These Are the Worst Times to Buy New Tech Gear

These Are the Worst Times to Buy New Tech Gear
Photo: bodnar.photo, Shutterstock

Tech gifts are big during the holidays, but new tech purchases happen all year-round. Your laptop stops powering on, so you buy a refreshed MacBook Pro; your Android can’t hold a charge, so you upgrade to a Pixel 6; your old TV just isn’t 4K-enough, so you get yourself an LG OLED. Buying new tech is fun. But sometimes, when you buy something is just as important as what you buy.

There’s nothing quite like splurging on an expensive, feature-filled device that its manufacturer has plastered across websites, subways ads, and billboards, only to see them completely abandon that product once they release something new. That new product also conveniently fixes the complaints you have with the one you just bought, so, there’s that.

But you can’t live life worrying about these things, right? There’s always something new coming down the pipeline; you’re never going to buy a piece of tech that stays cutting-edge forever. The only sane way to participate in this technological boom is to buy a device, appreciate it for what it is, and ignore the fancy, fresh stuff until you actually need to buy a new thing.

While that’s certainly true, you can be mindful about when you buy your tech without obsessing about what’s coming next. Truthfully, there really are bad times to buy technology, for multiple reasons.

Companies often stick to yearly updates

While it seems like new tech is dropping all the time, it really isn’t; it’s more like once a year, with product drops spread throughout the year. Most major tech companies — at least the ones that produce rapidly changing consumer goods like smartphones and tablets — release new products around the same time each calendar cycle.

Take Apple. The company routinely announces new iPhones in September, and makes them available shortly thereafter. There are exceptions — announcements get delayed, or supply chain issues muck up ship dates — but the company has released a new iPhone every year since the beginning of time (2007), and you can bet your bottom dollar that release is going to happen in the fall.

In fact, a lot of companies end up releasing new tech in the fall. So much so, that some lovingly refer to the time period as “Techtober.” You can see this Android Central poll that asked readers whether they were most excited for the Google Pixel launch, Galaxy Unpacked, Apple Unleashed, or the Sony Xperia launch, all of which occurred at roughly the same time.

So, if you’re in the market for a new phone, but you don’t absolutely, positively need one this second, and the leaves are changing, and people are drinking pumpkin spice lattes, don’t buy it yet.

Different products come out at different times

The tricky thing is, companies often don’t release all of their new products all at once. Apple, for example, has some products releases that stick to spring, such as their iPad Pros, which were refreshed in May. (We’ll talk more about keeping tabs on these timeframe later on.)

It’s not just about the latest tech, either. The second a company announces a new product, their existing products drop in value. If the company still sells the product, you’ll likely find it at a nice discount, but third-party sellers are actually the way to go. Often, you’ll find excellent deals that cut the original price by a lot, especially if the store or carrier is running a promotion, or if they’re simply trying to liquidate old inventory.

There are plenty of exceptions to this rule. Console makers like Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft don’t update their consoles once a year (and even when they do, they hardly make enough of their new products, which can remain scarce on the shelves for years). But even companies that don’t refresh their lineups as often have to make something new eventually. And, when they do, you don’t want it to be the day after you bought their old product.

So, what can you do?

The internet can help you keep track of rumours

If you’re not someone who is constantly keeping up with the latest tech timelines and rumours, knowing whether or not it’s a good time to buy tech can certainly feel overwhelming. The best thing to do, then, is to Google it! A quick search on the product in question, and whether or not that company might have something brewing sooner than later, will turn up plenty of results from people who track this stuff constantly.

MacRumors, for example, has a buyer’s guide that tracks products from their original release date, and gives an idea of how “safe” it is to buy. An iPhone 13, released just months ago, is a no-brainer, but an iPad Air, which came out over a year ago, is risky, since it’s due for a refresh soon.

Comments

  • Always a good idea to track prices of items on your radar.

    Could be as simple as taking a screenshot of a sales email or keeping a spreadsheet.

    When you see an amazing deal, get it! I got an updated switch with mario kart 8 for $350 in 2020, have never seen it that cheap again.

    Missed out on Sony XM4s for $329 last year, this year $349 is the best I have seen.

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