How to Tell if an iPhone is Refurbished?

How to Tell if an iPhone is Refurbished

Part 1: Understanding Refurbished iPhones

Introduction to Refurbished iPhones

What comes to mind when you hear the term “refurbished iPhone”? A refurbished iPhone is a pre-owned device that has been returned due to a defect or could be a device traded in on an upgrade. These iPhones are repaired, thoroughly tested, and certified for resale by Apple or a third-party vendor if necessary. People often opt for refurbished iPhones as they offer a more affordable alternative to brand-new devices while still providing the high-quality performance that Apple products are known for.

Differences Between New and Refurbished iPhones

There are several key differences between new and refurbished iPhones. The most noticeable difference is the price. Refurbished iPhones are typically much cheaper than their brand-new counterparts. However, this doesn’t mean that they are of lower quality. All refurbished iPhones go through a rigorous refurbishment process to ensure they meet Apple’s high standards.

Another difference lies in the warranty. While new iPhones come with a one-year warranty, Apple’s refurbished iPhones come with the same coverage. This includes the device itself and the battery. However, third-party vendors may offer different warranty terms, so it’s always important to check.

Physical condition and packaging are other areas where differences might be noticeable. A refurbished iPhone may have minor cosmetic imperfections but will always be fully functional. The packaging of a refurbished iPhone may also be different. Instead of the original box and new accessories, the device might come in a generic box with aftermarket accessories.

How do iPhones Get Refurbished?

The refurbishment process of iPhones involves several steps. If Apple refurbishes the device, it undergoes a thorough cleaning, inspection, and repair process. Any defective parts are replaced with genuine Apple parts. The device is then tested to ensure it meets Apple’s quality standards before it’s repackaged with a new box and accessories.

Third-party refurbishment processes can vary. Some vendors may follow a process similar to Apple’s, while others may clean the device and ensure it’s functional. Buying from a reputable vendor is crucial to ensure you get a high-quality refurbished iPhone.

Benefits and Drawbacks of Buying a Refurbished iPhone

There are several benefits to buying a refurbished iPhone. The most obvious is cost savings. Refurbished iPhones can be significantly cheaper than new ones, making them a great option for budget-conscious consumers. Additionally, buying refurbished is an environmentally friendly choice, as it helps reduce electronic waste.

However, there are also potential risks and issues. For instance, buying from an unreliable source might end up with a device with underlying issues or poor battery life. It’s also possible that the device could have been stolen or found, leading to problems down the line.

Part 2: Identifying a Refurbished iPhone

Checking the iPhone’s Model Number

One way to tell if an iPhone is refurbished is by checking the model number. You can find this in the “Settings” app under “General” and then “About.” The model number will start with “M” if the iPhone is new, “F” if it’s refurbished, “N” if it was a replacement device, or “P” if it was personalized with engraving.

Using Apple’s Coverage Checker

Another method is to use Apple’s Coverage Checker. You’ll need to find the iPhone’s serial number in the “About” section of the “Settings” app. Once you have the serial number, enter it into the coverage checker, telling you if Apple’s warranty covers the device. If it is, the device is likely new or refurbished by Apple. If it’s not, it could be a sign that the device is older or refurbished by a third party.

Physical Inspection of the iPhone

A physical inspection of the iPhone can also provide clues. Look for any signs of wear and tear, such as scratches or dents. While refurbished iPhones are usually in good condition, they may have minor cosmetic imperfections. Also, check the iPhone’s packaging and accessories. If they’re not in their original packaging or the accessories look used, the iPhone might be refurbished.


Q: Are refurbished iPhones good to buy? A: Refurbished iPhones can be great, especially if Apple or a reputable third-party vendor refurbishes them. They’re thoroughly tested and repaired if necessary, often much cheaper than new iPhones.

Q: Can a refurbished iPhone have a new battery? A: If an iPhone’s battery doesn’t meet Apple’s standards during refurbishment, it will be replaced with a new one.

Q: Is there a way to tell if an iPhone is refurbished by checking its settings? A: You can check the model number in the iPhone’s settings. If the model number starts with “F,” the iPhone is refurbished.


In conclusion, determining whether an iPhone is refurbished involves checking the model number, using Apple’s coverage checker, and physically inspecting the device and its packaging. While buying a refurbished iPhone can save money and help the environment, buying from a reputable source is important to ensure you get a high-quality device. So, the next time you’re in the market for an iPhone, don’t overlook the refurbished options. They might offer the best value for your money.


  1. Apple’s Refurbished and Clearance Store
  2. Apple’s Check Coverage Page
  3. Apple’s iPhone Identifier Page


  1. “How to Check if Your iPhone is New, Refurbished, or a Replacement.” AppleToolBox. Accessed June 9, 2023.
  2. “How to Identify a Refurbished iPhone.” WikiHow. Accessed June 9, 2023.

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