There are always pros and cons when buying used electronics. You usually save a ton of money, but it’s at the expense of functionality or looks. There might be a dent in the case or just some general wear and tear, but you can buy it at a discount compared to the price tag of a brand-new one.
There are different levels of “used” though. There’s the traditional meaning of the word “used” in which an owner sells a product that he/she has been using for a certain amount of time, and then there’s “refurbished”, which is when a company takes broken products of theirs and fixes them up to achieve a status that’s close to being new.
Apple has its own online refurbished store where it sells Macs, iPads, iPods, etc. that were once returned by customers in the past because they were at one point defective. However, the company fixes them up and puts a new coat of paint on them before re-selling them at a discounted price.
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.
My first Mac was a 2011 13-inch MacBook Pro that I bought from Apple’s online refurbished store, and it was also my first Apple refurbished product ever. It was around $200 off from what a brand-new model would cost me, and since I had never bought refurbished before, I was expecting to open up the box and see a slightly banged-up MacBook Pro, but that wasn’t the case.
I opened it up and was convinced it was a brand new model that Apple mistakingly shipped me. However, I noticed that it didn’t come in a shiny new box wound in shrink-wrap. While the MacBook itself was in pristine condition, the company sends you the barebones when it comes to packaging, so I wasn’t able to experience the art form that I’ve heard many Apple product owners drool over.
In the end, I saved $200 by opting for mediocre packaging, which is totally okay with me, but you also need to have patience when buying refurbished, because it takes a few months for newly-released Apple products to show up in the refurbished store, and even then, different models come and go, so there are times where you’ll be waiting for a specific model to become available. Patience is definitely a good virtue to have when you want to save money.