Summertime is always exciting for students looking to get a deal on some new technology. Right now, Apple’s holding a back-to-school promotion, where post-secondary students can get an Apple Store gift card of up to $210 by buying a qualifying Mac or iPad. As far as Apple deals go, that’s pretty good. But, eventually, this promotion will come to an end in the fall. When it does you may still find yourself wanting to get a good deal on an Apple device.
Apple has a hidden gem on their website for those looking to save a little money any time of the year. This hidden gem allows customers to buy iPhones, iPads, Macs, Apple TVs, and sometimes even accessories with up to a 15 percent discount, 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 their website where it lists Apple Certified Refurbished products for sale. Not sure if you trust buying refurbished? Let’s dive into a breakdown of what buying Apple Certified Refurbished products means.
What’s considered refurbished?
Apple Certified Refurbished products are typically (if not always) devices that customers return to Apple within the company’s fifteen-day return window. Typically this is because a customer wanted more storage, a different colour, or a better model. The odd defective device returned by a customer is sent off to be recycled.
Devices eligible for the program are then put through a thorough refurbishment process. First, devices are visually inspected for damage that would either make the device ineligible for the program or require repair. Second, devices are deep cleaned for sanitary purposes. Third, devices have diagnostic testing, go through full functional testing, and have their original operating system installed.
iOS devices always receive a new shell and battery. Other parts needing to be replaced are done so to maintain product quality. Finally, every Apple Certified Refurbished device is shipped out with brand new cables and in a freshly sealed box. Apple Certified Refurbished products go through a much higher level of care, quality control, and testing than a factory-new Apple device. In large part, I believe that’s why I feel so comfortable buying Apple’s Certified Refurbished products.
Why should I buy refurbished?
There are so many fantastic reasons to buy an Apple Certified Refurbished product.
First, of course, there are cost savings. Shoppers can save up to 15 percent like with this 64GB Space Grey iPad Air or this 256GB Space Grey M1 MacBook Air. Occasionally, you can save even more. Currently, there are 64GB iPhone 11 Pros available in every colour for $899 or 27% off their normal price of $1244. Except for a different white box, you’d never be able to distinguish between an Apple Certified Refurbished product and a factory-new device. For a company that rarely offers sales or discounts, buying an Apple Certified Refurbished product is a great way to save money.
Second, as discussed in the first section, Apple Certified Refurbished products undergo a highly vigorous screening, testing, and cleaning process to make them nearly indistinguishable from a factory-new device. This level of quality assurance isn’t seen in 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 do not like your purchased device, simply bring it back to an Apple Store or request Apple to provide you with a pre-paid postage label within 15 days to get a full refund. Many “certified refurbished” retailers do not offer you a return period and consider the device’s final sale.
Fourth, Apple provides all their Apple Certified Refurbished products with a one-year manufacturer’s warranty, just like a factory-new device. In fact, the Genius Bar and Apple Support treat a refurbished device no different than a factory-new device when it comes to service or repairs.
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, depending on the device, and covers accidental damage. Warranty is another big difference between Apple and most other “certified refurbished” vendors, which may give customers only a 90-day warranty or less if any at all.
Fifth and final, Apple includes a new box and accessories with each Apple Certified Refurbished product. Any charger that would come 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 to not mislead buyers.
What are the downsides?
I would argue there is no more risk in buying an Apple Certified Refurbished product than buying a factory-new one. However, suppose you were to consider purchasing a refurbished product from another vendor, I’d urge you to be more cautious. Apple, as always, takes great pride in its products, and refurbished products are no different.
Suppose there are any issues, Apple will happily take the device back within their fifteen-day return window or repair it under its limited manufacturer’s warranty or AppleCare+ plan.
There are two noticeable downsides to ordering from Apple’s online store. The first is no same-day pick-up from a physical Apple retail store. All refurbished products are shipped out from warehouses and must be ordered online. Don’t bother walking into an Apple Store asking for a refurbished device as there won’t be any in stock. If delivery speed is essential to you, refurbished won’t be your best bet.
Second, there’s limited selection and stock. We already established Apple only refurbishes iPhones, iPads, Macs, Apple TVs, and some accessories. Apple doesn’t stock Apple Watches, AirPods, or HomePods (at least not yet) as part of their Apple Certified Refurbished program. But, even for the product categories Apple does stock you may have to compromise on the storage, colour, or model since inventory can heavily vary day by day. This is the compromise of saving some money with Apple’s refurbished products. You may not be able to get exactly what you’re looking for unless you wait and even then there is no guarantee it’ll ever come into stock. So, if you find something available that you want—act on it fast.
TLDR; should I buy refurbished?
Personally, I’d recommend it. In fact, I recommend Apple Certified Refurbished products to everyone that 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’ve bought several refurbished Apple TVs and a specced-out refurbished M1 MacBook Air for me and later my mother. I’ve always had a fantastic experience with Apple Certified Refurbished products. Plus, if I don’t like it, I can return it at my local Apple Store, and if something 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 and Clearance’ under the Apple Store header.
My last tip is that if you’re looking to get alerted when a specific model becomes available as an Apple Certified Refurbished product, you can find online tools like Refurb Tracker to get email notifications when Apple’s inventory changes.