Black Friday 2015 deal roundup: cheap phones, tablets, and wearables for all
Purchasing mobile gear of any kind around Turkey Day is always wise. Waiting until the last minute to score the best possible Black Friday deals is the complete opposite. Granted, the temptation may feel irresistible, but unless you want to risk getting body slammed by a fellow desperate bargain hunter for that coveted final discounted Apple Watch, it’s good to know beforehand what to expect from every retailer and how to avoid the holiday shopping frenzy.
Luckily, many electronics merchants, actual device manufacturers and carriers included, have either already kicked off early Black Week or Cyber Week sales, or intend to do so in advance of Thanksgiving.
Others have directly or indirectly revealed their promotion plans for November 26, 27 and beyond, allowing us to bring together a massive collection of very enticing smartphones, tablets, smartwatches and activity trackers that you can buy for yourselves or gift to loved ones and save big bucks in the process.
The list will obviously grow as Black Friday nears, with certain items highly dependent on limited inventory or a fixed period of time they’re slated to be marked down in.
Let’s start with HTC, which eyes an expansion of its now traditional one-day-a-week “Hot Deals” to a full week of on-the-cheap Androids and accessories. For BF, the financially struggling Taiwanese OEM will offer the Google-endorsed Nexus 9 tab at 40 percent off, also bundling it with a free Logitech keyboard if you hurry.
As always, Samsung takes things up a notch, with dozens of attractive savings on Galaxy phones, tablets, and wearables. Both old and new. Some good just for a couple of days, others enduring throughout the entire holiday season, i.e. until Christmas day.
Power users will no doubt be tempted by the Galaxy S6, S6 Edge, Edge+, and Note 5, all bundled with free $250 gift cards on AT&T, Verizon or Sprint, or perhaps the $350 and $400 Galaxy Tab S2 8.0 and 9.7 respectively. Don’t overlook the $250 and $300 Gear S2 and S2 Classic timepieces either, or if you’re a bit strapped for cash, the $130 Gear 2 Neo and $80 Gear Fit. Also, the ancient but nonetheless respectable $80 Galaxy Tab 3 Lite, and the gargantuan $550 Galaxy Note Pro 12.2.
Huawei’s headliner this end of the year is unsurprisingly the company’s beautiful round Android Wear timepiece, sold for 24 hours only through gethuawei.com, as well as Amazon, Google Play, Best Buy, and Target, at up to $100 off. Specifically, an “entry-level” stainless steel Huawei Watch with a leather strap will cost $300 after a $50 price trim, while all-metal versions shall fetch $320 and $350 in silver and black respectively, down from $400 and $450. There’s also a mid-range phone to be had at a discount in the same one-day window on Friday, namely the P8 lite, currently priced at $250, and soon to go for $200.
ZTE jumped the gun on Monday with solid savings on already attractive gadgets, including $50 off the just-released unlocked Zmax 2, $50 off the lesser Axon, and $70 and $100 off the super-high-end Axon Pro configurations with 32 and 64GB storage.
Pebble also gets a jump on special Black Friday offers, in effect now on the smartwatch maker’s website, where the Time is cheaper than ever before, at $130, and the Time Steel starts at $200. We’re guessing no one cares about the device that basically laid the groundwork for all modern wearables, but in case you do, the first-generation Pebble “Classic” commands a price of $70, down from $100.
BlackBerry will hold on to 20 percent savings across the board on the Classic, Leap, and Passport through December 1, sadly “neglecting” to also include the brand new Priv in its extended BF blowout. Still, a $400 Passport sounds decidedly compelling if you don’t mind the awkward form factor, with the $180 Leap catering to all-touch enthusiasts.
Microsoft has a nifty “countdown to deals” on its website, where the Surface 3 + Type Cover bundle will let you save $150, and the Surface Pro 3 up to $200, both starting on the 26. On that same day, a Fitbit Charge smart band should cost $90 from Redmond, a Roku Streaming Stick $40, and a Lenovo Ideacentre Stick 300 PC just $70.
Oppo will take $100 off the R7, R7 Plus and N3 phones on November 27, between 30 and 50 percent off accessories, and include a selfie stick with all R7 and R7 Plus acquisitions from its website.
OnePlus is a very “particular” company, and its Black Friday “unlimited” sale should be fairly unique as well. We don’t expect actual discounts on the $329 and up OnePlus 2, but the gift of no invites sounds sweeter than 20 or 30 bucks off. Let’s see how well inventory can hold up for four “epic” days of open sales (between November 27 and 30), and what sort of shipping times you’ll be looking at.
Update 11/27: As it turns out, we were right. Both the OnePlus 2 and OnePlus X are available through Monday at their regular prices. Worse yet, the former can’t be had with 3GB RAM and 16GB ROM. But at least invitations are temporarily gone. For two already affordable phones instead of just one. Also, OnePlus One accessories are 90, yes, 90 percent off.
Even though NVIDIA trimmed the price of the Shield Android TV set-top box last week to $175, throwing in a complimentary remote, there’s apparently room for a deeper cut to $150 starting November 26. Plus, plenty of half off games.
Update 11/26: Technically, Google hasn’t come out with specifics on any of its hardware savings just yet. On the software front however, the yard sale is on over at Google Play, where you can get Android games starting at $0.99, 50 percent off apps and subscriptions, music albums for as little as a buck, movies from $6, best-selling books at $2 and up, magazines, family games, and so on and so forth.
Care for a few recommendations? This writer has the $0.99 Dark Knight Rises, $8 Final Fantasy VI, and $10 Dragon Quest VIII games at the top of his wishlist, alongside Drones by Muse for $1, Mad Max: Fury Road at 4 bucks, the latest issue of Rolling Stone for $0.99, and The New Yorker at $0.99.
Update 11/27: Aaand we’re live. By “we”, we mean of course Google, with its highly anticipated device deals. Namely, a $300 and up Nexus 5X (wow!), $200 Nexus 9 (not bad!), $280 LG Watch Urbane (meh!), $320 silver and $350 black metal Huawei Watch (decent but not remarkable), and two Chromecasts for $50. Excellent assortment overall!
Update 11/27: Honoring its reputation as the world’s number one PC maker, Lenovo focuses on computers for Black Friday. But you can also get a few tablets on the cheap from the OEM’s US e-store by the end of the day, including an $85 Tab 2 A7-30, $240 Yoga Tablet 2 10, $100 Tab 2 A8-50, $170 Yoga Tablet 2 8, $180 Tab 2 A10-70, and $170 Yoga Tab 3 8. The savings aren’t extreme, but in a couple of cases, they circle 40 percent.
Moving on to third-party retailers, most of which are involved in selling merchandise on and offline, we have a good idea of what to expect from Best Buy on Thursday and Friday. First and foremost, “up to $100 savings” on all Apple Watch variations, so possibly a lot more than Cupertino itself will offer its fans this holiday season.
If you’re into prettier, rounder intelligent watches, you should look for the $250 Samsung Gear S2, or the second-generation Motorola Moto 360, sold with complimentary $50 gift cards. In the market for an Android smartphone, be it ultra-affordable and low-end, or typically costly and super-premium? Then the $10 Verizon Moto E and Samsung Galaxy S6, S6 Edge, and S6 Edge+, guaranteed a $250 coupon on Verizon, Sprint or AT&T activations, can probably be purchased together. One for you, one for someone less demanding.
Don’t forget about tablets either, whether you lean towards the $35 Amazon Fire 7, $400 and up iPad Air 2, or $700 and up Surface Pro 3.
BB’s strongest e-contender, Amazon, has initiated its Black Friday Deals Week on Saturday, currently refreshing products on sale every 24 hours, and as often as every 5 minutes, yes, minutes come Thursday.
It’s safe to expect one of the richest, most diverse selection of bargains around the web from the e-commerce giant, which disclosed a few must-buys last week: a $35 Fire 7, $25 Fire TV Stick, $100 Jawbone Up3, as well as “select” Samsung Galaxy tabs with up to 20 percent off their list prices.
Right now, you can get the Galaxy View at $500, Fire Kids Edition for $85, or glare-free Kindle 6 e-reader at $50 and up. A special Amazon deal only Pocketnow readers can get in on nets you a $19 Lumsing Grand Series A1 Plus 13,400 mAh power bank with promo code “VHUR6WOL.” The portable battery charger normally costs 60 bucks, and the massive deduction is valid until November 30.
Update 11/26: Guess what, the Jawbone Up3 isn’t alone in this deal hysteria, with both its prequel and sequel slashed by over 25 percent, to $45 and up and $130 respectively. It’s up to you how much you value your health. Meanwhile, this crazy large 20,000 mAh Anker PowerCore external battery goes for $28 today only.
Update 11/27: Like lightning, that too-good-to-be-true Nexus 6 offer struck and went away. If you didn’t wake up early enough, fret not, as similarly formidable deals will pop up and disappear all day before you get a chance to blink. Be ready to abuse that F5 key therefore, and don’t forget the $35 Fire 7, $70 Fire HD 6, and $75 Fire TV box.
Walmart will obviously also focus on the mobile industry’s duopoly protagonists when it comes to gadget deals, going live with online discounts on Thanksgiving morning, then expanding them to physical stores at 6 PM on Thursday.
Some best bets for bargain hunters include a $230 prepaid Samsung Galaxy S5, $200 Apple iPad mini 2, $400 iPad Air 2, and $60 Fitbit Flex tracker. Even better, iPhones newer than the 5s generation bring you a grand total of $200 savings with AT&T or Verizon activations, and the subsidized Samsung Galaxy S6 comes with $150 bill credit, $100 gift card, and a gratis Bluetooth speaker. Sweet!
Speaking of sweet deals on Samsung and Apple gear, Target aims for Walmart’s jugular with free $100 gift cards for every “iWatch” purchase, and up to $150 iPad coupons. Also, $250 store credit for Galaxy S6 and Note 5 models already available for $0 down. “Doorbusters” start on Thanksgiving Day, and should last on Friday too, though likely not for long.
Newegg has PC gear and components front and center in its special flash sale technically set to only end on Sunday, but clearly contingent on stocks. The “cell phone” section is hardly barren, as you get the chance to buy an Asus ZenFone 2 Laser for $200, ZTE Axon at $200, prepaid LG Volt for $50, Asus ZenFone 2 with free ZenPower portable batteries, $45 HTC Desire 510, $500 Samsung Galaxy S6, and $550 S6 Edge.
Update 11/26: Aside from that incredibly cheap unlocked LG G3, various eBay sellers let you grab the SIM-free Samsung Galaxy S6 at $415, the HTC One M9 at $405, the Galaxy Note 5 at $557, Sony SmartWatch 2 for $72, and Garmin Forerunner 920XT at $330.
Update 11/27: With Amazon out of $200 Nexus 6 inventory, now would be a good time to get the Motorola-made phablet at $280 from qualitycellz through eBay. Or a $360 iPad Air 2. Or a $450 128GB 4G LTE-enabled iPad mini 3.
Update 11/27: To say it’s unexpected to see a fairly low-profile photography equipment seller like Adorama charge just $210 and up for the sizzling hot Samsung Gear S2 would be the understatement of the century. The even crazier thing is the sale has been going on for hours now, and there are no signs of an impending halt, despite the item hitting “backorder” status.
Still with us? Good, because we’re looking at what mobile carriers have up their sleeves to wrap up this Black Friday deal bonanza. T-Mobile turned November into a “black month”, currently shaving $80 off the Samsung Galaxy S6’s full retail price, $75 off the Note 4’s, $80 off the GS5, $100 off the Core Prime, $75 off the LG G Stylo and G4, and once again offering the LG G Pad F 8.0 for free with V10 or G4 purchases.
Verizon, the uncontested leader of the operator landscape, will wait until Friday at midnight to give you $500 when you switch to Big Red’s network, trade in a used handheld, and buy the Samsung Galaxy S6, S6 Edge, or Motorola Droid Turbo 2. If you’d rather nab a low-cost tablet or wearable, the Ellipsis 10 and Fitbit Charge will soon go for $50 and $90 respectively, the former on a two-year contract. Also, from Friday through Sunday, the Galaxy Note 5 and LG V10 will let you cut up to $400 off their retail prices with carrier transitions and device trade-ins.
No words from AT&T… yet, but prepaid subsidiary Cricket gives mail-in rebates for the Nokia Lumia 635, Motorola Moto E, LG Risio, and ZTE Overture 2, effectively bringing their prices down to zero. Also, to $30 and $50 as far as the Samsung Galaxy Grand Prime and LG G Stylo are concerned. Furthermore, anyone who switches to the no-contract specialist by December 6 qualifies for a $100 shopping card which can be used on service plan payments, future smartphone acquisitions, and accessories both on and offline.
Sprint may have conceded the carrier bronze medal to T-Mobile, but it hasn’t completely lost its touch when it comes to inexpensive phones and accessories, gearing up to slice the Galaxy S6 lease fee to $9 a month, as well as give away one-year Amazon Prime memberships with S6, S6 Edge, Edge+, and Note 5 activations and, get this, 24-inch LG HD TVs with LG G4 acquisitions.
Also, look for an $80 Garmin Vivosmart, $90 Fitbit Charge, $120 Charge HR, $70 Garmin Vivofit 2, $130 Withings Activite Pop, and $170 Garmin Vivoactive on the Now Network’s online shop on November 26, and in retail locations the next day.
Update 11/26: Finally, AT&T lifted the veil off its holiday offers. As you probably assumed, they’re not great, though we must say a free Samsung Gear S sounds fetching, with or without contracts. In this case, it’s with, of course, between November 27 and 30. The ginormous Galaxy View can be yours from Ma Bell for $99 if you sign up for DirecTV, and the gold Galaxy Note 5 and 64GB Galaxy S6 Active are $0 down for “well-qualified” buyers on Next plans.
US Cellular will renounce upfront payments for “early rising shoppers” visiting brick and mortar stores or uscellular.com on Friday, as long as committing to a 24-month pact with the Samsung Galaxy S6, LG G4, and LG G Pad 8.0 isn’t a problem.
Last but not least, T-Mobile daughter carrier MetroPCS wants to make amends for that nasty recent security breach with BOGO (buy one get one) sales arrangements valid for any phone, Samsung Galaxy S6 included, plus the Galaxy Core Prime, Kyocera Hydro Wave, LG Leon LTE, and ZTE Obsidian which can actually be yours for free.
It’s decision time now, our discount-addicted readers and friends, and it’d be wise to remember you need to eat as well once the whole electronics shopping madness is over. Be prudent, consider your options, and don’t forget to check back for updates.