Looking to buy some Apple gear this year? Same old story: premium prices, infrequent sales, minuscule discounts.
We don't know yet whether that will bring actual discounts or just Apple's usual (cough, lame, cough) gift-card bonuses. But here's what we do know: There are deals to be had elsewhere on a variety of Apple items. Below I've rounded up the best prices I can find on the Apple AirPods, HomePod, iPad, iPhone and Watch. Some are available now; others will arrive on or around Black Friday.
Apple shopping tips
Before we dive in, some buying advice. First, you can get discounts right now by shopping for refurbished items from Apple proper. Currently, for example, the refurbished Apple Watch Series 3 38mm is $239, a savings of $40. And you can save $80 on the refurbished iPad Pro 9.7 (32GB). Apple's certified refurbs are usually indistinguishable from new, and have the same warranty as their new counterparts.
Second, many stores — Amazon, Best Buy, Walmart, Target, etc. — will have matching sale prices on Apple gear. So is there any advantage to choosing one over another? There might be: Check your favorite cashback service to see if one store is offering a higher rebate rate than another.
For example, below you'll see the iPad at $250 from a variety of stores. If you find, say, a 5 percent cashback option at one store and only 2 percent at the others, you'll pocket $12.50 instead of just $5. Those extra savings add up!
iPhones (save up to $750)
There are too many options to list here, but suffice it to say, if you're in the market, there are plenty of Black Friday iPhone deals. One that stands out: US Cellular will give you a free iPhone XR (in the form of bill credit on a 30-month plan) when you sign up for unlimited service. That deal is live right now and runs through Nov. 26.
Apple iPad 9.7 (2018): $250 (save $80)
Not that long ago, even the base model iPad would run you $500. Although this one lacks Pro features, it's still the current-generation model at an $80 savings. It's available right now on Target! It'll be available not just at Walmart, but also Costco and other stores.
Now playing: Watch this: Tricks to score extra savings on Black Friday and Cyber…
In-store only coupon
Apple Watch Series 3 (38mm + GPS): $279 and a $100 gift card
César Salza / CNET
The Apple Watch deal to beat is at… Meijer? The superstore chain will give you a $100 coupon for a future purchase when you buy a Series 3 model.
Apple HomePod: $250 (save $100)
Apple's Siri-powered smart speaker offers some of the best sound in its class, and Best Buy will chop a rare $100 off the regular price.
We'll update this post when we spot better deals on these and other Apple items. So check back soon!
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Read more: CNET's complete guide to Black Friday 2018
Read more: CNET's Holiday Gift Guide 2018
CNET's Cheapskate scours the web for great deals on PCs, phones, gadgets and much more. Note that CNET may get a share of revenue from the sale of the products featured on this page. Questions about the Cheapskate blog? Find the answers on our FAQ page. Find more great buys on the CNET Deals page and follow the Cheapskate on Facebook and Twitter!