By Gerald Lynch
iPad deals are among the most popular every Black Friday, and 2017 should be no different. Why is to among the top discounts people seek? Because while Apple gadgets cost a pretty penny every other day of the year, they’re ripe for sale during this special deals weekend.
Black Friday is the annual shop-til-you-drop sales bonanza, whether in store or online. And while no-one for sure knows yet precisely what’s going to get discounted, we’ve some educated guesses and top shopping tips to make sure you get the most bang for your buck on the big day.
From the features to look out for to the compromises to make, we’ll help you spot the best iPad deals on Black Friday – as well as some pitfalls to look out for.
What to look out for
If you’re reading this, you’ve already made your first choice of many – that an Apple tablet is more your thing than an Android tablet. And that’s not a bad choice! Apple’s iPads are still the best tablets you can buy by our reckoning. But there are still some things to consider.
The most important thing to consider before laying down the Benjamins is the age of the model you’re looking to buy. Right now, outside of sporadic refurbished model sales, Apple only stocks the iPad Pro 10.5, iPad Pro 12.9 (2017), new iPad and iPad Mini 4. However, third-party retailers may still have stock of older models they’re trying to get out of warehouses.
That may not be a problem – even older iPads still have impressive performance. But software support might become an issue. If you pick up an iPad Mini 2 or iPad Air for example, they’re capable of running the latest iOS (iOS 11), but due to their age are unlikely to be capable of supporting Apple’s future updates. Think ahead, in other words, or potentially be left with a tablet that won’t do what you may want it to in the future.
Storage is the second most important thing to consider. Sure, you’ve got Apple’s iCloud and a multitude of other cloud storage services to tap into, but as iPads lack microSD expansion, you’re going to be left with the storage you walked out of the shop with, internally speaking.
So, while a 16GB iPad may be the cheapest on the shelves, you’re going to be wrestling with what apps and content to delete off the device before very long. Stick above the 32GB mark as a bare minimum.
What will you use it for?
They may all look very similar, at least in terms of aesthetics, but iPads come in multiple sizes for a reason – they’re each designed for different sorts of users. So figure out what sort you are before buying, and you’ll be much happier with what you receive.
Are you primarily an eBook reading commuter, for instance? Then the iPad Mini 4 could be perfect for you. If you’re planning on getting work done, the larger screen size of the iPad Pro, plus its Pencil and keyboard support, might make that a better bet. If you’re somewhere in between, using an iPad to browse the web, play games and watch films from the comfort of your home, a standard iPad may be most suitable.
Ostensibly, Pencil support aside, all iPads can perform the same base functions. But you’ll be happier if you pick the one best suited to your lifestyle, rather than just the one with the lowest price tag.
You probably don’t need a cellular connection
iPads either come in Wi-Fi only, or Wi-Fi + cellular configurations. For the most part, you can probably do without a cellular model.
For starters, they’re more expensive. The internal chips are more complex, pushing the price up. And then you have to factor in the monthly cost of a data plan, just like you have with your smartphone. There may be occasions where a Wi-Fi connection isn’t available, but how often will you be pulling your iPad out for life-or-death connected checks? You’ve got your phone for that, and most can share their mobile connection as a hotspot anyway.
Throw in the growing amount of public Wi-Fi hotspots you can tap into, and a cellular connection is a pricey luxury you can most likely sidestep.
A safe bet
If the above considerations have left you confuddled, rest easy. The age of the iPad aside, Apple’s tablets are a relatively safe bet. By controlling each aspect of their creation, from software to internal hardware, iPads enjoy a long, reliable life. The quality of the screen has been excellent for generations, the older processors still up to the most demanding of tasks, the underlying operating system a joy to use. So long as it’s packing a screen with a higher pixel density (264ppi or more, as they’ve now done for years) you’re unlikely to end up with a doorstop.
Deal predictions: iPads most likely to get a discount
So, the specifics then. Which models are most likely to be sold off at an affordable price?
For starters, count out the newest stuff, obviously. iPad Pro 10.5 or iPad Pro 12.9 (2017) have barely warmed their seats on the Apple store shelves, so they’re going to remain close to the top of their price tags.
But look further down the list, and further back on the release calendar, and you might find:
iPad Mini 4
You can see the gray hairs showing on the iPad Mini 4, but it’s still the most recent 7.9-inch (read: smallest) iPad you can get from Apple.
And it’s still worth your time and money, too! As a cheaper, older iPad, it’s most likely to get a discount, making it well worth watching out for. It’s A8 chipset and 2GB of RAM make it one of the less internally impressive tablets out of the Apple stable, but it’s still sharp of screen and handheld in size.
Apple only stocks the 128GB version itself, which commands a relatively high price tag. But other retailers will likely have stock of the smaller storage sized variants, hopefully at bargain prices. Note as above, however, that it’s older age may make it unlikely to receive many iOS updates in the future. That consideration aside, it’s recommended.
iPad Air 2
Back in 2014, this was the tablet to beat. As a result, a few years later it’s still fantastic, with its A8X chipset outperforming the pint-sized iPad Mini 4.
With a 9.7-inch screen, it lacks the True Tone tech of newer iPad displays. But without sitting them side-by-side, you’d be hard pressed to care – especially if the Black Friday pricing of the older model is right.
As with the iPad Mini 4, the things to consider are storage and the tablets age. You don’t want to lumber yourself with a paltry 16GB of storage, which is sure to frustrate quickly after being purchased. And you need to remember that you’re unlikely to find iOS 12 on here when it’s eventually released.
Those points taken into account, this is the most likely to get the deepest cuts from Apple’s tablet line, and may well be our top pick as a result if found at a bargain price. Note however that Apple no longer stocks this model, so you’ll need to be on the lookout with other retailers to hunt this one down.
iPad Pro 9.7 and iPad Pro 12.9 (2016)
With the 2017 versions of the iPad Pro 10.5 and iPad Pro 12.9 in stores, the iPad Pro 9.7 and iPad Pro 12.9 (2016) are no longer sold by Apple. And yet, less than two years old, they remain among the most powerful, versatile tablets available.
With support for the Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboards, as well as the larger screen size of the 12.9-inch models, these are the iPads to look for if you’re after a laptop alternative in the Black Friday sales.
Now, these will still be pricier than those mentioned above – it wasn’t that long ago that these were the flagship models. But, superseded and discontinued by Apple, again there’s likely to be retailers looking to make room for newer models. Don’t expect a deep price cut, but shop around and you’ll almost certainly be able to find these at a relatively reasonable price.
- Everything you need to know about Black Friday 2017