Should you buy a refurbished iPhone? A lot of people shy away from refurbished electronics, but if you know what you are looking for, there are great deals to be had. Recently, I got the chance to go hands-on with a refurbished iPhone X, the first iPhone to feature Face ID, so I decided to write up a quick review to let you know about that experience.
About This Review
Recently, I was approached by Back Market to see if I would be interested in reviewing one of their refurbished iPhones. I have bought a lot of refurbished electronics over the years, and regular readers will know that I am a big fan of iOS, so I decided to take them up on their offer. They sent me a refurbished iPhone X (64GB) in Space Gray for the review, and I have been using it on and off for a couple of weeks. I do not get to keep the device, and I did not get paid for my opinions.
I also want to make it clear that this is not necessarily going to be a typical iPhone review. I am not going to go over all the features and specs of the iPhone X, simply because this phone was released in 2017 and those kinds of things are well-documented elsewhere. Instead, I am going to take a look at what this iPhone X would be like if you were to buy it as a refurbished device and use it as your own. So, let’s get started!
Packaging and Accessories
When it arrived, the iPhone X was securely packed, although not in original Apple packaging. This is fairly typical of refurbished devices and the important thing is that it arrived in good working condition and was not rattling around in a box while in transit. The phone came with a Hypergear Lightning cable and charging brick, which worked just fine in my testing.
Back Market list this iPhone as being in “Good” condition. Their scale runs from Stallone, (visible scratches on the body and screen, and maybe even some dents on the exterior), to Mint, (no scratches and have exteriors that look brand new). So this one runs in about the middle of that scale. Back Market say that an iPhone in Good condition may have light scratches on the body that could be visible from more than 8 inches away. For smartphones and tablets: the screen should be completely intact and without scratches.
The iPhone X that I received mostly reflects that. There are a few dings and light scratches, as you would expect, but for the most part, they were not very noticeable. Some of that was probably due to the dark color of this device. Most of them were on the back of the phone or along the edges. If you put this phone in a case, (as many people do), you would likely not notice them very much, if at all.
The screen, however, did have some light scratches. You don’t notice them when the screen is on, but if you angle the phone in just the right way, you would notice them when the screen is off. They were hard to photograph, but they were there. I know that scratches like this would bother some people more than others, but they are largely par for the course with a phone in this condition.
Otherwise, everything functioned exactly as it should. The dual cameras both worked well, as did Face ID, wireless charging, the touchscreen, and all the hardware buttons, (volume up/down and side button). I had no operational problems with this refurbished iPhone X in the time that I used it, so that was reassuring.
When you buy a refurbished iPhone, you should be sure to check the battery health. Apple included this information for all devices that support iOS 11.3 or later. It means that you can see how much life is left in your battery before it could be time for a replacement. If you’ve never done this before, here’s how that works:
- Open the Settings app
- Tap Battery
- Tap Battery Health
- Check the “Maximum Capacity” percentage
A brand new iPhone has a maximum capacity of 100%. Over time, this will degrade, simply because this is how lithium-ion batteries work. They don’t last forever. Apple says that a normal battery is designed to retain up to 80% of its original capacity, at 500 complete charge cycles, when operating under normal conditions. Back Market guarantee that your refurbished iPhone will have at least 80% battery when you receive it.
The refurbished iPhone X that I tested had a battery that showed 87% of its maximum capacity. I have seen, and used, devices from friends or family members that have got as low as 80%. Personally, I would not want one with a battery percentage that low. They tend to need top-up charges throughout the day, and can be prone to run slower than normal.
With a score of 87%, this iPhone X still has some gas in the tank, but if you did get to a point where you needed to replace the battery at some point in the future, you can do so at an Apple Authorized Repair Center for $69. The iPhone 8 Plus that I use as my daily driver has 95% of its maximum capacity after about 18 months of use.
Warranty and Returns
All Back Market iPhones come with either a 12 or 24 month warranty. There is also a 30-day money back guarantee. Once you receive your device, you have 30 days to give your device a test run. If it doesn’t meet your expectations, you can return it and get your money back, although return shipping costs are likely to be at your own expense, unless there is some kind of defect.
Pricing & Comparisons
According to the packing slip that came with this device, Back Market have this iPhone X listed at $421. This price is indicative of the condition of the phone, and I talked about some of those condition issues above. However, you don’t have to pay much more money if you want a device in better condition. For instance, I found a Mint iPhone X 64GB on their site for $434.
If you go to Apple’s Refurbished Store, the same iPhone X is available for $599. This is obviously a lot more money, but Apple’s refurbished iPhone stock come with all the original paperwork, Apple accessories, a new battery, a new outer shell, and a full one-year warranty that is also eligible for Apple Care. It is basically a brand new iPhone, but it is the same price as a brand new 2019 iPhone XR, so I can’t help but question the value proposition here.
If you look a little further afield, you will find that BestBuy currently have a similar offering at $439.99 that is listed as having some cosmetic blemishes. On Amazon an unlocked iPhone X in Space Gray with 64GB is $429.99 and the price drops to $409.99 if you opt for Silver instead of Space Gray. The product condition is listed as “like new”, and, like Back Market, it will have a minimum battery capacity of 80%. All refurbished devices on Amazon come with a 90-day warranty.
Back Market offer a 6% discount for students on all devices they sell, so bear that in mind if you have older kids looking for a new device. Alternatively, the first 100 readers of this blog post can use code TURBOFUTUREREFURB to get $10 off any purchase of $250 or more until April 27.
Should You Buy a Refurbished iPhone?
Personally, I don’t have any problems buying a refurbished iPhone if I know enough about the condition and history of the device. The phone I use now, an iPhone 8 Plus, was a refurbished device that I purchased from my cell phone carrier. It has worked flawlessly since I bought it. My iPhone was a customer return that was checked, cleaned, reset, and resold in “Like New” condition, so my experience of a refurbished iPhone has been overwhelmingly positive. I understand that not everyone will have the same experience, but when you shop smart, there are deals to be had.
If you are still on the fence, take a look at a recent article I wrote called, Should You Buy a Refurbished iPhone, iPad or Laptop? It covers the pros and cons of buying refurbished electronics and gives you a list of things to watch out for when shopping online.
Thanks again to Back Market for the loan of an iPhone X for this review.