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Apple Black Friday 2016: Do NOT Shop at the Apple Store

The Apple Store is surprising everyone this year! But the deals will still be better at stores like Target and Best Buy.
Black Friday Apple

Apple fans may be resigned to paying full price for their gadgets, but we'll certainly see Apple gear on sale this Black Friday season. The trick to finding these bargains is knowing where to look — and that's anywhere but the Apple Store.

Last year, Apple reseller stores like Best Buy, B&H Photo, Target, and Walmart were the top places to find deals on iPads, iPhones, and even the Apple Watch. This year we expect more of the same. Trust us, it's worth looking beyond Apple to get the best deals.

This year for our Black Friday predictions, we've created a "cheat sheet" with the top tips you need to know when shopping this season. For savvy consumers who want more information, scroll down for our in-depth analysis.

So what can you expect from Black Friday Apple deals? Read on below! Then, consider signing up for the DealNews Select newsletter to keep track of the latest deals in your inbox, or download our app to have them at your fingertips.

The Cheat Sheet: Black Friday Apple Predictions

Prices to Expect

  • Apple Watch Series 2 for $350; Apple Watch Series 1 for $200

  • iPhone 7 for $549, or $99 down

  • iPhone 6s for $349, or $1 down

  • iPad Air 2 for $350; iPad mini 4 for $250

  • 13" iPad Pro for $650, 10" iPad Pro for $550

  • 11" MacBook Air for $700

  • 21" iMac for $900

4 Quick Tips You Need to Know

  • Don't expect any of these deals to appear at the Apple Store! Resellers will offer the best (and only) discounts.

  • Older-generation iPhones will be heavily discounted thanks to the introduction of the iPhone 7. Be sure to check the memory when buying an iPhone 6s.

  • Be careful when buying an Apple Watch; the original has a slower processor than the new "Series 1," but stores might not advertise that.

  • Look to the iPad Air 2 for the deepest iPad discounts.

Want more details on how, what, where, and when to buy Apple deals this Black Friday? Then check out our full analysis below.

Black Friday Apple

When to Shop

Apple Deals Will Start Early and Stay Through Black Friday

Technically, an Editors' Choice Apple deal could spring up at any point during the weeks of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. However, our research shows that you're more likely to encounter a top-shelf discount starting on Tuesday of Black Friday week, running through Black Friday itself. Before and after this period, the deals are fewer and further between.

The reason is likely because Apple products are now used as doorbusters for big-box retailer ads. For the past few years, we've seen stores like Walmart, Target, and Best Buy dangle iPads and iPhones in front of salivating customers as a way to get people amped for the sales. We expect to see the same thing happen this year.

Black Friday Apple

What to Buy

New Apple Products Mean New Price Points

We've now got a new iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, which means list prices have been slashed for previous-generation products. Retailers will discount prices even further during holiday sales.

In the past, we've seen older-gen Apple goods at 20% off during Black Friday — and sometimes even more. However, bear in mind that you won't find deals on every model (or even every color). The best deal will be on low-end models; look for bargains on the base models, usually 16GB iPhones and iPads, as well as the 11" MacBook Air and 21" iMac.

That said, the recent unveiling of the new MacBook Pro line will have little effect on Apple laptop prices. It's been more than a year since Apple introduced a new MacBook — the 12" Retina MacBook that will remain in production — and even longer since it introduced a new MacBook Pro (four years). As such, we don't anticipate to see prices on these machines to go much lower than they already are. And while there may be the odd Black Friday deal on the new MacBooks, in the past we've haven't seen a price drop until at least three months after a new MacBook is introduced.

The best Apple deals will be on the base models for previous-generation devices.

But even brand-new models get discounted on Black Friday. In 2015, we saw discounts of up to $100 off on the latest iPhone, 5% off the then-new 13" iPad Pro, and as much as 15% off the original Apple Watch. If you're eager to pick up any new releases, you might hold off to see the holiday deals.

Finally, bear in mind that the more aggressively priced deals are likely to be available in limited quantities, or be normally priced items bundled with a big gift card.

The Faster Apple Watch Series 1 Could Drop to $200

The Apple Watch was updated in September, and while a new generation was announced (see below), the old generation was also updated with a new dual-core processor. This model is now being called Series 1, to differentiate it from the previous version with the slower processor. In the process, the Series 1 price was knocked to $269, which is a solid discount for an item that previously cost $349.

Considering the discounts we've seen on the Apple Watch this year, we could see deals of up to 25% off on Series 1 models for Black Friday. We're predicting that the 38mm Sport will drop to $200, while the 42mm Sport could fall to $225. That said, it's possible that stores will treat these models like "brand new" products, in which case the discounts could be more modest. In that case, prices may bottom out at $229 and $255, respectively.

But Wait, Apple Watches Are Already Hitting $199

Yes they are. But those aren't Series 1, they're "original" Apple Watches that have the slower processor. Those will likely still be for sale, as stores try to clear out old stock. While the CPU won't be as flashy, the original Apple Watch could sell for as low as $150, making it the cheapest way to try out the smartwatch technology for iOS.

The original Apple Watch and the Series 1 watch have different processors and should be priced accordingly. But stores may be vague in their ads about which they're selling.

Whether you're interested in the original or Series 1 Apple Watch, however, pay close attention to the specs when buying. Stores will probably be vague in ads about which model they're selling, saying only "Apple Watch" or "first-generation Apple Watch." If the price seems too good to be true for the Series 1, it's probably the original Apple Watch.

Brand-New Apple Watch Series 2 Will Only See Modest Discounts

Apple also debuted the Apple Watch Series 2, which offers waterproofing and GPS capabilities, among other things. Discounts on the original Apple Watch hit 15% on its first Black Friday, but it had been out for seven months by then; the Apple Watch Series 2 only has two months to drop in price, so we're expecting modest discounts of 5% for it's first Black Friday. Since the Apple Watch Series 2 starts at $369, that would put prices at:

  • $350 (38mm Sport)
  • $379 (42mm Sport)
  • $569 (38mm stainless steel)
  • $520 (42mm stainless steel)

Bear in mind that all of these prices are for watches with the base-model band. Apple offers some pricey, high-end bands that can add as much as $400 to the price. For the new models, these deals will be available in a limited number of styles and colors, locking you into a low-end or high-end band option.

Interestingly, while we expect the best discounts on the low-end models of other Apple products, the higher tier Watches have had the biggest percent discounts over the past year — with sales that cut the price by 10% more than other Watches. Of course, even with that discount, they come at a premium.

Black Friday Apple

Save Up to $200 on the iPhone 6s or $100 on the iPhone 7

With the arrival of the new iPhone 7, the list price of the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus have fallen by $100, and they have also received a memory bump. That means the base model 6s will now come with 32GB and cost $549. This Black Friday, we expect to see it discounted by $150 to $200, putting prices as low as $349 — or $1 to $50 for a down payment with a 2-year contract. The all-new iPhone 7 will likely match last year's deal of $100 off, giving it a starting price of $549, or a $99 down payment.

Similar to the Apple Watch Series 1, there are now multiple models on the market that could be considered an "iPhone 6s." Traditionally, they start at 16GB, but the updated 6s starts at 32GB. So be careful when buying, and don't pay for more memory than you get.

iPads Will Make Great Doorbusters

There was no new iPad unveiled in September (although it still might come in October). But we do expect dramatic cuts on iPads this year, with solid discounts on older models — particularly the iPad Air 2 and mini 4. The price of the Air 2 was cut earlier this year, putting it at the same $399 price as the iPad mini 4. Combining this new lower price with Black Friday sales means we expect the iPad Air 2 to hit record lows.

Based on this year's prices, we'll see the iPad Air 2 at $350 or less — possibly with doorbuster sales or gift card bundles that bring it down to $300 or lower.

Every iPad model should see a discount this Black Friday, but the iPad Air 2 is primed to be a big doorbuster deal this year.

Despite the fact that the Air 2 is currently the same price as the mini 4, the mini has traditionally seen steeper discounts. We expect to see it for $300, with doorbusters or gift card bundles that may drop it to $250.

As for newer models, the 13" iPad Pro is now a year old. We saw small discounts on it last year, but this year we expect deals of up to 20% off, pricing the base model at $650. We'll also see some deals on the smaller 10" iPad Pro, though they'll be more modest — look for the base model to hit $550.

MacBook Airs Will Drop to $700, While the iMac Could Hit $900

If you're looking for a new desktop or laptop, Black Friday is a good time to buy low-end models of both. For laptops, that's the 11" MacBook Air; for desktops it's the 21" iMac. Expect low-end 11" Airs at $700 and base model 21" iMacs at $900. We may see deals on higher end Macs — possibly iMacs with Retina displays — but expect them to be relatively minor.

Black Friday Apple

Where to Shop

Anywhere but Apple

The deals you'll find from Apple itself will be modest at best, and usually come in the form of gift cards or bundled items. In 2015, the retailer offered no Black Friday deals at all — but that didn't mean there weren't deals to be found elsewhere.

Last year, the best deals on the new iPhone were at Best Buy and Target — though Target's deals tended to be phones bundled with gift cards. In fact, the Target Black Friday sale offered aggressive gift card bundles on a variety of Apple products in 2015. Gift card bundles can be a good deal if you'll use the gift card on other products, but you're still likely to pay full price (or nearly full price).

Across the board, Best Buy, Walmart, and Target are likely candidates for big Apple deals during Black Friday. Also keep an eye on Staples, eBay, B&H Photo-Video, and Fry's Electronics for the sporadic discount.

What are you hoping to see with Apple deals this year? Let us know in the comments, check out all our Black Friday predictions below, and don't forget to bookmark our Black Friday homepage for all the latest ads, deals, and analysis.

Excited for Black Friday deals? Consider subscribing to the DealNews Select Newsletter to get a daily recap of all our best deals; you never know when a Black Friday price will be released! You can also download our app, or check out all our features for more buying advice.

Contributing Writer

Originally working in IT, Elizabeth now writes on tech, gaming, and general consumer issues. Her articles have appeared in USA Today, Time, AOL, PriceGrabber, and more. She has been one of DealNews' most regular contributors since 2013, researching everything from vacuums to renters insurance to help consumers.
DealNews may be compensated by companies mentioned in this article. Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).
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