Best time to buy a new Mac or iPhone

Word on the net is that Apple is planning to update its Macbook Air laptops this week with new Intel processors and possibly new hard drive options. The Air line of super thin and light notebooks hasn’t seen an update since the Apple Worldwide Developer’s Conference in June of 2013.  This week’s impending update (article edited on 4/29/14) is an excellent time to point out that there is indeed a right and a wrong time to buy a new computer – especially an Apple product.

Buying a new Apple product is like buying a new car; new models come out like clockwork at certain times of the year. Apple likes splash and only does big releases and updates at a handful of high profile events. While you can always wait out for something better, especially in tech, wouldn’t you rather your expensive purchase be the top dog for 12 months versus 1 week?

Apple’s Release Schedule

Summer – New MacBook Laptops

Apple typically uses its annual Worldwide Developer’s Conference (WWDC) to focus on its Mac computers and updates. These types of products make the most sense at this event since this is when all of the third parties that develop for Apple’s ecosystem (Mac and iPhone/iPad operating systems) come together to share ideas and talk geek.

In 2013, at the WWDC, Apple released an updated MacBook Air and new wireless routers. In 2012, at the WWDC, Apple released new versions of the Mac Pro, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, and new networking equipment.

Fall – New iPhones & iMacs

Fall is back to school time, which is big bucks for computer manufacturers since lots of parents like to load their kids up with new tech for the upcoming school year. Apple typically focuses its fall releases on products that would appeal to this demographic.

In 2013, Apple released the iPhone 5C and 5S on September 20th followed by dramatically updated iMacs on September 24th. In 2012, the iPhone 5 was unveiled on September 21st followed by new iPods, Mac Minis, and updated MacBook Pros in October.

Winter – New iPads

Winter is the last chance for Apple to make a big splash for the holiday buying spree. With the new iPhones having arrived a couple months before displaying the latest and greatest in mobile tech, Apple usually does an iPad follow up.

In 2013, Apple released the iPad Air and vastly updated iPad Mini on November 1st and 12th respectively. Apple also unveiled the professional-oriented Mac Pro on December 19th. In 2012, new iPads came out on November 2nd and 16th.

Spring – A Little Depressing for Apple Fans

The first few months of the new year are typically dull when it comes to Apple releases; the company used up all of its energy for the fall and winter and it’s just riding the wave of those new releases.

However, if you’re not wed to Apple tech, the good news is that competitors like Samsung and HTC typically take advantage of this lull to introduce their new products like the Samsung Galaxy or HTC One smartphones. Also, spring might be a good time for you to spend your extra cash on vacations!

However, Apple may have some surprises, especially for new product categories. Back when Steve Jobs still ran the show with an iron fist, products came out when the boss thought they were ready, regardless of what time of the year it was. True fanboys can only hope that a fantastical iWatch or voice-controlled Apple TV or all-electric, flying iCar could come out any day now.

Final Thoughts on When to Buy

Generally speaking, it’s best to buy your new Apple products in the second half of the year, particularly September or November. The company generally unveils new Mac laptops and computers in the summer or fall. The same advice is also true for iPhones and iPads.

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