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, CNET’s gift picks with expert advice, reviews and recommendations for the latest tech gifts for you and your family.
Black Friday sales are in full swing, and prices are fluctuating wildly. But if you’re quick, at the time of this writing, you can score the AirPods Pro for $170, the new 2020 eighth-generation iPad for $280 or an Apple Watch Series 6 for $350 at Amazon or Best Buy. At the Apple Store, those same products will run you $50 to $79 more — but you’ll get a gift card for a future purchase. That, in a nutshell, is the problem with Apple’s Black Friday “deal” offering: The company effectively never cuts prices and just dangles gift cards instead. Theruns now through , Nov. 30, with gift cards up to $150, depending on the item purchased.
In fact, that $150 gift card is a rarity, and only available if you purchase either anor . Other Macs, including the that features , are not eligible. Neither are the new MacBook Air, Mac Mini, larger 27-inch iMac or iMac Pro. If you can still find a 13-inch Intel-equipped MacBook Air or Intel-equipped 13-inch MacBook Pro with two Thunderbolt ports you could get a $50 Apple Store gift card. As Apple has discontinued both models, you’d have to find one of these in a physical Apple Store.
Beyond the Macs, most new Apple gear is not eligible for the gift card promotion. You could get a $50 gift card with the, or (so, not the new iPhone 12 line). Gift cards for iPads are limited to $50 for the iPad Mini or $100 for either size of the iPad Pro with no offers available for the new iPad or iPad Air.
Apple is also not offering double Apple Card cash back, which it did last year. This year the cash-back rate appears to be staying at its regular 3%.
The promotions are yet another reminder that the best Apple deals are almost always found outside Apple’s own physical or virtual stores. At the Apple Store, for instance, a new set of($159) or ($249) can get you a $25 Apple Store gift card but no discount off the regular price. By contrast, the the regular AirPods and the Pro models have dipped to and , respectively, at Amazon. That’s a savings of $49 to $79 — both much more than a $25 gift card that can only be redeemed later.
All the major US carriers havewhile on Apple Watches (including the latest Series 6), iPads (regular, new Air and Pros) and the Intel MacBook Air (currently ).
Apple also doesn’t make the full list of which products get which discount easily accessible on its promo page, but if you’re interested in the full list you can find it here.
The best deals appear to be on the, which gets you a $100 gift card, and the , which gets you a $50 gift card. Neither product has seen the same level of discounting at other stores this season, though the HomePod has .
All told, unless you want one of those two devices or to buy something directly from Apple, you’re likely better off shopping elsewhere for deals on Apple products.