Don’t Panic: Apple Has Stocked Up For the Holiday Season

Apple Holiday 2021 Credit: Apple
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If you’re planning to put a shiny new Apple toy under the tree for a loved one this year, you’ll be happy to know that you have plenty of time to decide.

Unlike in some previous years, it appears that Apple has plenty of stock of every one of its products, from the iPhone 15 Pro Max to the HomePod mini.

Earlier this month, Apple posted a helpful holiday shipping guide that lists the dates by which you’ll need to place your orders for each of Apple’s products to receive them in time for December 25.

The good news is that nearly every product on the list is currently showing a deadline of December 21, including every iPhone model from the iPhone SE to the iPhone 15 Pro Max, the Apple Watch Series 9, Apple Watch Ultra 2, and Apple Watch SE, and the full lineups of iPads, MacBooks, AirPods, and HomePods. Even the Apple TV 4K and AirTags are on the list, both also showing deadlines of December 21.

However, if you want to go for something personalized, there is a catch. Add engraving to any qualifying items — that’s iPads, AirPods, or AirTags — and you’ll need to allow for a little bit more lead time.

For all iPads and most AirPods, you’ll have to put your order in by December 19 if you want them engraved. For whatever reason, the AirPods Max and AirTags require a bit more time, with an order by date of December 13.

The earlier dates are likely because the engraving is done during production, using laser engravers in the factories. This means these orders will have to ship directly from China and other countries where Apple products are made rather than from your nearest Apple warehouse.

The longer lead times for the AirPods Max and AirTags may also reflect the fact that Apple isn’t manufacturing many of these anymore. The AirPods Max are nearly three years old and not typically in high demand. The same could also be said for AirTags, where Apple may already have tens of thousands sitting in warehouses around the world. While the second-generation AirPods are even older than the AirPods Max, their much lower selling price makes them a great stocking stuffer.

Earlier deadlines aside, you may want to think twice before opting for engraving, as that personalization will reduce the resale value down the road and make it more complicated to return to an Apple Store. That’s probably not a big deal for something like an AirTag, which is almost disposable, but the $549 AirPods Max or $2,199 iPad Pro is another matter.

It’s also important to remember that the dates on Apple’s holiday shipping page aren’t carved in stone, nor do they necessarily apply to all colors and storage configurations, some of which may be in higher demand than others.

We’d recommend checking Apple’s page regularly to see if any dates have moved and getting your orders in as soon as you’ve made a decision. After all, Apple’s generous holiday return policy gives you until January 8 to return an item even if you buy it today.

You may also want to order earlier to ensure you have enough time to get your Apple gifts into a pretty package since Apple no longer offers gift-wrapping services.

Still, even if you can’t quite make up your mind now, last-minute gift orders are possible, thanks to Apple’s two-hour delivery service available in most metro areas. Since these orders come from a local Apple Store, you won’t be able to use that service for engraved products or custom Mac configurations — only what’s already in stock. Still, since most cities have several Apple Stores, it shouldn’t be hard to find nearly anything else Apple sells for same-day delivery.

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