Finding a cheap Apple Watch among the Black Friday 2019 deals may be the ultimate prize come November 29. It's the one time of the year when the world comes together to celebrate the true meaning of Thanksgiving – picking up some sweet tech gadgets and gear at bargain basement prices.
It’s the ideal opportunity to get your hands on the flashy tech you’ve been drooling over for the past year, and an otherwise pricey Apple Watch deal will be at the top of many shopping lists. It's one of the few times in the year where you might pick up a bargain on Cupertino's smartwatch.
However, many of the best Apple Watch Black Friday deals are likely to be hidden among an ocean of unexciting offers. Some shops may claim to be cutting the price of the watch, but haven’t knocked much off the tag, while others might be trying to offload stock of the older Apple Watches, which isn't quite as attractively feature rich as the latest gear.
We at TechRadar will be digging out the best deals ahead of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. But in the meantime, we’ve put together this guide to equip you with all the info you need to get the best Apple Watch deal for you. Shop smart, wait for the best prices, and save big with these tips.
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Series 3, 4, or 5?
There are a few different versions of the Apple Watch on sale now - most prominently, the latest and greatest Apple Watch 5 and the older but still good Apple Watch 3. You can't find the Apple Watch 4 on Apple's online shop, but other outlets should still be selling the slightly outdated model - and presumably at a discount.
You can still find the earlier models on third party websites, if you want even cheaper Apple Watches. Just note that the range has progressed dramatically since its earlier incarnations, so double check the spec sheet is up to your demands.
Series 5 special editions
On top of the base level Apple Watches in aluminum, there are a couple of extra finishes - stainless steel and ceramic - plus two special editions of the Apple Watch Series 5. These are the the Apple Watch Hermes and the Apple Watch Nike models. It's purely a cosmetic thing though – they all share the same specs as the standard models.
The extra body finishes come in stainless steel and a white ceramic finish, which gives the smartwatch a more premium aesthetic.
The Apple Watch Hermes is made from black stainless steel with noir leather strap options, the Hermes stamp of approval on the back and different watch faces.
The Nike style boasts different strap options, this time geared up for sport, as well as Nike watch faces. It’s made from aluminum so it’s as light as possible and has the Nike swoosh on the strap too.
They are all more expensive than your regular Apple Watch models, but note that that's in part because they all pack in the premium cellular connection, too.
The Series 5 Watch can be purchased with just GPS built-in, or with the additional premium of a cellular connection. This means you’d be able to use it to make calls and do other things independently from your iPhone. However, it also means you're going to need a bolt-on data package for the Watch too. If you make a saving in-store, remember that this will be an ongoing cost.
Remember that, if you're the sort of person who can't bear to be separated from their phone anyway, you're not going to see a huge benefit from a Watch with a standalone cellular connection.
If you're a fitness fan, play close attention to the different features of each Apple Watch generation. It could mean the difference between you loving and regretting your purchase.
All Apple Watches have a built-in heart rate sensor and accelerometer, which is a good start for an activity tracker, though built-in GPS came in the Series 2 and Series 3. If you want a device that’s a fitness companion for basic workouts the Series 1 will probably do – just don't expect to track your routes.
The Apple Watch 4 introduced an ECG reader, which can monitor the heart for irregular arrhythmia.
If you're a wet and wild swimmer you’ll need the Series 2 or above. The Series 1 may be splashproof, but that only means it can deal with a sweaty workout or a run in the rain. The Series 3 can handle being submerged up to 50 meters, letting you dive to a significant depth without damaging the device.
Although the Series 2 and Series 3 are similar when it comes to fitness, the 3 has a barometric altimeter, which means it can track elevation data making it a good option if you enjoy outdoor activities, like cycling or running along trails. If you want the ultimate position tracking, though, you'll want to pick up the Apple Watch 5, which introduces an internal compass that uses GPS to figure out elevation.
If you’re really keen to use your Apple Watch for fitness, bear this in mind when you’re shopping for different styles and bands too. For example, the Series 3 watch can come with a sport band, a sport loop or a Milanese loop.
Series 4 vs Series 5
Admittedly, not much has changed from the Apple Watch 4 to the Apple Watch 5 - which is probably why Apple quietly removed the former from its online shops in order to boost sales of the latter.
New to the Apple Watch 5 is an always-on display, which Apple pulls off with a series of battery-saving tricks. It will periodically dim to an essentialist version of the fully-lit face, enabling you to see the time consistently.
The onboard storage space has been bumped from 16GB in the Series 4 to 32GB in the Series 5, which is more space for music or podcasts.
The Apple Watch 5 also gets its very own App Store, which you can browse on the device. It's not nearly as comfortable or easy-to-use as browsing on the phone, but this essentially liberates the smartwatch from needing a phone at all - which is great if you want to leave your handset behind on a workout.
The new version also has a new internal compass, which helps with nailing down location and elevation in combination with GPS. It also shows your direction when looking at the watch's Maps app.
Series 2 vs Series 3
If you're really looking for Apple Watches at a discount, here are comparisons of the older models.
In Apple's eyes the Series 2 Apple Watch is as dead as the dodo, but that doesn’t stop there from being some serious discounts on Series 2 watches from other outlets looking to clear out old stock. The Series 3 may be more feature rich, but the Series 2 will certainly be more affordable. So which one is right for you?
Compared to the Series 1, both models are waterproofed for swimming, feature built-in GPS tracking and have a dazzling 1000 nits display, which means they’re really bright, even in direct sunlight.
So far so similar. But it’s inside where there’s a difference. The newest Series has an improved processor, which boasts a 70 percent performance increase over the Series 2, as well as a new W2 chipset for improvements to power efficiency and performance improvements for Wi-fi. And if you were sold on the idea of taking calls with your watch and ditching your phone at home, the Series 3 is your best bet as the Series 2 doesn’t come with a built-in SIM.
Do you even need an Apple Watch?
Want and need, two very different things. While you’re sat musing over an ancient Series 1, older Series 3 or brand-new Apple Watch 5, consider that you might not actually need an Apple Watch. Especially if you're not already loaded up with Apple gear.
We know, it’s appealing to get a wearable to match your iPhone or your MacBook, but if you’re after a device built for fitness, the Fitbit Versa might be more suited to you. It more seamlessly interacts with Android devices, has automatic exercise and a marginally better battery life of 4 days compared to the Apple Watch’s over-one-day capacity. Another obvious alternative is the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2, as well as the Huawei Watch GT 2, which both could be discounted for Black Friday too.
Our deal predictions
Outside of being in Tim Cook's head, there's no guessing what Apple may be planning to discount for Black Friday. Traditionally, the company has avoided putting on any sales itself, but third party retailers usually deliver the cut price goods.
So what could they be offering? Again, it's educated guesses, but these items probably stand a good chance of getting a cut.
Series 1 slashed
The original, if not now the best. Getting on a bit in age, the Apple Watch Series 1 is quite likely to be reduced in price at the shops. It’ll serve up notifications, act as a simple all-day tracker and play nicely with lots of apps. Of course this is the most basic watch from Apple now, but it still gets the job done in many ways.
Could the Series 2 get even bigger price cuts? Considering Apple no longer sells it itself, other retailers may be looking to shift stock to make room for new Series 3 shipments. In the age-to-price-cut ratio stakes, a discounted Series 2 could be more valuable than a Series 1, even if it's technically more expensive.
Apple gift cards
Just because Apple doesn't play nicely when it comes to hardware discounts at Black Friday, that doesn't mean it turns a blind eye totally to the event.
If you go into an Apple Store on the big day, there's a good chance that you'll get some sort of gift card offer thrown in with a substantial purchase. It's happened before, and could happen again.
As fashion items, Apple Watches are great for accessorizing, too, whether that's with a neat charging dock (opens in new tab) or a few stylish band options. As some of these will be made by third-party manufacturers, they're perhaps more likely to be discounted for Black Friday than Apple's own-brand gear. Shop around and you could find some nice little extras to go with your wearable.