Buying a new computer, phone or tablet is a pricey proposition, especially if you want an Apple. The company is known for its price controls, but it's still possible to find deals.
The longer you wait after a new product introduction, the more money you'll save. But don't head to your local Apple Store, advised the team at DealNews.com, a consumer bargain site. "Authorized resellers like Amazon, MacMall and MacConnection frequently undercut Apple Store prices," he said.
After analyzing three years' worth of Apple data, they found that deals on Apple products are happening more quickly and are getting more aggressive. Here are tips on when you can find the best deals on electronics from Apple, and what to expect in the way of new products.
New laptops should be released this summer in time for back-to-school shopping. Apple's MacBook Pros usually see deals quickly compared to other Mac computers. The MacBook Pro 15.4-inch saw the biggest drop in price compared to any other Mac, Louis Ramirez, analyst at DealNews, said. Based on the last one introduced in October 2011, wait two days after the refreshed MacBook Pro becomes available. If you can hold off for three months, you could save as much as $300. Currently, Pros are available in 13.3-, 15.4- and 17-inch models and start at $1,200.
But don't hold your breath for a new 17-inch model. Ming-Chi Kuo, a reliable industry analyst, said he expects the 17-inch MacBook Pro to be discontinued. However, he also has predicted that Apple will introduce a MacBook Pro-MacBook Air hybrid, a combination of Apple's powerful laptop with its ultra-lightweight model.
For an 11.6-inch MacBook Air, the second-most-discounted Apple computer, wait one day and save $50 or wait four months and possibly save $150, Ramirez said. Both Best Buy and Amazon offered deep discounts (deep for Apple!) on the smallest MacBook Air released last July. Prices start at $1,000.
While the 11.6-inch screen size may seem too small, I say take a look. The high resolution screen compensates for its size, and easily slips into a modest handbag. The MacBook Air is available in a 13.3-inch size as well that offers an additional two hours of wireless use -- seven hours compared with five for the smaller unit.
Desktop lovers who are looking to buy a 21.5-inch iMac should wait a week and find savings of $95 or wait seven months to save around $145 -- the longest period among Apple computers. Like MacBook Pros, prices start at $1,200. The iMac is also available with a 27-inch display.
As for other devices, here's the scoop:
The most recent Apple launch was the iPad (no number associated with this one, although it was the third generation model) in March. DealNews last week reported the first deal on the new iPad -- $40 off, but you had to move fast. The discount lasted only half an hour, but may signal more deals in the near future. DealNews offers email alerts for people who are ready to buy: https://dealnews.com/mydealnews/alerts.html. You can expect savings up to $140 by waiting a year, which of course coincides with the launch of a new model. Apple dropped the price of the iPad 2 by $100 when it announced the new iPad starting at $500.
But the burning question is -- at least from my readers -- should I wait for an iPhone 5 or buy an iPhone 4S now. In other words, will the next iPhone be that much better? While Apple has confirmed nothing, analysts believe the iPhone 5 will be released in October of this year. It is rumored to have a "liquid metal" case (it will look different), better battery life, near field communication capability (so you can pay with your phone), a more powerful processor and a new operating system. And that's the important point: New capabilities and apps may only be compatible with iOS 6, or like the iPhone 4S and voice-to-text app Siri, something worthy of a "wow" might only be available for the new phone.
For the first time in iPhone history, the 4S got a discount just 11 days after its debut -- Walmart offered $11 off the starting price with contract of $199. Two months later, Fry's lopped $31 off. DealNews said that may have set a precedent and we can expect similar early discounts next fall.
"Sure, you won't be the first on your block with the latest Apple toy," Ramirez said. "But you'll have more cash in your wallet and the comfort in knowing you didn't pay full price."
Ogden-based TopTenREVIEWS.com guides consumers by comparing products in the world of technology, including electronics, software and Web services. Have a question for TopTenREVIEWS? Email Leslie Meredith at email@example.com.