The iPad has come a long way from being a slightly-expensive device to a very-affordable tablet, and that’s mostly thanks to the cut-throat competition that we’ve seen from Android tablets over the last couple of years.
The iPad mini was Apple’s first step into the cheaper tablet market. Granted, it debuted at $329, which was a hard pill to swallow, but you can now grab them for much cheaper. Even if you don’t want an iPad mini, you can still find great deals on full-size iPads, as there’s almost no reason to spend the full $500 for an entry-level 9.7-inch slate.
However, you don’t necessarily need to buy new, as a used iPad can be much less expensive and still perform admirably depending on the tasks you plan to do. Plus, buying used will save you a lot of cash. With that said, here are a few methods you can try out in order to score an iPad for much less than what you would pay for a brand-new model.
Apple Refurbished Store
The absolute first place we’d recommend checking for a cheap iPad is Apple’s Refurbished Store, where you can get used models directly from Apple at a decent discount.
Arguably, Apple offers some of the best refurbished products around. Most of the Apple products that I’ve bought over the years have been refurbished, including gifts to other people for Christmas or their birthday, and guess what? They never know the difference between refurbished and brand new.
That’s because when Apple receives a defective item, they fix what’s wrong with it, and then replace the battery with a brand new one, as well as replace the entire aluminum shell with a brand new one. This means that you’re pretty much getting a brand-new product from Apple at a decent discount.
Granted, the hardware at one point was defective in some way, but Apple fixes that, so you’re left with a fully functional, good-as-new device for less than what it costs if it were still new in the box. For example, you can get an iPad for as low as $249 for a 16GB iPad mini 2, which is a great price.
While we prefer buying expensive products from reputable sources, you can’t beat the deals that you can score on eBay. You’ll just need to be more careful when browsing for iPads on eBay, since there are a lot of sellers out there who are looking to take buyers for a ride, and many iPads you’ll find on eBay could be stolen units.
Remember that one guy that bought a photo of an Xbox One for $615? Well, he thought he was buying an actual Xbox One console, but he was tricked. Granted, he read the description, but simply just assumed that it was a real Xbox One console that he was bidding on. To avoid such conundrums like this, be sure to thoroughly read the description and make sure that it’s the right item that you’re bidding on.
eBay sellers like to trick buyers by putting fine print in the description or simply just saying “Xbox One box” in the hopes that naive bidders will miss the fact that it’s just the box for sale.
We’ve also seen sellers list dummy iPads, and while they usually make it clear that it’s not a real iPad, it’s important to read the description instead of just relying on photos.
Not all eBay sellers are bad. In fact, you’ll rarely come across a trickster, but they’re out there, so be careful.
Craigslist is perhaps one of the most sketchiest places to buy consumer electronics, but when used carefully, you can find a great deal on a used iPad.
We’ve discussed many times how Craigslist is a hotbed for scams, but there are also a lot of good guys that genuinely just want to sell you their old iPad that they don’t need anymore, and since Craiglist is usually full of sellers looking to just get rid of their old hardware, they’re usually willing to give you a great deal.
Just be careful that you’re not buying a stolen iPad. A good way to tell if it’s stolen is if you ask the seller to turn off Find My iPhone or reset the iPad to factory settings in front of you. The seller needs to know the Apple ID credentials for both of these tasks, and if he doesn’t know, or if he refuses to do any of these tasks, then it’s safe bet that it’s stolen.
You can easily take advantage of numerous iPad sales from several big retail chains, including Best Buy, Staples and Walmart. Many of these stores will discount iPads every now and then — usually around $50 off.
That’s as big of a discount than buying refurbished or used, but if you’re wanting a brand new iPad for as little as possible, then waiting for a sale is your best bet.
Gazelle is known for its ease-of-use when comes to buying your older smartphones and tablets, but they also sell used devices at a low cost, making it a great place to buy a cheap iPad.
You can buy an original iPad mini for as low as $189, or get an iPad Air for just $319. Granted, Gazelle probably isn’t the cheapest place you could find an iPad, as eBay or Craigslist would be a better option in that case, but if you’re looking to buy from a reliable source for less than what Apple charges for refurbished products, Gazelle is a good place to check out.
If eBay and Craigslist aren’t your thing, Swappa is essentially the sunny and green pasture that awaits you at the end of the tunnel. Swappa is heavily regulated by its staff members and every seller is required to verify the devices that they’re selling, so you know that you’re not buying a stolen iPad when you do business on Swappa.
You can find some great deals on Swappa as well, thanks to the heavy competition from numerous other sellers trying to get rid of their iPads. Plus, many of them would be willing to negotiate with you on a better price.
If you don’t trust yourself with finding a legit iPad on eBay or Craigslist, perhaps the next best solution is to ask friends and make a call-out on various social networking services.
Simply posting about how you’re in the market for an iPad will automatically get all of your friends to try and help you find a good deal on an iPad. While none of your friends, specifically, may have an iPad to sell to you, they might know another friend who is selling one. From there, you can make the connection and buy your new tablet.
I’ve found that usually only your closest friends are helpful in this respect, so don’t expect every single one of your Facebook friends to be keeping their eyes peeled for an iPad deal for you, but at least you’re getting the word out, and every little bit helps.