Update: Black Friday deals have started to leak!
If you're shopping for a tablet this Black Friday, we've got some good news and some bad news. Let's get the bad out of the way first: it's been a rough year for tablet fans.
Over the summer, we noted that there's been a serious shortage of sales so far in 2015, and that trend is holding as we move into fall. Across the board, we've seen about 30% fewer discounts on iPad, Android, and Windows slates in 2015 than we did at this time in 2014.
More worryingly, there's been a drastic drop in the quality of those deals. By this time in 2013 and 2014, about 40% of all the tablet prices we listed were being marked Editors' Choice — thus far, only 31% of tabs have received that distinction in 2015.
Tablet Deals Might Turn Up for Black Friday
So what's the good news? Tablets are overdue for a comeback! The DealNews archives show clear evidence that we are in for a massive influx of deals in the coming months, especially around Black Friday.
Read on to see what you can expect from iPad, Windows, Android, and Fire tablet deals during everyone's favorite shopping holiday. 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.
Don't Expect iPad Pro Deals, But Look for $100 Off the iPad mini 4
Although it was an afterthought at Apple's keynote, the iPad mini 4 could see the most deals of any new iPad this Black Friday, dropping to as low as $300 from retailers like Target, Best Buy, and Micro Center. Meanwhile, the entry-level iPad mini 2 could drop to $199.
The iPad Air 2 didn't receive a refresh this past fall, which means stores could be even more aggressive this year with discounts. This summer we found deals for $359, and that should be an easy price to attain this Black Friday. But we believe some retailers will go lower and possibly offer it for as low as $300.
Unfortunately, the one iPad we don't expect to see deals on is the iPad Pro, since resellers are typically slow to discount new iPad lines. However, should there be a surprise deal on the iPad Pro, we predict it'll be offered at full price with a bundled $25 gift card.
For more details on our iPad predictions, check out our Apple Black Friday guide.
Windows Remains Expensive, a Good Buy
Headliner Windows tablets have some of the highest price tags around, but lesser-known Windows slates have been encroaching on Android's bargain-basement prices for awhile now. And to date, 39% of all Windows tablets we've listed have been hot enough to be marked Editors' Choice. That's nothing to sneeze at, given the current market-wide slump. In fact, historically Windows tablets tend to see better quality deals than their peers: nearly 50% of all the sales on these tabs boasted our Editors' seal of approval in 2014.
This bodes very well for the Windows shopper on Black Friday. We predict that a new, non-Surface Windows tablet will hit $45, with a refurbished or used unit falling back to the lowest price we've ever seen, $30. In general, you can expect these non-Microsoft slates to run between $60 and $300, depending on the brand.
Sadly, as of this writing we haven't seen any deals on the recently released Surface 3, which means we're unlikely to see any deals on an as-yet-unannounced Surface Pro 4.
However, we can expect prices to start at around $650 for a new Surface Pro 3 (or $150 off list price for the 64GB unit), or $550 for a refurb. You can also expect to pay at least $600 for a new Surface Pro 2 if you can find one ($450 for a refurb), and $150 for a refurbished Surface 2 RT (we're highly unlikely to see a new unit).
Even Crazier Prices for Androids You've Never Heard Of
Of course, the true doorbuster tablets will always be off-brand Androids. Earlier this year, we saw a new media tablet for $29 — that is not a typo. Along those lines, we fully expect to see a brand-new Android fall to $20 around Black Friday, and secondhand units could drop to $15 or less. These deals are likely to require a mail-in rebate, and will certainly not include any brand names. Also be aware that ultra-cheap slates can come with a lot of security problems, so be a savvy shopper and do your research.
Aside from those lowest-of-the-low prices, you can expect to pay between $25 and $100 for a solid media tablet this Black Friday. These tabs don't have the coolest specs, nor will they run Android's latest Marshmallow (or even Lollipop) OS, but they're perfectly priced stocking stuffers.
If you're hunting down a top-tier, critically acclaimed tablet like Google's Nexus 9, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2, or a Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2, then history is on your side! The past three Black fridays have always yielded at least a few deals on that year's in-demand Androids.
SEE ALSO: How to Make Your Tablet Faster
Prices can range drastically in this category, but expect to pay at least $200 for a popular 7" to 8" slate, while larger models could go as high as $500. Especially high-end or new tablets may not see a true discount, but instead come bundled with large gift cards or credits. For example, we saw the recently released Galaxy Tab S2 at its list price of $500 in early September, but bundled with a $145 Sears credit.
Shop Anywhere But Amazon for the Fire Tablet
Amazon's Fire tablets have really come into their own, in terms of deals. Amazon itself has historically offered middling discounts on its devices during both Black Friday and Cyber Monday, so if you're shopping for a new Fire tab you should stick to resellers like Best Buy or Staples. For instance, last year Best Buy dropped the then-new HD 6 down to $80 during the week of Black Friday, a $20 savings and historic low at the time.
What is especially interesting about Fire tablets these days is that there are so many previous-generation units around. So far this year, about 69% of all the Fire tablet deals we've listed have been second-hand units, meaning these Fires are proving to be a real bargain for savvy shoppers. A4C is leading the charge in used and refurbished Fire tablets, so that's the most likely place to find our $45 predicted price for a previous-gen unit, like the 1st-generation Kindle Fire HD.