Apple Again Offering Refurbished iPhones in the Apple Store

It's been a few years, but refurbished iPhones are again showing up for sale at a discount in the online Apple Store.

Apple, iPhones, smartphones, iPhone 7, iPhone 6S, Apple Store, refurbished smartphones

After an extended absence, Apple is again offering refurbished iPhone models (pictured) at discounted prices through the online Apple Store to buyers who want a refurbished device that comes with a standard one-year Apple warranty.

The refurbished iPhones began showing up recently on the Apple website, with discounts ranging from about $80 to $110, or about 15 percent below retail prices. The last time Apple sold refurbished iPhones appears to be in 2007, not long after the devices first went on sale, according to an earlier story by The New York Times. The refurbished phones, which are unlocked and include a new battery and a new outer shell, are only being offered to customers in the United States.

Apple previously only offered refurbished MacBooks, MacBook Pros, Mac computers and related accessories through the store's refurbished products pages. The re-established refurbished iPhone offerings were revealed in a Nov. 8 story by The Verge.

The listings for refurbished phones on Nov. 9 included a 64GB iPhone 6s Plus in Rose Gold for $589, a discount of $110; a 16GB iPhone 6s in Rose Gold for $449, a discount of $80; a 16GB iPhone 6s Plus in Silver for $529, a discount of $100; and a 16GB iPhone 6s in Space Gray for $449, a discount of $80.

Supplies of the refurbished phones are limited, and purchases include free shipping and free returns.

Apple declined to comment to eWEEK about its refurbished iPhone availability.

Interestingly, in February, Apple announced changes to its existing iPhone trade-in program that began allowing customers to trade in damaged iPhones toward the purchase of new iPhones, reversing its long-standing policy of not accepting damaged iPhones on trade. Under the rules, Apple will accept late model broken iPhones that have damaged screens, cameras or buttons and will credit customers $50 for an iPhone 5s, $200 for an iPhone 6 and $250 for an iPhone 6 Plus. Under the previous Apple Store Reuse and Recycle iPhone trade-in program, older iPhones with cracked displays or broken cameras and buttons were not eligible for trade-ins.

Apple's latest smartphone models, the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, launched in mid-September and were so popular at launch that preorders of its initial opening day supplies of the Jet Black iPhone 7 and all colors of its larger iPhone 7 Plus handsets were immediately sold out.

The latest iPhone 7 models, which start at $649, are splash-, water- and dust-resistant, and include new 12-megapixel cameras (dual lens cameras in the iPhone 7 Plus model) and the new A10 Fusion processor. The handsets come in 32GB, 128GB and 256GB versions.

The new iPhones no longer include a headphone jack, however, and come with a set of ear buds that connect to the phones using the existing Lightning port. Apple's new optional wireless AirPods sell for an additional $159, though other wireless options also exist.

The iPhone 7 has a 4.7-inch Retina touch-screen display, while the iPhone 7 Plus uses a 5.5-inch Retina touch-screen display. Both handsets offer 4K video recording capabilities as well as autofocus and optical image stabilization features.

Apple's latest iOS 10 mobile operating system, which is preloaded on the new iPhones, was released by Apple on Sept. 13 and is being pushed out to compatible devices.