October 2, 2023


Unlimited Technology

To time your Apple purchases wisely, shop to the rhythm of Apple’s events

A screenshot of the Apple logo featured on its March event invite.

A screenshot of the Apple logo featured on its March event invite.

On Tuesday, Apple will host a product event to introduce… something.

You can get a good hint from outside reporting by the likes of Bloomberg’s well-sourced Mark Gurman (who got the March 8 date right in advance), which points to an updated iPhone SE and iPad Air. But you can also look at Apple’s archive of recent product events to get guidance about this – and whatever Apple showcases come later this year.

Last April, Apple staged a well-produced online unveiling of an updated iPad Pro and a new line of iMac desktop computers; a year earlier, the Cupertino, California-based, company introduced the current iPhone SE but dispensed with a physical or online production on account of the pandemic.

Apple has been even more predictable in late summer and early fall, when it’s introduced new iPhones every year for the past nine years – accompanied in recent years by Apple Watch updates.

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The pattern is clear: “iPhones and Apple Watches in September and iPads in March (or so),” wrote Adam Engst, publisher of the long-running Apple newsletter Tidbits. He cited the underlying sources of demand for fall and spring product launches: for the holiday season, “make sure there are products in the pipeline for ordering in November/December.” And the education buying season in the summer? “Make sure there are products that can be bought in June/July.”

If you don’t want to get stuck buying an Apple device that becomes obsolete weeks later, time your purchases accordingly.

“For most people, it makes sense to hold off on new iPad purchases right before the spring, and wait on new numbered iPhones and Apple Watches in the fall,” emailed analyst Avi Greengart, president at Techsponential. “Apple reliably updates these on an annual cadence.”

But price-conscious iPhone shoppers can also profit from Apple’s habit of keeping older versions on sale at a price that’s typically $100 less.

“Waiting for the previous generation of a device to get cheaper once a new one arrives is a worthwhile strategy for the iPhone,” Engst said, adding that Apple has also followed this pricing strategy to some extent with the Apple Watch.

But he warned against expecting deals on iPads and Macs this way: “Mostly, when a new Mac or iPad arrives, it replaces the previous one and at best, you can get a deal on remaining stock for the older model for a month or two.”

Engst and Greengart agreed that timing purchases is trickier with new Macs – which Apple’s March event could also feature. Apple has a history of letting individual product lines linger without updates. For example, the Mac mini and MacBook Air have gone unchanged since Apple introduced new versions using its Apple Silicon processors in November of 2020.

“Your best bet is to see how long it’s been since Apple launched the computer, laptop, or headphones you want to buy,” Greengart wrote. “If it’s been less than 18 months, you’re probably safe – even if Apple does update the device, it shouldn’t be a generational shift.”

The Apple-news site MacRumors maintains a buyer’s guide that tracks how many days have elapsed for an Apple product line since a previous update; the iPhone SE gets a “Don’t Buy” advisory on account of its age, while the iPad Air receives a “Caution” label.

Considering the near-unanimity of reporting about Apple introducing a new iPhone SE and iPad Air in March, one bit of advice seems beyond reproach: If you have one of those devices and don’t want to shift to a different series of iPhone or iPad or pay list price for the same model you bought a year or two ago, take exceptionally good care of your device for the next few weeks.

Rob Pegoraro is a tech writer based out of Washington. To submit a tech question, email Rob at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/robpegoraro.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Apple event: Why you should time iPhone, iPad purchases to calendar

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