We've all seen the hordes of people snaking around Apple stores, patiently waiting to get their hands on the latest iPhone every year. Despite also being updated annually, new TVs will never garner that level of hype.
We don't like hype at Which?, but it does have one benefit: it makes shoppers aware when a new model is released and (particularly in the case of the iPhone) they know to both expect a high price tag and a brief opportunity to snap up the previous model at a knock-down price.
It's the same with TVs, just with less fanfare. However, the complex names of TVs mean it's not always obvious whether you're looking at a manufacturer's latest model or its predecessor. If you end up buying the model that's just been released, you can easily spend significantly more than you need to.
Take and 43UQ80006LB. Both are 43-inch TVs with similar features, but it's not immediately obvious why the former is £150 cheaper. The reason is that the 43UP81006LA is the 2021 model (now with only limited availability) and the 43UQ80006LB the new 2022 version.
The TV market isn't as complex as the opaque model names suggest (our TV reviews make it clear when each model was released), but if you stop reading now then please remember one thing: don't buy a TV as soon as it launches.
Manufacturers release new TVs every year, usually in the spring and early summer. In other words, right now - and this is when you should leave them well alone.
When you consider what they will cost less than a year later, these freshly launched TVs arrive with ludicrous prices. Most things get cheaper over time, but the speed of the TV drop is the tech equivalent of a skydive.
If you can't find the previous model from the manufacturer on sale, it's best to hold off your purchase until the price of the new model drops.
Prices start to fall almost immediately, and by Black Friday even 40% price drops aren't uncommon. By the time it goes off sale, a TV can cost half of what it did just over a year ago.
We don't know precisely what prices the newly launched 2022 TVs will end up at this time next year, but we can see how far their predecessor's prices fell.
*Current pricing correct as of 5/4/2021
This downward trajectory is not a unique event. It happens every year and we're confident the prices of 2022 TVs will go the same way.
The good news is that when new TVs are released, the previous year's models don't go off sale immediately. Depending on how high-end the TV is, you may have two or three months where the two generations of TVs are on sale at the same time.
and can stick around for even longer, and it's rare that one of the new models will include some must-have feature that puts it head and shoulders above an older one. It's almost always better to save money and choose a TV from the previous year.
A TV will always get cheaper over the course of its shelf life (roughly 16 months), but some models don't get as cheap or fall as fast.
We've noticed this most with OLED TVs, particularly ones in new screen sizes. When LG and Sony released the first 48-inch OLEDs in 2020 we were surprised when, at certain points of the year, it was cheaper to get a 55-inch model.
In 2022 we're getting the first 42-inch OLEDs, again courtesy of LG and Sony, and there's a good chance they will hold their value better than the 48 and 55-inch ones.
We're seeing signs of it already. The 42-inch LG OLED42C24LA is £1,399 at John Lewis and the 48-inch model is the exact same price.
However, there are alternatives to tide you over, and we're not talking about cross-stitch and jigsaws.
There are several places to rent a TV online, and there are likely some shops in your local area. It's an expensive way to own a TV over its lifetime (most people keep a TV for seven years before upgrading) but if you just want to tide yourself over for a few months then you can rent a TV for around £3.50 per week for a basic 4K 43-inch TV.
The main thing to consider here is whether the cost of renting a TV is more than what you'll save by waiting and buying a TV later down the line. The TVs we've featured here will reach their cheapest point in a year or so, and if you rent a TV for that entire time for £3 per week you'll have spent £156. Based on the models we picked out in the table you'd still be making a saving overall if you waited a year to buy and rented a TV in the meantime.
Realistically, you're likely to save money only when renting a basic TV. Renting a 55-inch OLED TV over the same period will cost almost £600, which will seriously eat into the savings you've made by waiting a year to buy a TV.