Hi Lifehacker, I am trying to find a good cheap smartphone for around $200. Right now the iPhone 4S seems like a good option, though I realise there's a risk it will not be able to run iOS 9 when that appears at the end of this year. Is it a good idea to get a refurbished iPhone? Thanks, iHope
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A new iPhone can be a decent buy because there's a tendency for them to hold value for a lot longer than a comparable Android or Windows handset. Staring down the reverse side of that equation, however, you're stuck in the somewhat painful situation of paying that slightly higher amount in order to acquire an older iPhone handset. If you're not already heavily in the iOS space, there's any number of lower-cost Android or Windows handsets that might be a better buy.
Unfortunately, the iPhone 4S is almost certainly the next on the chopping block when the next major iOS revision rolls around. It's a little surprising that Apple kept it around this long, and reports about how well it runs iOS 8 already don't paint an encouraging picture. As a handset in 2015 it has aged a little, although because Apple has upgraded it to this point, it's ahead of comparable phones of the same era as long as you're a fan of smaller handsets.
Apple sells all sorts of refurbished gear on its web site with the notable exception of iPhones, which means any second-hand iPhone you get will have to come from a third party. In the case of a 4S, that's going to be a phone with more than a few miles on the clock, and a few cycles on the sealed battery.
I'd certainly want to inspect such a device in person, or if that's not feasible, make sure the returns policy is quite solid and reliable before laying down my cash.
Without it becoming the rather tired Android versus iOS war, what do readers think? Any precautions you'd take before buying one? Any tips or stories to share?
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