In today’s world, a good computer and phone are almost as much of a necessity as a toothbrush. Without either, you’ll have a much harder time finding work, pursuing an education, or even connecting with friends.
Essential they may be; free they are not. You almost certainly have more pressing demands on your budget, like food and shelter. Don’t give up on your dream of owning the latest gadget just yet, though: it is possible to find electronic devices cheaply as long as you know a few simple tricks.
Table of Contents
- 1 Know What You’re Looking For
- 2 Be Patient
- 3 Wait Until After the Release of the Next Generation of Tech
- 4 Buy Your Gadgets at the Right Time of Year
- 5 The Best Deals Are Online
- 6 TechBargains
- 7 SlickDeals
- 8 NewEgg
- 9 Fry’s
- 10 B&H
- 11 Swappa
- 12 Bang Good
- 13 Discounts for the Plucking
- 14 Other Tips on Shopping for Discount Electronics
Know What You’re Looking For
Before you start searching for the latest device you can afford, it may be a good idea to take a moment and think about what you really need it to do. There’s always a temptation to go with the newest, shiniest piece of hardware around. Hundreds of thousands of dollars are spent on some very slick marketing designed to convince you that your older gadgets just don’t cut it anymore, while there’s a lot of social pressure involved as well. Just think about it, though: if you need the very latest model of iPhone to impress your friends, those are probably not the friends you want.
Spend your tech money where it will do the most good. If you have to choose between a new tablet or an additional home automation doohickey, the right choice is whichever will make you happiest.
If some more demanding function such as gaming or software development is important to you, you may have to do some research on the minimum specs you can get away with – either use those as a baseline or consider downshifting your expectations. Focusing on what you truly need can save you a lot of money when shopping for the latest electronic devices. If, for instance, you’re a photographer who wants to be ready to capture special moments whenever they happen and without lugging an equipment case around wherever you go, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 9 may appeal to you. Though not top of the line in many respects, its camera doesn’t disappoint and it sells for about half the price of a premium phone.
Plenty of people buy gadgets on a whim, often without doing any research at all. This is not the way to save on the latest electronic devices. Knowing how gadget prices fluctuate throughout the year can be a big help, and timing your purchases correctly is far from difficult. If you’re really in need of something that at least turns on, buying a second-hand piece of junk as a stopgap may save you some serious bucks while still, eventually, allowing you to get the device you want.
Wait Until After the Release of the Next Generation of Tech
The early bird gets the worm, we’re told, but nobody ever discusses what happens to the early worm. In the world of electronics, staying just a few months behind the technology curve can save you a lot of money.
At the moment, for example, there’s a kind of war going on between the manufacturers of high-end PC graphics cards. Each time a newer, more powerful model hits the shelves, the price of its more dated competitors drops down a notch. Nobody wants to be second best, but the difference is often negligible in practical terms and the savings add up more the longer you wait.
Buy Your Gadgets at the Right Time of Year
Aside from keeping an eye on tech news – and apart from genuine enthusiasts, who has time for that? – it also pays to select the time of year you shop for electronics. If you plan ahead, you can also save up some money in the preceding months and perhaps grab something that would normally be out of your price range.
The single best day to buy anything from a new laptop to a smart doorbell has to be Cyber Monday, or the Monday following Thanksgiving. Retailers know that customers with cash burning holes in their pockets will be thronging their stores, so they try hard to attract the most business with incredible offers. If you don’t want to deal with the scrum you’ll find in many stores, you can also take advantage of these savings while shopping online.
This also brings us into the holiday season, where many bargains can be had as long as you’re willing to do a bit of googling. Another great shopping season for the latest electronics is the first two weeks of August, during which plenty of people are looking for gadgets for the coming school year
Finally, smart shoppers who want to pick up electronic devices cheaply will keep an eye on the annual Consumer Electronics Show, the largest event of its kind and often where new product announcements are made. This is held in early January and is often followed by a drop in prices of those products that are about to be superseded by something that’s just a little bit faster, lighter, or cooler.
The Best Deals Are Online
That may be an exaggeration; there are plenty of bargains to be had at your local mall. The more important point is that comparing different options online is much, much easier than scanning newspaper ads or visiting one store after another, and all the major retailers advertise on the web anyway.
The following websites are all good bets when it comes to looking for the latest electronic devices and gadgets for cheap. They are worth checking every day if you’re in the market for a new toy, as the offers you’ll find here change very frequently.
TechBargains works tirelessly on your behalf, gathering price information from independent retailers, discount stores, and websites. While you can find items like phones and exercise equipment here, the focus is definitely on computing technology. For best results, sign up for their newsletter to learn about great deals before most people see them.
Unlike typical bargain hunters’ websites, SlickDeals relies less on software bots and more on member recommendations when it comes to showing you the best deals on electronic devices. Members even vote to determine whether a particular offer is hot or not. This website isn’t dedicated to tech as such, but browsing through the categories covering gadgets is a great way to get a discount price on whatever you’re interested in. SlickDeals is also a good place to find coupons.
NewEgg started off, almost two decades ago, as a tech-heavy website. While you can find other items like power tools and clothing there today, it remains one of the best places to search for electronic gadgets at a good price. Both third-party sellers and the site’s own product lines are represented, as is a selection of refurbished, pre-owned, returned, and discontinued electronics.
You have a much better chance of finding cheap gadgets on Fry’s than on the websites of other, better-known mass outlets. There are plenty of routers, tablets, and laptops available, though you can also find devices like battery packs, hi-fi gear, and car electronics here. Shipping is often included in the sale price.
Though you’ll find plenty of computer hardware and mobile devices on B&H, their primary focus is on video and photographic equipment. Like with NewEgg, they also sell a wide variety of used items, making this website a good place to start your search for cheap lenses, specialized lighting equipment, and camcorders.
Swappa, like SlickDeals, is a community-driven website. It doesn’t help you locate the best retail prices, though, but instead provides a dedicated marketplace for second-hand electronic devices. Swappa provides a high degree of security for buyers and, as long as you’re not addicted to that new-plastic smell, makes a great starting point if you’re looking for big-ticket items like gaming consoles. You can also pick up some great deals on phone plans here.
Based in China, Bang Good lets you pay wholesale prices on the latest electronics shipped to your door. You can expect to find many knock-offs here at impressively low prices, but few brand-name products. For smaller items like headphones and chargers, this doesn’t matter too much, though their long shipping times may make you think twice about using this platform.
Discounts for the Plucking
There are several strategies besides those mentioned above you can use to buy the latest electronics cheaply. If you haven’t gotten into couponing yet, the perfect time to start is before buying a big-ticket item like a new phone or computer. In addition, you may want to sign up for a couple of price tracking websites – just specify what kind of product you’re interested in, and you’ll get an alert on your phone whenever it’s on sale somewhere.
You should also consider shopping for refurbished electronics. These are typically devices that were returned before their original warranty period expired. In other words, you may have to deal with a few minor irritations: missing accessories, a few scratches on the case, and the knowledge that someone had their paws on the device before you.
The good news, of course, is that refurbished goods and open-box returns sell for much less than the normal retail price, making it possible to afford the latest electronics cheaply. In general, when an item has been inspected and possibly repaired by the original manufacturer or their agents, you can buy these with some confidence – although you’ll probably have to accept a restricted or non-existent warranty. If you’re not totally sure of who handled the device, you can still take a chance, but think of this as buying electronics second-hand.
When you visit a store, it’s also worth asking whether they have any clearance stock available, or perhaps demo devices they no longer need on the floor. Many retailers also offer trade-in programs: if you’re upgrading from an old phone or tablet that’s still in reasonably good condition, they’ll offer you store credit in exchange. This is very convenient, but you can most likely get a better price if you sell the item yourself.
If you’re buying on credit, you should also look around for stores that offer free financing (read the fine print, though). Some credit cards will also let you earn rewards on certain types of purchases or those made at particular retailers – if you’re eligible for these, you’d be a fool not to make use of them.
Other Tips on Shopping for Discount Electronics
Before you go, we’d like to share a few more tips on how to find the latest electronics cheaply. There are certainly some fantastic savings out there, but it’s also wise to avoid a couple of possible pitfalls.
The first of these is probably not taking into account the cost of the accessories and software you’ll need to actually use your device. Apple infamously sells their new iPhone without a charger – whether this is actually good for the environment is an open question, but it’s certainly bad news for any of their users who now have to fork over an amount over and above the price of the phone itself. Similarly, some computers come with free software – a year’s subscription to Microsoft 365, for instance, is already worth $50 or so.
You may also be tempted by ads on platforms like Craigslist that simply seem too good to be true. As a general rule, people don’t sell the latest electronic devices for half of what they cost on store shelves. There’s a good chance that these are stolen, and you certainly don’t want to get involved in that kind of thing.
It’s also a good idea to recognize gray-market goods for what they are. These products aren’t stolen or counterfeit, but they are sold outside the channels authorized distributors would like you to use. If some piece of hardware is sold for significantly cheaper in some other country, for instance, an entrepreneur may decide to buy a bunch of stock there and ship it back to the United States.
Assuming that all import and other taxes are paid, there’s nothing illegal about this. You may find, however, that the international versions of many products differ slightly from what you can find in the U.S. More importantly, you’ll almost certainly have no warranty or tech support to fall back on if anything goes wrong. In most ways, buying from a gray-market seller is much like getting the latest electronics and gadgets second hand: if you’re willing to live with the risks involved, you may snag a really good price on a product that’s in high demand.
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If you rent your home and don’t own a car, it may well be that your suite of digital devices is your most valuable physical asset. They’re also something that you’ll probably want to replace before too long, especially if you use them for work. It’s best to plan for this in advance: browse tech news occasionally to see what kind of new products are on the horizon, save a little money for new electronics every month, and check out a couple of the options we’ve shown you above.
You probably have a few ideas of your own on this topic; why not share them in the comments? The landscape of buying gadgets and electronic devices is constantly changing, so we welcome your input.