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5 top tips on how to get a great iPhone deal on Black Friday

(Image credit: Future)

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are some of the best times to pick up a new iPhone, on a contract or SIM-free. 

You’ve probably heard about at least one of these events. Black Friday falls on the Friday that follows Thanksgiving in the US, and its arrival informally kicks off the Christmas shopping season. But most of us know it for deals, deals, deals. 

Black Friday has evolved from a single day to become a mini discount season. First it branched out to include the following Monday, and “Cyber Monday” was used to celebrate online shopping in particular. Nowadays many of us shop more online than in physical storefronts, so Cyber Monday just gives retailers an excuse to release a fresh wave of deals and keep us hooked on our web browsers. 

You need to be careful when buying many kinds of tech on Black Friday, as some deals aren’t quite the bargains they seem. But iPhone deals? Shops can’t hide behind inflated “recommended” prices here since most iPhone shoppers know how much the iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max usually cost. 

We do have some tips to help you track down the best Black Friday iPhone deals that do appear, though. 

Learn from history

The quickest way to find out where we’re likely to get the beat iPhone deals during Black Friday 2019 is by looking back. Black Friday is now just a part of the commerce cycle, and mostly as predictable as those “closing down soon” sale signs in front of shops that never seem to actually close. 

US buyer? Last year most of the notable iPhone deals came from the big retailers, which offered large gift card bonuses to anyone signing up for an iPhone deal with the one of the primary carriers. 

Walmart offered $300 or $400 gift cards depending on the model bought, for example. You could get $250 or $150 to spend at Target if you shopped there. 

Best Buy did offer actual savings rather than an opportunity to just get more stuff for free. So if you want to spend less rather than just getting more for the same money you’d normally spend, make sure to head to Best Buy this year. Costco also offered a conservative $50 iPhone discount during Black Friday 2018. 

The Apple Store itself pulled a similar move as some of the big retailers. It offered a $50 gift card for Black Friday iPhone buyers. 

Live in the UK instead? You are more likely to find some straight-up iPhone deals from the most recognisable retailers. In 2018 John Lewis offered £100 off the iPhone X and £50 off the iPhone 6S — both already older models at the time. 

Similarly, (opens in new tab) offered a significant £160 off the iPhone X, and Argos a chunk off the iPhone 8. Keep these shops in mind when starting your iPhone search this Black Friday. 

Bookmark your favorites

Given how big a deal the Black Friday season is these days, we’ve already set up a Black Friday 2019 landing page to be a portal to all the best deals when the actual event approaches. 

You can start the job yourself, though. 

Begin bookmarking the iPhone range pages of the retailers you think may deliver some of the best Black Friday iPhone deals. There’s a Walmart page (opens in new tab) that shows just the prices of all its iPhone bundles, for example. 

And even if a website doesn’t have such a page, you can simply bookmark the page you get to after putting “iPhone” in its search bar. In five minutes you can set up an in-browser bible to check out every major iPhone deal out there. 

This isn’t entirely fool-proof, of course. Some sites may make special pages for Black Friday deals, so use these bookmarks as an overview once the event kicks off. Don’t assume there are no iPhone deals at a shop just because they don’t appear in these saved URLs.

Don’t forget the early deals

“Black Friday” is no longer the single day of deals it was - now, the sprawling season’s offers start up to two weeks before the day itself, and carry on long after too. 

This means you should be on the lookout for iPhone deals as early as November 15 of this year. 

As we don’t tend to see “fire sale” price iPhones, many of the iPhone deals may be long-term ones that run over the entire Black Friday period. This gives you more time to decide which model to buy, and what to do with your current phone. 

Cyber Monday also extends the reach of deals too, although you may find that some phone deals change as Black Friday flops over to Cyber Monday. 

If we do get a true killer iPhone deal during Black Friday 2019, though, it is likely to land on the day itself - November 29. We’re not saying you should take a day off to snag the red-hot savings, but hey, it’s an option.

Let others do the work for you

Let’s assume you don’t take a day off work for Black Friday. And your manager might notice if you spend half the day scrolling through websites filled with pages of iPhone listings. 

Get someone else to do the heavy lifting for you instead. Twitter is a great place to find those deals, virtually as they appear. 

Make sure to follow the TechRadar account, as we post all the hottest deals each year. But you can also use the #BlackFriday hashtag to see what everyone else has picked out. 

Search for “BlackFriday iPhone” to filter out all the comments from people complaining about angry shoppers and the doomsayers claiming Black Friday as the end of society and culture as we know it.

Do your research first

The best way to enter the Black Friday carnage is to do so prepared. We recommend choosing which iPhone you want before the deals start flowing: for instance, we’re unlikely to see iPhone 11 Pro deals undercutting the budget flagship prices of the iPhone 11. It’s just not going to happen, folks (but we’re all hoping it will).

But for folks in the UK in particular, asking yourself whether you’d be as happy with last year’s models is just as important. Last year, several retailers used Black Friday as a way to clear out  stocks of the models discontinued just two months before at Apple’s annual September iPhone launch. 

This year the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max and iPhone 7 got wiped from Apple’s official store, and we’re still fans of all three. They may not have the new low-light mode of the iPhone 11 Pro, the larger batteries or the wide-angle camera, but much of the experience has not radically changed this year - and there are still more iPhone 7 units in the wild than any other Apple phone. In general, older means discounted - and a win for you.

Andrew is a freelance journalist and has been writing and editing for some of the UK's top tech and lifestyle publications including TrustedReviews, Stuff, T3, TechRadar, Lifehacker and others.