How to find legitimate deals on tech

We all want to get our hands on the latest in shiny new gadgetry. Unfortunately, the newest tech tends to come with the most premium prices. But it doesn’t necessarily have to be that way. By keeping an eye out for seasonal price changes, annual product cycles, special offers, and refurbished devices, you can make sure you’re buying your hardware at the best price point possible. If you want the best value from your future tech purchases, check out some of the tricks in this guide.

Become a web detective

Good news for eager bargain hunters: Plenty of online retailers are willing to slash prices in order to attract your business. To find these discounts, head to price comparison sites such as Google Shopping and PriceGrabber, which will list where something is selling for the cheapest price. Before you start your purchase though, check to see how extras like shipping charges and warranty costs will add to your total cost.

Don’t forget the biggest online retail behemoth out there. This guide to saving time and money on Amazon has lots of useful advice, such as tracking price changes with CamelCamelCamel. Plenty of the tips apply to other sites as well. For example, sign up for the email newsletters and follow the social media accounts of your favorite stores in order to receive a heads up on special tech deals you wouldn’t otherwise notice.

 On top of individual price comparison sites, you can install price comparison extensions for your web browser. The Shoptimate add-on fits right in your browser; when you visit one of a broad range of shopping sites, it will pop up to share additional price options in real time. InvisibleHand works similarly, and it also covers flight and hotel comparisons in addition to e-tail. Finally, Honey will lead you toward discount coupons and codes to take even more money off your total.

Beyond sites and extensions, you can compare some prices on your own. Scroll down to the bottom of a product listing on Amazon, for example, and you’ll see side-by-side spec and price comparisons of similar products. Every listing shows when the item first went on sale, so you can make sure you’re not comparing TVs or laptops from different years.

Once you’ve finished shopping, you’re almost ready to purchase. Before parting with your credit card or PayPal information, research the history and specs listings of the gadget that’s tempting you. After all your comparing, a low price might have tricked you into selecting an older product, or one that’s not exactly what you’re looking for.

Know your seasons and cycles

The time you shop can make a difference to the price you pay. So if you can hold off on a purchase, you might be able to get it for cheaper. For example, the sales bonanza that kicks off with Black Friday doesn’t really stop until Christmas. The biggest reductions during this period will be on older, mid-range tech rather than the very top-end stuff, so by all means splurge, but make sure you know what you’re getting.

When should you buy to get discounts on the best and newest gadgets? These deals don’t usually hit the scene until immediately before or after an updated version arrives. If you wait for the new model to appear, the current (and soon to be “old” model) is likely to be much cheaper. For the iPhone, for instance, shop in September, while Samsung’s Galaxy phones get less expensive around late February or early March, coinciding with the Mobile World Congress tech expo.