Ever since its 2016 redesign, the MacBook Pro has been somewhat divisive. While we love the giant trackpad and the sleek metal chassis, the keyboard has had no end of problems, and the Touch Bar has never really found a killer purpose.
This was exactly the dilemma I faced when buying a MacBook Pro for myself, and in the end, I opted for a 2015 model for a whole host of reasons. If you find yourself in the same boat, you’re not alone.
Buying a 2015 MacBook Pro — or any older Mac for that matter — can be a little tricky, though, as Apple no longer stocks them on its website. If you’re in the market for one but don’t know where to start, this guide is here to help.
Craigslist, eBay and similar sites
If you’re looking for a non-refurbished version, your first port of call should be to look on sites like Craigslist and eBay. These places are where you’re likely to find the best bargains, although there’s a bit more risk to be aware of too.
First of all, make sure you do your research. Search eBay for the model you want, show only auction listings, then sort the results to show those ending soonest at the top. Add a few listings to your watch list, then make a note of their final sale price. This will give you an idea of the going rate, and also alert you as to whether devices listed as Buy it Now are fairly priced.
Because there are fewer guarantees on sites like this, common sense most definitely applies. Don’t opt for sellers with day-old accounts and zero feedback when you’re about to spend several hundred (or even thousand) dollars on a computer, for example.
Always check a seller’s previous feedback if you’re not sure. Closely inspect all the photos on the listing and contact them with any questions you have before buying or bidding. If you win the listing and go to pick it up, ask to try out the device first to make sure everything is as it should be.
There are plenty of registered shops and outlets selling MacBooks on eBay, and they can present a safer option than buying from an individual seller. Often shops will offer a warranty for the MacBook Pro, which can help give you some peace of mind. Bear in mind, though, that shops like this often only list their products as Buy it Now rather than auction, which can increase the price.
Keep an eye out for MacBook Pro models that are listed as refurbished or renewed. This usually means a part has been replaced, either by the seller or Apple itself. Make sure you read the details of what was replaced and why. This is often a good way to find a cheaper MacBook Pro that has been fixed and is excellent working order or has had a part replaced with a better, newer equivalent. Either way, refurbished is a good way to go if you want to balance the performance of a new machine with the price of a second-hand one.
Buying refurbished elsewhere
You don’t just have to stick to eBay or Craigslist if you want to buy refurbished, and there are plenty of places that give you extra assurances. After all, you’re spending a lot of money, so it doesn’t hurt to have a few more guarantees in exchange for your hard-earned cash.
The Amazon refurbished store is a good place to start, as it has a whole marketplace of sellers offering refurbished MacBook Pro laptops. Whether you want the latest model or are looking for something more affordable, there’s a huge selection on Amazon to choose from. We’ve rounded up a few of the best deals we could find over on our best cheap MacBook deals page, so make sure to regularly check that to find the latest bargains.
Websites like Decluttr have a large selection of refurbished MacBook Pro devices on sale, and let you search by screen size, storage space, memory and much more. Being able to be so specific means you can get exactly the device you want without having to hope someone nearby has what you’re looking for, as may be the case with sites like Craigslist.
Some larger stores like Best Buy also offer refurbished and second-hand MacBook Pro laptops. Although they usually have a more limited selection, if you’re already a member of their loyalty scheme you could find it’s worth it to pick up a few points for your purchase.
Make sure you read up on what exactly the company does to ensure its refurbished products are in good working order. Apple promises its refurbished devices are “like new” — can the refurb store you’re thinking of buying from offer the same guarantee?
Any established company that specializes in selling refurbished Macs should offer a good return policy and warranty. Make careful note of this and compare all your options before purchasing — if you buy online, you’re trusting that the listing is accurate, so being able to return your purchase if something isn’t right is important.
Official Apple outlets and resellers
Apple sells a limited number of refurbished MacBooks on its website. These have all been refurbished by Apple itself and given its seal of approval, with Apple testing the devices to make sure they meet “the same functional standards as new Apple products”. If that’s important to you, this is the way to go.
You’re unlikely to get the same level of bargain as if you were to shop on eBay or Craigslist, but you’re also buying from a firm with more reputation to lose from a shoddy sale than your average Joe on the street. If any parts have been replaced, they will all be genuine Apple parts rather than cheaper alternatives, and you get all accessories and a new box included.
It can be hard to know when refurbished products are added to Apple’s website, and they often sell out quickly. Luckily, there are several websites that can help. Refurb.me, for example, lets you browse refurbished devices across Apple’s stores as well as its certified resellers. It also allows you to sign up for email alerts when matching products get added to Apple’s refurb section, as does the Refurb Tracker website.
Also look out for special financing options on Apple’s site. In the U.S., you can get interest-free financing, or get daily cashback if you buy with an Apple Card. In the U.K., meanwhile, you can get 0% financing over 3-12 months on a purchase of £399 or more. While these offers were current at the time of writing, Apple occasionally changes these offers, so be sure to check back often.
Besides official Apple Stores, there’s another option in the form of Apple Authorized Resellers, which are third-party stores approved by Apple to sell its products. Apple has a section on its website where you can enter your location and the products you are looking for, and Apple will then show you your nearest Authorized Reseller.
To become an Authorized Reseller, a store must meet a set of requirements from Apple. In return, it gets the Apple seal of approval, and customers know they are buying from a reputable store that has passed Apple’s checks. Apple doesn’t often offer discounts on its products (don’t expect any official Black Friday deals, for example), but Authorized Resellers can do so if they wish, so you may find a better deal with them.
There are a few things to bear in mind regardless of where you choose to buy a MacBook from:
- Does the product you’re interested in come with all accessories and the box? If you’re going to have to buy accessories such as a charging cable, factor that into the cost. If it doesn’t come with the original box, make sure it’s packaged up securely for you.
- Apple lists certain older models as “obsolete” or “vintage,” depending on their age. These models are no longer supported by recent operating systems; MacOS Catalina, for example, will only support Macs from mid-2012 or later. If you want the latest operating system and features, make sure the one you’re buying isn’t too old. Apple lists its obsolete and vintage Macs on its website.
- Learn the difference between “refurbished” and “used” and alter your expectations — for price and condition — accordingly. Don’t overpay for a product that is listed as refurbished but is actually just second-hand.
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