Finding a cheap Apple Watch among the Black Friday 2017 deals may be the ultimate prize come November 24 in the US. It's the one time of the year when the world comes together to celebrate the true meaning of Thanksgiving – getting hold of sweet tech 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. With the original Watch a few years old, and Apple's gear often retaining its value, 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 may be trying to shift old stock of the first edition, which isn't quite as attractively feature rich as the latest gear.
TechRadar, will be digging out the best deals on Black Friday. 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, save big with these tips.
Series 1, Series 2 or Series 3?
There are three different versions of the Apple Watch; Series 1, Series 2 and new Apple Watch 3. They may be badged up slightly different on third party sites outside the official Apple website, and could be spotted under their colloquial Apple Watch 1 or first edition Apple Watch monikers.
Want a handy tip? You won’t find the Series 2 on the Apple website anymore. But! It can still be found on on third party websites. It'll likely be cheaper, but note that the range has progressed dramatically since its earlier incarnations. So double check the spec sheet is up to your demands.
Series 3 special editions
On top of the base level Apple Watches, there are also three special editions of the Apple Watch Series 3. These are the Apple Watch Edition, the Apple Watch Hermes, and the Apple Watch Nike+. It's purely a cosmetic thing though – they all share the same specs as the standard models.
The Apple Watch Edition has a ceramic finish in both white and grey, which gives it a more premium aesthetic. The casing is lighter and four times more durable than the standard stainless steel version.
The Apple Watch Hermes is made from stainless steel with more unusual 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 3 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.
If you can’t tell the difference between the two by looking at them, the SIM version has a red accent on the crown (the little dial at the side).
Remember that, if you're the sort of person who can't bare 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.
The Series 1 has a built-in heart rate sensor and accelerometer, which is a good start for an activity tracker. But there are a few things missing, notably the built-in GPS like the Series 2 and Series 3 later squeezed in. 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.
If you're a wet and wild swimmer you’ll need the Series 2 or the Series 3 though for sure. The Series 1 may be splashproof, but that onlu means it can deal with a sweaty workout or a run in the rain. The Series 3 can handle being submerged up to 50 metres, 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’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 2 vs Series 3
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 a Series 1, Series 3 or sporty band or Nike+ edition purchase, 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 Ionic 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 2. Another obvious alternative is the Samsung Gear S3, as well as the Huawei Watch 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 accessorising, too, whether that's with a neat charging dock 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.