Dealing with discounts: When to buy a Mac or iDevice

By Louis Ramirez on March 29, 2013, 2:30 PM

Contrary to popular belief, scoring deals on newly-released Apple products isn't difficult. Sure, you'll need a little patience, but waiting for those initial discounts could save you a decent chunk of change. While data suggests that the first deals on new Apple electronics have begun showing up later than they have in years past, most products will still see reseller discounts in a matter of a few months. And with rumors swirling about a potential iPad 5 in April, now is the time to consider the benefits of holding out for a deal.

But how long will you have to wait? What products have the shortest wait time, and how will a product's first deal compare to the lowest price you'll get during that model's product cycle? Dealnews has analyzed over a year's worth of Apple deals to find out, so you can strategize your next Apple purchase, from a new iPad to an updated MacBook Pro, and everything in between.

How to Find Apple Deals

The first and most important thing you can do to save money on new Apple products is not purchase them from Apple; otherwise, you'll never see significant deals. Rather, we recommend hitting up the authorized resellers for discounts and promotions. We commonly see Mac sales from retailers like MacMall, MegaMacs, Amazon, B&H Photo-Video, and more.

As for how long you should wait, that all depends on what product you're purchasing, though as you will see below, the general time frame for seeing preliminary deals is now about a month after debut. Alternatively, if you don't need a brand-new release, we noticed a significant amount of deals on previous generation Apple products this year. For instance, the MacBook Air, iPhone 4S, and iPad 3 saw significant discounts on the days and weeks after the announcement of their successors. (The MacBook Air 11.6" Sandy Bridge model in particular dropped to an all-time low of $840 just two days after the Ivy Bridge Air's announcement.)

Moreover, Apple-refurbished models are a good way to score a discount and still get a full 1-year warranty, and currently the manufacturer's mysterious eBay store offers price cuts that are better than buying directly from the Apple Store. In fact, the current-generation 13.3" MacBook Air is now available at an all-time low of $899, which is $100 less than what the Apple Store charges.

However, if you want the latest tech that Apple has to offer, then we recommend avoiding the in-store lines at the Apple Store and setting up an email alert for those initial deals. Sure, you won't be the first on your block with the latest Apple toy, but you'll have more cash in your wallet and the comfort of knowing you didn't pay full price.

When to Buy a Mac

iPad — Current Model (4th generation), Released in October 2012

With the release of the iPad 4 last October, Apple caught its fans off guard; the iPad 3 had been on the market for less than a year! But despite this model's shorter life span, consumers benefited from quicker deals: just one month after its release, the iPad 4 received a $59 discount. To this day, that remains the best discount on a new iPad 4. If the iPad 5 is released in April, that will be roughly six months after the previous generation, which is the same amount of time that fell between the last two releases. Thus, we wouldn't be surprised if the latest Apple tablet follows a similar deal trend.

When to Buy the Newest Model:

First Deal: Wait one month and save $59
Best Deal: Wait one month and save $59


MacBook Pro 15.4" with Retina Display — Current Model, Released in June 2012

Apple gave its MacBook Pro line a major upgrade last summer with the introduction of the MacBook Pro Retina, a laptop with a stunning 2880x1800-resolution display. Design-wise, the new Retina-based laptop took some cues from Apple's MacBook Air by sporting a thinner profile and smaller footprint. Best of all, the new 15.4" MacBook Pro Retina saw an instant discount after just two days on the market. And while last year's MacBook Pro only received a $45 discount after two days, the new Retina model saw a heftier $118 discount within the same time frame.

When to Buy the Newest Model:

First Deal: Wait at least two days and save $118
Best Deal: Wait nine months and save $350

For buying advice for more Mac products, see the infographic and data below.

MacBook Air 11.6" Core i5 Ivy Bridge — Current Model, Released in June 2012

Although the 11.6" MacBook Air is Apple's entry-level laptop, there's no cutting corners with this system. Now sporting an Ivy Bridge CPU, the ultraportable is among the best on the market today. Shoppers will also be glad to know that the 11.6" Ivy Bridge MacBook Air is the second most discounted Apple computer, trailing closely behind the MacBook Pro. It received a $49 discount two months after its debut. Seven months later we saw deals that slashed the retail price by $199.

When to Buy the Newest Model:

First Deal: Wait at least two months and save $49
Best Deal: Wait at least seven months and save $199


iPod touch — Current Model (5th Generation), Released in October 2012

The fifth generation iPod touch doubled its predecessor's storage with a starting capacity of 32GB. However, unlike the previous generation, which saw deals eight days after its release, the current-gen iPod touch received a modest $4 discount a month after its debut and a $50 discount three months later.

When to Buy the Newest Model:

First Deal: Wait one month and save $4
Best Deal: Wait three months and save $50


iPhone 5 — Current Model, Released in September 2012

When it comes to finding deals on the latest iPhone, Walmart and Fry's have dominated the market offering iPhone deals just days after new models are released. With the iPhone 5, Walmart led the charge slashing $9 off the list price just two days after the phone hit shelves. Three months later, the iPhone 5 dropped down to $126 at Fry's. These price drops have made the iPhone 5 the most discounted iPhone yet.

When to Buy the Newest Model:

First Deal: Wait two days and save $9
Best Deal: Wait three months and save $73


iPad mini, Released in October 2012

Although Steve Jobs was vehemently against the idea of a 7" tablet, current Apple CEO Tim Cook gave the product his approval and released the iPad mini last October. This new tablet houses the iPad 2's hardware in a much lighter and smaller frame. As with most first generation products, the iPad mini saw no deals upon its release taking three months to drop $9 in price and five months to receive a $29 discount, which is currently the lowest price we've seen for this first generation device.


When to Buy the Newest Model:

First Deal: Wait three months and save $9
Best Deal: Wait five months and save $29

All prices noted are based on deals on new units that were found during the period in which each model was the most current generation, unless otherwise specified. Note that this feature has been updated since it was originally published last summer.

Republished with permission. Louis Ramirez is an avid gadget lover and Senior Feature Writer at Dealnews.

Add New Comment

TechSpot Members
Login or sign up for free,
it takes about 30 seconds.
You may also...
Get complete access to the TechSpot community. Join thousands of technology enthusiasts that contribute and share knowledge in our forum. Get a private inbox, upload your own photo gallery and more.