The Apple Watch is iconic. Not only is the best-known smartwatch, but it also boasts the latest technology. But do you have to buy it fresh out the box, or can you get away with a used Apple Watch?
For example, it is the only smartwatch that can detect an irregular heartbeat. Also, it is one of the few watches that can automatically detect physical activity (whether you’re running a marathon or running for the bus).
But all these features come at a cost. A brand new Apple Watch (series 5) costs upwards of £420 ($520), so many people feel priced out of the market. Apple have recently introduced the Apple Watch SE for this reason.
Thankfully, pre-owned Apple watches are a lot kinder on the wallet. Furthermore, in many cases, they function just as good as new. However, you must do your research and purchase wisely. Below, I’ll show you how to buy a cheap/second-hand Apple watch.
Why buy a used Apple Watch?
There are many reasons why people opt for used Apple watches instead of brand new ones. For example:
- Cost – Pre-owned smartwatches are, on average, 40% cheaper than new versions. So, you’ll have extra cash to spend on accessories, App subscriptions, and/or monthly LTE network costs.
- No waiting – When Apple launches a new product, a lot of hype ensues. Consumers are usually given the chance to register their interest and pre-order the product. Whilst this is exciting, it can mean waiting weeks for your watch to arrive. However, if you focus your attention on pre-owned Apple watches instead, you won’t need to wait around for your product to arrive. Sometimes, it’s good not to be drawn into the hype!
- No big investment, so no regrets – If, after a couple of months, you decide you don’t like your Apple Watch, it won’t be the end of the world. As mentioned, used Apple watches cost significantly less than new versions, so buying one is not such a huge commitment.
Things to be aware of when buying a used Apple Watch
Although there are many benefits to buying a pre-owned smartwatch, the process is not always straightforward. Unfortunately, it’s quite common for stolen Apple watches to be sold online. Also, counterfeit Apple goods are rife both online and offline.
- When buying an Apple watch, make sure the Activation Lock has been turned off by the seller. If the Activation Lock is still intact, you will not be able to pair your smartphone with the watch and it will be essentially useless. Ask the seller, and if they are not sure, ask them to turn the watch on. If the watch allows you to pair it with a new device, it is good to go. But, if it insists you enter iCloud credentials, this means the previous user still has the Activation Lock intact.
- Unless the watch has been ‘refurbished’, it will probably not come with a warranty. If you are risk-averse, choose a refurbished watch (with warranty) rather than a pre-owned watch.
- When buying online, try and choose a seller who will allow returns (in case the watch is faulty).
- Some used watches will not come with a charging cable, so you may need to buy this separately.
- If you are buying an old watch that has been well-used (I.e. 3-4 years old and/or used as a swimming watch), it may lose battery very quickly.
As long as you have an eagle-eye, buying a second-hand Apple Watch shouldn’t be too risky.
Best places to find cheap Apple watches
So, in my experience, there are at least 5 different places you can find Apple watches for a reduced price. Even when pre-owned, Apple watches are still going to cost a fair amount. However, if you look around, you can find a bargain. Second-hand Apple watches range from $100-$450 (£80-£350+ UK) depending on the model and quality of the product.
1. Certified refurbished from the Apple Store
If you have a healthy budget but you cannot quite stretch to a brand-new watch, consider a ‘certified refurbished Apple Watch’ from the Apple store. On this site, Apple watches (series 3) start at around £189. Series 4 refurbished Apple watches start at around £380.
Because these watches are refurbished by an Apple-qualified professional, and they look almost as good as new. You certainly don’t get much of a saving. However, you will save a bit. This is a great choice for the risk-averse person because you’ll also receive:
- 14-day returns
- One year limited warranty
- Option to purchase AppleCare
- Charging cable included
✔ Apple-certified, reliable and trustworthy.
X Expensive – you won’t save much compared to new.
2. Amazon renewed
In addition, Amazon renewed have their own version of the refurbishment programme which is almost as good as Apple’s. Although the person refurbing the watch is not an Apple employee, they are qualified to perform a full diagnostic test on the product, and Amazon regularly reviews their quality of service. During the refurb process, the seller will replace any defective parts and thoroughly clean the watch. Importantly, they also guarantee that the battery is at least 80% as powerful as the battery you’d find in a brand new Apple Watch. This is certainly a big plus!
If you buy an Apple watch through an Amazon renewed supplier, you will also be eligible for a replacement or refund within the first year if your product is faulty. You can also get troubleshooting support if there are any niggles with your product.
- Displays notifications and runs apps, accelerometer and gyroscope, heart rate sensor
- Water-resistant to 164 feet (50 meters), heart rate monitor, built-in GPS, barometric altimeter
- Gps + Cellular: Apple watch Series 3 (GPS + Cellular) requires an iPhone 6 or later with iOS 11 or...
✔ One-year warranty and follow-up support.
X There aren’t many Apple watches sold through Amazon renewed suppliers, so you may have to wait for one to become available.
3. Refurbished Apple watches from other websites
As well as Apple and Amazon, several other companies offer refurbished Apple watches. For example, in the UK, there are stores like Music Magpie. These tend to be a bit more affordable, but do check what is included in the purchase price. I’d only purchase a refurbished watch if it offered some sort of warranty.
The darker coloured Apple watches tend to be the cheapest. If you’d like a brighter coloured/limited edition watch, but you don’t want to pay the price, buy one of the darker models and invest in an Apple Watch strap, instead.
✔ Cheap, refurbished Apple watches.
X Warranty may only last for a couple of months (if at all).
4. Apple watches on eBay
On eBay, you can buy second-hand Apple watches for approx. 40% cheaper than the normal price. In most cases, you’ll be buying the watch directly from the person who has previously used it.
There are a few benefits to this. Firstly, the seller can give you a detailed description of the watch and its functions. Secondly, the seller can remove the Activation Lock (and you’ll know who to contact in case this lock hasn’t been removed after purchase).
However, you may also come across some stolen/counterfeit/faulty goods on eBay. If your seller cannot answer your questions about the watch (and gives very generic answers), this is definitely a red flag.
Also, if the seller states “no returns”, it will be impossible to get a refund, even if the watch is faulty. When shopping on eBay, I always choose sellers who allow refunds (even if I have to cover the cost of the return shipping). In my mind, a seller who allows refunds is more likely to be genuine because they’re confident in the product they are selling.
✔ Lots of availability (series 1-5); Apple watches for all budgets.
X It can be hard to get your money back if something goes wrong.
5. Used Apple Watches on Facebook Marketplace
Facebook has a bit of a reputation for selling stolen goods. Whilst it’s not difficult to find dodgy listings on FB, there are also plenty of genuine sellers on there. This means it can be a great place to find an Apple Watch bargain. As long as you keep your wits about you.
According to Which, the most important thing to do when buying on Facebook is to check the seller’s profile. Do they have some photos on there? Are any of their photos tagged? Do they have some local friends (not just fake friends or global friends)? If so, this suggests they are genuine.
Facebook marketplace does not have a payment feature, so you’ll need to arrange payment outside of Facebook. It can be good to arrange a face-to-face sale because then you’ll get a chance to look, feel, and test the watch before purchase. However, always meet in a public place and/or take someone with you.
✔ In contrast to eBay, you can see personal information about the seller (I.e. their FB profile). This can help you gauge whether they are genuine or not.
X It’s not advisable to exchange money online so you should complete the sale in-person. This could be difficult to arrange if you live in a rural area, or if no one local is selling an Apple watch.
The best place to buy a used Apple Watch
Personally, my preferred place to buy used smartwatches is probably Amazon (via the renewed programme). The only problem is, you sometimes have to wait weeks or months for your chosen watch to become available.
My second choice would be eBay. This is because, generally speaking, you’ll be purchasing the watch from the person who has actually used the watch. Having said that, I would only buy from a seller who allows returns.
All sellers have their pros and cons. If you are still unsure where to buy your used Apple Watch, think about your main priority. Is it price? Is it peace of mind? Do you need to buy online, or can you meet the seller in-person?
Finally, if you don’t feel comfortable buying a used watch, why not consider a cheaper brand instead? There are plenty of reasonably priced smartwatches to choose from.
Last Updated on September 30, 2020
A highly experienced writer, with expertise in health and technology.
Rachael had a masters degree in psychology (with distinction) and a bachelors degree in English literature (with first-class honours) from reputable UK universities. Rachael has worked for two years as a research associate and reporter for a high-profile UK media company.