Is a refurbished MacBook worth it? certified pre-owned MacBooks are the hidden gem of Apple products. Apple takes a lot of care when it comes to refurbishing old devices and reselling them.
Here’s why I think everyone buying a refurbished MacBook may be more worth your money than buying a new one.
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What does certified refurbished mean?
A certified refurbished MacBook is a returned MacBook that has been refurbished and quality checked to ensure good build quality and performance. These laptops have been returned to the store because something was wrong with them.
For a product to get this certification it has to pass a lot of quality checks to make sure the item is good enough for resale.
You can save quite a bit of money going this route. A new MacBook Air will cost you around $999 and a refurbished one will cost you $850, you can also save an additional $25 if you have an Apple card.
Open box items are items that were returned back to the store after a customer changed their mind. Often times these products still work fine and have no defects. Retailers won’t actually take these apart to see if there any problems with it so you have to be careful.
You can only get open box items from retailers and not Apple who only offer refurbished items.
No third-party stores are available to sell you a certified Apple refurbished MacBook, so it’s best to buy from Apple themselves. Places like Amazon or best buy won’t have the same warranty options that you can get when you buy straight from Apple.
Often times these MacBooks have not been tested by the retailers either.
Buying certified refurbished is environment-friendly and can be a conscious sustainability choice. This saves you money and also saves any negative impact on the environment.
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Is A Refurbished MacBook Worth it?
Often times these refurbished MacBooks have only been used for a short period of time and have minor defects like small scratches.
Other than that, the laptops are nearly identical to the new ones.
The refurbished MacBook comes with all the same accessories such as the charging brick, cable, and stickers that match your laptop’s color. Yes, these accessories are brand new as well.
The main things you want to make sure are good on a refurbished MacBook are the hinge, camera, keyboard, and trackpad. These are the four essential parts of the laptop that you want to make sure are working.
Most of the time all of these will be in pristine condition if you get a certified refurbished MacBook.
A lot of customers would have used their buyer’s rights and returned their laptop within 14 days which means very minimal use and damage. It could have also been a demo model used for display purposes.
You will be surprised to find out that the entire chassis is new and replaced in most cases, the only thing that is usually the same is the internal components.
Sometimes you can find tiny scratches or marks on the case but these are very hard to spot unless you are actively looking for them under good lighting.
However, these internal components are still great for performance as they have been tested thoroughly. The battery health is 100% normal and pretty much the same as a new product.
The only thing you don’t get is the official box with the product image on the front. Instead you get a basic Apple refurbished MacBook box.
Refurbished MacBooks have insane build quality. The hinges are perfect and sturdy. The screen is spotless and comes with the regular film protector that the new ones come with.
Even the speakers are in optimal condition and you won’t notice any difference compared to a new MacBook.
Every refurbished device from Apple is thoroughly cleaned by professionals. This also includes the inside of the laptop and the outside keyboard which is the dirtiest part. Internal cleaning is very important because I have had some old keyboards that had dead insects inside.
Removal of internal dust is also very important as it increases component speed and decreases heat. It also stops any short circuiting.
All devices also get sterilized and removed of any germs from previous use.
You can expect to get a 10-30% discount when buying a refurbished device. The price will be determined by the condition and age of the device. If it’s very old then you might be able to save even more. Generally the older the machine is the more discount you can get from it.
Prices will take into account the hardware components and any upgrades done to them.
Third-party sites usually offer cheaper discounts than what you can get from Apple.
Expect the reviews on these laptops to range very widely as no two refurbished devices will be the same. There may be some indicators of condition like Excellent, Very Good or Good.
Used MacBooks will be even cheaper but are a riskier choice. There is no promise that the components will have much life in them or that the build quality is good. You may not have any warranty with them either.
Sometimes refurbished MacBooks go for higher than new ones that are on sale. Make sure to do your due diligence and check around for any discounts before going refurbished.
Also, these refurbished MacBooks go out of stock fast, so you need to be quick.
Newer models won’t be in stock as much as the older models because the stock is determined on the amount of returns.
The model numbers of refurbished MacBooks start with the letter “F”. so keep this in mind if you are buying them online.
Be careful when purchasing because some stores offer used Macs as well as refurbished ones.
Also make sure you only purchase if you see it has the Official Apple Certification.
Expect low stock with these products as they are very high in demand. The stock amount is constantly fluctuating and you can only purchase limited amounts.
New products won’t come into refurbished stock for several months after it’s release, so don’t waste your time waiting for something that might not come. There could be supply constraints too causing 6 month delays after launch.
Don’t expect same day pickup for your refurbished MacBook because they are shipped from the warehouse not from the store itself.
Some stock has different hardware and components from each other. Older gen MacBooks might have components that are you unfamiliar with which means you might not expect the right level of performance from them.
Be ready to snipe one of these refurbished MacBooks as soon as stock becomes available and you may even want to turn on email notifications for stock updates.
You can use websites like Refurb. me to keep track of MacBook stock and know all the product details and models. Apple’s refurbished store can be tracked with this website and it lists the last dates that a restock occurred for your specific model.
It also lets you set up alerts to be notified when it’s back in store, this is something extremely useful and make sure to act quickly when you get the email.
Here is the list of countries that have the refurbished Apple shop available to them:
Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, Taiwan, United Kingdom & United States.
How does Apple Test Refurbished Products?
Apple makes sure to test all returned MacBooks for broken components and broken chassis before they resell them.
Any component that is broken will be replaced.
The 5 step process that Apple follows goes like this:
- Full functionality testing and replacing of broken parts
- Thorough inspection and cleaning process of the product.
- Repackaged with brand new accessories
- Includes OS that was with original product or sometimes a new OS
- Final QA inspection before the product is available for resale.
The storage disk is also fully wiped and formatted to prevent any legal issues in the case that there is something unlawful from the previous user of the laptop.
You can be assured of quality when purchasing from Apple directly compared to buying a second-hand MacBook on the Facebook marketplace or eBay. Returns are also available which would not be otherwise if you bought second-hand from somewhere else.
Warranty and Apple Care
Apple care and warranties are available for refurbished devices, however, expect a shorter period than what you would get with a new device.
You may get a free 365-day Apple care warranty included in the box with the refurbished device you have purchased. It might also include 90 days of one-phone support with the Apple team.
Within that period you can replace your laptop if there is something wrong with it such as internal problems.
Things such as faulty batteries that hold less than 80% charge can be refunded. It covers two accidental damages per year but I am unsure of the magnitude of these.
Don’t expect to get a refund if you drop the product too many times and it smashes though as this might not be included in the warranty.
If you purchase a refurbished MacBook with Apple care from a specific retailer, you will have to go to that retailer for any repairs you need instead of going to the Apple store.
This is a great option if you are unsure about refurbished products because it gives you a safety net in case something goes wrong with the device down the line.
Some retailers only offer a 90-day warranty. If you want the full 1-year warranty you have to get the Apple one. Apple care is usually $99 for 1 year which can be a bit costly if you are only saving $150 buying second hand.
I would recommend only getting one of these devices if you can get a warranty with it because there is some risk in terms of component quality and you never know if something could go wrong.
Be careful if you buy open-box MacBooks because you won’t be able to get a warranty on those. It will only come with the one that was with the original product which could be expired already.
You also get complimentary customer and technical support for any of your problems after purchasing. They also help with software installation and setup.
You get free returns within 14 days in case you change your mind and you also get the MacBook dispatched to you for free.
You can also save additional money by trading in old Apple products like iPhones, pads, and MacBooks to get store credit in return. Apple has a reuse and recycling program.
Available Refurbished Devices
The MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, iMac, iMac Pro, Mac mini and Mac Pro are available in refurbished condition.
iPads, iPad Pro, iPad mini, and iPad are also available. If you need an iPhone you can get the iPhone XR, iPhone 8, iPhone 8+, iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, and Pro Max too.
The Apple watch series 3, Apple watch series 4, Apple watch series 5, Apple watch series 6, iPod touch and Apple TV are also available too.
The Bottom Line:
Apple Refurbished MacBooks ARE worth it. The refurbished laptop is visually the same as a new one. It also performs very well and has incredible build quality. You can also buy Apple care for your refurbished MacBook to be even safer.
I think Apple is one of the few brands that you should trust when it comes to buying refurbished because they take very good care of their products.