Is it Worth Buying a Refurbished iPad?

No. Refurbished iPads are the leading source of complaints about Apple products. Buying refurbished electronics, especially fragile ones such as tablets, is a complete gamble and even when the product is totally functional, it has a shorter lifespan.

Refurbished iPads often hide issues that cannot immediately be noticed, but that does not mean they are not there. It’s only a matter of time before you, the user, is faced with a hardware problem that cannot completely be solved unless some components are physically replaced. As I’m sure you are well aware of, Apple products are extremely expensive and more often than not, replacing parts is so costly that the repair is not worth it.

iPad Pro Display
iPad Pro Display

Once you get a refurbished iPad, the company responsible for refurbishing the device will do everything to make the tablet look as good as possible, this way you will not feel an immediate impulse to return it. At the moment you become used to the device, a few weeks, maybe months, have elapsed and this is when reality comes knocking. You have managed to save a couple dozen dollars and now have an iPad that does not work properly. Was it a good idea? Of course not!

What’s the price difference between a new iPad and a refurbished one?

Refurbished iPads are usually 23% cheaper than their brand-new counterparts.

Just take a moment to think about it. Is it worth it to take a huge risk simply to save 23% of your money?

Not to mention the fact that refurbished tablets are never as good as new ones. Meaning, even if you are one of the lucky people who get a refurbished iPad that works, you’re still not going to get a device that perform as well as a new one.

Apple is a premium company that sells premium products. If you like the brand, do not settle for sub-optimal devices, get the tablet as Steve Jobs envisioned it. You will thank yourself later.

What are the most common issues with refurbished iPads?

Scratched Screen

Firstly, the screen you get with a refurbished item is never as good as the one found in a new iPad. Screens are delicate and it’s nearly impossible to use a tablet for a decent amount of time while keeping its pristine conditions. So, if you opt for a refurbished iPad, you should definitely expect small scratches and sometimes even tiny cracks around the edges of the device.

Previous Owner Information

Another very common complaint is that iPads may come with pictures and videos from the previous owner. In some cases, email accounts may still be logged in. But the real problem emerges when pairing to iPad accessories such as the Apple Pencil becomes impossible because the refurbished device is already paired with another stylus.

If you are buying a refurbished iPad to a child, you must check whether the photo gallery is completely erased. It is also highly recommended that you do check the browser history in order to avoid exposing an underage person to inappropriate content.

Unreliable Hardware

From my experience, the number one reason why people try to get rid of their iPad is a hardware problem that cannot be easily solved. These issues usually emerge in an erratic, chaotic manner. And it’s precisely for this reason that you won’t notice them until it’s too late to get your money back.

Hardware unreliability can show its ugly face in countless different ways, but the most frustrating of them all is a faulty processor. The processor is pretty much the “brain” of the iPad, if it is not completely functional, the tablet will unequivocally start showing undesired behavior, it’s just a matter of time.

Let me give you an example, let’s suppose you’ve been using your refurbished iPad for weeks without any significant issues, but all of a sudden, the device start restarting by itself, starts crashing and maybe won’t even turn back on until you give it a couple of minutes.

You may not understand why this is happening, especially if you haven’t installed any new apps and if the tablets haven’t sustained any recent damage. Well, maybe you simply have a bad processor, and this is most likely the reason why the previous user has returned the iPad you currently bought as a refurbished product.

Why do people buy refurbished iPads?

New Apple iPad tablet

Because most people can convince themselves that they can get an iPad just as good as a new one, but for a lower price.

If there’s one thing life has taught me, especially when it comes to electronic devices, is that you get what you pay for. And if we take refurbished products as an example, you will often get even less than what you pay for.

I’m sure that eventually some people get really lucky and manage to buy a great refurbished iPad that does not have any significant downsides, but this is definitely not the rule, it’s the exception. Some people win the lottery, but that does not mean you win simply by buying a ticket. It’s all a matter of luck and I personally do not like to gamble.

What are the alternatives to a refurbished iPad?

There are three great ones, as long as you keep an open mind.

  1. Get a similar, but more affordable iPad
  2. Purchase a tablet from another company
  3. Wait a little longer and save to buy a new iPad

Get a Similar, But More Affordable iPad

Nowadays, there is a myriad of different iPads for sale. If the one you want is out of your price range, you should consider getting a similar alternative. Even if it does not have all the qualities from the device you want, it surely has a lot of them. iPads devices are quite similar to each other and unless you need it for work-related reasons, you probably won’t be able to notice a huge difference anyway.

If you like a large device that is much more affordable that most iPads, the iPad Air is probably the best option.

(Check price on Amazon)

Apple iPad Air
Apple iPad Air
iPad Air
Screen Size10.5 inches
Internal MemoryUp to 256 GB
Digital Pen (Stylus)Apple Pencil
Battery Life 10 hours
Operating SystemiOS

Purchase a Tablet from Another Company

I get it, iPads are great, but nowadays there are some many alternatives. Most apps work on different types of tablets, including Microsoft and Android ones. Unless you have a very specific reason for choosing an Apple product, you should consider other brands as well. This way you can pick devices that are almost as good as iPads but cost a fraction of the price.

Read this post about the 10 Best Standalone Tablets and you will get a better idea of all the options out there.

Wait a Little Longer and Save to Buy a New iPad

This is the least fun alternative, but perhaps the wisest one. I know you want to buy your iPad today, but getting a refurbished device should be out of the equation.

If you must buy an expensive tablet like an iPad Pro, please do it the right way! If it takes you 3, 4 or even 5 months to save enough money to get a brand-new device, just do it.

Brand-new iPads are fantastic. They are as good as advertised and you will be protected by the sort of guarantee that only exists for new products. If for any reason anything goes wrong with your iPad once you open its box, all it takes is sending Apple an email and your problem will be solved fast. Really fast.


Refurbished iPads are not worth it. Spending your money on refurbished tablets is a mistake that you don’t need to make. You don’t have to take my word for it, simply head to Amazon and read reviews about refurbished tablets. You will notice a huge amount of horror stories that could have been avoided if only people made the right decision to buy their electronics new.

Do you have any questions? Leave a comment below!  

Bruno Brasil

Hi! My name is Bruno. I'm a web developer/designer based in Toronto, Canada. I've been working with drawing tablets for over 20 years and I'm among the Top 10 Most Viewed Writers on Quora in the Graphics Tablets category. Do you have any questions? Just leave a comment =)

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