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Buying an iPhone: New or Refurbished

written by: luis84•edited by: Simon Hill•updated: 5/19/2011

Don't purchase an iPhone until you have read this guide. Our all-inclusive guide covers everything from selecting the perfect model, new or refurb, pricing and even which service plans are available. We also discuss the data plans available from the US carrier AT&T and the pricing options.

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    New or Refurbished

    When looking for an iPhone for sale, the first thing you will need to consider is new or refurbished? They may not appear to be physically different but there is a slight difference in the price point and the history of the device.

    New iPhones come in a factory sealed state from the factory and usually cost more because of the guaranteed factory fresh state. These devices are usually in good shape, although no device is completely free from defects, the benefit of a new iPhone is the guarantee that Apple gives and the limited hardware warranty.

    Refurbished iPhones come from your carrier (in the USA AT&T) or directly from Apple. These usually have components replaced on the inside of the iPhone, however, it is in a verified working state. In addition, the exterior case and screen are in great, if not perfect condition. These come with a very limited warranty from Apple, however, they are verified working before being shipped.

    The bottom line: A new iPhone is the best option if you want something that has never touched human hands before. If you just want an iPhone that works and looks good, a refurbished model could save you a lump of money.

    Take a look at these articles about refurbished iPhones for sale:

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    Which Model

    There are many different models of the iPhone for sale. The iPhone 2G, 3G, 3GS and the iPhone 4. The best model for your taste depends on you. The iPhone 2G and 3G are good models for the economy buyer who just wants an entry-level iPhone. You will likely not notice any issues with the iPhone 2G or 3G as they are both good models.

    The iPhone 3GS is for those who plan to run intensive games or apps, or those who have had past experience with the iPhone 3G and feel they need more processing power. The camera is also upgraded in the 3GS but at the cost of a higher price tag. Finally the iPhone 4 is a complete redesign with two-cameras and a host of new features.

    The bottom line: If you just want an iPhone but not necessarily the latest, go with the iPhone 3G or 3GS. If you want to get into the iPhone market but not spend a fortune, consider a refurbished iPhone 2G. Finally, if you do want the latest and the greatest or like the new design, grab the iPhone 4.

    Take a look at these articles to help you decide which model to buy:

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    Depending on the country in which you buy the iPhone, there are several different providers offering iPhones for sale. For USA based consumers there is no competitive market with the iPhone, AT&T is the exclusive carrier.

    There is currently no CDMA version of the iPhone, so regardless of your country, the iPhone will be available on a GSM based network. In South & Central America the major providers are Movistar & Claro. In Europe, O2 has a big part of the iPhone market. When selecting a provider it is important to look at the monthly plans and allotment in addition to the upfront pricing.

    Purchasing an iPhone from a provider is usually the best option because they offer a cheaper price. If you do not have a contract or want to use the iPhone with prepay, you can purchase it directly from the Apple Store (online or actual Apple Store), although you will have to pay the unsubsidized price.

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    Plans & Pricing

    Purchasing the iPhone with a plan from a service provider will often land a reduced price. Many service providers require you to purchase an unlimited data package or at least some data package with the iPhone. It is recommended you add a data package to the iPhone because of the high usage of mobile web and mobile data on the iPhone.

    If available you may also want to consider a mobile tethering plan for your iPhone to use it as a modem. The amount of minutes and text messages depends on your usage habits, although it seems many iPhone users are more text and mobile web oriented than call oriented. If you've been wondering "how much does an iPhone cost?" here's your answer:

    • Pricing depends greatly on your country and service provider. The below prices are current for the end of 2010 on AT&T in the USA.
    • iPhone 4 New 32GB (2yr contract): $299
    • iPhone 4 Refurb 32 (2yr contract): $199
    • iPhone 4 New 16GB (2yr contract): $199
    • iPhone 4 Refurb 16GB (2yr contract): $99
    • iPhone 3GS Refurb 32GB (2yr contract): $79
    • iPhone 3GS Refurb 16GB (2yr contract): $49

    The overall iPhone plans range in price from $49 - $100 a month for a single line. Family plans can run much higher depending on the number of phones and type of service options selected.

    For the iPhone data plans, the prices are as follows:

    • 200 MB Data - $15/month
    • 2GB of Data - $25/month

    AT&T has eliminated the unlimited data option and therefore the above two options are all that is available.

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