Refurbished iPads are the best way to get your hands on one of Apple's sought-after tablets on the cheap
If you’re after an Apple tablet this Christmas but forking out for a brand new one is out of the question, you’ll want to check out the extensive range of refurbished iPads available online.
Apple is the king of tablet manufacturers but iPads are far from cheap, with the most affordable model – the Apple iPad 10.2in – starting at £319. Refurbished iPads provide a way for people to get their hands on one of Apple’s portables for considerably less than their RRP.
For some, the thought of buying a refurbished iPad is offputting, but it shouldn’t be. As long as you’re buying from a reputable source offering a warranty, a refurbished iPad will function exactly like its factory-fresh counterpart.
Retailers of refurbished iPads repair, test and clean their devices to ensure the product is in full working order and most have a grading system that indicates any physical imperfections the refurbished iPad may have. Typically, the lower the grade, the bigger the discount, so the more willing to accept superficial wear and tear you are, the more cash you’ll save.
In this article, we’ll direct you to the most reliable sites with the best track record and fairest prices on refurbished iPads. We’ll also take a look at another iPad buying option, which is to buy a second-hand, non-refurbished iPad from a website or a private seller.
The latter can often result in the biggest savings but comes with its own risks. Our buying guide will highlight those risks and arm you with all the information you need to avoid being stung.
And if you’re at a loss for which refurbished or secondhand iPad model to actually buy, we’ll throw in some advice for that as well.
Refurbished iPads: Everything you need to know
Where are the best places to buy refurbished iPads?
1. Music Magpie
You’ve probably seen Music Magpie advertised on TV. The site offers a huge range of certified refurbished technology, including games consoles, mobile phones and laptops, and its selection of iPads is particularly impressive. It sells refurbished iPads in one of three conditions, pristine, very good and good, and has devices to suit just any budget or need.
With an average Trust Pilot score of 4.7/5 from over 175,000 reviews, it’s a site you can rely on and you’ll often find it has offers on some of its top refurbished tech. What’s more, if you have an old tablet you’re looking to get rid of, you can sell it to Music Magpie and put the money towards a more recent model.
Amazon Renewed offers a wide range of refurbished iPads and there are some great savings to be had if you shop around a bit. Products sold on the site have been inspected and tested by either Amazon itself or the marketplace seller and in both cases by a qualified manufacturer of specialist third-party refurbisher. The products will function as if they were new and feature no cosmetic imperfections when viewed from 12in away. Some items may come packaged in a generic box but rest assured, all accessories will be included unless stated on the specific product page.
Because Amazon hosts thousands of vendors, it’s worth bearing in mind that a shady seller or two may slip through the cracks despite its vetting process. Consequently, you should always take a look at the number of ratings a seller has and any customer feedback available before parting with your hard-earned cash.
With a significant proportion of people already having an Amazon account, Amazon Renewed is a quick and easy way of buying a refurbished iPad and those with Prime subscriptions can take advantage of the retailer’s handy free next-day delivery on eligible products.
Predictably, Apple is one of the best places to buy a refurbished iPad. Apple’s process for refurbishment is exhaustive, and it guarantees that all iPads sold through its Refurbished store are fully operational as if factory fresh. Which they are, really, given how intensely they replace or repair whatever needs fixing before putting it back on sale.
It would be hard to tell the difference between a new iPad and an iPad refurbished by Apple – they’ll look and operate just the same. Some models have only been used once or given to a journalist for testing and then sent straight back. The only giveaway is the box it comes inside – the company’s refurbished iPads are repacked in a brand-new box that includes all the relevant accessories and cables.
Each iPad purchased through the Apple Refurbished store will also come with a one-year warranty; the same as a brand-new tablet, while many come with 90 days of complimentary technical support. Our only real criticism of the Apple Refurbished store is that stock levels vary wildly. Sometimes you’ll find loads of great products on offer, while on other occasions, they’ll only be a handful of devices available.
Although it primarily sells laptops, this site often has some cracking discounts on refurbished iPads. The site is well-rated on Trust Pilot and has four grades for the devices it sells: A1, A2, A3 and pre-owned. If you’re after the best quality refurbished iPad, you’ll want to aim for an A1 device, which will be good as new, with many having only been opened and never used.
A2 grade refurbished iPads will come in good condition, with minor cosmetic markings and minimal use, while A3 devices have more visible markings and have been used moderately in the past. For devices that fall under the pre-owned banner, you’ll want to check the individual listing for details of the iPad’s condition.
All products come with a three-month warranty as standard, with the option to upgrade to a one-year warranty for a small fee.
eBay is never short of stock when it comes to secondhand tech, but as many of the sellers are individuals you’re bound to find plenty more used, non-refurbished iPads. You can filter the products on the site to strictly display products that have been opened but never used, refurbished by the manufacturer or seller and brand new, so whatever condition you’re after you should be able to find something to suit your needs.
As with any vendor-hosting retailer, you should be careful when shopping, as sadly, there are scammers and fakes out there. Look at when a seller’s account was made and how many reviews they have to see if they are an established and trusted retailer, and always read customer feedback.
You’ll also find plenty of ‘virtual shops’ on eBay, where companies with a physical store also sell online. Some have very good refurbished product programmes and their wares tend to be more reliable than someone selling a one-off iPad which they claim to be in ‘perfect’ order, despite the photo showing a cracked screen. Read the descriptions carefully and check the photos, then take a good look at the feedback to see if the company’s description matches what their customers actually get.
6. The iOutlet
The iOutlet specialises in refurbishing secondhand phones and tablets and has a huge range of devices on offer in addition to an excellent Trust Pilot rating of 4.8. Its refurbished iPads fall into one of three categories – Grade A, B or C – with A being in excellent condition, with little sign of wear, B showing moderate signs of wear and C showing heavy signs of usage.
All of its devices come with a 12-month warranty, with the terms and conditions of what is covered by the warranty provided here.
What about buying secondhand, non-refurbished iPads?
You might be so used to shopping online by now that you’ve forgotten an excellent resource: your own friends and family. It’s worth sending out a group message or Facebook post into the ether to find out if anybody who you know (and, importantly, trust) is willing to sell you an old iPad that they no longer use. You could save a lot of money and skip the hassle of paying a stranger over the internet. Many people are too busy or too lazy to put their old iPad for sale online, so they might be more than happy to sell it to someone they know for much less than you’d find it elsewhere.
What about websites, though? Again, eBay is a great option – you just have to be careful who you buy from. If you don’t much care for the bidding system, Gumtree is another website with a perpetual supply of secondhand Apple merchandise. As many of Gumtree’s sellers require you to meet in person, and since you can’t always be sure of a product’s origin, there are some basic consumer tips you should know, which we will expand on below.
Tips for buying a secondhand iPad
You don’t want to pay all that money for an iPad only to get it home and find it doesn’t work. Before buying from private secondhand sellers, there are a few things you should think about in order to A) not get ripped off and B) not break the law by purchasing stolen goods. Here are some tips to ensure you make a legitimate purchase:
Ask for an original receipt or proof of purchase
This is a pretty foolproof way to ensure that the seller hasn’t stolen the iPad they are selling you. Buying stolen goods is a crime, and there are ways in which the iPad can be traced to you. Whether it’s a physical copy or a digital receipt, it will reassure you that this is a real Apple product and not an imitation. It will also help with warranty claims, as long as the warranty is still valid.
Check for a returns policy
You won’t find a private seller offering a returns policy, but some of the larger, more established shops on sites such as eBay may well offer some kind of policy allowing you time to send back your iPad and receive a full refund within a certain time window. This will give you that extra peace of mind when making such a large investment. But, again, have a read of the customer feedback to ensure that the seller actually honours their own policy!
Make sure the iCloud and user data has been removed
Don’t buy an iPad that is still tied to another person’s Apple iCloud account. You won’t be able to log in, as you won’t know the password, and the iPad will lock after several unsuccessful login attempts. If the seller refuses to log in to the iPad, wipe the data, and disconnect it from their personal iCloud account, then in all likelihood it’s probably because they don’t own it. In other words, it’s stolen.
Meet in an open, public space
If meeting a seller in person, ideally have somebody to come and back you up for added safety. Somewhere like a coffee shop or busy train station would be best. Lots of people, lots of CCTV, and broad daylight – those are your ideal conditions. If they suggest meeting underneath a bridge on a canal path after dark… then you probably don’t want to go.
If dealing with a private seller, then you should always try to pay via a secure method such a PayPal. This ensures that your money is going through a third party and that there is a record of the payment. Try to avoid cash-in-hand sales if you can.
Test it works
Finally, and we’re sorry if this is a pretty obvious one, if you are meeting up with a private seller then you should always test the iPad to make sure it works before confirming payment.
READ NEXT: Apple iPad Pro 12.9in (2020) review
Which iPad should I buy?
If you’re unsure about which iPad best suits your needs, then head on over to our Best iPad 2022 page. Because the list is dominated by Apple’s most recent offerings, you’ll be hard-pressed to find refurbished versions of some of them just yet. The 2022 Apple iPad Air 5, for example, is still in its first full year on the market. That said, you may be able to find refurbished models of the 2021 and 2020 iPads, as well as the Apple iPad Mini from 2021.
If you decide that even a refurbished iPad is a little outside your budget, you may want to head on over to our list of the best Android tablets, which features a number of great options under £150.