How can I tell if an iPhone is refurbished?
March 24, 2010 6:45 PM   Subscribe

How can I tell if an iPhone is refurbished?

My iPhone 3G died last week. I took it to the cellphone company (TELCEL, as I'm in Mexico) and, since my warranty has expired, they charged me $260 dollars and told me I'll be getting a new one next week. I told them I don't want a refurbished phone or the same one if it's fixed — at that price I can get a new 3GS with a new contract. But I don't trust them. At all. The guy I talked to kept insisting that I'd get a new one because iPhones can't be fixed, which is not true.

So I need a way to tell if the new phone they give me is really new; otherwise I won't accept it. The problem is that if I take the phone and leave, only to find out later that it's refurbished, they will never give me my money back.

Is there even a way to know this right away, or am I at the company's mercy?
posted by Penks to Technology (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Check the serial number. "Refurbished iPhones Begin with 5K, 7K, or 8K." (last message in the thread)
posted by jedicus at 6:53 PM on March 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

My refurbished iPhones have all come in plain boxes as opposed to the fancy ones the new ones come in.

They completely replace the glass and back plastic and the refurbed iPhone is wrapped in plastic just like a new one. It would be pretty much impossible for you to tell the difference from a new one w/o access to some Apple database. They take the parts that they can salvage and use them on the refurb units.

The $260 price is indicates to me that you'll be getting a refurb. Out of warranty replacements in the US cost $199 which is close enough to the markup/IVA/etc I've seen on other electronics sold in Mexico. A new iPhone in the US is $499 w/o a new contract.

I wouldn't worry too much about the phone being a refurb. Like I said, you can't tell the difference from a brand new one cosmetically. I've had refurbs and they're just as good as a new one.
posted by birdherder at 7:02 PM on March 24, 2010

Same as birdherder, the refurb I ended up with once was a plain box and not a fancy one. A refurb can actually be better than a brand new one. A brand new one does not get tested and checked in detail by a human the way a refurb does.
posted by dayintoday at 7:07 PM on March 24, 2010

Response by poster: My main concern with a refurb is battery life. The last few months with my old one, a full charge wouldn't last me the whole day.

That link was exactly what I needed, jedicus. Thank you. I'll print it and take it with me when I pick it up.

Out of warranty replacements in the US cost $199

Then it appears I'm getting a refurb. Maybe it's not so bad; I'll probably use it until I can get an unlocked CDMA Nexus One and switch carriers then (I really, really hate TELCEL).

Thanks, all. You've been very helpful.
posted by Penks at 7:38 PM on March 24, 2010

I'm not sure if the policies are the same out of the US, but Apple refurbed iPhones have a full 1 year warranty, so if you have any battery issues, just have them give you a new one. AT&T refurbs are 90 days. You may want to check on whos warranty you are covered under.
posted by wongcorgi at 4:48 AM on March 25, 2010

My iPhone got replaced at the Apple Store after my camera went ... green.

Anyways, I got a refurb out of it on the spot. The refurb they gave me has been better in every way than my original "new" iPhone, and has held battery life much better too.
posted by smitt at 8:32 AM on March 25, 2010

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