Should you go for the iPhone SE? What to buy (and skip) in April. (+video)(Read article summary)
The new iPhone SE went on the market this month, and it might be a good time to buy. April also brings great bargains on other tech and spring apparel.
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April shopping time is here, and we've scoped out all the best deals online and in-store. To help guide you towards savvy purchases, we dug through the DealNews archives from years past to see what goods are, well, good to buy in April, and what you should hold off on purchasing. From early spring apparel sales to Tax Day freebies, here's what's in store this month for the smart shopper.
Mid-Season Clothing Sales Coming to a Retailer Near You
The general rule for dressing yourself in deals is to wait about two months after a new season of apparel hits stores before cashing in on sizable discounts. Many retailers began debuting their spring merchandise in February, which means April is the 2-month mark. Expect moderate discounts that take 15% to 30% off; any spring clothing sale that slashes 40% to 50% off current season items will be exceptional, because otherwise, 50% off discounts won't materialize until May or later.
And speaking of clothing, you're running out of time to shop for clearance-level discounts on winter items. The winter season was relatively mild this year, leaving retailers saddled with all kinds of cold-weather clothing and accessories. With spring temperatures here in full force (barring any late-season snowfall), they'll be even more eager to clear out this inventory.
Get Your Fill of Tax Day Freebies
There are few people in this world who don't appreciate getting something for free, and one of the most popular days for restaurants to offer something gratis takes place in April: Tax Day. Fast food and nationwide chains in particular offer free food on April 15. If the Tax Day freebies are anything like last year's crop, then you should be on the lookout for opportunities to get a free cup of coffee, free breakfast foods, or free side orders or desserts with the purchase of an entrée. Note that sit-down restaurants are likely to require a purchase, whereas fast food locations might not require one.
And if you like free stuff (and who doesn't?), be sure to check out our latest freebie deals and our complete list of resources for getting freebies year round.
For the Best Apple Watch Deals, Do Not Buy From Apple
No one was surprised when Apple introduced new watch bands at its recent event, but the company did catch many off guard by slashing the starting price of the Apple Watch by $50 to $299. However, we've seen the smartwatch available pretty regularly for $249 from resellers like Target and Best Buy, with refurbs priced as low as $200. As usual, we recommend not buying directly from Apple, and looking for discounts at certified resellers. Target has consistently offered $100 off the Apple Watch, so keep an eye out for it to drop to $199 there.
Wait Two Months for Deals on the New iPad Pro
Apple also introduced a new 9.7" iPad Pro with prices starting at $599. Normally, iPads are introduced in October, right before Black Friday; if we exclude the usual holiday discounts that Apple tablets tend to see, then the first iPad deals usually come two months after the release — and are modest. Thus, we anticipate seeing the 9.7" iPad Pro for as low as $527 by the end of May. But if you wait an additional two months, you can expect to see the tablet starting from $467.
It Pays to Buy the More Expensive iPhone SE
For its new iPhone SE, Apple skipped over a 32GB model, offering just a 16GB handset for $399 and a 64GB for $499. As any frustrated Apple fan (or gloating Samsung fan) will tell you, iPhones don't feature expandable memory, so if 16GB isn't enough for your storage needs, then the base model isn't a good deal. But ultimately, $100 isn't that much more to pay for four times the storage space. So if price is less of a concern for you, go for the 64GB phone; when other people have long filled up their 16GB phones, you'll feel much better that you did.
If $499 for 64GB is too high a price to swallow, keep in mind that discounts on iPhones often occur just days after release. We expect to see discounts on the SE soon, and will keep you posted. Also, look for discounts on the now discontinued iPhone 5s.
Android Smartphones Continue to Shine
Several flagship Android phones were announced late in February, and as they start to make it to the market, previous generation models will see clearance pricing. Both the Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge+, for example, have dropped to just $1 with a 2-year contract, since the S7 is due for release soon. (For what it's worth, Target is offering the S7 for preorder bundled with a $100 gift card.)
Look for other notable Android and Windows phones to drop significantly in price, or to even be free with a contract renewal. These deals can pop up at any time from a variety of sellers, so keep an eye on our weekly roundup of the best phone deals to find the model of your dreams.
Wait Until Memorial Day for Mattresses, Tools, and Appliances
Department stores almost always roll out special sales for holiday weekends, and Memorial Day usually provides excellent discounts on select home items. If you wait until next month, you'll find tools that are up to 50% off, large appliances for about 30% off, and mattresses that get an extra discount of 10% to 40% off. In fact, for the past few years, we've seen much deeper discounts on mattresses in May than in April. Therefore, any discounts you see this month will very likely get even steeper if you wait.
Book Your Vacation to Cuba
The president went, so why not you? With relations between the US and Cuba normalizing after 60 years, the first travel providers are opening up travel packages to the island nation. We've already seen a four night escorted trip for two for $3,438 via coupon code "DHHVM350"; and while prices are sure to drop farther as more options become available, many want to beat the rush of tourists and development.
If you prefer to stay domestic, American and Southwest are offering some noteworthy fares, dropping below even their barebones budget competitors Frontier and Spirit. In recent weeks, Southwest has offered 1-way fares from $36, and American has started at $35.
Also, now is an amazing time to book a Canadian getaway. With the US dollar rallying and the Canadian loonie's value at a 12-year low, it's like everything is on sale for Americans visiting our Northern neighbors. And that includes airfares, which Consumer Reports says have dropped 15% in the last two years.
Brand-Name 55" TVs Remain the Best Value
Once again, with TV deals relatively sparse this season, name-brand 55" TVs are your best bet. In the last month, we've seen 1080p sets for as little as $435. Even 4K has been producing some pretty good deals as it becomes more mainstream, with deals from $700. Be sure to look for last year's models, as they'll be discounted to make way for 2016 sets.
Hold Off on Laptops Until Back to School
Laptop deals are scattered at this point, and big sales are in sight. Back to school deals start in June and get better throughout the summer, and you don't have to be a student to take advantage of many of them.
If you do need a computer this month, look for a 16" laptop with an Intel Core i5 Broadwell or Skylake processor for around $400. Budget builds with less powerful Celeron, Bay Trail, or Ivy Bridge processors are priced for around $200, while gaming rigs with i7 processors and discrete graphics can be had for closer to $700.
This article first appeared in DealNews.