What Is the Difference Between the iPhone & a Refurbished iPhone?

Written by andrew aarons
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The word "refurbished" makes some consumers uneasy, as though anything less than new is somehow defective. But Apple's refurbished products are guaranteed by the manufacturer, come with a standard warranty and all of the special features of Apple Care service plans, if you wish. The key difference between an iPhone and a refurbished iPhone is that the latter has been back to an Apple factory to be checked and certified as working.

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The iPhone

As of May 2011, Apple has released four versions of the iPhone, with the iPhone 4 being the most recent. The iPhone 4 includes new features like HD video recording (up to 720p resolution), a relatively high-definition screen at 960 by 640 pixels and Apple's FaceTime video calling software, which uses a small video camera in the front of the phone to connect you to your friends and family. These features built on the touch-screen interface and collection of applications that made the iPhone famous as the world's first smartphone.

Apple's Refurbished Products

A refurbished iPhone 4 is exactly like a brand-new iPhone 4, except that it has been sent back to Apple -- for any number of reasons -- and then checked, repackaged and shipped back out for sale. All of Apple's refurbished products have been sold before and then returned, but the company insists that only a small number of the returned products have been sent back for technical issues.

The Refurbishing Process

Apple subjects all of its returns to the same process. If an iPhone was returned for a technical issue, the defective modules are replaced with new parts (or parts from other returned iPhones) after testing. Apple cleans all of the iPhones and inspects them before performing a full "burn-in," which involves reinstalling all of the system software and testing all primary functions. Refurbished iPhones then get a new serial number and part number and undergo final quality assurance testing before being added to Apple's official refurbished stock list.

Refurbished iPhone 4

Apple is so confident that its refurbished products are as good as new that it backs the iPhone 4 -- and any Apple-refurbished device -- with its standard one-year warranty, called a "Limited Warranty." All Apple products come with this basic warranty, but you can purchase additional coverage for your refurbished iPhone. Apple sells Apple Care Protection Plans for all of its hardware, including its refurbished products.

Certified Products

Beware if your refurbished iPhone doesn't say "Apple Certified." Every device that passes through Apple's quality assurance becomes an Apple Certified Refurbished Product. If another company has refurbished an iPhone, it won't come with the same Apple guarantee or warranty.

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