AliExpress iPhones – buying guide

If you’re here, I’ll assume you’re ready or almost ready to buy an iPhone from AliExpress. AliExpress’s cheap price on everything and soaring reputation now means it’s a great place to buy everything, including iPhones. But, you need to be a little bit careful, much like how you’d be careful when shopping for an iPhone on eBay. There are a lot of good deals, some bad ones and a few fakes.

Here’s all you need to know to steer clear of the former two.

Image showing AliExpress Unlocked iPhone 11
Unlocked iPhone 11
Image showing AliExpress Unlocked iPhone X
Unlocked iPhone X

First things first, does AliExpress sell genuine iPhones?

The simple answer is yes, but to dive a bit deeper, you need to understand how AliExpress works. Again AliExpress is like eBay – Chinese eBay if you like. It’s a platform where third-party sellers worldwide (mostly from China) list a diverse set of products for sale. The keyword here is third-party sellers; AliExpress is just a platform for other people to sell their products.

AliExpress (the platform) does a really incredible job of policing what is sold on its marketplace. So if a seller is selling obvious ripoffs, their listing gets ripped off (pun intended) the platform almost immediately. That’s to say only genuine listings, especially as it concerns branded high tech products like iPhones, manage to stay up long enough for consumers like you to see them.

If you search for the keyword iPhones on AliExpress, it’s a guarantee that practically all the listings you’ll see will be for original iPhones or iPhone related products.

Image showing fake iphone result AliExpress
This seller has intentionally mislabeled their Chinese iPhone knockoff to make it seem like it’s the real deal

But there’s a catch, sometimes, results like this pop-up, and as you can see (or not see), those are not genuine iPhones.

Identifying fake iPhone listings on AliExpress

I go into much (I think it’s probably too much) detail on shopping for phones in general in my buying a phone on AliExpress guide, so check that out if you want to dive even deeper into phone purchases on AliExpress.

For a shorter version to spot the not so genuine iPhone listings on AliExpress:

Check the listing name

Our example up there is a classic case of intentional mislabeling. The actual name of the phone is ‘i13Pro Max’, but you can see how that’s hugely similar to ‘iPhone 13 Pro Max.’ This type of mislabeling is fairly common on AliExpress, and while the platform actively works to weed them out, some sellers still get away. In this case, the i13Pro Max listing was not an organic listing but a native AliExpress ad.

When shopping for an iPhone or any other brand item for that matter, make sure the name is the exact spelling of the brand item as you know it. Abbreviations don’t count, and no matter how similar the name pans out to be, if it’s not exact, skip said listing.

Check the item ratings

Genuine sellers will always have a sizable number of ratings for their iPhone listings. If an iPhone listing has no reviews, simply hop on to the next, it’s not worth the risk.

Now, back when I wrote my guide on buying phones on AliExpress, the platform was still very much ‘virgin,’ and reviews were mostly honest from people who actually purchased the item off AliExpress. Today, the fake reviews plague that has watered down trust on platforms like Amazon has found its way onto AliExpress.

Don’t trust most of the Five-star reviews you’ll read, they could be fake! Instead, check out the two, three, four-star reviews, with an emphasis on those with actual pictures of the iPhone. Negative reviews (as are two-star reviews) will reveal issues the seller might try to hide with fake five-star reviews. Again for more info on how to sort through reviews on AliExpress, check out my full AliExpress phone buying guide.

If it’s too cheap, it probably is not real

No, there’s no otherworldly discount on iPhones coming in from China. While you can get some price savings by shopping for iPhones on AliExpress as opposed to the other more popular online retail outlets, don’t expect any seller to slice the price by half for you. If the price for an iPhone is down by, say, 30%, you should probably check over your shoulder – someone’s trying to con you off your money.

What AliExpress iPhone deals are worth it

On AliExpress, you’ll find both new and used iPhones for sale. In my experience, the real bargain deals where you’ll get the most price savings are with the used iPhones. Buying a new iPhone on AliExpress might save you some money, but when you factor in the sometimes long shipping times (if you opt for the super cheap AliExpress Express shipping option), the savings you get might pan out to be not worth it.

Top used iPhone deals on AliExpress

Unlocked iPhone 11

Image showing AliExpress Unlocked iPhone 11
Unlocked iPhone 11

You can get what’s considered one of Apple’s best-selling iPhones right now – the iPhone 11 – for a pocket-friendly price of $407. As is the case with most other iPhone deals on this list, this particular iPhone listing comes with the complete accessories pack, including a charging brick, charging cable, Apple earphones and a complimentary gift pack.

Fair to note that the accessories are not OEM, so not the exact accessories you’d get if you bought this new, but for what it’s worth, they are original enough to last a lifetime.

Unlocked iPhone XR

The iPhone XR is a small but nonetheless significant upgrade to the iPhone X. On AliExpress, you can get, again, mint iPhone XRs at a 10% discount if you use this link. Accessories are packed in as expected, and you also get the complimentary gift package.

Unlocked Apple iPhone X

Image showing AliExpress Unlocked iPhone X
Unlocked iPhone X

For about $296, you can get yourself a used 64GB iPhone X in mint condition. Unlike similar iPhone X listings, you’ll find on sites like eBay and Amazon, this is a barely used iPhone device in mint, almost new condition.

It’s not renewed, nor is it refurbished, and that’s a good thing because on those sites the renewal or refurbishment is not handled by Apple itself. Rather third party individuals piece up broken iPhones sometimes with inferior replacement parts and then sell them to unsuspecting consumers.

This particular seller also adds a few freebies into the mix to spice things up. You get a free screen guard, a clear TPU case and a wireless charging pad.

You’ll also get a non OEM but still original iPhone charger, charging cable, wired earphones and a sim ejector tool – the complete accessory pack you’d get with a brand new iPhone. That’s a perk you won’t find on iPhone listings on eBay and Amazon.

To conclude

Buying an iPhone AliExpress is a pretty straightforward process, and provided you don’t fall for the easy to spot antics of bad sellers you’ll get a good deal 10 out of 10 times. This is especially true for used iPhones, which you can even purchase in bulk for resale at a healthy profit margin.

If you need more info on shopping for phones generally on AliExpress, check out my AliExpress phone buying guide. I go into the nitty gritty there.

Frequently asked questions

Is my money protected when I buy an iPhone on AliExpress?

Yes! As I point out in my AliExpress phone buying guide, the platform has a rather robust 75-day buyer protection program. If an item you purchase on AliExpress (this time an iPhone) comes defective or not per its description or doesn’t arrive at all, you can file a dispute and request a full refund.

Once the dispute is processed, you’ll get your full moneys’ worth deposited right back into the bank account you used for the purchase.

How long will it take to ship my iPhone to me?

Shipping times for iPhones vary based on the shipping method you used for the purchase. AliExpress allows you to pick from about three shipping options if the seller sets them up on their profile. You can ship either via:

1. FedEx/DHL
2. AliExpress standard shipping
3. Cainiao

The FedEx/DHL option is obviously the fastest, and you should get your package in a week or two weeks max. But it’s the most expensive option of all, sometimes more than 5x the money you’d pay for the next shipping option.

Shipping via AESS is my preferred choice, it is very pocket friendly, and your item should arrive in under a month. From experience, you also run into fewer issues with local customs when you ship through AESS.

The last option – shipping through long haul carriers – is the cheapest of them all; some sellers even offer it free of charge. Shipping times range from 2 to 3 months and there’s no item tracking past when your iPhone leaves the Chinese port. I’ll advise against using this method for shipping something as expensive as an iPhone.

How much does the typical iPhone cost on AliExpress

Depending on the model, iPhones on AliExpress can cost anywhere between $100 – $700 for used iPhones which are the best iPhone deals on AliEpxress.

Newer iPhones obviously cost more, and because of the relatively small price difference between buying a new iPhone on AliExpress and on other retail sites like Amazon and eBay that might operate locally, I generally advise against buying new iPhones on AliEpxress.

You can expect a 5-15% cost saving when buying used iPhones on AliExpress as compared to other platforms. Note that this depends on the AliExpress seller, so make sure to do your research or use the deals I’ve outlined up there.