Buy a Refurbished iPad? The What, When, Why and How

To some, “refurbished iPad” means sweet deal. Others wouldn’t try it in a million years. The sweet-dealers may be right.

What is a “Refurbished iPad”?

It’s just like buying a used car, but better, much better. For a variety of reasons, people return their iPads to Apple. It may have been damaged during shipping, which is the most likely reason, buyer’s remorse, they simply didn’t like it, something wasn’t working properly, or another problem.

They also trade them in or sell them to other locations, outside of Apple, for cash or to offset the price of another device.

At Apple, the iPads are returned to a condition that could be called “new”, if they were, in fact, new.

refurbished ipad
Refurbished iPad. I think. Tough to tell the difference.

They’re reportedly put through extensive diagnostics before being cleared for resale. Each device, regardless of condition, receives new glass, new outer shell and brand new battery. Each one also comes with a one-year warranty and the option to purchase the Apple Care warranty, just like a new one.

Right now, on the heels of the iPad 2 release, a refurbished 16gb WiFi only first generation iPad is priced at $349 at the Apple store, which is about $50 less than a new one. When the iPad 2 starts hitting the refurb market, expect the savings to be comparable.

Other retailers promise the same reconditioning. I find it hard to believe, however, that other folks can provide the same thing as the manufacturer., for example, sells them, but you’re usually buying from a third-party. The Amazon warranty is not full, it’s only for 30 days, and you may be charged a fee for your return.

When to Buy a Refurbished iPad and Should You Buy?

The short answer is anytime and anyone, if you’re buying from Apple. They put effort into reconditioning the iPads. They also stand behind them in the exact same way as new products. That tells me the quality is high. High quality means everyone from the casual user to the businessperson can buy with confidence. For businesses buying multiple devices, the savings will be substantial, the risk minimal.

If you decide to go outside the comfort of Apple, be sure you’re getting a comparable deal. Most importantly, determine if the dealer will stand behind their product. If they don’t, then you’re potentially getting a substandard product. In that case, either don’t buy or make sure you’re getting a deep discount.

The “Why” and “How”

The reason for buying a refurbished iPad is clear, the price. With a purchase from Apple, the only known real difference will be that your iPad comes in a plain brown box, rather than the nice new iPad box.

When you buy, even from Apple, make sure the company clearly explains:

1. The true condition and the extent of refurbishing,
2. The warranty term and conditions,
3. Extended warranty availability (which I recommend),
4. And price.

You can find refurbished iPads at the Apple Store and at most electronics retailers, both online and off. If you do your homework, it really is a sweet deal, for anyone.

What are your thoughts on buying a refurbished iPad? Any experiences, good or bad?