As prices keep going up and wages are seemingly adopting the opposite strategy, buying new tech can be more of a challenge these days. One way to ensure you get a decent tablet without having to sell a kidney in the process is via refurbished models.
These often come from big-name retailers, offer warranties, and can save you a tidy amount of cash in the process. But is it safe you go down this route? Here’s our quick guide on why and where you should buy a refurbished tablet.
What is a refurbished tablet?
As the name suggests, these are devices that may have been originally sold to someone, then returned – either with a fault of some kind, because the customer changed their mind, or as a trade-in to buy new tech.
These will then have any faults fixed, have some parts like batteries and displays replaced, and are offered to customers as refurbished devices.
Is refurbished the same as second-hand?
Refurbished devices aren’t exactly the same as second-hand or used, generally speaking. That’s because they have had parts replaced and problems fixed, meaning they’re often not only as-new, but genuinely feature some brand-new components.
Used or second-hand tech, on the other hand, might only have been cleaned since the last owner had it – and not necessarily even that. That means non-refurbished tech is more likely to have visible damage or blemishes, or have faults in its performance.
You also get less security and protection when buying used tech, especially on places like Gumtree, Craigslist, or Facebook Marketplace, as the sellers there rarely offer warranties or money-back guarantees.
For more information on the differences, read our refurbished vs second-hand comparison.
Is it safe to buy refurbished tablets?
Yes, so long as you use a reputable store. We’ll list some good options below, but just know that there’s a growing market for refurbished devices, with the sellers offering full warranties if anything goes wrong, so you won’t be left with a dud on your hands. Several members of the Tech Advisor team have bought refurbished items over the years and haven’t had any issues at all.
Unless you’re buying directly from the manufacturer, such as Apple or Samsung which have refurb programs, there’s no guarantee that all refurbished devices will come with original parts. But to be honest, third-party components are often an excellent alternative.
The thing to look for when going down the refurbished route is the kind of protection the seller offers, plus the descriptions of how it classifies a refurbished item, so you know what condition the tablet is in.
Not all warranties are the same though, so be sure to check how long the seller is offering before you buy. Many these days come with 12-month coverage, but we have seen shorter ones, so read up first to avoid any disappointment later if things don’t do to plan.
Is buying refurbished tech eco-friendly?
It most certainly is. Ensuring that existing devices get a longer lifespan rather than being dumped in a landfill means less e-waste and lower volumes of newer devices needing to be built. Save money and the planet. Not a bad combination.
Where should I buy a refurbished tablet?
There’s a good selection of options around these days for refurbished tablets. Here are some of the best.
With the iPad being the best-selling tablet out there, this is probably the best place to start. Apple has a Refurbished and Clearance section on its online store, in which you’ll usually find a good selection of its tablets on offer, as well as iPhones, Macs, Apple Watches and other devices.
The company offers discounts of around 15% on the new price of an iPad, with a full one-year warranty that is the same as when buying a brand-new device. One thing to note, Apple only tends to offer last-generation devices on the refurbished store, so it’s unusual to find anything from its current catalogue.
Visit the Apple Refurbished store
Amazon is another giant or retail that has seen how refurbished devices are a great deal for customers. It has a different name for the category, which it calls Amazon Renewed, and encompasses both refurbished and second-hand items.
Amazon rates the condition of the device as Excellent, Good or Acceptable, with the first option being in like-new condition, with a battery condition of at least 80% of what it was when brand new. You get a one-year warranty where the company will refund of replace the device if it doesn’t work as expected.
While it might not be as out-of-the-box experience as that offered by Apple for iPads, the greater range of choice, as well as Android tablets, makes it a great option for those that want to pick up a bargain.
Visit Amazon Renewed store
eBay now has its own Certified Refurbished section of its site, where you can pick up tablets, as well as a whole range of electronic goods, for some decent savings. The webpage promises potential discounts of up to 30%, all covered with a 12-month guarantee from the seller.
eBay describes its offerings as follows: ‘Certified Refurbished items are in a pristine, like-new condition and are inspected, cleaned and refurbished by the
manufacturer or a manufacturer-approved vendor.’ They are also covered by eBay’s 30-day money back guarantee if you’re not happy with the device.
Visit eBay Certified Refurbished store
musicMagpie / Decluttr
Depending in which region you live, musicMagpie (Europe) or Decluttr (North America) is another great option if you want to pick up refurbished tech.
The company states that all devices have to pass over 90 different tests to be eligible for its Certified Refurbished program, which is accompanied by a one-year warranty and 14-day money back guarantee if you’re not satisfied with the product.
Decluttr/musicMagpie has three condition grades for devices, so you know exactly what you’re getting. These are Pristine, Very Good and Good. If you want a like-new product, go for Pristine, but if you don’t mind a few minor marks or scratches (which could most likely be covered up by a case) then you can save more money on the Very Good or Good tiers.
Visit musicMagpie / Decluttr store.
One of the newest companies to join the refurbished revolution is Back Market. Like others on this list, it takes older and used devices and has them restored and then thoroughly tested so you can get a great tablet for less than the standard price of a new one. This is done by hosting products from other resellers which have returned products to their former glory.
It employs something called a Black Label mark that potential refurbishers have to attain before being able to sell products through the Back Market site. This denotes they have reached the quality of workmanship acceptable to Back Market. The site says that it constantly monitors the products offered by refurbishers, even going as far as anonymously purchasing ones from the site to ensure that standards are not dropping.
Like with musicMagpie/Decluttr, there are three condition grades which represent the aesthetic and technical state of the product on offer, each comes with a one-year guarantee and you have 30 days to change your mind and return the item for a full refund.
Visit Back Market store
To see which devices are the ones to look for, read our best tablets roundup.