How to Buy a Used iPad and Which Models to Consider

Is that used iPad really worth it?

Buying a used iPad is a great way to save a bit of money, but just like when you shop for a used car, you need to know a few things for the process to go smoothly. You also want to get a good deal on the iPad, which means picking out a model that isn't obsolete and sells for a reasonable price.

Where to Buy a Used iPad

If you have a friend, a relative, or a friend-of-a-friend who is selling an iPad, you have this part solved. Buying from someone you know reduces the stress of the exchange. You still need to buy the right iPad for a reasonable price and review what to do during and after the transaction. Other possibilities include:

  • Refurbished from Apple: A refurbished iPad was returned to Apple and repaired. If you buy a refurbished iPad from Apple, you save money and—more importantly—receive the same one-year iPad warranty from Apple as a new iPad carries. However, you may be able to buy at a lower price elsewhere.
  • Buy from eBay: One great thing about eBay is the layer between you and the buyer. You can rely on eBay if the item you receive isn't the same as the description. However, be aware of any shipping costs.
  • Buy from Amazon: Yes, Amazon has a used marketplace. If you search for an iPad, you can see both new and used prices. The used price is the cheapest overall cost, which combines both the cost of the iPad and any shipping costs.
  • Buy from Craigslist: The internet version of a classified ads section of the paper, you can buy and sell almost anything on Craigslist. Unfortunately, there are no guarantees when you purchase an iPad on Craigslist.

Which iPad to Buy

While it is crucial to decide on the best place to buy a used iPad, the essential part of the process is making sure you buy the right iPad for you. You don't want to get stuck with an obsolete iPad within a year or two.

Look at models from the last two years. These models are the most powerful, with the most features, and Apple will support them for years to come.

The 9.7-inch iPad Pro

Avoid unsupported iPad models. Obsolete iPads no longer get operating system updates, and many new apps do not work on them. 

The 3rd-generation iPad's life span was just 221 days. It was the last iPad to support the old 30-pin dock connector. It was replaced by the iPad 4 with a Lightning connector.

What to Do During a Purchase

If you are buying from Craigslist or a similar person-to-person purchase, you should do a few things before exchanging money. You don't want to get home only to find something wrong with the device.

  • Examine the iPad to see if it appears to be in good shape. Check the screen for any cracks and the case for any dents. A small dent in the outer casing of the iPad isn't a big deal, but any damage on the screen is a deal-breaker. Do not buy an iPad with a cracked screen, even if it is only a small crack outside the display. A small crack tends to lead to a bigger one, and you may be surprised by how quickly that small crack can turn into a shattered screen.
  • When you are buying on Craigslist, check the model number advertised to make sure it matches the iPad model you are buying. If the person you are buying from seems uncertain of the model or you're unsure of the person you are buying it from, double-checking the model number is a good idea. You can find the iPad's model number by opening the Settings app, going to General, and choosing About. You can compare the model name against the list of models.
  • Launch a few apps, including the Notes app, which allows you to use the on-screen keyboard. If you have Wi-Fi access, open the Safari web browser and go to several websites.
  • Plug the iPad into a wall outlet and confirm the battery icon in the upper-right corner shows a lightning bolt, which means it is charging. That indicates the port at the bottom of the iPad is in good working order.
  • After you check everything out, reset the iPad. Even if the iPad was restored to factory default when you picked it up, you should reset it again before the purchase is complete. It doesn't take long to reset, and it is worth the hassle in knowing that all of the important switches, such as Find My iPad, are turned off when you take possession.

After You Buy a Previously Owned iPad

As important as it is to turn off Find My iPad when you are buying a used iPad, it's just as important to turn on Find My iPad after you take possession and set it up for your use. The setup process should prompt you to do so, but if it didn't, turn the feature on by going to Settings and flipping the Find My iPad switch. Find My iPad doesn't just locate the iPad if it is missing; it also allows you to put it in lost mode or remotely reset it.

  • Where can I sell a used iPad?

    You can find an online service that will buy your iPad. Get several quotes, so you know you're getting the best deal. SellCell, BuyBack Boss, and Decluttr are some examples. You can also take advantage of Apple's trade-in program or sell your iPad on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace.

  • Where can I buy a refurbished iPad?

    The best place to buy a refurbished iPad is Apple's online store. A refurbished iPad from Apple comes with the same 1-year warranty as a new iPad, easing concerns about buying refurbished. It's also possible to buy a refurbished iPad from retailers like Best Buy or Newegg.

  • What is the best time to buy an iPad?

    If you're looking for an older or discounted iPad, consider buying on Amazon's Prime Day. Or, wait until a new model is released, and then explore discounted older versions from Apple, Best Buy, and other retailers. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are also good times to explore discounted iPads.

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