What's the Difference Between a Refurbished and New iPhone?

iphones stacked on top of each other

If you’ve been thinking about buying a refurbished iPhone, you’ve probably been wondering what the difference is between a refurbished and a new iPhone. We know it’s one of our customers’ top questions – you want to make sure you’re still getting a high-quality device.

The truth is, there are some differences – the main one being that they’re much cheaper! We’ll uncover the differences between a refurbished and new iPhone here.

Is a refurbished iPhone the same as new?

A refurbished iPhone isn’t quite the same as a new one. But none of these differences are bad, and neither do they affect the performance of your device. In fact, there are plenty of benefits to buying a refurbished iPhone over a new one.


The biggest difference between a refurbished and new iPhone is the cost. A brand new iPhone 13 with 512GB storage will set you back £1,079 – but a refurbished one starts at £749.95 at Ultimo Electronics. That’s over 30% off. With older iPhones, you could save up to 90% compared with buying a brand new device.

Cosmetic differences

With refurbished iPhones, there’s a chance you’ll see a few minor marks on your device compared with a brand new one. If you buy a Very Good condition iPhone (sometimes called a grade A from other sellers) from our website, it will look nearly new. There may be some feint scratches to the device, but they will only be visible from close range. There certainly won’t be any cracks, deep scratches or dents.

Depending on the grade of iPhone you buy, a refurbished iPhone can look nearly new – and is available at a fantastic cost compared to buying a brand new phone. We’ve got more information about our refurbished grades on our blog.


One of the biggest differences between a refurbished and a new iPhone is the impact on the planet. When you buy a refurbished iPhone, you’re extending its lifespan, saving it from being sent to landfill.

E-waste is becoming a huge problem because when it is sent to landfill, harmful chemicals can leach into the soil and affect plant life and our water supply. And even when it is sent off to be recycled, it is often sent to low- to middle-income countries, where poorly-enforced regulation can lead to health problems for the workers that are sorting through these iPhones.

Buying refurbished has a large impact on your carbon footprint too. When you buy a refurbished iPhone instead of a new one, you could save up to 73kg in carbon emissions, based on buying a brand new iPhone 14 Pro Max.

Being more eco-friendly is important to us here at Ultimo Electronics, which is why we do our best to refurbish every single iPhone that comes through our doors to give it a new lease of life.

No contracts or monthly payments

woman holding iphone with painted nails
Another great difference between a refurbished and new iPhone is that there is no contract or monthly payments with a refurbished device. Simply pay for your iPhone and you’re settled up!

However, we understand that although refurbished iPhones are cheaper than new ones, it can still be a large upfront cost to cover. That’s why we offer Klarna as a payment option, allowing you to pay in 3 interest-free instalments or pay in 30 days.

The other benefit to there being no contracts is that you can change your iPhone whenever you like, without worry about having to pay extra fees – although we’d recommend using your iPhone until it comes to the natural end of its life to minimise your impact on the environment.

We hope that clears up the differences between a refurbished and a new iPhone for you! Overall, we think buying a refurbished iPhone is great for your pocket and the planet. But here are some other questions our customers frequently ask us.

Does a refurbished iPhone have a new battery?

Not necessarily. Refurbished iPhones from reputable sellers will come with a minimum battery health – for us, that’s 70% health. The battery will function as expected and still has a long life ahead of it at this rate.

However, when we test our iPhones, if the battery health is less than 70% we will replace the battery. This battery will be an after-market equivalent that will function exactly as intended. If you buy an iPhone XS or above, you may see the message ‘unable to verify this device has a genuine Apple battery.’ This message will appear after every restart of the phone for 2 weeks, but after that will remain hidden in your battery settings.

If you’re really worried about battery health or need a high-performing battery in your iPhone, you can upgrade your refurbished iPhone when you purchase it from us and we’ll replace the battery with a new, 100% health one.

Is it better to buy a used or refurbished iPhone?

It’s definitely better to buy a refurbished iPhone over a used one. That’s because a ‘used’ iPhone could simply be someone’s old iPhone that they’ve had hanging around in a drawer for years, and hasn’t been tested or repaired.

Used iPhones are generally sold on online marketplaces like eBay, Facebook or Gumtree. There’s no telling what their condition might be or what the performance will be like. When you buy a refurbished iPhone, it’s been through rigorous testing and repair if necessary.

The other thing to bear in mind with used iPhones is that they won’t come with a warranty. So even if you use the iPhone for a day and it stops working, you’ll have little rights and certainly won’t be able to get it repaired for free.

At Ultimo Electronics, all our refurbished devices come with a 12-month warranty. You can even upgrade to a 24-month warranty for peace of mind. Read our warranty terms to find out more about what’s covered.

How long do refurbished iPhones last?

How long a refurbished iPhone will last depends on the model and how much you use it. If you’re a moderate user and you buy a relatively new model of iPhone, it could last as long as a new one would.

It will also depend if you want your iPhone to support the latest iOS. Apple tends to give 5 years of iOS updates on its iPhones before stopping support, so that’s also something to bear in mind when choosing which refurbished iPhone to buy.

However, you can still use an iPhone that doesn’t support the latest iOS – you just won’t get new features or security updates, and some apps might begin to stop working after a while.

Are refurbished iPhones slower?

Refurbished iPhones might be a little slower, but they shouldn’t be slow enough to notice with normal use. If you would like to try to speed up your iPhone, you can try enabling the ‘reduce motion’ setting that reduces the animation you get when you open another app on your phone. This will also save the battery!

Also remember to delete any unused apps and backup your photos and videos onto iCloud rather than keeping them on your iPhone.

So, hopefully you know now that while there are differences between a refurbished and a new iPhone, these aren’t bad differences at all! Refurbished iPhones are great for the planet and your pocket, and we’d encourage anyone to give a refurbished iPhone a go.