If you are looking to purchase an iPad but are unwilling to dish out full price on a brand new unit, especially half way to the release of the next iteration of Apple’s tablet device, perhaps you would consider purchasing a refurbished iPad. There are other options out there, such as purchasing a second hand iPad or just shelling out for a new one, but today we would like to look at the pros and cons of purchasing a refurbished unit.

Of course, if you have an older iPad in hand that you are looking to upgrade, be sure to also check out the available avenues for selling or trading in your current device.

Related reading
Which iPad should I buy?

What does refurbished mean?

It is a common misconception that a refurbished Apple product means that it is a previously defective unit that has been repaired and sold again. Yes, that may be the case sometimes, but it isn’t always so. Sometimes, a refurbished iPad is one that may have been returned by a customer to get another color of the same unit, or even for exchange for another unit entirely if it is still covered by the warranty. Furthermore, a refurbished iPad can be one that has been lent to a journalist, a gadget reviewer, and the like. Refurbished iPads are, admittedly, used iPads, but ones that have been certified to be in like-new condition before you purchase them.

Further reading: iPad warranty explained

Apple takes the time to carefully put these devices through testing, where units undergo a very thorough refurbishing process, in an effort to re-produce tablets that are so like new that you may have a hard time telling the difference between it and a brand new unit. The refurbishing process is so rigorous that some believe that a refurbished iPad is less likely to fail than a brand new iPad – The reasoning is simple, brand new iPads are tested during production and before delivery, but a refurbished iPad benefits from the thorough once over that only real world usage can provide, and this before returning to the hands of a certified technician equipped with a checklist that the unit must pass.

In the end, your confidence level in an Apple certified refurbished iPad should be almost as high as your confidence in purchasing a brand new unit, if not the same or higher, just with the understanding that the device has been through a few charging cycles already. At least you are compensated with a lower price tag.

What should I look for in a refurbished iPad?

For starters, an Apple certified refurbished iPad will usually be delivered in a different package than a new iPad, but refurbished units from other repair shops may use the original packaging. Always try to verify that a repair facility is certified to refurbish the equipment you are purchasing, and beware of deals that are just too good to be true, as sometimes they really are. If possible, test the device before purchasing, or make sure there is an adequate return policy and check to see what accessories come with the refurbished iPad, you should at least get the original charger and cable.

As for the unit itself, there is not really much for you to look for, at least as compared to the involved inspection you should be doing for a second hand unit. Be sure to purchase your refurbished iPad from a reputable seller, which should increase your chances of getting a unit that has had the kinks worked out, as few remaining factory defects as possible. Furthermore, there is no reason a reliable seller would not be able to offer a reasonable warranty on the purchase.

Where can I get a refurbished iPad?

Now that we’ve touted the benefits of saving a few dollars by purchasing a refurbished Apple product, we best tell you where you can get your hands on one.


Apple offers a selection of Apple-certified refurbished iPads through their own store. They come with free shipping and a one year warranty and can even be delivered to the nearest Apple Store for pickup, if you like that sort of thing. If a one year warranty is not sufficient for you, your refurbished iPad is eligible for an AppleCare Protection Plan, which extends your warranty to two years, not to mention a few other benefits.
Refurbished iPad in the Apple Store

Established retailers

There are a number of alternatives to the Apple Store for your refurbished iPad purchase. You may choose to go with an established retailer that handles new and refurbished sales as well. A couple great examples here would be Best Buy, with their Marketplace, and Amazon, but many more exist.

Auction and flash sales

On the other hand, there are a number of retailers and auction sites that have a frequent supply of used and refurbished iPads, eBay is likely the largest of these, just take your time to ensure you are working with a trusted and reputable seller. Lastly, there are flash sale sites, those that every now and then offer very good deals on many things, including refurbished iPads. One reputable option here is Woot.

So there you have it, everything there is to know about refurbished iPads. Do you own a refurbished iPad? If not, do you plan to purchase one? Share your experiences in the comments section below!

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