Everything you need to know about why Apple laptops are so cheap -- and where to get the lowest price today.
Justin JaffeManaging editor
Justin Jaffe is the Managing Editor for CNET Money. He has more than 20 years of experience publishing books, articles and research on finance and technology for Wired, IDC and others. He is the coauthor of Uninvested (Random House, 2015), which reveals how financial services companies take advantage of customers -- and how to protect yourself. He graduated from Skidmore College with a B.A. in English Literature, spent 10 years in San Francisco and now lives in Portland, Maine.
For a long time, Apple laptops were expensive, premium products that were rarely discounted. You might find a modest deal on an older model or a retailer might sweeten a sale with a gift card. But that's changing -- we're seeing significant, sustained price breaks on an almost daily basis.
Some of those lower prices come from back-to-school discounts -- Apple, Best Buy and others offer at least $100 off for students, educators and/or family members with valid IDs. But even for those without edu email addresses, the price of the newest MacBook Air has dropped has dropped $100 to $200 since its July 2019 debut, when Apple launched it at $1,100: Best Buy was offering the same 128GB model for $1,000 over the weekend, and the retailer has since dropped the price to $900.
And now the 2019 MacBook Pro has joined the fun, with both Amazon and Best Buy offering up to $300 off the brand new laptop. The highest-end configurations come with the biggest discounts, but let's not sleep on this deal: $1,600 for the new 13-inch model equipped with an eighth-gen quad-core Intel Core i5, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD.
I've been wondering why the prices of these new Apple laptops have dipped so low, so I reached out to IDC Research Vice President Linn Huang, who covers devices and displays, for an explanation. He pointed to two major factors. First, Apple is feeling pressure from the increasing number of high-quality Windows and Chrome laptops -- devices that are often far less expensive but nearly as well designed as MacBooks.
Second, according to Huang, Apple shipped an unusually high number of devices to retailers in Q2, in an effort to get ahead of the tariffs that would subsequently spin out of US trade negotiations with China. (Tariffs are assessed at time of import, not time of retail sale.) Those retailers, now with a great many Apple laptops on hand, can only sit on that inventory for so long. So we end up with a brand-new MacBook Air or MacBook Pro selling for $200 or $300 less than when they were released about five weeks ago.
We've got more details about today's MacBook deals below. Have a look.
Note that CNET may get a share of revenue from the sale of the products featured on this page.
This is a $200 discount on the brand-new MacBook Air -- the one with the Retina True Tone display -- that Apple released a few weeks ago. That's the best deal we've seen to date on this laptop, and it's hard to imagine the price falling any further. If you're planning to pick up this laptop anytime between now and Black Friday, now is the time.
Best Buy has the step-up version of the 2018 MacBook Air, with 256GB of storage, selling for $50 less than the entry-level 128GB model when it debuted last year. This is a steal -- and, in my opinion, the best deal of the batch.
The entry-level 13-inch MacBook Pro now features an eighth-gen quad-core processor, which the company says is twice as powerful as the prior chip. It also now comes with the Touch Bar and Touch ID, as well as the True Tone Retina display, the Apple T2 Security Chip, wider stereo speakers and the three-mic array found on higher-end MacBook Pros. The discounts range from $100 on the entry-level models to $200 on the more expensive configurations.