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Apple took deal hunters by surprise last year when we discovered it was selling its products on eBay at prices lower than the Apple Store. Thirteen months after shutting down its eBay presence, it looks like the boys in Cupertino are at it again as we've found a number of Apple-certified pre-owned iPhones, complete with 1-year Apple warranties, for sale on eBay.
While it's difficult to unequivocally link this new storefront to Apple, its digital footprint is similar to the one we spotted back in March of 2013. For instance, last year Apple chose the name "Refurbished-Outlet" for its eBay storefront. This year, the eBay seller goes by the equally simple name of "factory_certified."
In addition, like all Apple refurbs, the refurbished iPhones currently sold by "factory_certified" all come with a 1-year Apple warranty; are listed as having received quality inspection by Apple; and are in "like-new" condition. By comparison, this refurbished iPhone 5 sold by AT&T only includes a 90-day warranty.
But there are some indications that would suggest that Apple isn't behind this storefront. For starters, the Apple Store doesn't typically sell refurbished iPhones. Apple occasionally offers factory-refurbished models to resellers, and you may be able to find an iPhone backed by a 1-year Apple warranty, but that's rare and not officially sanctioned.
In terms of pricing, all of the refurb iPhones currently on eBay are unlocked GSM iPhone 5 models, starting at $449 for 16GB, $479 for 32GB, and $499 for 64GB. Although we haven't seen these specific models on sale as refurbs before, for comparison purposes, we listed a refurbished unlocked iPhone 4S 32GB GSM smartphone for $430 back in late January.
It's important to remember that, despite the signs that this might be Apple on eBay once again, the seller is technically brand new and doesn't have many reviews yet; thus, as we've advised in the past, the buyer should beware until more testimonies trickle in.
That said, if this is indeed Apple, the store might not be long for this world; last year the company shut down its eBay storefront within a month of being discovered. With prices starting at $449, it's likely these phones will get snatched up very quickly this time as well.