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As of this week, Apple has opened up its extended return policy for most items purchased from the Apple Store, giving potential buyers the confidence to get a jump on their Christmas shopping.
It also couldn’t be any more timely this year since Apple is warning customers that if you want to make sure one of its more popular products is under your tree on December 25, you’ll need to buy it as soon as possible.
This isn’t just the normal holiday rush this year, either. Even though Apple is predicting another record-breaking holiday quarter this year, it’s also warned investors that products like the iPhone 13 and 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro will be in short supply this year due to the ongoing global chip shortage.
This chip shortage already cost Apple $6 billion over the last few months, based on what it reported for the July–September quarter. Moreover, Apple says it expects to take an even bigger hit during the holiday season. So, while Apple still plans to come out ahead of previous years, it’s not going to come out as far ahead as it could.
What This Means for You
The bottom line here is that even as Apple cranks out new iPhones, iPads, MacBooks, and AirPods as fast as it can, there’s a good chance it won’t be able to keep up with demand. We’re already seeing this based on current ship times, and there’s every reason to believe it’s going to get worse before it gets better, especially with the holiday shopping season ramping up.
In fact, according to Nikkei Asia, Apple is heavily sacrificing iPad production to help it keep up with expected demand for the iPhone 13, basically moving chips that were earmarked originally for its larger tablets over to the iPhone production line. It’s a careful balancing act since with three new iPad lineups released this year — and two in the fall — there’s no shortage of iPad demand either.
To put this in perspective, here are the current average shipping times for Apple’s most popular products as of today:
|iPhone 13||5–7 business days|
|iPhone 13 mini||5–7 business days|
|iPhone 13 Pro||3–4 weeks|
|iPhone 13 Pro Max||3–4 weeks|
|iPad mini 6||Dec 2–Dec 9|
|iPad (9th-gen)||Dec 2–Dec 9|
|14-inch MacBook Pro||Nov 24–Dec 2|
|16-inch MacBook Pro||Dec 2–Dec 9|
|Apple Watch Series 7||Dec 13–Jan 3|
|Apple Watch Series 7 Nike||Nov 24–Dec 2|
|Apple Polishing Cloth||10–12 weeks|
Note that in some major urban areas like New York City and Los Angeles, you may be able to get some products quicker, either via in-store pickup or courier delivery. For instance, while most Apple Watch Series 7 models won’t ship until the end of December, customers in Manhattan who are willing to pay an extra $9 can have one delivered within two hours instead.
The good news, for now at least, is that the AirPods 3 and colourful new HomePod minis don’t yet seem to be suffering any shipping delays, but this could still change as demand ramps up.
So, our advice is to get your order in as soon as you can since this is made even easier with Apple’s generous holiday return policy.
Basically, anything that a customer receives between November 1, 2021, and December 25, 2021, can be returned to the Apple Store until January 8, 2022.
Items purchased after December 25, however, are once again subject to the standard 14-day return policy, although if you do the math, that works out to after January 8, 2022, anyway.
It should be noted that a few things are not eligible to return, such as Apple Gift Cards and some types of opened software. iPhone and cellular iPad and Apple Watch returns also won’t automatically cancel any carrier arrangements, so you may take a hit on those, depending on the terms of your contract.
Since Apple doesn’t charge restocking fees and will accept any returns as long as the products are in reasonable condition, its holiday return policy also gives you a great opportunity to try out new Apple products to see if they’ll be a good fit for you.
We obviously don’t condone abusing this to effectively “rent” Apple products. However, if you’re on the fence about something like a new MacBook or iPad, you’ll have much more time to put it through the paces to decide if it’s something that you want in your life, especially since ten weeks is more than enough time for the novelty to wear off.