Bad news international iPad 2 fans: it looks like you’re in for a wait. Apple Stores are sold out across the U.S. (despite a slow trickle of occasional stock), online order shipping times are at four-to-five weeks, and now analysts are saying the Mar. 25 launch date is in jeopardy. But if you’re really serious about getting an iPad 2 as early as possible, there are alternatives.
Craigslist or Kijiji
Local classifieds are a veritable addiction for many, and for good reason. Often you can pick up great deals, people are amenable to trades, and you decrease your chance of getting completely screwed when you meet people face-to-face in a highly visible public location to do your deal. I used cragislist to secure my own iPad 2, and even though I maybe paid a bit more than I should have by the time you factor in taxes and customs charges at the Canadian border, the hard-to-quantify advantage of having the device long before many of my professional peers, has me feeling like I still got a good deal.
Checking out sales here in Toronto, Canada on craigslist (Kijiji may be more popular and have more listings depending on where you are), it looks like the absolute minimum you’d be paying for an iPad 2 would be around $750, and that’s for the Wi-Fi 16 GB model. Some are asking completely outrageous prices, including $3000 for a 64 GB Wi-Fi + 3G (the AT&T model does indeed work internationally on GSM networks, contrary to what Apple’s site originally indicated), but pickings are admittedly sparse, and I’ve heard of people paying as much as $2000 for that model in the past few days. Finding middle-of-the-road models like the 32 GB iPad Wi-Fi + 3G is more difficult on local classified sites in my research, but that may just be because sellers anticipated they’d be less popular or command less profit than models at either extreme of the spectrum.
Local classifieds won’t work so well in countries where U.S. access isn’t just a short drive or train ride away (iPads may be offered, but they’ll likely be much more rare and expensive), or in more rural areas, unless you’re happy to make the trip in to an urban center to pick up your iPad 2.
Before I decided to go the craigslist route, I seriously considered picking up an iPad 2 on eBay. As with local classifieds, you’ll definitely pay a premium to get your hands on the tablet early, but eBay is probably a much more realistic option for those hoping to purchase in markets outside North America.
Pricing is currently topping out at around $5,000 for the 64 GB iPad, and goes down from there, with plenty of listings in the $2,000 range. Many options include free shipping within the U.S., and almost all offer international shipping (at various prices), too, since eBay sellers are probably keenly aware that out-of-country buyers will be most eager to pay a premium. Some sellers are offering additional incentives, like included Smart Covers, or, in one special case, the autographs of various notable sci-fi celebrities and a pledge to donate the proceeds from the sale to Japanese relief efforts.
As always with eBay, you have to exercise a fair amount of caution when choosing a seller. Always pick one with a high reputation score, and plenty of feedback. eBay marketplace vendors are often a good choice, since they’ll have a long history of sales on which to stake their reputation. When it comes specifically to buying an iPad 2, there are a few additional things to keep in mind when making your choice. First, make sure if you’re buying a 3G model that it is definitely the AT&T version if you plan on using it in your home country. GSM is by far the more popular global cellular network standard, so chances are that’s what your local carrier uses, too. Second, make sure the seller actually has a device on-hand and ready to ship. They should say so in their listing, but sending a message and asking for a confirmation of current stock levels is never a bad idea.
Ship From U.S.
If you think the iPad 2 will be shipping from the online U.S. Apple Store before local availability in your country of residence, then you might want to opt for the services of a U.S.-based mail forwarding company. MyUs.com, for example, will set you up with a U.S. street address for Apple to ship your iPad 2 to, and then it’ll forward the shipment on to your actual address in your home country.
MyUs.com also offers the option to use its Personal Shopper service to purchase from retailers that only accept U.S. credit cards as a method of payment. You just tell them who to buy for, what type of payment to use, and what and how many to buy. They charge a service fee for this on top of whatever the cost of your items are, but it’s a nice workaround for non-U.S. residents.
Of course, MyUs.com also charges a fee for maintaining a U.S. address for you, but a basic membership is only $10 for setup with no monthly fee, and then you pay a different one-time fee for each shipment depending on the weight of the package.
Remember that Apple is estimating a wait time of four-to-five weeks for online shipments, so this may end up not being the best option, unless you’re living in a country that’s not even in the first batch of international release candidates. You can also always try to find the iPad 2 shipping from another online U.S. retailer sooner and use it with MyUs.com’s forwarding service.
Wait for Launch
Of course, if you’re not terribly impatient, you could always just wait for the iPad 2′s launch in your own country. It’ll be cheaper, and there’s still a chance Apple could stick to its original release timeframe. You’ll probably still face lines on launch day depending on where you are, but there are always broke college students for that.