Forget shipping deadlines — Apple just dropped two-hour delivery to $5

iPhone box
(Image credit: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Picking up a last-minute gift can be a challenge, but Apple is cutting the cost on getting items into your hand as soon as possible.

For a limited time, Apple has cut the cost of two-hour delivery to just $5, about half of what it normally costs. In most metro areas, Apple offers same-day scheduled delivery if you place your order before a certain time. The lower delivery fee sounds like Apple's response to more people staying at home during this holiday shopping season as the coronavirus pandemic continues.

To get same-day delivery from Apple, you need to order items that are in stock at your local Apple Store. Apple also says that same-day delivery is limited to eligible items, though a quick scan of Apple's online store suggests that's a pretty big net at the moment. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, and Apple's website would let me place same-day orders for the iPhone 12 mini, AirPods and the Apple Watch Series 6.

Apple gear might be harder to come by as we get closer to Christmas, though Apple's stores stock third-party items and accessories as well.

Speaking of shopping deadlines, your last day to buy most Apple hardware and get it shipped before Christmas is Dec. 22. (Same-day delivery would still be available in select metro areas for in-stock items.) According to a list posted on Apple's site, though, some deadlines for ordering products are fast-approaching.

The 13-inch MacBook Pro and Mac mini need to be ordered today (Dec. 14) if you want them by Dec. 24. The deadline to order engraved AirPods and AirPods Pro is also this week on Dec. 16. If you want an engraved iPod touch, you'll need to order by Dec. 15.

Some shipping deadlines have already passed — the iPhone 12 Pro Max, iPhone 12 Pro, MacBook Air, iMac and HomePod mini won't get to your home before Christmas Eve, though Apple says you can check its site for same-day delivery options or in-store pickup. The shipping deadline for every iPad model save for the iPad mini has passed, too — Apple's smallest tablet needs to be ordered by Dec. 16 if it's to ship to your home prior to Christmas.

Philip Michaels

Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.