How to distinguish a refurbished iPhone

Is it worth sav­ing by buy­ing a refur­bished iPhone? What prob­lems can this lead to? And how can you tell if the sell­er isn’t try­ing to give you a refur­bished iPhone as a new one at full price? Let’s under­stand every­thing thor­ough­ly
How to distinguish a refurbished iPhone
Pho­to: Pix­abay

Buy­ing an orig­i­nal iPhone at a dis­count of sev­er­al thou­sand rubles is a dream for those who are eager to have an excel­lent gad­get, but are not ready to lay out their last sav­ings for it. Since 2016, Apple in Rus­sia has been offi­cial­ly sell­ing smart­phones marked “like new”. Also referred to as a refur­bished iPhone or “CPO” mod­el.

Why restore iPhone

Every year, thou­sands of dam­aged smart­phones arrive at Apple’s part­ner fac­to­ry from autho­rized ser­vice cen­ters around the world. In some mod­els, the cam­era does not work, in some the sen­sor is junk, some­where the touch­screen does not work. These phones are not sent to land­fill or destroyed.

Apple spe­cial­ists com­plete­ly change all non-work­ing parts and mod­ules (we are not talk­ing about repairs, this is only a 100% replace­ment). Then the case, the screen are com­plete­ly updat­ed, the iPhone soft­ware is rein­stalled. The device receives a new ser­i­al num­ber, it is packed in a new box, with new head­phones and a charg­er. This is now an orig­i­nal Cer­ti­fied Pre-Owned refur­bished smart­phone backed by a 1 year war­ran­ty.



By the way, experts assure that brand new iPhones often get to the fac­to­ry for restora­tion, in which they found some kind of fac­to­ry defect. That is, they were nev­er used, and the faulty part was even­tu­al­ly replaced with a com­plete­ly new one. And such a prac­ti­cal­ly new gad­get costs 10–15% cheap­er. For many, this argu­ment becomes deci­sive when buy­ing. But many Apple lovers are not eager to buy a used mod­el and are afraid that the restored iPhone (refur­bished) will be sold to them under the guise of a new one in a hard­ware store for the usu­al price. How not to make a mis­take when choos­ing and buy exact­ly what you need at the moment?

Good to know

How to dis­tin­guish an orig­i­nal iPhone from a fake

How to distinguish a refurbished iPhone from a new one when buying in a store

If you make a pur­chase on the Apple web­site, then you can be sure of the hon­esty of the sell­er. Anoth­er thing is if you have looked into an offline store and are not ready to over­pay for an unnec­es­sary gad­get. In order not to be deceived, it is use­ful to remem­ber a few rules.

The eas­i­est way to tell a refur­bished iPhone from a new one is to look at its box. The pack­ag­ing of the new iPhone will have a pic­ture (pic­ture of the phone). The box from a refur­bished (“like new”) iPhone will be just white, with­out pho­tos. At the bot­tom of the box it says Apple Cer­ti­fied Pre-Owned.

Every­thing about the smart­phone will tell the infor­ma­tion on the label. The mod­el num­ber of a refur­bished iPhone starts with the let­ter F. The num­ber of new phones starts with the let­ter M or P if it is an exclu­sive ver­sion. Before the name of the smart­phone, RFB is writ­ten — this is an abbre­vi­a­tion for the word refur­bished. If the label is past­ed crooked­ly, if it is crum­pled or it is clear that they tried to tear it off — all this is a rea­son to think.

Look in the phone set­tings: in the “Gen­er­al — About device” sec­tion, the mod­el num­ber is also writ­ten. It must match the num­ber on the pack­age. Con­nect the device to iTunes, the pro­gram will issue the orig­i­nal num­ber, which will def­i­nite­ly not be able to be replaced. You can view the num­ber in the “infor­ma­tion” sec­tion when con­nect­ed to iTunes.

iPhone XS and XR

These refur­bished iPhone mod­els are not sold in Rus­sia. If you are offered a refur­bished iPhone XS or iPhone XR in a Russ­ian store, be care­ful and be sure to check that the mod­el num­ber match­es on the box, in your phone set­tings, and in iTunes.

iPhone X

Since Decem­ber 2018, refur­bished iPhone X can be found on the shelves of offi­cial Apple resellers in Rus­sia. Sav­ings up to 15%. On aver­age, Russ­ian sell­ers throw off about 6–7 thou­sand rubles. The “like new” iPhone X box will not have a pic­ture of the phone, the pack­ag­ing is pure white, with an inscrip­tion on the front. In appear­ance, such a smart­phone will not dif­fer from a com­plete­ly new one. There is no infor­ma­tion about the restora­tion of the mod­el on the body of the device itself.

iPhone 8

Refur­bished iPhone 8 is not a very pop­u­lar mod­el. Recall that the mod­el became obso­lete even at the pre­sen­ta­tion. Apple, releas­ing the eight, has­tened and showed the future iPhone X. But still, lovers of “apple prod­ucts” bought these smart­phones, and some of them end­ed up in restora­tion at the fac­to­ry. By the way, today this phone is still on top in terms of fill­ing. The Apple A11 Bion­ic proces­sor is espe­cial­ly good in them, which out­per­forms the Android Snap­drag­on 845.

Users and cam­eras appre­ci­at­ed, 8 Plus even has a unique dual pho­to mod­ule. Pho­tos on it are bet­ter than the flag­ships on Android. Refur­bished iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus also come with a one-year war­ran­ty and new acces­sories. The box also does not have a pic­ture, we remind you that the let­ters RFB on the label before the name of the device indi­cate that the mod­el has been restored.

iPhone 7

The refur­bished iPhone 7 and 7Plus are pop­u­lar in the Russ­ian mar­ket, the dis­count on such a device reach­es 15% and this is a pret­ty good price. In addi­tion, this mod­el was pop­u­lar in its time, and it is pre­cise­ly such phones that are now often rent­ed out by own­ers under the trade-in pro­gram. So, it is they who most often end up in the fac­to­ry. So sell­ers are tempt­ed to sell a refur­bished iPhone 7 for the price of a new one.



In order not to fall for this bait, care­ful­ly look at the box. There will be no image of the phone on it, the white box is a sign of the RFB mod­el. Check the phone’s IMEI on one of the check­ing sites. For exam­ple imeidata.net. This num­ber can be seen on the label on the pack­ag­ing of the device, as well as when iTunes is con­nect­ed (of course, this is unlike­ly to be done in the store).

How to distinguish a refurbished iPhone from a repaired one in a service center

In addi­tion to a fac­to­ry refur­bished iPhone, there is an iPhone sell­er refur­bish­ing. When buy­ing such a gad­get, you take a risk, since it is not known who exact­ly was involved in the repair of the smart­phone. Most often, “recov­ery from the sell­er” is car­ried out by com­pa­nies that are active­ly buy­ing up smart­phones, promis­ing a new one with dis­counts. Then a new one is assem­bled from three old iPhones on the knee. This can be done even in an ordi­nary ser­vice cen­ter, anoth­er ques­tion is that they will not give any fur­ther guar­an­tees here, nor will they bear any respon­si­bil­i­ty for the result. Post-repair tests are far from going as well as we would like.
How do you tell a fac­to­ry refur­bished iPhone from a refur­bished one?

  • Check the mod­el num­bers in the phone set­tings, on the box and in iTunes;
  • Check iTunes to see if your smart­phone is already reg­is­tered. “Reset” the entire his­to­ry of the ser­i­al can only be at the fac­to­ry. A “refur­bished” iPhone is always sold unac­ti­vat­ed, just like a reg­u­lar new smart­phone;
  • To see when the smart­phone you are sell­ing was first acti­vat­ed, you need to enter its IMEI num­ber on the site. It will be writ­ten here when the smart­phone was acti­vat­ed (or was not), what rights it has for war­ran­ty and main­te­nance;
  • Exam­ine the mod­el. Only in the fac­to­ry can the bolts be tight­ened absolute­ly tight­ly, fas­ten­ing the low­er part of the body, “hand­i­craft” work will be giv­en out by loose­ly fit­ting hats.

How to distinguish a refurbished iPhone from a fake

If you buy one of the pop­u­lar iPhone mod­els, then there is a high prob­a­bil­i­ty of get­ting a fake. And this is true if we are talk­ing about a refur­bished iPhone. How to dis­tin­guish it from a fake or from hand­i­crafts of Chi­nese mas­ters?

First, you should also check the IMEI and mod­el num­ber. If there is no infor­ma­tion about the phone on the Apple web­site for the ver­i­fied num­ber, then it is not orig­i­nal.

Sec­ond­ly, take a close look at the appear­ance of the phone. For exam­ple, on the iPhone 7, instead of the home key, a touch­pad with vibra­tion feed­back appeared. On fakes, mechan­i­cal but­tons are used. Also, the plas­tic crack of the case should alert.

Third, pay atten­tion to the oper­at­ing sys­tem. Orig­i­nal fonts and pic­tures are easy to dis­tin­guish. Go to the App­Store and look for some orig­i­nal appli­ca­tion that will def­i­nite­ly not be on Google Play.

If your phone has a mem­o­ry card slot, then it’s def­i­nite­ly not an iPhone.

Prices for refurbished iPhone in Russia 2019

iPhone XS “like new” Not for sale
iPhone XR “like new” Not for sale
iPhone X Like New (256 GB) $899 at apple.com, from 68.9 thou­sand rubles
iPhone 8 “like new” (256 GB) $629 at apple.com
iPhone 7 Plus Like New (256 GB) $649 on apple.com from 43.9 thou­sand rubles
iPhone 7 “like new” (128 GB) $469 at apple.com, from 35 thou­sand rubles
iPhone 6s “like new” (64 GB) From 25 thou­sand rubles

Should You Buy a Refurbished iPhone?

A refur­bished iPhone is a great oppor­tu­ni­ty to save mon­ey with­out los­ing qual­i­ty. New iPhones get to ser­vice shops as often as those that are sold “as new”. The fact is that if the device has a fac­to­ry defect, you will find out about it with­in a year, at which time the war­ran­ty is still valid, and you can return the device and get a new one or mon­ey.

But by them­selves, high-qual­i­ty and unmar­ried iPhones rarely break. And this hap­pens equal­ly often with new and refur­bished devices. In reviews in online stores, there are ques­tions about both RFB mod­els and new ones, but the vast major­i­ty of them talk about prob­lems that appeared in the first months of use.



So you can opt for a refur­bished iPhone if you want to save mon­ey and are ready to accept the fact that your phone was already in stores and some­one returned it.