1. Home
  2. Mobile phones
  3. Mobile phones guides
  4. Should I buy a refurbished iPhone?

What is a refurbished iPhone?

From the pros and cons to the best refurbished iPhone to buy, we’re sharing the need-to-know facts about refurbished iPhones.

refurbished iPhone older model

A refurbished iPhone is a pre-owned phone that’s been restored to its original condition but sold at a lower price than a brand new one. Refurbished iPhones are checked, tested and cleaned before they’re sold again. This makes them different from second-hand iPhones, which are sold with their existing wear and tear.

Are refurbished iPhones good?

If a new iPhone isn’t within budget, or you don’t see the need to buy new, then a refurbished iPhone could be a good decision. After all, a refurbished iPhone, when brought from the right place, can be just as good as a new one.

Retailers have refurbishment programs where every preloved iPhone completes a rigorous refurbishment process that includes full functional testing. So, compared to a secondhand iPhone you can be sure your refurbished iPhone is working well.

Read more in our Refurbished phones: buying guide.

Pros of buying a refurbished iPhone:

  • You can save a lot of money compared to buying a brand new handset.
  • The phone will be thoroughly cleaned and tested - including the battery - and all past data will be wiped (unlike a secondhand iPhone).
  • It should come with a warranty - this tends to be 12 months for refurbished iPhones, but always check before purchasing.
  • Buying a refurbished iPhone is more sustainable for the planet.
  • You are not locked to a contract as you may be with a new iPhone. Your refurbished iPhone should last as long as a new iPhone, depending on its age.

Cons of buying a refurbished iPhone:

  • You might have to wait a while for the latest model - usually refurbished options are a few models behind.
  • Your warranty might be shorter than with a new iPhone, it’s always worth checking.
  • Some retailers don’t sell accessories along with the iPhone, so you would need to buy these separately.

Are there different grades or conditions of refurbished iPhones?

Refurbished iPhones - like all refurbished phones - are graded by retailers and manufacturers after being checked, tested and repaired. These grades typically range from Grade A-C. An iPhone with an A grade will cost you more than one graded C as it will be in better condition.

Grade Condition
"As close to a new iPhone as you can get. ,May have had minor defects that have now been fixed."
"Light signs of use.,iPhone still looks and feels like it is almost new."
"Moderate signs of use. ,You might be able to see some scratches on the screen or body."

Table showing the grades of refurbished iPhones from A-C.

How does the cost of a refurbished iPhone compare to a new one in 2024?

The latest iPhone, the iPhone 15, was released in September 2023. If you were to buy the new iPhone 15 (128GB) from Apple, you would pay nearly £800. If you wanted the iPhone 15 Plus, it would cost you nearly £900. If you were to buy a refurbished iPhone 15 (128GB), it would cost around £700 from retailers like Back Market, Currys or Uswitch. If you were to buy a later model, like the iPhone 13 or 14, directly from Apple or from other retailers, you could save more money.

A new iPhone 13 Pro (128GB) directly from Apple would cost you around £759 while a refurbished iPhone 13 Pro would cost around £459 on eBay.

Which refurbished iPhone should I buy?

Which refurbished iPhone you buy will depend on your budget, how much storage you need and any specific tech features you require.

Most iPhones have minor differences, but below we’ve compared the main differences between the iPhone 12, 13 and 14. These models aren’t the most recent so they would cost you less.

iPhone 12 (refurbished) iPhone 13 (refurbished) iPhone 14 (refurbished)
2 models - 6.1-inch iPhone 12 and 5.4-inch iPhone 12 mini
A14 bionic chip
Sleek flat-edged design with aluminium edges
Night mode camera
Ceramic shield front
4 models - 13, 13 Mini, 13 Pro and 13 Pro Max
6 different colours
A15 bionic chip
Ceramic shield front
Glass back and aluminium design
4 models - 14, 14 Plus, 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max
6 colours
A15/A16 bionic chip
Super Retina XDR display
12MP ultrawide camera
Crash detection feature
Up to 20 hours video playback
Cost (128GB)
Around £280
Around £366
Around £466

Table showing the key differences between 3 refurbished iPhone models

How to check if my iPhone is original or refurbished

Want to find out if your iPhone is the original one or a refurbished model? You just need to follow a few steps:

  1. Open the “Settings” app on your iPhone
  2. Go to “General” and then go to “About”
  3. Look for “Model” and then read the model identifier next to that text

The first character will let you know if the device is new or refurbished - if the model number starts with M, it was purchased new from Apple but if it starts with F, it was refurbished by Apple or a carrier.

Once you've found a refurbished iPhone that you like, you can compare the best SIM only plans and start using your iPhone straight away.

Share this article