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.




User Comments: 22

Got something to say? Post a comment
2 people like this | BlueDrake said:

Or don't buy any Apple products and save more, when you can get comparable hardware for less. When they can offer huge discounts like $100+ you honestly know, the device is priced too high to begin with.

I might seem totally anti-Apple, but I have used them and it's not worth switching over. Are the high prices honestly worth it to you, just so you can have the latest and greatest? Some products might be considered worthwhile, but it's all user preference in the end.

2 people like this | Guest said:

Correction,

When to buy an Apple product

= Never

m4a4 m4a4 said:

Dang, the above 2 beat me to it ;P

JC713 JC713 said:

I can get the same discounts by being a student. And family members of mine can get employee discounts (dont work for apple).

Nima304 said:

Dang, the above 2 beat me to it ;P

I know, right? I'm so disappointed. This article was just begging for it too.

NTAPRO NTAPRO said:

Or don't buy any Apple products and save more, when you can get comparable hardware for less. When they can offer huge discounts like $100+ you honestly know, the device is priced too high to begin with.

I might seem totally anti-Apple, but I have used them and it's not worth switching over. Are the high prices honestly worth it to you, just so you can have the latest and greatest? Some products might be considered worthwhile, but it's all user preference in the end.

I somewhat disagree. A 100+gb mp3 player is pretty good and reasonable for it's price

Skidmarksdeluxe Skidmarksdeluxe said:

The best time to buy an Apple product is when they change their name to Samsung.

rvnwlfdroid said:

I still say Apple is for those who want "simple". Those who say I'll let iTunes do everything for me and be happy with that. Android is for those who enjoy tinkering. Not because they have to but because they can.

Guest said:

This is an interesting dilemma. To buy or to not to buy that is the question. To wait for a bargain or not to wait for a bargain. Here is an idea. Do you have to use the latest software? Is the latest the best? Over coming the urge to want the latest just to have what your friends. Have. Hire is a strange thing for you. I went on craigslist. Found a g5 for $100. Got Leopard 10.5.8 and cs3 on it. Installed office 2011 or 2008 on it. Installed aperture 2.0 and iPhoto. It works and as fast as todays intel. Mind you, you do not need 24 cores logical that is to check your email or to stair at the photo you just took of your girlfriend and to clear the zits of your teenage son and his girlfriends face on a birthday photo. 2 or 4 cores are plenty. And the g5 moto processor does just fine. The g5 came with 250 gig hd 4 gigs or ram wifi card and a 256 meg video ram card 9600. It is a fast system. 1.2 fsb. You can replace the hard drive with a 2 tb sata one and reinstall leopard on it. So easy to download from torrent site. And it is funny for if the feds nail you for downloading I doubt they would be able to make it stick since all macs come with free os. Or all the free software. iPhoto, ieverything. So there you have it the most discounted apple is last years apple. And it aint even a rotten apple. In some instances an old machine has less glitches then the new junks with the logic board issues and video failures.

misor misor said:

The best time to buy an Apple product is when they change their name to Samsung.

which is never...

apple and Samsung are lovers scorned.

on when to buy apple products?

apple lovers don't want to save and tend to buy the product/s asap: pre-order them or wait in queue.

in fact, they want the product/s yesterday.

since apple products are high-end, people in this bracket are not inclined to wait for marked down prices and will buy the product/s once available.

1 person liked this | captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

My neighbor / crack head / crack dealer, locked himself out of the house yesterday. So he called inside the house for someone to let him back in...

Well, thank God Almighty he had that phone with him, or he could have been trapped on the porch for minutes, or hurt his hand knocking on the door.

I say, with the potential for catastrophe that could have arisen were it not for that phone, you can't wait, you've gotta buy ASAP.

If you're worried about possibly suffering buyers remorse, "Preparation H" will take some of the sting out of Apple's pricing policies

BlueDrake said:

My neighbor / crack head / crack dealer, locked himself out of the house yesterday. So he called inside the house for someone to let him back in...

Well, thank God Almighty he had that phone with him, or he could have been trapped on the porch for minutes, or hurt his hand knocking on the door.

I say, with the potential for catastrophe that could have arisen were it not for that phone, you can't wait, you've gotta buy ASAP.

If you're worried about possibly suffering buyers remorse, "Preparation H" will take some of the sting out of Apple's pricing policies

Heaven forbid you know how to knock, I guess the ways of old is being replaced by technology. Even general common courtesy is lost on people, then again I guess it's just how people get so wrapped up in the "future" mentality. Holding the door is so last century, among other general things.

I've long since said no need for an Apple product, even if it's the last brand on the planet. Overpriced honestly and would rather you buy the most expensive, and then extend it with a few years of protection to make themselves feel better.

SNGX1275 SNGX1275, TS Forces Special, said:

All but about 2 of the above posts are really off topic, or just 'hate apple to be cool'.

The article was a well written summary of time frames you can expect to see discounts. Thats it, it had nothing in it outside of those products, so if you don't like Apple products or the company, then what are you adding by posting here in response?

It was when to buy Apple products for the best discounts, not should you buy Apple. So 'never' buying one isn't even a logical response.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

All but about 2 of the above posts are really off topic, or just 'hate apple to be cool'.
Yeah well, I put up the (true) story about my neighbor just for the entertainment of our readers. It basically was fairly, although not completely neutral, towards Apple.

The article was a well written summary of time frames you can expect to see discounts. Thats it, it had nothing in it outside of those products, so if you don't like Apple products or the company, then what are you adding by posting here in response?
Well, I think people are beginning to do it, just to irritate you. We know you'll be there as Apple's "Defender of the Faith", so to speak. What you haven't quite gotten the hang off, is this is basically a young jitterbug's Windows forum, and you still seem to believe you're going to change that demographic by constantly scolding us.

It was when to buy Apple products for the best discounts, not should you buy Apple. So 'never' buying one isn't even a logical response.
In this case, I don't think any endorsements of, a synopsis about the topic, or obviating Julio's expertise at English composition will change the outcome.

The reason you only got "2 honest responses", is because the topic was a non starter in the first place. You apparently believe we should be mindful of your "constructive criticism",and I believe the learning experience is a two way street.

You can do one of two things, be thankful people showed any interest in the thread at all, or find a topic of more interest to our general forum membership.

Oh wait, there's a third option, just pull this post, which would give you the last word./ Your move.

SNGX1275 SNGX1275, TS Forces Special, said:

I don't see my response as defending Apple in any way.

It was a comment on the responses to the story.

St1ckM4n St1ckM4n said:

No mention of the iPod Classic, which hasn't seen a price move in over three years.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

I don't see my response as defending Apple in any way.

It was a comment on the responses to the story.

Fine. Then let's just work on that part of it.

First, consider the median responses to threads involving Apple products in this forum .Now, in what idealized alternate universe or reality, did you expect the responses to be different or more "appropriate" from the ones the thread received?

You would need the "iIndignants" to pop in and refute the home trolls. As it turns out, even their "iMaginations" weren't stimulated by the topic.

And if the answer to "when should you buy Apple", is posted as "never", so be it. That's actually on topic, whimsical, and in some circles, a supported opinion accepted as a truth.

You're not inclined to pop in and verbally spank people for off topic posts concerning topics other than Apple bashing.

And whether that be a tacit, diversionary, or even consciously recognized defense, it is a defense nonetheless.

When you compare the hit/look count on a thread such as this, to that of a new game release, you have to at least consider my viewpoint that the topic was a non starter.

In fact, I've seen threads like this that get way more hits after the ensuing argument, than for the topic prior to it.

SNGX1275 SNGX1275, TS Forces Special, said:

Fine. Then let's just work on that part of it.

First, consider the median responses to threads involving Apple products in this forum .Now, in what idealized alternate universe or reality, did you expect the responses to be different or more "appropriate" from the ones the thread received?

Absolutely none, as an answer to an idealized universe I expected. I expect nothing else than what happened here.

I would like this site to be exactly what it says it is: http://www.techspot.com/about.shtml

That should include, by definition, Apple technology. I would like for the comments, to at least adhere to the site's intention. That may be 'idealized', but it isn't irrational.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

Absolutely none, as an answer to an idealized universe I expected. I expect nothing else than what happened here.

I would like this site to be exactly what it says it is: http://www.techspot.com/about.shtml

That should include, by definition, Apple technology. I would like for the comments, to at least adhere to the site's intention. That may be 'idealized', but it isn't irrational.

OK, so by definition I'm going to describe this as "state supported pre-censorship". No Apple bashing, no blasphemy against the almighty Apple corporation, I get it. Their products are the best ever, swear to God.

I'm hoping the rest of the forum regulars will pick up on this and no even bother to click on threads with Apple as a topic.

As I said before, the reason the thread only got, "two honest responses", is because the topic was dry, dull, and in general a "non starter". Deal with it. How should you know when to get the best prices on Apple product? Oh, that's easy. Instead of posting to this thread, go read some good old fashioned advertisements.

If you like, (well I'm actually going to take this route anyway), I won't even attempt injecting some humor into something as droll as this thread. Just let it ride down that big news list to oblivion. Fare thee well, Amen.

As far as your interposing your opinions, wants, wishes, and desires into the topic, it's sort of the same tactic as arguing with an umpire to get the better of the next call. Maybe we could coin the term, "hyper-moderating". Nah, that would only get me a warning now, wouldn't it?

EDIT: The only reason I even bothered with this topic, was the fact I actually witnessed that bizarre "lock out" next door, I connected "cellphone" with "iPhone". And thought people would get a kick out of it. I'm certainly sure as hell it was more entertaining than this tedium.

SNGX1275 SNGX1275, TS Forces Special, said:

I won't warn, delete, whatever you are stringing out bait for me to do against you as a mod. I realize our TOS are up to some interpretation, but I also realize I'm probably known as someone who isn't easily amused by the Apple bashing so many of our fellow members enjoy.

I'm even less likely to remove any of your posts because of 'bias'. You have almost free reign as far as I'm concerned CC, you cross a line, someone else will take care of it. We have enough staff/mods here that I don't think my indifference to any potential violations you may incur are going to be significant to the site operations.

I also know that you drive a lot of responses, this helps the site.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

I won't warn, delete, whatever you are stringing out bait for me to do against you as a mod..
I'm not stringing anything out as bait.

The topic was a non starter.

I won't even try to spice up, or render any jocularity to any future Apple topic. In fact, I refuse to post to them.

Now, that's what you're asking for, that's what you're getting.

Don't try to pass it off like you're doing me any favors.

As a matter of fact, )and public record), I DIDN'T DO any Apple bashing in the thread. I made a remake about their prices. As if the fact they're to high is a big mystery.

You need to get out of this with me, and go harass the others, for a while.

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