Why You Shouldn't Pay More Than $399 for the iPad Air

Apple will likely announce another iPad this month, which is great news for dealhunters since the best deals on the tablet tend to pop up around this time.

The rumor mill has been buzzing for some time now, and the word is that Apple will release new iPads in October. That wouldn't be surprising since the company did so last year too. This predictability is great for Apple soothsayers who are excited about the new hotness, and it's also extremely useful for the dealhunter, because it becomes easier to predict when you'll find the best deals.

We took a look at our deal archives for the past three generations of iPad models to find out when the best deals tend to occur. If you're considering an iPad purchase in the coming days, this information should help you decide when you can save the most money.

Check out the illustration below, and read on for a further analysis of the research.

The iPad Air Will See the Biggest Discount in October

Apple tends to refresh its iPad lineup in late October, which is when consumers should be looking for deals. Although it will see some modest initial discounts within weeks of launch, the iPad traditionally sees its best deals in the days before and after the next model is announced. The iPad 4, for instance, hit its all time lows of $400 and $399 just before the iPad Air's announcement and two days after the iPad Air's keynote, respectively. For those keeping track, that's about 20% off list price.

Update: We've seen the $400 price tag a few times in the past month, and a reader below points out that it's currently $399 at Micro Center; however, it's only available with in-store pickup.

iPad mini Deals Are Slow Out of the Gates

The iPad mini, however, follows a slightly different trajectory. Perhaps because we're only one generation in thus far, the iPad mini with Retina was slow to see its first deal. Deals on this tablet typically show up in January, over two months after its release. For the first generation iPad mini, the first deal took a modest $5 off the tablet's MSRP. Initial deals for the iPad mini Retina were equally modest, slashing just $24 off its higher $399 MSRP.

But, just like the iPad Air, the mini's strongest discounts have popped up the closer we get to the iPad announcement in October. Based on deal history of the standard mini, we're anticipating even steeper price cuts after the second-generation debuts, at which point shoppers should look for 25% off or more.

Save 15% With a Refurbished Deal

Apple is one of those manufacturers that has a sterling reputation for offering flawless, factory-reconditioned items; its refurbs come with the same full 1-year warranty that its new products receive. Many consumers who don't want to pay full price will thus look for refurb deals.

And luckily, unlike the iPhone, the Apple Store will sell its own factory-refurbished iPads online. A current full-size model will show up in the store around the 5-month mark after debut, and Apple will offer a fairly consistent $80 off (about 16% off) until the next model is announced, at which point it'll drop to $120 off. Meanwhile, iPad mini with Retina refurbs — just like their new counterparts — took a bit longer to show up, arriving six months later instead of five. They checked in at $60 off (about 15% off), although we're predicting that mini Retina refurbs will similarly see another price cut once the next generation is released. Although with Apple's latest round of refurbs, we've seen up to a whopping 45% off.

Although at any given point, a deal price on a new unit might top Apple's non-fluctuating refurb offers, they're an ideal option for someone who wants a discount, but doesn't want to wait for a deal.

Of course, you can only get these prices if you keep your eyes peeled for the deals. Sign up for an email alert and we'll send you a message the second we publish a deal. Interested in other Apple items? Check out our guides for the iPhone and MacBook Air as well.

Related DealNews Features:
Louis Ramirez
Contributing Writer

With over a decade of experience covering technology, Louis Ramirez has written for CNET, Laptop, Gizmodo, and various other publications. Follow him on Twitter at @louisramirez.
DealNews may be compensated by companies mentioned in this article. Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).


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If it survives (and Apple doesn't keep the iPad 4th gen instead), it will drop to $399. If history is any indicator, we might see it for even less during black friday
iPad Air 16GB, new, are now $389 on eBay: http://www.ebay.com/...Tablets&hash=item51c4945c1d
Boilers.....iPod touch with cell data,is an IPHONE! Genius!
They are already at $399 at Microcenter

I really want an update to the iPod Touch.
Perhaps even with a larger screen. cell data would be nice, too.
I in general we find the Touch to be the most useful device.
(can't afford phone costs - but sure they'd be good, too)