Not playing tag
Apple didn’t sprinkle Black Friday deals like Cupertino-collected pixie dust on all of its products. Instead, it chose a precious few and left out some no-brainers like HomePod minis and even the put-anywhere-and-track AirTags.
If you’re wondering why, the answer is as obvious as the AirTag you have hanging off your backpack.
An AirTag costs $29. That’s almost $30 for a single device capable of tracking anything you attach it to around the world. AirTags work by using Apple’s own vast network of sold devices (think iPhones) that can detect AirTags and, when they’re lost, transmit their location back to the owner. This is all done without sharing personal information or otherwise messing with your privacy. They’re not perfect. AirTags have batteries that run out after a year or so, and Apple has had some trouble with people surreptitiously using them to track people (they’ve done some work to address this, too).
As for why single AirTags or even the $99 four-pack isn’t graced with a Black Friday discount, the answer is simple: Apple probably expects you to buy AirTags with the gift cards you get from buying some of its other Black Friday deals. The Apple Pencil 2, which we wrote about earlier comes with a $25 gift card, which just about covers one AirTag. An AirPods Pro 2 will garner you a $50 gift card. Now you’ve almost covered the cost of two AirTags.
Apple is offering something for free with its AirTags, though it doesn’t seem like a Black Friday promotion: you can get free engraving. We suggest, “Let’s make a deal.”
A fine point
You can finally get an Apple Pencil Second Generation for almost the same price as an Apple Pencil First Generation from Apple. Sort of. The Black Friday Deal from Apple is like almost every other deal: a gift card. This means you buy the Apple Pencil for $129, and then Apple hands you a $25 gift card. This takes the price down to $104. Pretty great, right?
Not entirely. The second-generation Apple Pencil is available at a $30 discount at Amazon, which means it costs $99 there and that does match the price of the original Apple Pencil.
This is frustrating on many levels. First, Apple is right to push the Apple Pencil 2. It’s so much better than the original iPad drawing and writing implement. Let’s start with the design, which is much more pencil-like. It’s shorter and has a flat edge so the implement doesn’t roll off the table. It charges wirelessly instead of forcing you to remove the rear-end nub and plug the thing into an iPad’s charge port. The Apple Pencil to even has gesture-based controls, on the newest iPad Pro 12.9, which supports a feature called hover.
Apple knows this is the best pencil, but instead of recognizing that it could be in step or even beat other retailers on the price, it offers this: a gift card and one that doesn’t even save you as much money as you can on Amazon.
The Amazon and Apple deals are below.
How are the Black Friday deals of Apple’s MacBooks and iMacs looking? Understandably, Apple is offering the its biggest free gift cards (from $150 / £150 to $250 / £250) on its laptops and desktop computers, if you buy one directly from the Apple Store between now and the end of November 28. But in many cases, retailer deals are looking better than those gift card offers.
Apple’s own deals are directly below, but scroll down and you’ll see that some Black Friday deals undercut some of those – even if you consider the gift card to be a discount, which is only really the case if you’re definitely looking to buy something else from Apple in the near future.
Apple’s Black Friday gift cards on MacBooks and iMac
– available until November 28
MacBook Air (M1) ($150 / £150)
MacBook Air (M2) ($150 / £150)
MacBook Pro 13in (M2) ($200 / £200)
MacBook Pro 14in (M1) ($250 / £250)
MacBook Pro 16in (M1) ($250 / £250)
Mac Mini ($100 / £100)
iMac 24in ($150 / £150)
How do these gift cards compare with retailer deals? In the US, you can get the Apple MacBook Pro 14 (M1 Pro) for only $1,599, which makes it cheaper than Apple’s offer minus the gift card. And below that, in the UK the Apple MacBook Air 13-inch (M2, 2022) has been given a cheeky 10% discount that’s again likely better value than Apple’s gift card offer, unless you definitely see yourself taking your reluctant wallet to the Apple Store sometime soon.
How about Apple’s gift card offers on Apple Watch and iPad? Compared to the best Black Friday Apple Watch deals and Black Friday iPad deals from retailers (which you can peruse in both of those round-ups), these are a bit more limited.
If you are looking to buy something else in the Apple Store, then the Apple Watch SE gift card is a good offer. Assuming you were looking to buy something else, it effectively takes the price down to $199 / £209, which undercuts the retailer deals below. But of course, if you’re only after an Apple Watch, then the deals further down from Amazon are a better bet.
Apple’s Black Friday gift cards on Apple Watch and iPads
– available until November 28
Apple Watch SE ($50 / £50 gift card)
iPad Air (2022) ($50 / £50 gift card)
iPad (9th gen) ($30 / $30 gift card)
iPad Mini ($50 / £50 gift card)
Apple’s own Black Friday shopping event started today, so how good are its own offers? They’re a slight mixed bag, with most of its recent products not included in the gift card offers (Apple doesn’t do discounts, of course). The missing products include the iPhone 14, iPad 10.9 (2022), iPad Pro 12.9 (2022), Airpods (3rd generation), Apple Watch Series 8, Apple TV 4K, HomePod Mini and more.
But! There are some good gift card offers that are well worth checking out – and we now know exactly how they break down across models. I’ll be rounding them all up in the next few posts, before digging into the best ones. First up, here’s the gift card offers available this year on iPhones and Airpods.
Apple Shopping Event gift cards on iPhones / Airpods
– available until November 28
iPhone 13 / 13 Mini ($50 / £50 gift card)
iPhone 12 ($50 / £50 gift card)
iPhone SE ($50 / £50 gift card)
Airpods Pro (2nd gen) ($50 / £50 gift card)
Airpods (2nd gen) ($25 / £25 gift card)
Airpods (3rd gen) with Lightning Charging Case ($25 / £25 gift card)
AirPods Max ($75 / £75 gift card)
Verizon won’t force you into a contract for great iPhone deals
Take it from our US Editor in Chief, Lance Ulanoff, think carefully before picking up a budget iPhone, if you’re planning on serving it up as a gift this season. Deals on more affordable iPhones might appeal to your wallet but no phone family carries more street cred or social status than the iPhone.
In Lance’s own words, “money is tight. I know it, but it’s hard to put a price on happiness, and avoiding the pain that comes with those disheartened looks from a loved one.” As such, instead of finding a modest offer on an aging iPhone 12, ready to be met with disdain from your partner or progeny, see if the below offer can help carry you bank balance to cover the cost of something like an iPhone 14 Pro.
For those in the US, Verizon is here to help, with some of the most potent offers on iPhones both present and past. Perhaps the most intriguing offer isn’t one that pushes you into one of the carrier’s long-term contracts but is instead the offer of up to $300 on select models (including the iPhone 14 Pro series) for those on Verizon prepaid.
A great deal on an iPad Pro in the US
Although it’s taken a little while for noteworthy iPad deals to take hold this Black Friday, Best Buy is coming in strong by offering the biggest discounts to date on Apple’s pro-grade 2021 slates.
The iPad Pro 12.9 (2021) is paired to the most significant deals, with the 128GB and 256GB WiFi-only models up for grabs with a $300 reduction, while the 512GB, 1TB and 2TB models can be had with a substantial $400 off.
Our main gripe about the newer 2022 iPad Pro was that it didn’t offer much in the way of innovation over its predecessor, but that’s why this is such a great deal, you’re still getting one of the best tablets on market.
The Apple Watch Series 7 offers serious smartwatch value
The Apple Watch Series 8 may be the newest Apple Watch you can buy, but Apple didn’t add much over last year’s Watch Series 7. With Black Friday deals taking the Watch 7 price even lower in both the US and UK, it’s easier to recommend picking up the older model over the newest wearable.
The only significant upgrade in the Apple Watch 8 is the temperature sensor, a feature of some questionable value to the wider Apple audience. Most folks won’t miss it, and we suspect many Watch 8 owners don’t even know they have it. There’s also a newer Apple chip inside, but it didn’t make a significant improvement in battery life, which was our biggest complaint.
You can find an Apple Watch 8 for $349 right now from Amazon, but Target has an Apple Watch Series 7 for $309.99 for Black Friday, and there isn’t a big reason to pay more for a nearly-identical watch. Scroll down for the best Apple Watch 7 deal in the UK.
In the UK, you can also find the Apple Watch 7 (Product Red) edition for only £299, which equals its lowest-ever price. We’ve seen this version sell out in the past, so it’s well worth picking up today – particularly as it also gives you the smug feeling of knowing that some of its price tag goes to charity.
Not the worst way to get a free Apple Watch
The latest Apple Watch deal from AT&T is a ‘buy one, get one’ offer that gives you a free Apple Watch SE when you buy any other new Apple Watch. That’s a brand new Apple Watch SE from this year, not the older model. There are serious strings attached, but even if you back out early, this is still a good deal.
The Apple Watch SE that you get for ‘free’ normally costs $299. This deal makes you split the cost over 36 installments, and AT&T makes the payments for you as long as you keep the watch connected to your AT&T cell phone plan. That means AT&T is making 36 payments of around $8.30 a month.
If you leave early, you owe the rest of those payments. That means you didn’t get the watch for ‘free,’ but you did save some money. If you stay with AT&T for a year, the network has paid $100 of your $299 watch. That’s a great discount on a brand new watch.
Having a connected Apple Watch is especially nice because Apple Pay works with the watch, even when the phone isn’t around. You can go for a run and leave your phone behind. You’ll still be able to take phone calls, listen to music on your AirPods, and buy a bottle of water at your halfway stop.
Our high-end MacBook pick today
Looking to flash a bit of cash to get something truly special this Black Friday? Our pick for professionals or those in need of some power is this deal from Best Buy on the MacBook Pro 14:
As stated, this $400 price cut at the retailer is the lowest ever price on this relatively in-demand product. While we wouldn’t recommend it for everyone due to its price, those who can get the most out of its powerful M1 Pro chip will find a lot to like with this model.
Everything is top-shelf – from the design to the components – and its access to the usual MacOS suite makes it a perfect pick for creative professionals in particular. It’s so good, in fact, that we picked it as our laptop of the year for 2022.
In the UK? Here’s the cheapest price we’ve found in your region – just know that it’s note quite as good of a deal as the above Best Buy listing in the US (it’s still the cheapest listing ever, though).
An absolute bargain ultrabook if you’re on a budget
Here we go folks, a Black Friday Apple deal that’s offering nearly unbeatable bang for the buck versus the competition – something you don’t see every day. We’ve always been a fan of the older MacBook Air M1 here at TechRadar and right now it’s at its lowest price at Amazon US.
Why do we recommend this older model? Well firstly, while it may not have the most modern design or chip inside, the Apple MacBook Air M1 still really holds up well for 2022 for the vast majority of users. It’s lightweight, decently powerful, has excellent battery life, and it’s much, much easier on the pocket than the M2 version.
For context, the M2 version is currently sitting at $1,049 at Amazon US for Black Friday. That’s also a record-breaking deal but it’s a whopping $350 more than the above listing on the older model. Overall, we’d say the listing on the older model is the better Black Friday MacBook deal of the two for most users. In the UK? Here’s the cheapest listing we’ve found today.
On the surface, this Amazon UK doesn’t seem quite as good as the equivalent listing in the US but don’t be put off – it’s still the lowest price yet in this territory. If you’re interested in the Gold color, you’ll find that one for £819 today at Amazon, an even lower price versus the more popular Silver version.
Welcome to our Black Friday Apple deals live blog! Apple doesn’t hold a lot of big sales, so you don’t want to miss a single Apple-ish, money-saving opportunity.
We’ve filled this page with up-to-date recommendations, hot takes, and tons of buying advice from our team of experts.
Our goal is to keep this page spinning throughout today and over the weekend – so definitely bookmark it and keep checking in if you’re interested in saving money on your favorite Apple gear.