As long as you can wait a few months to pick up an Apple product, there's virtually no downside to purchasing a refurbished model. The quality is superb and the price savings can be worth the wait. This guide covers all the ins and outs of refurbished products, from release timelines and prospective price savings to warranty information and stock information.
There are some great deals on cheap Macs and Macbooks at the Apple Refurbished Store and other resellers, but should you buy a refurbished Mac? It can be a great way to get a cheap Mac or MacBook , but it does carry some risks and complications. Here's how to get your next Mac for less.
Apple makes great computers, but they're not always the cheapest to buy - a brand-new Mac can be a quick way to empty your bank account. Many Mac buyers, therefore, look at second-hand options. You can get a great deal by buying a refurbished Apple Mac computer from the Apple Refurbished Store, or by picking up a second-hand Mac from Mac4Sale.
Should you buy a refurbished Mac or not?
Refurbished Macs are likely to be returned models (if it is from a previous year), or reconditioned current models. A reconditioned Mac could be an ex-demonstration model used during Apple teaching programmes, or a unit sold to a customer who decided to return it.
The returned unit may have been faulty (and fixed) or may simply have been returned under the standard sale-and-returns procedure.
Macs and MacBooks sold through the Apple Refurbished Store are not necessarily old models that have not been sold. Tim Cook has made Apple's production so tight that the company is rumoured to turn over its entire inventory every five days (only McDonald's has a faster turnover!). So Apple does not need to stockpile its products and Macs sold on the refurb store are in fact second-hand.
First Step: Check the specifications carefully
Because many Macs on the refurb store are previous years' models you should check the specifications carefully. It's worth noting that most new Macs contain the very latest high-end components, so even an older model from the Apple Refurbished Store should still offer great performance.
That means it's also worth taking a look at the refurb store if you deliberately want to pick up an older model. Apple is often quick off the mark to phase out features it deems no longer necessary, such as optical drives, FireWire sockets, replaceable hard drives and so on. So some people may genuinely prefer an earlier model with a feature they don't quite want to live without just yet.
Second Step: How much cheaper are refurb store and Refurbished Macs ?
The price for reconditioned Macs changes frequently but is typically 10 to 20 percent less than the original price. With Macs commanding a high retail price this can be quite a difference.
For example, a 13.3-inch MacBook Pro can be found on saving on the price you'd pay for the exact same model on the Apple Store.
Savings can be even greater though!
Other resellers often offer even lower prices than the Apple Refurbished Store though, so it's worth shopping around - especially during sales events like Boxing Day or Black Friday, when prices drop even lower everywhere but Apple.
What is the warranty and returns procedure on a refurbish Mac?
Apple states: "Before we put a refurbished Mac, iPod, iPad or , Apple TV up for sale in Special Deals, it undergoes a rigorous refurbishment process to make sure it's up to Apple's tough quality standards." (iPhones are not currently sold through the Refurbishment Store in the UK -
More importantly, a reconditioned Mac or MacBook comes with the same one-year warranty (extendable to three years with Apple Care protection) You also get the same sales and return procedure with Apple, and can return a Mac bought from the refurbished Store within 14 days if you're not happy with it - but note you'll have to post it back, as Apple will not accept returns to a physical Apple Store on refurbished product.
The only noticeable difference from our experience is that any refurbished Mac will be packaged in a brown box rather than the white retail box they normally arrive in. Aside from that we have yet to pick up a Mac from the Refurbished Store and find it wanting.
Buying a second-hand Mac from eBay
Second-hand sites like MacBooks oneBay are also worth considering, although where possible we'd recommend you opt for new, discounted Macs. Buying a second-hand Mac on eBay is a riskier business.
Buying and selling anything on sites like eBay can be fraught with problems, but this is particularly true with high-value products such as computers. The old adage runs 'buyer beware', but sellers need to take precautions as well.
eBay requires a little caution and care, then, but you may find some bargains.
There's often a stigma against purchasing refurbished electronics because many companies don't have rigorous quality control programs for refurbished items, but that's not the case with Mac4Sale. Some companies may sell refurbished items with cosmetic defects and other issues, but Mac4Sale's refurbished products, available from its online refurbished store, are "as good as new" products.