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Buying second-hand tablets and iPads can be a gold mine, here's what to look out for

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Having worked in a second-hand goods retail store, I can assure you that there's no better feeling than securing a bargain and purchasing the latest tech at a steal price. Many consumers are wary of buying second hand technology, and rightly so, but it's not as scary as you think and you're doing the planet a favor in the process.

If you're buying something second-hand, most reputable stores and businesses will offer you a long warranty period to ensure that you can buy with confidence. The devices are always tested to a checklist criteria when initially sold to the establishment, and a guarantee offered in the form of warranty that, should anything go wrong with unpredictable hardware, you can have your device replaced.

• Looking for the Best iPad alternatives (opens in new tab)?

I've written about why I only buy used camera gear (opens in new tab) before, but now I'm turning specifically to tablets. Here's what you need to know.

Buying a simple tablet for children

There's a multitude of reasons why people buy smart tablets, but the reason that I found most popular was for it to be gifted and used as a distraction device for younger children. 

Now, whether or not you agree with using a tablet as a  parenting tactic, these tablets can come in handy and are actually cheaper than buying most of the Argos catalog toys - depending on which brand you choose.

When deciding on a tablet to give to a younger child, it goes without saying that you definitely don't need the latest Apple iPad Air (2022), and things like screen resolution, storage size and it having the most powerful RAM and chipset really don't matter. In most cases, all you will need is for the tablet to be running on an operating system of IOS or Android that is recent enough to be compatible with YouTube and maybe a few apps like candy crush or Minecraft.

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Saving money on an older tablet

This leads on to my next point about functionality, if you don't need a tablet that can run the latest apps, has a front camera, is cellular or can function as its own desktop, then you can pick yourself up an absolute steal from second-hand stores by choosing a tablet without these functions, and that runs on an older or outdated operating system.

You might be wondering what the point of owning one of these older tablets would be, and in simple terms, you need to think small. Something as overlooked and simple as a notepad app could mean you can purchase a medium to large sized tablet and use it purely for grocery shopping, the best Christmas gift for an elderly relative who may be struggling to see their smaller phone screens. 

If you run and manage your own photography business, chances are you require regular organization and scheduling. There are hundreds of apps that utilize the best business tools and diary planning that are available to download for free and don't require the latest IOS or Android system to run. A cheap cellular tablet can also come in handy for business owners who may need a separate method of contact, as well as a much larger screen to manage emails and bookings.

Just because a tablet can't run the latest apps, it doesn't mean it can't run anything at all – and most will still come pre-installed with the basics like calendar, email, browser, radio (in some cases), calculator and weather features.

 Just because a tablet can't run the latest apps, it doesn't mean it can't run anything at all – and most will still come pre-installed with the basics like calendar, email, browser, radio (in some cases), calculator and weather features. There are great apps that haven't been updated in ten years that will still function perfectly on older tablets, you just need to check the small print when installing an app to see if it's compatible with your devices operating system. 

Tablets will sometimes be sold cheaper due to a smaller internal storage capacity, but what the customer may not be aware of is that all it takes is a micro SD card inserted in a slot on the device to enhance the internal memory, which most of the latest smart tablets do not allow for and charge extra for larger capacities. 

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With the continuing challenges most of us are facing with the ongoing cost of living crisis, definitely consider purchasing a second-hand tablet or Apple iPad over a new one bought directly from the manufacturer. You've nothing to lose and a lot to save.

If buying from a second-hand retailer with a good reputation, you'll have nothing to worry about as tech will be covered by a warranty for your piece of mind and graded in respect of condition, meaning you can buy second-hand tech that is immaculate and gleaming in condition with no signs of use.

At stores such as Cex for example, all products are thoroughly tested by a trained staff member before being purchased from sellers, and the warranty on everything sold is 24-months, excluding instances of accidental or customer damage. 

In most cases depending upon the date of your purchase, you will be offered a refund if your device becomes faulty immediately or within 30 days. If it becomes faulty up to six months after purchase, the company will then offer a free repair or replacement option, with a refund issued in the form of a voucher for the current value of the tablet, to put towards another of your choice.

Be sure to check out our guides to being a photographer on a budget, plushow to buy a camera on eBay (opens in new tab) and how to get more money when you trade in your kit (opens in new tab).

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A staff writer for Digital Camera World, Beth has an extensive background in various elements of technology with five years of experience working as a tester and sales assistant for CeX. After completing a degree in Music Journalism, followed by obtaining a Master's degree in Photography awarded by the University of Brighton, she spends her time outside of DCW as a freelance photographer specialising in live music events and band press shots under the alias 'bethshootsbands'.