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Stop Buying Your Tech New

Whatever year you’re reading this, the new iPhone is awesome. It always is. Same with the new Samsung Galaxy, and Bose’s new noise-canceling headphones. But right now, just before 2020, the improvements between versions are becoming less obvious. In the case of the iPhone 11, the cameras are a big advance. But for the majority of us customers, last year’s model will serve us just as well as the new one.

That’s why, when I need some­thing like a phone or laptop, I almost never buy it new. You should do the same. I’m not talking about going on eBay or Craigslist or Letgo for used tech. Even if you know what to look for and what prices are fair, the time cost of doing all the quality control yourself is almost never worth the savings.

I’m talking about the sections of manufacturers’ sites specifically dedicated to not-new products. Apple’s is called Certified Refurbished. Nintendo’s is just Refurbished. Bose has an Outlet. Samsung sells Certified Pre-Owned. The goods in these shops are maintained and guaranteed. Sometimes, the products were never even taken out of their packaging. And whether or not they’ve been handled, the hardware has been scrupulously inspected and tested to make sure it works, sometimes more so than new products. They also come with a warranty.

But, look. I get it. New and well-marketed stuff feels better. Years back, my nephew wanted Beats headphones, and none of my arguments, based on years of product testing and reviewing, was enough to convince him that a pair of Sony MDR-7506’s were the better value. And gifting someone a phone that comes in a box that says “Pre-Owned” feels off. Even I bought a Nintendo Switch Lite the day it went on sale because I just…couldn’t stand waiting to try it.

All good. Buy something refurbished for yourself, and spend the savings on the gift, or something new you want right away. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to get back to my search for a used Tesla Model 3.

This article appeared in the December 2019 issue of Popular Mechanics. You can subscribe here.

This Article was first published on popularmechanics.com

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