When to buy Apple gadgets


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Yesterday was Apple’s big annual iPod event, and like many other current iPod owners, I watched with a certain degree of envy as Steve Jobs announced new iPods Shuffle, Nano, and Touch. It’s the all-too familiar gadget buyer’s dilemma – when is the right time for me to buy into a product? Am I going to drop a few hundred dollars on something just to see a better one come out a few months later?

With Apple, it’s thankfully a little easier to predict when they will refresh their products. So when’s the best time to buy?

iPod

In the past, it was fairly hard to predict just when Apple would launch new iPods since their many different models catered to so many different markets. The iPod Touch has been the one steady product, updated every September since its release. The iPod Shuffle (before 2010) and Nano (before 2006) used to be updated every 6 months, usually with a major redesign in Fall and a storage boost in Spring. Since then, the iPod market has seemingly matured to the point where Apple feels it only needs to update its entire line once a year in September. I would be surprised if they deviate from this schedule, but since there’s a history of 6 month refreshes on the Nano and Shuffle, you should probably be wary when buying those products in February or March. The big exception is the iPod Classic, which has barely changed since 2007.

iPhone

With the exception of the original, iPhones have been updated every year in either June or July. The past two models have also been launched with a major price reduction in the prior model, offering an entry-level $99 option. Unlocked iPhones are generally made available a few months prior to the launch of the next version (probably in order to clear out their stock of old phones).

iPad

Since there’s only been one version, it would be hard to judge just when the latest iOS addition will fall into Apple’s product release calendar. The iPad was first introduced in January of this year, so if Apple is following the same annual schedule that it is with it’s other products, I would imagine iPad 2 will probably come out around the same time.

Macs

Unlike the iOS devices, the release schedules for Macs have been all over the board. On average, new models come out every 200-250 days, though it seems that recently this number has been steadily increasing. Instead of trying to track it yourself, you’re better off checking the recommendations over at the Mac Rumors Buying Guide.

Writing this article was done with a big, big help from the free Mactracker app, which provides detailed info on just about everything that has ever been released by Apple.

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