (at least not yet) under its Apple Certified Refurbished program. But, even for product categories that Apple stocks, you may have to compromise on storage, color, or model, as inventory can fluctuate wildly from day to day. That’s the tradeoff of saving money with Apple’s refurbished products. You may not be able to get exactly what you are looking for unless you wait and even then there is no guarantee that it will ever be in stock. So if you find something available that you want, act fast.

TLDR; should I buy refurbished?

Personally, I would recommend it. In fact, I recommend Apple Certified Refurbished products to anyone who isn’t looking to buy a freshly launched device. Typically, I’m a launch day buyer. However, if I ever need something that’s been available for a while, I always buy refurbished.

I bought several refurbished Apple TVs and a refurbished MacBook Air M1 for myself and later for my mother. I have always had a fantastic experience with Apple Certified Refurbished products. Plus, if I don’t like it, I can return it to my local Apple Store, and if anything happens, it has the same warranty as if I bought it new.

To browse Apple Certified Refurbished products, visit apple.ca/shop/refurbished or visit apple.ca, scroll to the bottom of the website and click “Refurbished & Clearance” under the Apple Store header .

My final tip is that if you’re looking to be alerted when a specific model becomes available as an Apple Certified Refurbished product, you can find online tools like Refurb Tracker to receive email notifications when inventory of Apple changes.

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