Refurbished electronics are a great way to save a couple of bucks on the latest gadgets. And iPhones are no exception. Not only are they priced beneath their never-been-owned counterparts, but they too come with a warranty, just in case. There can be a lot of value in refurbished Apple products, especially for Apple fans on a budget.
But for a newly-released item, you of course have to wait until the first wave of people not only buys the product, but uses it and decides to return or sell it. Thus, if you're waiting for a refurbished iPhone 5, you may be anxiously wondering: How long until deals for refurbs start popping up? To determine when we can expect the first refurb iPhone 5 promotion, and how much it will be discounted, we combed through our archives of refurbished iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S deals. Here's what we found.
Surprisingly Quick Deals on iPhone 4 RefurbsThe iPhone 4 debuted exclusively for AT&T customers on June 24, 2010 at a price point of $199 for the 16GB model and $299 for the 32GB. Somewhat surprisingly, it only took just 10 weeks to then see our first refurbished iPhone 4 deal. In September, AT&T Wireless cut $49 off the phone and brought the 16GB to $149 and the 32GB to $249.
These prices then held steady until Black Friday 2010, when another $50 was lopped off iPhone 4 refurbs, bringing them to $99 and $199 respectively, or $100 under the cost of new units. We also saw an identical price for refurbished models on Christmas that year, but that promotion also included a special price cut on refurbs with blemishes; this dropped prices to as low as $79. However, $99 remained the median price for a refurbished 16GB iPhone 4 until shortly after the iPhone 4S was released.
After the 4S debuted, the newly obsolete iPhone 4 16GB refurbs sunk to their all-time low price of $49.99 during Black Friday 2011. However, like many Black Friday offerings, this discount didn't last long, and the phone returned to $99 in January of 2012. This was the last deal we listed for a contract-based refurbished 16GB iPhone 4; since then, we have only found deals for out-of-contract refurbished units.
Refurb iPhone 4S Deals Take a Bit Longer to AppearThe iPhone 4S debuted on October 14, 2011, and unlike the 10 weeks required to see refurb iPhone 4 deals, it was nearly four months until we saw the first iPhone 4S refurb. In February 2012, we found a deal on refurbished higher-capacity iPhones: prices on the 32GB and 64GB phones were trimmed by $49 a piece. Curiously, though, we didn't see a deal for a refurbished 16GB unit two months later — a full six months after the release of the 4S — when it too fell $50 under its retail price to $149. It remained comfortably at $149 until this past September.
Unlike the iPhone 4, which saw no initial refurbished out-of-contract or unlocked deals, we saw a plethora of refurbished out-of-contract iPhone 4S deals, starting with a $149 price drop on Valentine's Day 2012 for the 16GB model, four months after it hit shelves. It only took another month for us to see the lowest total price on a refurbished unlocked iPhone 4S, when that 16GB model hit rock-bottom at $449.99. It's interesting to note that we never saw a refurbished out-of-contract 32GB or 64GB iPhone 4S.
When Will We See Deals for a Refurb iPhone 5?Apple's latest member of the iPhone family fell into the hands of nearly 5 million consumers just this past September. And while many fans paid full price, we're sure a number of you are still curious about what the iPhone 5's refurbished price point will be in the coming months.
Presently we've only seen one iPhone 5 deal period, offered by Walmart, and it was for a new unit. But these things take time. Although the iPhone 4 saw its first refurb deal 2.5 months after its debut (possibly attributable to "antennagate"), we expect to see refurbished iPhone 5 deals arrive no sooner than in four months. Around that time, we predict that most models will receive a $50 price cut, with the 16GB checking in at around $150. So if you're waiting for a refurbished iPhone 5, you can set your reminders for around mid-January, just after Christmas 2012.