Buying a reconditioned iPhone and saving money. My story..

Yes, an iPhone. Wait though, let me explain. :)


I’ve always pushed back on giving my son a phone, but this year he’s heading to high school and will be travelling further, plus all his mates now communicate via Facetime, WhatsApp or text. He’s used an Android tablet for a while but none of those communication options are available, so I bit the bullet and decided to get him a SIM card and an iPhone for his birthday.

Trouble is, all of this stuff is expensive. I’ve known some parents spending £40 or £50 per month for one child to have an iPhone. It’s absolutely bonkers, and there’s a high chance that the phone will be dropped or damaged some other way, so you then have to consider phone insurance and so on.

So I took a different route. First, getting the phone itself. I had a look on the giffgaff pre-owned marketplace. It’s a good starter if you’re looking for a refurbished handset. All phones are unlocked and they range in condition, with “Good” having some minor wear and tear (slight marks on the screen and scuffs on the back maybe), “Very Good” means it might have only a very slight light scratch, and “Excellent”-graded devices are pretty much as new.

The giffgaff marketplace

You can also check MusicMagpie, where there’s unlocked phones AND locked ones.

Getting an iPhone unlocked can be quite a pricey business. I’ve seen costs of £60-£65 for unlocking a device, so if you’re not sure what network the phone will be on, go for an unlocked device. However, if you want to save a bit more cash, you can perhaps get a locked one on (for example) Vodafone and then get yourself a Vodafone SIM-only plan. It’ll cost less to buy a locked one than an unlocked one.

Music Magpie

As an example, I was looking for an iPhone 7 128GB model. Locked to Vodafone, you can get a “Good” condition locked one for £199.99 (oh, and little tip for you – if you hang around their site you can get a discount code if you sign up to the newsletter). However, an unlocked one is £239.99 for the same thing.

I ended up on the Music Magpie eBay store though, because eBay have a 10% off code right now and I found one for £229.99. After adding the code, I saved £23, bringing it down to £206.99. There was free delivery via a 48-hour courier and it comes with a 12 month warranty too.

Anyways.. why am I telling you all this?

Well, it’s because I wanted to show you what a typical “Good” condition phone is like and why you shouldn’t pay over the odds for a phone.

You may have noticed that I mentioned getting a 128GB iPhone 7 in “Good” condition just now. I personally thought that I was taking a risk, and it’d be scuffed and scratched quite noticeably, but I think the recon guys have really high standards when they’re classifying these devices. Also, and I’ll be honest here, I don’t think my son would be bothered about the odd scratch on the back because there’s going to be a cover on it all the time anyway.

Here’s the phone we got. There’s a noticeable scratch on the rear (to the right of the Apple logo) and a very, very. very slight scuff on the screen which I couldn’t pick up on camera despite many attempts. The “Battery Health” is 90% and the phone – when we put it in the case – is perfect. Sure, you don’t get the flashy Apple box, but that’s gone in the bin seconds after he unwrapped it.

So that’s the unlocked iPhone 7 128GB in the photos here, for £206.99.

Next, to get a SIM card. I had a look at the SIM-only deals and was going to plumb for a 3GB SIM-only monthly package for £7 with Virgin Media. This delivers 3GB of data over the EE masts and you get 1500 minutes plus unlimited texts. That should do it.

However, I’d actually purchased a Three SIM-only deal last year (when we were going abroad and I wanted to use their inclusive roaming functionality) and had forgotten to stop paying for it. So, I called them to cancel and switch the number over as it was quite memorable. Their retentions team didn’t want me to go, so I told them about the deal I’d found and they offered me a better option to stay – 4GB for £7 per month and unlimited everything else.

Well, I couldn’t argue with that, so that’s what I’ve gone for.

So there we have it. An unlocked iPhone 7 (128GB) for a one-off hit of £206.99. Then it’s £7 per month. Done.

If you were to put those figures together over two years, it’d be £206.99 for the phone and £168 for the airtime. That’s £374.99 total, or £15.63 a month for the plan and the phone. Getting a new iPhone 7 128GB from a major network right now (without an upfront cost) is around £33-£36 per month over a two year contract for 4GB of data..

With an upfront cost of £200 (which is about the amount I spent on the entire phone), it’s £26.85 per month..

At the end of the day, I want to get the best deal possible – and you don’t always need to buy new. Check the reconditioned offers, check the SIM only deals and comparisons. It really is worth while.

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