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Buying a used iPad or tablet 'is a good way to save money,' says a tech expert: Here are 3 shopping tips

"The first thing to go is usually the charger port."

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Only 3% of people have replaced their tablet because it stopped working properly, according to a survey of Consumer Reports members.

This might be because tablets, especially when first released, can be pretty pricey. For example, the newest iPad, the iPad Pro, starts at $800. The Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 is $149 if you have a trade-in and $649 if you don't. Repairing tablets can be expensive, as well. A repair for an out-of-warranty eighth-generation iPad (the current model) runs $249.

"If your tablet has become snail-slow to the point where you can no longer use it for anything, it's time to consider a replacement," says Nicholas De Leon, a technology reporter at Consumer Reports.

One way to replace your tablet without spending a ton of money is to buy a used one, says Sascha Segan, a tablet analyst at PCMag. "As long as they've been properly factory reset, buying a used, relatively recent iPad is a good way to save money," he says.

Here are three tips for buying used tablets.

1. Check the charger port

"In terms of buying used tablets, the first thing to go is usually the charger port," Segan says. "If you can, make sure it charges easily and consistently."

Many online retailers note whether or not the charging port works correctly on the product listing. If you're seeing the tablet in person, test the charging port yourself. If you have to hold your device at a certain angle to get it to charge, or if you see debris in the charging port, these might be signs that the port isn't in good shape.

2. Make sure the tablet has been factory reset

"You need to make absolutely sure that it has been factory reset, with all accounts and carrier locks removed," Segan says. "Some tablets ask for old account passwords even after they've been reset once, and you don't want to be stuck guessing someone else's password."

How to factory reset varies from device to device, but usually involves holding down a few buttons at the same time. For an Android tablet, you must press the "power" and "volume up" buttons at the same time for 10 to 15 seconds. Prompts will then appear and guide you through the reset.

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3. Don't get a used tablet that is too old

Once you ensure it's factory reset, a used tablet can be a smart buy. "Just don't go too old," Segan says.

A good tablet should last about five years, he adds. Apple tends to support its iPads with software upgrades for six years after launch, while Android tablets will receive security updates for a minimum of four years. So if an iPad is more than five years old, it might not be worth the money.

"Used Android tablets are a chancier proposition, as they often do not get software updates," Segan says. "If you're looking at a used Samsung or other brand of tablet, make sure it runs at least Android 9 for solid compatibility with future software."

If your tablet has become snail-slow to the point where you can no longer use it for anything, it's time to consider a replacement.
Nicholas De Leon
Technology reporter at Consumer Reports

What a used tablet costs, and what to watch out for

Because the new iPad was released this month with a starting price of $329, you can likely get an even better deal than usual on older models. Best Buy and Walmart sell refurbished tablets at a discount, as do online retailers like Back Market and Decluttr. A 10.2" seventh-generation iPad, released September 2019, is $260 on Back Market.

Some brands aren't smart to buy secondhand, Segan says: "The low-priced Amazon Fire line of tablets is very low-powered, and you shouldn't buy those used." But if you're in the market for Apple and Samsung tablets, you can find older models that still work perfectly fine and cost a fraction of what a newer model would cost.

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