This time last year, the best phones in Apple's iPhone range were the iPhone 13, the iPhone 13 Pro and the iPhone 13 Pro Max. And while the iPhone 14 range delivers the usual improvements, it's also more expensive – especially now that Apple has started selling refurbished iPhone 13s in its own online store. That means you can get some of the best iPhones ever made for a lot less money.
The refurbs are available on both the US and UK Apple Stores. I'm looking at the UK one and the iPhone 13s start at £729. iPhone 13 Pros start at £809; and the iPhone 13 Pro Max ranges from £889 to £1,319.
By comparison, Apple currently charges £849 for the iPhone 14, with Pros coming in from £1,099 and the Pro Max ranging from £1,199 to £1,749. That means refurbished iPhone 13s are delivering significant savings. US savings are similar.
Why refurbished iPhones are smart buys
Refurbished phones have been returned to Apple for a variety of reasons. The customer changed their mind, or there was a software fault, or it didn't boot up. That kind of thing. Apple then checks them out, fixes any faults and puts them back on sale. If bits need replaced they're replaced with genuine Apple components, and there's a one-year warranty in case of any problems.
I've bought loads of refurbished Apple kit over the years – I think my first refurb was a snow iBook, which gives you an idea of how long I've been doing this – and I haven't encountered a single problem with any Macs or iPhones. It's all worked flawlessly, and over the years I've saved a lot of money as a result.
Of course, buying last year's model means you don't get this year's tech. But the savings mean that may well be a compromise worth making – and if you check out our guide to the iPhone 14 vs iPhone 13, you'll see that in many respects the differences between the 14 and 13 aren't actually that dramatic.
I think one of the big advantages of refurbs is that if you wish, the savings mean that you can jump up a tier – so instead of spending £849 on an iPhone 14, you can get an iPhone 13 Pro and spend the £40 left over on a nice case for it. The iPhone 13 Pro was the pick of the range, and it was the iPhone 13 that I bought with my own money.
I think of the two, the iPhone 13 Pro is the better phone: it has a better, ProMotion display, more brightness and faster memory. The only area it falls behind is in the selfie shooter: the one in the iPhone 14 is better. If you take a lot of selfies then that may be a deal-breaker, but for everyone else the older Pro is probably the better buy.