Apple isn't exactly a budget-friendly brand, but that doesn't mean you can't find sales. While Apple itself isn't known for great sales, if you're looking to pick up an iPhone or a MacBook during the holiday shopping season, there are deals to be found. Don't expect to find the same drastic cuts you might see for other tech products this Black Friday, but if you shop around you will find some solid deals — even on the latest MacBooks, iPhone, and iPads.
Here are our top tips for getting a bargain on your must-have Apple gear this holiday season.
Don't shop at Apple
Apple doesn't do big discounts any time of the year, and Black Friday is no exception. Instead of holiday discounts, you're more likely to see extras like headphones bundled free with your purchase — and if you're looking to save money, that doesn't usually help.
But you will find sales at other retailers. Amazon, Best Buy, Costco, Sam's Club, Target and Walmart will all offer Apple products at sale prices — so when you want a deal, start by looking there. Using a price tracker will help you find the best deals.
Buy refurbished products
Apple's Certified Refurbished products have been repaired to work just like new — and to guarantee it, they're backed with the same one-year warranty a new product has. All phones, tablets, and laptops will have a brand new battery so you don't need to worry about the battery being worn out, and everything will have a new outer shell so you won't find any scratches or scuffs. Anything you buy from Apple's refurbished store comes in a brand new box with all accessories, so they make perfectly good gifts.
Though refurbished products have a bad reputation, Apple Certified Refurbished products are top-notch. They're as good as new and you can get around 15% off, depending on the product. Stock varies, so check back regularly — or set an alert on a site like Refurb Tracker to get an email when what you want is available.
Look at last year's products
Sure, the latest releases are tempting, but you'll always get a better deal on last year's gear — particularly around holidays like Black Friday, where older products are likely to see bigger price cuts. Unless your heart is absolutely set on having an iPhone X, consider getting an iPhone 7 Plus instead.
What kind of Apple deals are there for Black Friday?
This year's sales are particularly good for Apple fans, including discounts for the latest MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, and iPad models. There are even some deals on brand new iPhones, at least if you're willing to take a Walmart gift card instead of an immediate discount — which isn't a bad deal as long as you'll use the gift card.
Here are the best sales we've seen.
You'll find a few straight-up discounts on smartphones, but there are some great offers this year that bundle phones with gift cards. Anyone looking to switch carriers will snag the best sales — like T-Mobile's free iPhone XR — but be aware that some carrier deals show up as bill credits rather than immediate discounts.
Phones with gift cards:
iPhone 8, 8+ and X models come with a $400 gift card when purchased from Walmart with activation though AT&T, Sprint or Verizon
iPhone XS, XS Max and XR models come with a $300 gift card when purchased from Walmart with activation though AT&T, Sprint or Verizon
iPhone XS and XS Max come with a $250 gift card when purchased from Target with activation though AT&T, Sprint or Verizon
iPhone XR for free from US Cellular when new customers sign up for an unlimited plan (existing customers can upgrade to unlimited to get $250 off)
iPhone XR for free from Sprint when you lease an iPhone X, XR, XS or XS Max and sign up for for two new lines of service
iPhone XR, XS or XS Max for $100 off from Verizon when you trade in your existing phone, or $300 off if you're switching from a different carrier
iPhone XR, iPhone 8 or iPhone 8 Plus for free, or up to $750 off the iPhone XS or XS Max from T-Mobile when you switch (or add an additional line of service) and trade in your existing phone
iPhone SE for $79 (usually $139) from Best Buy (with activation through Simple Mobile) or Walmart (with activation through Family Mobile)
iPhone 6s for $99 (usually $299) from Best Buy with activation through Simple Mobile or Total Wireless
iPhone 6s Plus for $299 (usually $399) from Walmart with activation through Straight Talk
iPhone XS, XS Max or XR for $150 off from Best Buy with activation through AT&T, Sprint or Verizon
iPad (32GB, 2018 model) for $100 (usually $329) from Sprint when you lease a new iPhone
iPad (32GB, 2018 model) for $249 (usually $329) from Walmart, Costco and Target
iPad (128GB, 2018 model) for $329 (usually $429) from Best Buy
Mac and MacBook deals
21.5-inch iMac (Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB RAM, 1TB HD) for $899.99 (usually $1,099) from Best Buy
13.3-inch 2018 MacBook Air with Retina display (Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB Ram, 256GB SSD) for $1,289.99 (usually $1,399) from Ebay
15.4-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar (Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD, 2018 model) for $2,499 (usually $2,799) from B&H Photo Video
Apple Watch deals
Apple Watch Series 3 for $179 (usually $279) from Meijer
Apple Watch Series 3 for $199 (usually $279) from Best Buy, Target, Macy's
Other Apple deals
AirPods for $139 (usually $159) from Newegg
HomePod for $249 (usually $349) from Best Buy
[Image credit: Apple]