Every year as Black Friday rolls around, retailers across the U.S. eagerly send out reams of physical and digital flyers touting their upcoming deals, and while Apple has traditionally stood in stark contrast to this by preferring to remain quiet about its offers until the actual shopping day arrives, this year it appears to be making an exception.
Perhaps because of the fact that many shoppers will be staying online, Apple has announced its four-day Black Friday shopping event, which will run from this Friday, November 27th through Monday, November 30th, outlining the kind of deals that customers can expect this time around.
Although Apple did tease its details in advance last year with the unsurprising news that it would be offering up gift cards — just like it’s done in previous years — it declined to disclose any details, leaving potential buyers not only wondering what the discounts would be, but which products would qualify.
When we finally did get a sneak preview last year thanks to Australia’s time zone differences, we were pleasantly surprised to discover that the deals included products that had previously been left out of Black Friday promotions such as Apple’s AirPods, although its latest iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch models were still excluded.
What You Need to Know
The promotion still offers Apple Gift cards rather than direct discounts, and the gift cards can only be spent on the next purchase, so you can’t even use them to take money off the item you’re actually buying.
There is a bit of a silver lining this year, however, since Apple is offering up its new “universal” Apple Gift Cards, which means they can be applied to digital purchases on the App Store, iTunes Store, or even subscriptions for Apple’s own services or in-app services, so customers who aren’t interested in buying any more Apple hardware can at least make use of these “discounts” to get a few months of an Apple One subscription or even score some in-app currency in their favourite games.
This year the gift card values are also actually less than they were last year, with Apple only offering a maximum of a $150 gift card, which you’ll have to buy either a 16-inch MacBook Pro or a 21.5-inch iMac to get.
Conspicuously missing from Apple’s promotion is the new 2020 27-inch iMac and the higher-end 13-inch MacBook Pro models (the two that still use Intel chips).
While Apple is offering a $50 gift card with the purchase of a MacBook Air or the entry-level MacBook Pro (the one with two thunderbolt ports), these are not for the new M1 MacBooks — they’re for the “end of life” Intel versions, and therefore available only at Apple Store retail locations and of course subject to availability.
It’s a bit confusing because Apple introduced two new MacBook Air and MacBook Pro lineups this year, but it distinguishes them by the “M1” designation in the newer models; for the MacBook Air that’s the “MacBook Air (M1, 2020)” versus the “MacBook Air (Retina, 13-inch, 2020)” and in the case of the MacBook Pro that’s “MacBook Pro (13-inch, M1, 2020)” versus “MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2020, Two Thunderbolt 3 ports).”
Purchasing an iPad Pro will net you a $100 gift card, as will a full-sized HomePod, the latter of which is a nice jump from last year’s $50 gift card. Apple is similarly doubling the promo values for Apple TV HD and Apple TV 4K purchases, which now come with a $50 gift card. All models of AirPods and the Apple Watch Series 3 continue to be eligible only for a $25 gift card.
As usual, Apple is excluding its latest products from the promotion entirely, so the only iPhone models that are eligible are the iPhone 11, iPhone XR, and iPhone SE, all of which include a $50 gift card, along with the 2019 iPad mini. The iPhone 12, new 11-inch iPad Air, eighth-generation iPad, and HomePod mini are all excluded, as are the Apple Watch Series 6 and Apple Watch SE.
Here’s the complete rundown of what Apple is offering up this year:
$150 Gift Card
- 16-inch MacBook Pro
- 21.5-inch iMac with LED-backlit display
$100 Gift Card
- 2020 iPad Pro (11-inch and 12.9-inch models)
$50 Gift Card
- iPhone SE
- iPhone XR
- iPhone 11
- iPad mini
- Apple TV HD
- Apple TV 4K
- 13-inch MacBook Pro with Two Thunderbolt 3 ports (Not the M1 version)
- 13-inch MacBook Air (Not the M1 version)
- Powerbeats (Black, White, and Red — excludes the Special Edition glow-in-dark model)
- Beats Solo3 (Black, Rose, Gold, and Citrus Red)
- Powerbeats Pro (Black, Ivory, Navy, Lava Red, Cloud Pink, Glacier Blue, and Spring Yellow)
- Beats Studio3 (Matte Black, Midnight Black Shadow Gray, White, Blue, Red, and Defiant Black-Red)
- Beats Solo Pro (Black, Ivory, and Gray)
$25 Gift Card
- AirPods with Charging Case
- AirPods with Wireless Charging Case
- AirPods Pro
- Apple Watch Series 3
These promotions provide some opportunities for reasonable deals if you prefer to purchase directly from Apple, but as usual, there’s a pretty good chance you can find better Black Friday deals elsewhere, especially since none of these can be combined with any other existing discounts or promotions, such as educational pricing.
What’s a bit more interesting however is that some of Apple’s deals hint at its future product plans, especially regarding the HomePod and Apple TV, where it’s likely trying to clear out older models. We’ve already heard substantial rumours that a new Apple TV will be arriving early next year, and quite likely a new full-sized HomePod as well, so the doubling of gift card values for these particular products over prior years suggests an effort to move out the old and make way for the new.
Similarly, while there have been rumours of a refreshed 16-inch MacBook Pro still scheduled to arrive this year, it now seems likely that Apple will simply slip that one out via press release, as it’s almost certain to feature a 10th-gen Intel chip rather than Apple’s new M1, and we’ve already heard rumours that it could be coming on Dec. 1st, which would of course be right after Apple’s Black Friday event ends.