Black Friday Apple Predictions 2014
The fall wouldn't be the same without a shiny bag of new tech from Apple, and it's set to be a busy season for the boys in Cupertino; they debuted the iPhone 6 and its phablet counterpart, the iPhone 6 Plus, as well as the iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3. But despite being brand-new, discounts are already on the horizon.
Contrary to what many people think, Apple items do sometimes go on sale, and Black Friday is an especially good time to snag a deal on an iDevice. So what's the best way to get Apple goodies on sale? Rule number one: Do not buy from Apple.
Avoid the Apple Store Black Friday Sale
Historically, Apple's Black Friday sale is one of the most popular and highly-anticipated sales of the season. However, it's also one of the worst in terms of savings.
In previous years, Apple has discounted Macs and iPads by 5% to 10%, which doesn't even compete with everyday Apple deals we see throughout the year from the likes of MacMall and Best Buy. But last year Apple took a different approach to the holidays. Rather than offer its usual discounts, it sold items at full-cost and bundled them with Apple gift cards.
For instance, last year on Black Friday, Apple offered its 16GB iPad Air for the retail price of $499, but it came with a $75 gift card. If you're going to buy more Apple products or substantial quantities of iTunes media, that's as good as money in your pocket, but it's not much help to anyone trying to spend the least amount possible. Conversely, resellers typically offer Apple discounts of up to 33% off list price during Black Friday, and some even offered better gift card bundle deals as well.
So this year we're again recommending that shoppers avoid the Apple Black Friday sale and turn to resellers like Best Buy, Walmart, and MacMall, which will offer prices that are up to $200 cheaper than Apple's best deals.
The Brand New iPad Air Will See Deals
Apple debuted an updated iPad Air in October, the iPad Air 2, and believe it or not, that brand new model will likely see discounts on Black Friday. Last year, the recently-debuted 16GB Wifi Air was only a month old, but it saw deals for as low as $429, which is $70 (or 14%) off the retail price. Other stores to watch out for include Staples, Best Buy, and MacMall. Keep in mind however that some of these deals, like those from Fry's Electronics, will require in-store pickup.
Alternatively, if you don't mind getting a better "net value" through the inclusion of a gift card, plenty of big-box stores will offer the Air 2 for slightly more money but will throw in a sizable store credit as well. Both Target and Walmart are likely to offer a minor discount — cutting the price of the base model to about $479 — and pair it with a gift card of $75 to $100. In Walmart's case, look for this to be one of its "guaranteed doorbusters."
Apple also announced in October that it would continue to sell the original iPad Air at a new lower price of $399. If it follows the same trend as the Retina iPad last year, we should see it drop to $360 during Black Friday. While that's only 10% off the new lower MSRP, it's almost $70 less than what you'd pay for an iPad Air 2 deal.
There Will Be More iPad mini Deals This Year
Since it was still a fairly new product category, the newest iPad mini unfortunately saw no deals at all on Black Friday last year. In fact, both the first-generation iPad mini and the iPad mini Retina (both of which debuted in late October 2012 and 2013, respectively) didn't see their first major discounts until January of the following year, skipping over Black Friday entirely.
That said, retailers have been more keen on discounts for the mini tablets since then, and there are currently three models available, from the original mini to the current mini 3. This bodes well for the mini to make a bigger stamp on Black Friday in 2014. In that case, shoppers should look for the first-generation model to drop to $199 (that's $50 off its new MSRP price of $249, or 20%); we have admittedly already seen the original mini drop to this price from retailers like Walmart, Target, and Best Buy, but we're skeptical that these stores will go much lower than this.
Meanwhile, the mini 2 will likely drop to $249 (also $50 off the new MSRP of $299, or 17%). And although the newly-released minis didn't get a discount the past two Black Fridays, we suspect that the iPad mini 3 could potentially see a small discount (MacMall has already cut a minor $5 off), but it seems more likely that it'll be available close to retail price with a sizable gift card. However, considering the fact that the second- and third-generation models are very similar, why not maximize your savings and opt a mini 2 deal instead?
Black Friday is the Best Time to Buy a MacBook Air
For the past two years, Black Friday has proven to be one of the best times to buy a new MacBook Air, with retailers shaving $200 off the latest model's price. This year, it's a bit difficult to say how low the deals will go since Apple updated the line in April and itself knocked $100 off the retail price, dropping the 11" base model to $899. Therefore, with a lower starting price, it's unlikely that stores will cut a full $200 off the latest model again this year. However, resellers will at least drop the 11" MacBook Air to $799 (a price we already saw this summer during Best Buy's back-to-school sales). Alternatively, look for the 2013 model hit $699, which would still be an amazing deal for such a well-received laptop.
Traditionally, both Best Buy and B&H Photo Video offer the best MacBook Air prices in November. Unfortunately, MacBook Pro Retina deals were a little harder to come by. However, if you find yourself anywhere near a Micro Center, last year the retailer took $200 off current-generation MacBook Pro Retina laptops.
Expect 50% Off the iPhone 6, Few Deals on the iPhone 6 Plus
If you have your eyes set on the new iPhone 6, don't expect to see deals from Apple. Instead turn to retailers and wireless carriers, like Best Buy, AT&T, and Sprint for discounts of up to 50% off the subsidized cost with a 2-year contract. And while you may not see dollar-off discounts from T-Mobile and Verizon, fierce competition might force these carriers to offer special promotions, trade-in offers, or bundled gift cards when you buy an iPhone 6 directly from them.
Phablet fans might have to wait beyond the holidays to see similar deals on Apple's larger iPhone 6 Plus. While we expect to see some deals on this phone, we don't expect the discounts to be as steep or numerous. With its higher starting price of $299, the iPhone 6 Plus is likely to see deals in the $279 range, a price we've already seen from Walmart.
For even bigger savings, we recommend opting for a refurbished iPhone 5s. In September, Apple slashed the 5s' price to $99, which means we can expect to see a flood of refurbished iPhone 5s phones for as low as $1. (A similar scenario occurred in 2012 when refurb iPhone 4s deals hit $1 on Black Friday.)
iMac Deals at Up to 23% Off
For iMacs, nobody topped Micro Center's sale last year, which took 23% off Apple's current generation of iMacs. Honorable mention goes to Best Buy, which came a close second as it took 15% off ($200) Apple's entry-level iMacs.
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