How to Buy a Used iPad

How to Buy a Used iPad

Are interested in learning how to purchase a used iPad? If so, you probably have some questions such as:

  • What is a new vs. refurbished iPad?
  • What type of wear or abuse should I look for?
  • How much should I be expecting to pay
  • Where should I buy a used or refurbished iPad?

There is a very large market for pre-owned iPads and great deals can be found. The key is finding a lightly used unit for a good price with as much buyer protection as possible. Read down as we answer each of the questions above.

What is a new vs. refurbished iPad?

This is a commonly asked question and one that is easy to answer. A used iPad is simply one that was purchased brand new and removed from it’s packaging (shrink-wrap, etc.). It may have only been turned on once or it may have never been turned off since it was turned on a year ago. When buying a used iPad, you are buying the unit as-is.

A refurbished iPad is somewhat different as it a used iPad that has been reconditioned and tested for functionality. A good refurbishing company will thoroughly clean and test out the unit. It may even need to repair or replace certain components that are not working 100% or have been damaged. Typically refurbished units sell for more than their used counterparts. The upside is that for that additional premium the refurbished units typically come with some type of limited warrantee.

What type of wear or abuse should I look for?

Whether buying a new or refurbished iPad, it is important to thoroughly inspect the unit. I highly recommend checking our the complete used iPad checklist to help with this. Keep in mind that this inspection does not have to be a physical inspection, although it is ideal. An inspection can also be accomplished via email or phone communication along with pictures.

When inspecting a previously owned iPad, the first thing to check for is obvious signs of damage or abuse beyond the normal expected wear. Look for cracks in the case or on the screen. Inspect all of the corners and edges for scrapes, dents, and other signs of a dropped iPad. If you see any signs that the iPad was dropped or suffered more than typical wear, stay away. A few minor scratches here and there can be expected for a 1+ year old iPad, although it is up to you whether it is not acceptable. Keep in mind that you can always purchase an iPad case to cover up any scratches on the case.

Pay careful attention to the screen as this is what you will be looking at most of the time. Look for any signs of moisture or dirt behind the screen as these are things that you do not want to deal with.

If you are inspecting the iPad in person, ask to turn on the unit and check that everything works probably. Be sure to test the home button (pressing both once and a quick double tap to check multitasking) as this is the mostly commonly used physical button and wears the fastest. Also check the volume buttons, mute switch, and lock switch. Spend a bit of time just switching between app pages and opening a few apps to ensure everything is working properly. If you are unable to inspect in person, ask for a written confirmation that everything works like new.

For all of our used iPad buying inspection tips wrapped into a neat little list, check out our used iPad checklist.

How much should I be expecting to pay?

A used or reconditioned iPad will obviously cost you less than a brand new united with comparable specifications. Refurbished models will cost more than used models that have not been refurbished. The extent of these discounts will relate directly to the age, model, and condition of the unit. Keep in mind that if you are looking at buying a used high-end iPad, you may be able to purchase a new lower model iPad for nearly the same price.

Where should I buy a used or refurbished iPad?

There are many locations, mostly online, where you can purchased a pre-owned iPad. Whatever type of iPad you are looking for, be sure to shop around at multiple locations to ensure the best price. The Apple Store (whether online or a physical location) will be the first stop for many people interested in purchasing a reconditioned iPad.

Other online retailers such as Amazon, eBay, and others are a great way to quickly look through many listings of used iPads. In addition to the convenience of being able to shop from home, most of these retailers offer various types of buyer protections such as product guarantees and the ability to return a product. The drawback to online retailers is that you are unable to inspect the product in person, however a guarantee that the product will look and function as-described can help to offset this. Be sure to only purchase a unit online when you have looked at multiple images of the exact iPad you will be purchasing (and not stock photos).

If you are purchasing a refurbished iPad, make sure that you clearly understand what the reconditioning process entails as this will vary between different companies. The Apple Store sells refurbished iPads and includes a new battery and outer shell as part of its refurbishing process. Refurbished units from the Apple store come with a 1-year warranty.


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