In our never-ending quest to sort out the best-value destinations around the world, we are examining a topic that is certainly more of interest to long-term travelers as well as those who travel a lot with gadgets.
We recently published a list of the cheapest countries to buy electronic items in general, but we separated Apple products into their own list because the Apple world doesn’t work the same as other brands.
>>>NEW WITH MORE COMPLETE DATA: iPad prices in 35 countries from cheapest to most expensive
(The article linked above uses late 2012 prices for iPads in 35 countries. The article below uses 2011 prices for 28 countries)
As with the other list, the data here is provided by Pricerunner, which is a UK-based comparison-shopping service. In late 2011 they researched the 28 different cities below (in 27 different countries) to find the best price possible for 3 different popular Apple products.
Unlike the other brands, Apple is famous for tightly controlling its retail market, with prices being virtually identical within each country. With that in mind, it’s perhaps even a bit more surprising to discover that the exact same products cost almost double in the most expensive city compared to the cheapest.
Products researched for this list
- Macbook Air, 13.3″
- Apple iPad 2 Wi-Fi, 32GB
- Apple iPhone 4, 16GB
Each of the three items was researched in late 2011 for the prevailing price in each city, and then the total of all three was combined. The Macbook Air costs about the same price as the other two items combined in every market, but still most things are proportional so it’s not like there’s a city that has cheap iPhones and expensive Macbook Airs.
Cheapest countries for Apple products
(Research was done in GBP and converted to USD in March, 2012)
- $2,225 – Tokyo, Japan
- $2,446 – Bangkok, Thailand
- $2,548 – San Francisco, USA
- $2,601 – Sydney, Australia
- $2,745 – New York, USA
- $2,779 – Dubai, UAE
- $3,006 – Cape Town, South Africa
- $3,160 – Stockholm, Sweden
- $3,222 – Warsaw, Poland
- $3,264 – Prague, Czech Republic
- $3,280 – London, England
- $3,308 – Oslo, Norway
- $3,347 – Amsterdam, Netherlands
- $3,411 – Dublin, Ireland
- $3,436 – Mumbai, India
- $3,452 – Copenhagen, Denmark
- $3,480 – Brussels, Belgium
- $3,484 – Madrid, Spain
- $3,516 – Moscow, Russia
- $3,544 – Paris, France
- $3,576 – Athens, Greece
- $3,591 – Reykjavik, Iceland
- $3,619 – Rome, Italy
- $3,645 – Lisbon, Portugal
- $3,646 – Helsinki, Finland
- $3,753 – Vilnius, Lithuania
- $3,800 – Vienna, Austria
- $4,160 – Sao Paolo, Brazil
Japan is cheapest again
Just as on the list of electronic gadgets in general, Japan comes out as the cheapest, which seems at least a bit surprising. Their high rents and high wages seem to be more than offset by low import taxes combined with great wholesale prices due to massive demand.
Perhaps just as surprising is that Stockholm comes out as the cheapest of the European markets researched for Apple products. They are among the most expensive for other electronics gear, and one of the most expensive places in the world in general. Cape Town also shows up as a relative bargain for Apple products compared to other high-tech gear.
Where to buy if you are traveling
Most people seem to know that the United States has among the lowest prices on almost anything electronic, especially if you can buy tax-free either online or in one of the states with no sales tax. Many people routinely bring an empty suitcase when coming from Europe to the US because savings are so big.
Most European countries seem to charge about 40% more for Apple products than in the United States, which is frightening when you consider how much more Apple products cost compared to other brands of the same type of item.
Needless to say, new Apple products will continue to be released, but the rankings above should continue to stay very constant, at least until some countries unexpectedly lowers taxes or Japan unexpectedly raises import duties.
With Apple products at least, it’s comforting to know that anyone heading to Australia or Thailand (plus Japan, of course) can also find great deals compared to home.