How to Buy a Refurbished iPhone

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Way back in 2007 when iPhones were first introduced I wrote 5 Money-Saving Reasons to Buy an iPhone. As a Mac Addict, I wanted to buy the iPhone when it first came out, and this article was my attempt to justify the big price tag. In the end, though, I decided to wait, and gave the following explanation:

At the risk of spoiling all this fun, let me add one last way to save money with the iPhone–WAIT! The price of the iPhone surely will go down, and I bet eventually you’ll be able to buy refurbished iPhones just like you can buy refurbished Macs, monitors and iPods.

That advice is as applicable today as it was then. As some stand in line for days to get at the iPhone 4, both the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS are available as refurbished models from AT&T at substantial savings. In fact, you can get a refurbished iPhone 3G for as little as $49 and a refurbished iPhone 3GS for as little as $99. And if you can wait for it, the refurbished iPhone 4 will eventually be available. Here are the current deals on iPhones from AT&T:

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There is one big difference today as compared to 2007. Back in 2007, I bought refurbished products directly from Apple. The problem was that availability was hit or miss. With AT&T wireless online, however, I found that the refurb iPhone is consistently available at an extremely low price.

Published or Updated: February 14, 2013
About Rob Berger

Rob founded the Dough Roller in 2007. A litigation attorney in the securities industry, he lives in Northern Virginia with his wife, their two teenagers, and the family mascot, a shih tzu named Sophie.

Comments

  1. mfm says:

    where do you buy referbished WINGS (cell phones? thanks

  2. Laura says:

    I need to purchase a cell phone and need the ESN number under the back cover under the battery… will you provide the number upon purchase.

  3. jason says:

    Do you know at what time, apple makes their posts? One of the apple reps I talked to over the phone told me that they post in the monring, but gave no specific time. I also heard from a freidn that they post at midnight, eastern time, but, when I call apple, they told me they are located in Austin, TX, so, standard time would seem more likely, but, I am not sure. Your help would be greatly appeciated, thanks.

    Jason.

  4. jehu says:

    they post at midnight pacific time, i used to buy ipods in bulk and would wait until 12am then refresh page and then buy 10 or so then check out as fast as i could then do it all over again.

    • DR says:

      jehu, thanks for the tip. For me, I’d have to stay up until 3 am, which is a tall order at my age.

  5. g-blogger says:

    If you are looking for availabilty of refurbished iphones then I would suggest tuesdays. Today is a tuesday and if you check apple website it is available!!!

    • DR says:

      g-blogger, thanks for the heads up, although I just checked, and they are out of stock, again. If you are in the market for a refurbished iPhone, keep checking.

  6. RM says:

    When you get a refurbished iphone from Apple are you required to get a contract??? I want one to unlock and use with anoter service provider.

    Thank you!!!!!

    • DR says:

      RM, I wasn’t required to get a contract when I bought mine.

  7. OA says:

    Do you know if refurbished iPHONEs from the Apple Website come unlocked? Thank you.

    • DR says:

      I don’t believe that they do, but you can unlock them yourself. It takes some time and a bit of nerve, but I unlocked mine. Check out this link and good luck: http://iphone.unlock.no/

  8. jacob says:

    when you purchase a refurbished iphone what is the physical condition like.

    • DR says:

      I bought a new iPhone because they were out of refurbished iPhones at the time. I did, however, buy a refurbished iMac a year ago (which I’m typing on now) and it’s been great. I’ll be buying a new laptop soon, and will definitely go the refurbished route. I couldn’t tell that my iMac was refurbished, and I’m betting the refurbished iPhones are the same.

  9. JP says:

    Check out AT&T’s website. You can buy a refurb’d iPhone for only $249 ($100 less than Apple’s site) and you do not even need a contract. The phones come unactivated, and you would only need to sign up for a contract when (if?) you activate the phone via iTunes, but if you jailbreak it beforehand you’re in the clear.

  10. john says:

    do you know if at&t has the refurbished iphones on tuesdays just like apple does

  11. Carina says:

    Okay so if you jailbreak it before you activate it then you can hook it up to Itunes right? It will still work?

    • DR says:

      Don’t know about that. I activated mine first.

  12. john says:

    hi i live in england how do i do it, john john jonh

  13. clarice says:

    I’m an existing AT&T customer and my account was available for an upgrade as of Nov 2010 so I decided I’d buy an I-phone then. After researching and speaking to a few reps at I decided to go with a refurbished 3GS . They go for as low as $29 on their website and as of last week I was able to buy one of the refurbished models. However yesterday when I went to actually place my order the refurbished models weren’t showing up as available to me. When I called AT&T they said their policy had JUST changed and are now offering the refurbished models to brand new customers only.
    I think that’s pretty crappy of them but am still interested in getting an I-Phone. Does anyone know where I can get a decent refurbished model?

    Thanks ,
    Clarice

  14. Josh says:

    I had the same issue today. Current AT&T customer, now out of contract and wanting to upgrade to a refurbished iPhone 4 – which are currently available to new customers at a savings of $70. Not only could 4 representatives across 3 departments NOT get me a refurbished phone, but no one cared enough about keeping me as a customer to offer the discount for the limited selection of phones they did make available to me. Got the message loud and clear AT&T – you want me to go to Verizon. I hope you get what’s coming to you, given your spotty cell reception and terrible customer service. New customers be warned.

  15. TG says:

    Some respondents were saying they could not get a refurbished price online at ATT. I think I know why. If you were an existing ATT Iphone customer you had the better valued data plan. ATT has changed the data policies and pricing, so new customers receive the discounted refurbished price, but subsidies that for a higher overall contracted cost via data plan. Hope this helps.

  16. Thanks for the tip. For me. I like Refurbished iPhone .

  17. CheddarMaker says:

    i came across this looking for bulk iphones, ipads and droids, does anyone know where i can find 100+ at a time for a good deal?

  18. Ronaldo says:

    “At the risk of spoiling all this fun, let me add one last way to save money with the iPhone–WAIT! The price of the iPhone surely will go down”

    As the author said, WAIT! It’s been 4 years since the article was first published and I’m still waiting.

  19. Wow that was unusual. I just wrote an extremely long comment but after I
    clicked submit my comment didn’t appear. Grrrr… well I’m
    not writing all that over again. Anyways, just wanted to say great blog!

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