“One of the best smartphones ever made.” Even self-proclaimed die-hard Android fans begrudgingly concede that Apple’s iPhone 11 is a milestone in our electronic evolution. It’s no wonder everyone wants one, but when prices range from just above $600 to upwards of $1300, the newest electronic addition to the family can break the bank. Ever-resourceful humans, however, have been creating a thriving market of used and refurbished phones that just may be the perfect solution.
An iPhone 11 Pro Max, for around $1200 if purchased new from Amazon, can be found for as low as $500 used and $700 refurbished. The trade-off is some research and due diligence, but that happens when purchasing anything that has spent a few moons out of its factory box. This is where some folks get intimidated … after all, what does “due diligence” mean when buying a hand-held supercomputer?
First of all, it’s important to know the difference between “used” and “refurbished” (or “refurb”). A used iPhone is exactly that — someone used it until they were finished, and now it is being sold. The seller’s description should disclose any defects, such as scratches or a foggy camera, and there should be photos of the ACTUAL PHONE BEING SOLD, not stock or promo photos. Used iPhones are reentering the world “as-is”. Any factory warranty remaining on an iPhone is tied to the device and stays with it. Apple Care, however, is tied to the owner, not the device. Apple Care does not transfer automatically.
Contrast that with the refurbished iPhone, which has been through a rebirth of sorts. Whether the original owner simply wanted a newer phone or it was dropped or even if it was chewed briefly on by a Billy goat … since then the iPhone has been professionally reconditioned on its journey to resale. A well-refurbished iPhone can be virtually indistinguishable from a brand-new one. Some shops are so confident they offer protection plans and warranties.
Knowledge is power, and sometimes that means knowing where to shop. It’s possible to buy smartphones that have been reported stolen (Activation Locked), or that are locked to only work with certain cellular carriers. There are even stories of iPhones originally under a monthly payment agreement being sold while money was still owed on the contract, resulting in the unlucky buyer holding a blacklisted and useless phone.
Reputable vendors, like Best Buy, Gazelle, Uptrade, and certain eBay shops, remove the burden on the seller to chase all that down by providing assurances that every phone is free of locks and blocks, sparing the buyer any unwanted hard knocks. Shops like Uptrade even go further with services like their 50-point inspection and the guarantee of the “Uptrade Certified” stamp: https://uptradeit.com/buy-used-refurbished-iphone-11
Finally, any available buyer protections should be considered. How long is the window to return a purchase? How easy or hard is it to return the phone and receive a refund, should it come to that? Is there a protection plan or extended warranty that can be purchased? With a little preparation and knowledge, it’s not impossible to get “one of the best smartphones ever made,” some confidence and peace of mind, and have a few bucks left for celebratory tacos, too.