How to get a good iPad deal on Black Friday

Apple’s products are notoriously expensive, and nowhere is that more evident than the eye-watering $999 / £999 / AU$1,579 price of the iPhone X. We wouldn’t expect to see that discounted on Black Friday, but if you’re in the market for an iPad then you may well be able to save some money if you wait until then to purchase one.

It’s the biggest shopping day of the year, driven by big discounts at dozens of retailers online and in-store.

While we don’t know for sure what products will be discounted yet, or by how much, there’s a good chance that certain iPad models will be among them.

And, as there are only really a handful of models to choose from, it’s an easier product to shop for than a lot of things in the world of tech, but there are still various things to look out for, be it key features or deals that aren’t quite as good as they first appear.

We’ll bring you all the best deals on the day, but to ensure you’re fully prepared for a day of shopping madness here’s how to make sure you spot the good iPad deals on Black Friday, and leave the bad ones well alone.

The features to look out for

If you’ve decided on an iPad then you’ve already avoided the decidedly mixed bag of tablet offerings from other manufacturers. There are no bad iPads as such, so you can’t go too wrong, but there are some things to bear in mind.

Everything has an expiry date

Firstly, how old a model is it? Although Apple itself only currently sells the iPad Pro 10.5, iPad Pro 12.9 (2017), new iPad and iPad Mini 4, some retailers may try to flog you an older model. That’s not necessarily a problem, but you need to be aware that they won’t be supported for as long.

Grab an iPad Mini 2 or iPad Air for example, and while you can get the latest version of iOS (iOS 11) you probably won’t be able to update it to next year’s version.

Go for something spacious

Storage is another consideration. Apps and games are getting bigger and Apple still isn’t including microSD card slot in its products, so you want a decent amount built-in.

Unless the tablet is being virtually given away we wouldn’t suggest going below 32GB. Even that will be a tight squeeze if you want much locally stored content.

The where, what, how and why

Most other considerations are more subjective, but you should consider what you actually plan to use the iPad for. Want to work on it? Consider an iPad Pro, for the Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard support, plus the potentially larger screen and extra power.

Just want an entertainment device? There’s really not that much need to splash out on a top-end model in that case. So you might want to consider the new iPad instead.

Travel a lot? The small size of the iPad Mini 4 could be a real winner, but if you mostly plan to use it at home then opting for a larger screen could be preferable.

Stick with Wi-Fi

Also consider whether or not you need cellular connectivity. Adding that can pump up the price, both at the point of purchase and going forward (as you’ll need a monthly data allowance to go with it).

Even if mobile data does sound handy, bear in mind that you can probably tether your phone to a Wi-Fi-only iPad and get it online that way, just as long as you’ve got a decent data allowance for your handset, so opting for a cellular model could be unnecessary.

That, plus the wide availability of free Wi-Fi hotspots, means a cellular iPad is probably an unneeded extra expense for most buyers.

Safe compromises

Other areas where you should be safe to compromise if it saves you some money include the screen tech, as even iPads from several years ago still have decent displays (just make sure the one you’re looking at has a pixel density of 264ppi or more), and performance, as that too should be solid as long as you get one with at least an Apple A8 chipset and 2GB of RAM.

Our deal predictions

If you’re after a deal on the iPad Pro 10.5 or iPad Pro 12.9 (2017) you might be out of luck. Being Apple’s latest slates we’d imagine they’re selling fine without the aid of discounts – but you never know, and if they are reduced we’ll be sure to tell you about it.

Products that are more likely to be reduced – and that are worth looking out – for include the following:

iPad Mini 4

The iPad Mini 4 has been around for a couple of years now, yet it’s still Apple’s newest 7.9-inch iPad and still available on the Apple Store.

The fact that Apple’s still selling it means it’s likely to be supported with software updates for a while yet, but because it’s no longer new it’s one of the more affordable iPads and likely to be in line for additional discounts.

Its A8 chipset and 2GB of RAM should still allow for solid performance (though it’s at the lower end of what we’d recommend) and its screen is competitively sharp.

It’s small though, which could be a good or bad thing depending on where and how you plan to use your tablet. As we mentioned above, if you’ll mostly be using it at home then a bigger screen could be preferable, but the iPad Mini 4 is exceedingly portable.

Watch out for the storage capacity though – Apple itself only now sells a 128GB model, but there used to be a 16GB version and that’s probably still floating around in some stores. Unless you plan to almost exclusively stream your content or rely on cloud storage we wouldn’t go below 32GB.

iPad Air 2

Released back in 2014, the iPad Air 2 is getting on a bit now, but its A8X chipset and 2GB of RAM were cutting edge at the time, and it can still outperform the newer iPad Mini 4.

Its 9.7-inch screen is also as sharp as newer models, though lacking in other ways – there’s no True Tone (which allows it to automatically adjust the white balance) for example.

Apple’s stopped selling this, but other stores will likely be looking to clear any remaining stock, so you might be able to snap up a good deal on what’s still a great slate.

Bear in mind that although it’s updateable to iOS 11 and will quite possibly get iOS 12 as well, we suspect that will be the end of the line for iPad Air 2. So if you want more than another year’s worth of software updates it might not be for you, but most apps and games work on older versions of iOS anyway, so it should still be perfectly functional for at least a few years.

As with the iPad Mini 4, just check the storage capacity, and think twice before opting for a 16GB version, no matter how cheap it is.

iPad Pro 9.7 and iPad Pro 12.9 (2016)

Discontinued and superseded by the iPad Pro 10.5 and iPad Pro 12.9 (2017), the iPad Pro 9.7 and iPad Pro 12.9 (2016) are less than two years old, but because they’re no longer the newest models and no longer sold by Apple other shops will likely be looking to clear stock, which is when you often get the best discounts.

These ‘Pro’ iPads have lots of power even now, good screens and support for the Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard, making them a great choice if you’re a digital artist or are looking for a laptop replacement.

That said, if you’re a more casual user you’d probably be just as happy with a non-Pro model and might be able to save some money by choosing one.

New iPad

The new iPad is Apple’s standard, non-Pro 2017 model, it’s a great slate, garnering a five-star review from us.

It’s also the latest ‘budget’ iPad, meaning it will likely be supported for a long time and is already fairly affordable.

We’re less sure this will be discounted than some of the older models, but if it is it could be the bargain to beat.

The specs can’t match even the previous generation of iPad Pros, but it still has a great screen, and if you want a tablet mostly for video, web browsing or undemanding apps then it’s really all you need.

  • Everything you need to know about Black Friday 2017