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iPhones are one of the most in-demand phones globally but it’s not only for new iPhones. Refurbished iPhones and other electronic devices have picked up huge demand and in total this market is now at a valuation to $5.7 billion. With this huge market emerging we urge people to understand that the price is not always an indicator to the quality of the device. When buying a used or “as is” iPhone it’s good to know what to look for in terms of the grades and types of used models available on the market, as well as the pitfalls of the market and what to avoid.

Understand iPhone Grading

There are five broad categories of iPhones ranging from A-Grade, B-Grade, and C-Grade. Grade warranties vary but most come with a three to twelve-month warranty.


  • 100% original parts
  • At least 80% battery life remaining 
  • New looking appearance with no discernible scratches or dents


  • Some non-original parts
  • No guarantee of least 80% battery life remaining 
  • Fairly minor scratches or dents


The most common iPhone quality sold in South Africa:

  • Some non-original parts
  • Poor battery life 
  • Noticeable scratches or dents

Understanding types of “used” iPhones

CPO (certified pre-owned) iPhones: 

iPhones that are certified pre-owned are of a high standard in the second-hand or used market. This certification is by Apple and can only be sold through mobile networks or Apple Approved Resellers. 

A CPO device is a trade-in and then refurbished by Apple’s factories, with original parts and a 12-month global Apple warranty. You can still expect a premium price as these iPhones are in good condition. 

Refurbished iPhones:

These are very similar to CPO iPhones, refurbished in the Apple factories but they may contain cheaper non-original components like screens or batteries. These devices will probably have no or very limited warranties, due to all the parts not being entirely original.  

What to look out for when shopping:


  1. Buying online has the risk of engaging in an unregulated market where devices have a high chance of being stolen. This is a problem for you because an iPhone can be blacklisted and then run the risk of being “bricked” and thus having no warranty. 
  2. If you are importing 2nd hand iPhones remember that Apple manufactures iPhones for global markets. This means your device might drop calls because it is not compatible with the right bands or frequency ranges for South Africa. If it has an ICASA sticker on the box then that means it should be compatible with South African networks and is not an illegal import.
  3. Only purchase from reputable websites or retailers or suppliers with a quality certified mark. Devices from these sources should come with a warranty of 6 to 12 months. 
  4. Check your phone out to make sure it’s fully functional and no longer linked to previous owners iClouds as well as not on any international blacklists through companies like “PhoneCheck”.

If you are in the market for Pre-owned iPhones available at Cellucity here.

As well as at The Real Repair Company here.

Source: Wall Street Journal 

Source: Cellucity 


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