Which gadgets to buy refurbished, how to buy them, and where

These days, it seems like there’s a never-ending conveyor belt of electronics circling our lives, but few of us can actually afford every device that catches our eye. Price tags on new gadgets are rarely reasonable. But if you take a dip into the refurbished market, you can get some of those gadgets at decent discounts, and if you’re careful, they’ll be indistinguishable from the new.

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If you stick to certain categories and only buy from reputable sources, you can get all sorts of great gadgets for less. Glancing at the refurbished section of the Apple Store right now, you can get a refurbished Apple Watch Series 2 for $470, which amounts to a $70 discount. You could also save $110 on an iPhone 6S Plus (64GB), or $140 on a 12.9-inch iPad Pro (128GB). The lower price point isn’t the only advantage. Refurbished goods have often undergone stricter testing than devices fresh off the production line, and so you’re less likely to encounter a lemon.

What does refurbished mean?

Many people are put off by the ‘refurbished’ tag, but it’s a blanket term that covers a lot of potential scenarios. All it really means is that the product has been returned. The manufacturer may have repaired a minor or a major fault. It may have been returned because there is cosmetic damage to the product. It could have been returned because the packaging was damaged. There’s also a chance that the buyer just changed his or her mind.

In many cases you’ll get a device that is as good as new.

The manufacturer will fully test the product and make any repairs that are deemed necessary. It will then clean the product up, reset the software to factory conditions where appropriate, and repackage it. In many cases you’ll get a device that is as good as new. You can also expect it to work every bit as well, and last as long, as a brand new product.