Apple makes great products, but let's face it, they're rather pricey and aren't often discounted. It's a good idea to keep an eye out for deals on previous-generation Apple products or gadgets that have been refurbished. I put on my bargain hunter's cap this week, and with some help from DealNews.com, I found five deals on Apple iPads that can save you as much as $50.
The best current deal is for a 32GB iPad Air (first generation) that's going for $399.99 on Microcenter.com, compared to Apple's price of $449. (I've also seen a few eBay listings close to that price, so it's worth checking that site as well.) The 9.7-inch tablet is new, has Wi-Fi (but no cellular connectivity), a snazzy Retina display, and it comes with iOS 7 installed. Upgrading to iOS 8, however, is simple.
You also shouldn't turn up your nose at a refurbished product — as long as Apple or another reputable outfit did the work. Refurbished devices are sometimes returned to stores without being used. In any case, Apple backs its refurbished products with a one-year warranty and you have 14 days to return them if you change your mind. You can buy a refurbished 32GB version of the iPad mini 2 for $299 from Apple, or about $50 less than you'd pay for a new one. The mini 2 has a 7.9-inch Retina display, and it supports Wi-Fi but not cellular connectivity. If you want more storage, you can buy a refurbished, iPad mini 2 64GB model for $349, or a 128GB version for $439.
The Apple Store offers the factory-refurbished Apple iPad 2 16GB Wi-Fi + 3G tablet for AT&T in black for $289. It appears that you have to pick this one up at the store. I had no trouble finding them at Apple's two San Francisco stores, so I suspect they're not too hard to find elsewhere.
These are all good, if not blockbuster, deals, but I expect to see more discounts on various versions of the iPad as the year moves on. Sales of tablets by Apple (and every other vendor) were weak in 2014, according to Louis Ramirez of DealNews. Ramirez, who follows Apple's pricing strategy closely, noticed that deals on iPads were much more plentiful late last year than in past years. Unless the tablet market picks up — and IDC suggests that it could, at least a little — it seems likely that more tempting discounts will be available in 2015.
However, Ramirez doesn't expect to see many deals on iPhones, and I agree; the market is simply too hot. The iPad is a great product, so keep your eyes open. Even an older model is plenty useful, and it could be exactly the right product for a student.