Thursday, 03 October 2019 23:10

Don't buy the Citizen Goods refurb iPad Air for US$240, get the new iPad for US$329 instead

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Refurbished products can be a brilliant way to save money on previous-gen devices, but when Apple launches powerful new products at various price points, sometimes buying refurbished is a terrible deal.

An email popped into my inbox a few minutes ago, promising a refurbished iPad Air, with cosmetic blemishes, for US $240, which turned out to be $239.99, "generously" down by US $10.

Given the 9.7-inch iPad Air has an A7 processor, was discontinued in 2016, and can't be upgraded to iOS 13, US $240 is a terrible deal.

This is even more evident when you realise that a brand new 2019 iPad with A10 processor, enlarged 10.2-inch screen, keyboard and Apple Pencil compatibility, AR capability and much more starts at just US $329, you'd be doing yourself a real disservice not to get one.

I mean, there is a US $89 difference, but with the iPad Air so thoroughly outdated, and due to lose access to various apps as those apps become upgraded and will require higher versions of iOS to operate than can run on the iPad Air, you'd be absolutely mad to buy one.

Look, I get it, money is money, and the vast majority of us, most definitely including me, aren't on multi-million dollar salaries. Money is important. You need to spend your money wisely, and spend it on things that matter.

Spending US $240 on a refurbished iPad Air is not wise. Save a little longer if need be, but buy yourself a better iPad, one that is compatible with today's apps and today's experiences, and you'll be a much happier camper.

Obviously, prices in Australia are higher. That US $329 2019 10.2-inch iPad is A$529 down under, but don't forget that US prices don't include the sales tax that our prices already include.

US $240 is $357 at today's exchange rates, so the difference in Australian dollars is a lot greater, but with the iPad Air effectively obsolete, it's still not a good deal in Australia dollars either!

This is also reflected in the prices of refurbished iPhones now that the new 2019 iPhone 11, 11 Pro and Pro Max have launched. The iPhone XR is now cheaper, as is the iPhone 8.

Refurbished prices seen at places like Dick Smith or Kogan in Australia don't seem to have dropped yet to reflect competitive prices for Apple's new iPhone range.

An example of a refurbished iPhone 8 with 64GB, AU stock, with a "fair grade" rating for a 64GB model is A$558.

At the Dick Smith site, Fair Grade is listed as follows: "Medium to Heavy signs of usage including crack, drop marks and deep scratches which doesn’t affect the phone functionality. The phone is fully operational and functions as intended."

An AB grade iPhone 8, 64GB refurbished model that is imported, which may or may not have the precise bands needed for all the telcos in Australia (but which will still work on Australian telcos nevertheless) is $589.

AB grade is listed as follows: "All refurbished models come with a 12 month warranty included. This is an A/B Grade Factory Refurbished model, which may have some noticeable cosmetic blemishes and heavier signs of wear and tear. It has gone through a careful refurbishment process and has been tested to the highest standards to ensure it works as you expect it to."

Meanwhile, a brand new iPhone 8 from Apple, with 64GB storage in perfect condition, never before used, is A$779

Yes, that's an A$190 difference, but the iPhone 8 used to cost just under $1000. Now that its official, retail price has fallen, refurbished prices need to get keener to truly be competitive again.

You even have to ask yourself whether it's worth spending A$779, when a brand new iPhone 11 with 64GB storage is A$1199 and a 128GB model is $1289.

Sure, we're now talking more than double the price of that $589 refurbished iPhone 8, but you're getting an A13 processor, a vastly better dual-camera system, better and larger screen, better AR experiences and much, much more.

I have previously advocated for refurbished tech as a super smart way to save money and it certainly is true that you definitely can save money this way.

However, when new products launch, and refurbished price values haven't yet dropped to reflect the new models and in some cases, lower RRPs (or simply much better value for the money), you really do need to remember the old adage of Caveat Emptor - which means Buyer Beware.

Do your homework, do you research, make sure your hard earned is spent getting you the best value, and do consider when a brand new product for just a little more - or even a lot more - can end up being a vastly better deal.

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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