It wasn't so long ago that I purchased a MacBook Air. To me it's easily one of the best laptops money can buy, so was a no-brainer when my old one gave up the ghost (graphics issue, seemingly). I ended up going for the M1-powered model from 2020 though, as it was just so much more affordable at the time compared to the newer M2-powered (and better-looking model) from 2022.
Next time, however, I may not have to worry so much about that decision when seeking out my best MacBook of the future. The news this week that Sky is to offer Apple MacBook on contract was something I initially shrugged off: "Surely that'll cost loads more?" was my initial assumption. But that's actually not the case.
Having looked into the figures Sky's proposition will make sense for many people – myself included. I've assembled a quick-glance table below so you can see the up-front cost and monthly rates over three- and four-year terms for different products, plus the difference in total compared to outright purchase.
|Row 0 - Cell 0||MacBook Air M1 (2020)||MacBook Air M2 15in (2023)||MacBook Pro 16in M2 (2023)|
|Monthly (24m) + one-off = term total||£31 + £24 = £768||£41 + £24 = £1008||£79 + £36 = £1932|
|Monthly (36m) + one-off = term total||£22 + £12 = £804||£30 + £24 = £1104||£58 + £36 = £2124|
|Outright purchase from Apple||£999||£1399||£2,699|
Now these contract deals are a bit like leasing a MacBook in a way: if you pick the 24-month contract then after two years you can switch your MacBook choice out for a newer model (at whatever the then pricing is, of course) later down the line. And given the typical annual hardware refresh – M3 is said to be around the corner, and staggeringly powerful – and how products degrade over time, I think a two-to-three-year refresh cycle is bang on.
When it comes to buying new cars, too, given the price of electric vehicles, choosing one of the best EVs typically means monthly cost on lease, knowing you'll never fully own the vehicle. Buying a MacBook in a sort-of similar way also makes sense – but the crucial thing, as per my table above, is that you don't get a massive sting on up-front cost or equivalent value compared to buying the product outright from Apple (assuming, of course, that you'd be upgrading device every two or three years or more only).
So what's the catch – there's got to be something, right? Well, Sky isn't really a laptop dealer, y'know, it's a broadcaster that offers packages for TV, broadband and fixed-line and mobile telephony services. So you can't 'get away' with nabbing a MacBook without adding on an additional data service. But that's not necessarily as outlandish as you may imagine.
There is, for example, a 100MB/month add-on that costs nothing for 12 months, likely to rise to £5/month thereafter. A little strange, perhaps, given that no Apple MacBook features a SIM slot for cellular connectivity on the go. So unless you already have a mobile phone package with Sky, this is where some additional costs could push your decision the other way – but I don't think they're so overbearing that the package deals become untenable.
Indeed, if my MacBook Air was to go kaput outside of warranty then, without any reserve savings, paying a manageable sum per month would make sense for me. So my next MacBook will probably be on contract. Who'd have thought it, eh?