Last Updated on March 21, 2019 by Husain Parvez
How to Buy a Used or Refurbished MacBook or MacBook Pro
The thought of buying a used or refurbished MacBook or MacBook Pro has certainly come to mind if your old Mac broke. However, you probably discarded the same thought even before questioning if it’s the right choice.
To give you a glimpse of how many people use MacBook computers, 5.3 million Mac computers were sold worldwide from July to September 2018. It’s only one quarter of the year. So, imagine how many of them get thrown away in a good condition.
Most of you will become skeptical when it comes to used or refurbished stuff. Nonetheless, purchasing a refurbished product is, in fact, a great way to save money and get a perfectly fine device that will last for quite some time.
Mac computers are known to have a longer-than-usual lifespan for laptops. It means they will serve you for up to seven or eight years if you don’t have high-end needs. Therefore, if you ever questioned buying a refurbished MacBook, question no more.
In this guide, we’ll go through the steps needed to find the perfect used or refurbished MacBook or MacBook Pro.
Should I Buy a Refurbished Mac?
Luckily, refurbished Mac models are most often the devices that people returned the year before. They got some new parts but work pretty well otherwise. Buying a refurbished Mac could save you money as well as bring a few more of the following benefits.
#1 MacBook’s value
The first benefit to consider prior to the purchase is MacBook’s value. The components and the software make up one of the best value-for-money products out there. Another thing to consider is the option of linking various Apple devices for easier work.
Also, the fact that they’ll last for so long with moderate use proves our first claim. Although you will get a refurbished Mac made two years ago, it will still last you for at least four years. Plus, it will come with a warranty, but more about that later.
#2 Many different options
Deciding to purchase a used or a refurbished MacBook might frighten you at first. Why? Well, once you see how many computers you can choose from, it will be tough to decide which to buy.
However, having a plethora of possibilities should encourage you to look until you find the perfect piece. In other words, you should be able to find what works best for you.
The Difference Between a Used and Refurbished MacBook
As you may already know. There’s a slight difference between used and refurbished MacBooks. The used laptops are the ones that the sellers (or previous owners) simply listed as for sale. They’ve been used for a certain period of time before they’ve been put to auction. Read on to know what to inspect in a used device if you decide to buy one.
A refurbished MacBook is a device in a slightly better condition. It is either a laptop that the previous owner returned to the store or a previous model that stayed in the store for longer. This kind of laptop got new parts, such as the outer shell, the battery or the headphones. It usually comes with a warranty from the company of origin. In case it’s from Apple, you’ll certainly get it with a one-year warranty, the same as you would if you bought a new device.
How Much a Used or Refurbished MacBook or MacBook Pro Cost
The prices of used Macs vary since the sellers determine their subjective prices. The prices of refurbished models usually come at a similar price for each refurbished model which can slightly differ due to the production year.
A used or refurbished MacBook will cost you between $800 and $1100, the latter price being a refurbished Apple store’s version. A MacBook Pro, however, costs somewhere between $500 and $1100, depending on the date and the condition. All in all, you’ll save around 20% if a refurbished model is what you’re after. It’s quite a difference, considering the price tag on a new MacBook.
Where to Buy a Used or Refurbished MacBook or MacBook Pro
Online marketplaces are packed with used and refurbished goods. However, one must be very careful when buying these types of products, especially if they have a big price tag. Our biggest piece of advice is to look on the verified sites that specialize in selling used or refurbished MacBooks.
Swappa is a specialized store where you can find various used and refurbished phones and laptops for a fraction of the original price. The biggest advantage of visiting Swappa is the certified staff and the tests each individual device went through before the listing.
On Swappa, you can search for the device by the company. Their certified team strives to meet Apple’s high standards and you can rest assured their MacBook listings have only top-quality products.
If you look for a MacBook that’s refurbished or used, make sure to visit Swappa. Not only will they inspect and test device prior to listing it, but the price will be well below the original MacBook or MacBook Pro price.
Amazon is one of the sites that sells Refurbished Apple MacBooks directly from Apple. So, a 2-year- old refurbished Mac could perform better than the same 1-year-old model that was bought new. Also, Amazon has an awesome deal for all of you willing to go down the refurbished lane. They offer a 30-day return policy in case you decide the purchase was a wrong choice.
Moreover, a bunch of sellers are Amazon-qualified suppliers, meaning they are certified to refurbish MacBooks and put them up for sale on Amazon. Even though the online retail giant is technically a third-party seller, you can find a whole lot of great deals coming from certified sellers out there.
Apple refurbished store is the most expensive choice on our list. Nevertheless, you will get written proof and a one-year warranty if you decide to purchase a refurbished MacBook or MacBook Pro directly from the manufacturer. It is true you’ll save only about 10% on your purchase but it will pay off in the long term.
The gadget giant ensures the quality with the highest Apple standard for each device they return to the market. It certainly is the safest place to buy a refurbished Mac. However, you won’t save as much money as you expect.
Another online marketplace worth mentioning on our list is eBay. It is an all-in-one-type of shops where you can buy everything. They sell both used and refurbished MacBooks and it all looks nice. However, you should be extra cautious when it comes to eBay.
Numerous sellers won’t really care if they’re selling a faulty device. As long as you pay them and it gets into your hands, they can easily disappear from the platform and you’re left with a worthless device and no money in your wallet. In case you opt to buy from eBay, make sure the seller is a certified Apple reseller and that the Mac isn’t a used one, without a warranty or replaced components.
The last from our list is a website where you would usually go to buy second-hand, used stuff. You won’t really find certified resellers there but you might find someone with a laptop in good condition.
We strongly advise not to purchase used products if there’s no proof of origin or proof of purchase. Still, many people opt to buy used goods, so make sure you do the following steps before the purchase.
Things to Check in a Used MacBook or MacBook Pro
A proof of purchase
Once you decide to buy a used MacBook, it’s essential to know if it was obtained legally. The seller should have a proof of purchase to make sure it wasn’t stolen. It doesn’t mean that the third-party sellers are fraudsters, we only want to imply that you have to be careful. In case they try to avoid that question, you know that it’s time to bail.
You have to have a back-up plan if you want to purchase a used Mac. It’s not a matter of a few bucks, it’s hundreds we’re talking about. You probably won’t have buyer protection from the seller. However, ask if the platform you found them on has a returns policy. If it doesn’t, avoid it.
Check it for damages
The third advice is pretty much self-explanatory. You will have to turn the Mac on and check the iCloud first. If it’s removed and the Mac has a factory reset, you can use it. Otherwise, you should ask the seller for the password. Moreover, check for the obvious stuff, like the scratches on the surface and the screen, the loose screws, the battery life (which we’ll explain later), the ports, and run a keyboard test (which we’ll also explain later).
4. Find out its age
Next, you should find out how old is the MacBook. Sellers will often say the condition is “like-new”. However, click on the up left corner Apple menu and click on About This Mac to find the serial number. Make sure to follow Apple’s steps to find out how old is the MacBook or how old is the MacBook Pro before purchasing it.
5. Disable firmware password
If there’s a firmware password set up on the Mac, you won’t be able to start up from any other disk. You can find out if there’s a firmware password by holding the “alt” key when you hear the startup chime. If there’s a password, ask the seller to turn it off.
6. Inspect the display and the keyboard
To inspect the display, you should take red, green, blue and white-colored backgrounds and check if there are any dead pixels. If there are, there’ll be spots on the display. As for the keyboard, there’s a native MacOS app called Text Edit. Start it up and type in every character on the keyboard. If everything works fine, you’re good to go. If the seller starts getting nervous, you can presume there’s something wrong. They should let you check everything.
7. Webcam diagnostics
The FaceTime app lets you see if the webcam is working. Simply run the Search and look for FaceTime. If you can’t see your face in the app, it means the webcam is faulty.
8. Examine the S.M.A.R.T. status
S.M.A.R.T. or Self-Monitoring Analysis and Reporting Technology will scan the hard drive for any possible errors. You can examine the S.M.A.R.T. status in 4 simple steps.
9. Check the battery
One of the most important steps is to check the battery life. MacBooks are known to last for over 7 or 8 hours after a single charge, so buying one that will last for an hour or so is something to avoid. Identify the battery cycle count in a Health Information section.
10. Hardware troubleshooting
If you suspect there are issues with the components such as the logic board or memory, you can run the Apple Hardware Test. It will detect any problems with the hardware.
11. Paying securely
Needless to say, it’s not smart to walk around with hundreds of dollars in cash. To avoid getting scammed in one way or another, make sure you deposit the money to a platform such as PayPal before it goes off to the seller. Also, avoid the seller if they insist on paying with cash.
12. Meet in a public place
Meeting an individual for the transaction may be inevitable but we strongly advise against it. If you have to meet the seller, going to their house isn’t a good idea. A public place, such as a shopping mall, is a much better idea. It may sound like an overly-cautious decision but when it comes to larger sums of money, you can never be too careful.
Things to Check in a Refurbished MacBook or MacBook Pro
A refurbishing proof or a warranty
You will buy a refurbished MacBook or MacBook Pro either from the manufacturer itself or a certified Apple reseller. What you first need to ask for is some kind of proof. It is usually the one-year warranty that comes with the device. Apple’s website states that “Every Apple Certified Refurbished product completes a rigorous refurbishment process that includes full testing that meets the same functional standards as new Apple products. Your refurbished device is truly “like new,” with special savings of up to 15%,” so you needn’t worry about what condition your laptop will come in.
Turn it on and see if everything works
Refurbished devices are prime resale products, meaning there’s little to no chance of them even being faulty before the touch-up. Even though it’s extremely rare your new old MacBook will have problems when you turn it on, you should go through the steps 3., 4., 6. and 7. that we mentioned earlier.
MacBook laptops have a long lifespan, which makes them perfect for users who need a device that will serve them for at least a couple of years. Although many seem skeptical towards the purchase of a used or a refurbished MacBook or MacBook Pro, rest assured that buying one will be one of the best decisions you’ve ever made. Plus, you’ll save some money in the process.