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Should I buy an old iPhone? Guide to buying a second-hand, old or refurbished iPhone ahead of the iPhone 6s launch

Lou Hattersley | Aug. 24, 2015
Should I buy a second-hand iPhone to save money, or is it safer to buy one that's brand new?

You'll miss out on some features on the older models: the iPhone 5c lacks Touch ID, and both the iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C have smaller screens and older processors than the iPhone 6. We don't think you lose out too much on an older model.

You can pick up the iPhone 5S from Apple for £459 (16GB) or £499 (32GB). The iPhone 5C is only available as 8GB but is only £319. We expect these prices to drop after the iPhone 6S is released. The iPhone 5S may be dropped even further in price, and the iPhone 5C may be replaced by the iPhone 6C.

You'll find the iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C available from most carriers in the UK, on much cheaper contracts than the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. These carriers include EE, Three, O2, Vodafone, Virgin Mobile, Tesco Mobile and Carphone Warehouse.

How to buy an old or second-hand iPhone: Buying an Apple iPhone 5 or earlier

The oldest iPhone you can get on the Apple Store is the iPhone 5C, but what about picking up an even older model?

The first thing to note is that the iPhone 5 is essentially the same as the iPhone 5C but without the plastic casing, so you're still getting a good-spec smartphone if you opt for that model.

The iPhone 4S and older, on the other hand, are unlikely to be supported by Apple for much longer, so you may not be able to update to the latest software, and may struggle to install some apps from the iOS app store. However, Apple is supporting the iPhone 4S with iOS 9.

The iPhone 4 and earlier won't run iOS 8, so they're already unsupported by Apple. Plus, the iPhone 4S and earlier have the 30-pin connector rather than the new Lightning connector, so some new accessories won't be compatible.

So while you shouldn't go back as far as the iPhone 4, you can pick up an iPhone 4S and use it with the latest version of iOS. Although expect it to run a little more sluggishly than any of the more recent models.

You'll find models of the iPhone 5, iPhone 4S and older on Amazon, but there are also ways to buy the iPhone 4S brand-new from the likes of Tesco, Carphone Warehouse and more. Then of course there's eBay, which has lots of unused iPhones on offer but is perhaps not the most reliable source.

CEX will sell an unlocked iPhone 4S with 16GB storage for just £165. Or as little as £115 if you don't mind having one locked to a specific network.


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