Apple controls their retail outlets. If you want cheaper than the Apple store, you have to buy used. If you don't want to buy from the Apple store, and you don't want to buy from Craigslist either, I think you had better start looking at different brand phones.
Can only answer for the iPad. I scored a 64gb 3rd gen iPad open box for $560 from Best Buy. Check the website for what your local store has in stock.
Definitely. The ipad is a different beast. I'd recommend buying through Target, since they have a ridiculously good return policy, while the Apple store (at least when I considered buying one) didn't. Although, besides open box items or places that give you points (if you're Best Buy Rewards, for new items you get like $10 back for every $500 you spend) you aren't going to find many real deals on the ipad 3. Eventually, it will trickle to the Apple refurb store. Really, the ipad 2 is still good enough that I wouldn't hesitate to buy it. The ipad 1 to ipad 2 was a real improvement. The ipad 2 to ipad 3 saw a spec jump, but not something I would pay the current premium for, there have been mixed reviews from upgraders.
Considering the ipad 3 is $500 for the 16GB usually, and Apple currently has the 16GB ipad 2 for $320 or 64BG ipad 2 for $500, it's a pretty simple choice for me. YMMV
Buying a factory unlocked iPhone 4S from the Apple store will be the cheaper solution and least hassle in this scenario cause you'll be guranteed that it's unlock out of the box.
If you bought it anywhere else such as at an ATT store thinking you can get a contract and then terminate it, you'll easily pay $200 (for the 16GB) before taxes and then a termination fee of like $325. Then you will probably have to get them to give you an unlock code and connect it via iTunes to get it unlocked.
Some local cellphone shops/kiosks at the mall sell unlocked iPhones but they have been used on that set firmware/can't be upgraded unless you do it a certain way to preserve the unlock on the phone. So it's not a 100% guarantee unlock and you won't be able to get the latest updates
Thanks for all the replies! For the ipad 3, i am not able to find a lower price except through j&r and bhphoto because there is no sales tax shipping to california. for the iphone 4s i was unable to find a lower price except through go4computers on ebay, but they sold out from the last sale. hope this helps anyone.
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