Apple’s army of dedicated fans rush to preorder new iPhones every single year and part with hundreds upon hundreds of pounds to have their hands on the newest phone as quickly as possible.

What that means is that there are a lot of unloved one and two year old devices out there in perfectly good condition cast aside by owners who want the upgrade. For those of us not bothered about the very latest model, that’s good news, because it creates a sizeable stock of second hand and refurbished iPhones.

One option for getting your hands on an iPhone at a cut price is by buying a refurbished one. In this guide, we talk you through what to look for.

What is a Refurbished Phone?

First of all, what counts as a refurbished phone? Essentially, it’s a phone that has been returned or sold on by the previous owner and one that has undergone extensive testing to ensure it is in good working order. Phones not working initially are repaired and restored to working order.

Where to Buy Refurbished iPhones from

The best recommendation I think I can give you is to buy either from the manufacturer or from a reputable retailer. This doesn’t only give you peace of mind, but gives you certain rights under the Consumer Rights Act 2015. In other words, you’re less likely to have problems getting a repair, replacement or refund if the phone doesn’t do the job!

Below, we’ve compiled a few options for purchasing refurbished iPhones:

  • Websites that specialise in refurbished iPhones (like are a good and economical option
  • Local phone shops. Some carry a selection of refurbished or preowned iPhones
  • Amazon or Ebay – but do your research into the seller. Look at the feedback. Is it a personal seller selling their own used phone? Or a specialist company with experience in selling refurbished iPhones?

At the time of writing, Apple doesn’t currently offer refurbished iPhones in the UK, but they do sell refurbished iPads, iPods and Mac computers at

What to Check for Before Buying a Refurbished iPhone


We caught up with Tony from iPhone Refurbs a specialist supplier of refurbished iPhones, for some advice:



  • Sim free. Is the iPhone unlocked so it will work with your sim card? Lots of phones that were originally sold by a phone network (e.g. Vodafone, Virgin, GiffGaff) will still be locked and therefore will only work with that network.


  • IMEI code check.Every phone has a unique IMEI code, which acts as its unique identifier. If a phone is reported lost or stolen, this code can be used to lock it. You can run the IMEI code through this tool and find out whether it has previously been reported lost or stolen


  • iCloud Account: If the iCloud account hasn’t been removed, it could render the phone unusable without the password. With the IMEI you check if the iPhone is still signed into someone’s Apple ID or if it is clear for a new user to input their Apple ID.


  • Condition: iPhones come in all sorts of conditions depending o how the last owner treated the phone. When you’re looking for an iPhone, does the condition matter to you? If so, do you want to pay a little extra for one in mint ‘like new,’ condition or would you settle for one with a few visible scratches and dents?”


  • Return Policy. Should you experience any issues with the phone are you able to return it? Customers love buying their refurbished iPhones from us because this is our speciality and we consider ourselves experts in refurbished iPhones. We know exactly how to thoroughly test iPhones pre-sale to ensure you won’t experience any issues when you receive your phone. Whenever buying anything pre-owned, you want to make sure there is a flexible return policy and a warranty.


Buying an iPhone from a private seller as opposed to a retailer means you sacrifice a number of consumer rights. By the same token, you might find a better deal from a private seller so it’s a choice you’ll need to consider. If you’re buying from such a seller, do make the IMEI check ahead of time and, if using a site like eBay, check the seller’s feedback. And always meet private sellers in a public place.”



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