Apple Black Friday 2022: Best Deals on iPads, Apple Watches, and AirPod Alternatives - The New York Times

1 week ago 22

Best iPad Black Friday deals

An iPad next to a US Passport.

Photo: Sarah Kobos

We are seeing discounts on several iPad models, including an iPad Mini, an iPad Air and iPad Pros.

What we like: Great option for those seeking a tablet with more screen space for creative work, like digital illustration or audio editing. Larger screen is useful for multitasking and produces deeper blacks and brighter highlights than the smaller size.

Other things to know: Last generation, but nearly identical to the M2 model (besides the slightly faster processor and Hover pencil feature).

What we like: Diminutive version of our 4th-gen iPad Air pick. Excellent device if you want a small tablet with a faster processor and a more modern design.

Other things to know: Good for those with smaller hands who want to watch videos, play games, doodle, or chat. Wi-Fi enabled with 64 GB memory.

Read our review of the best tablet.

What we like: Great balance of price and performance. Supports Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard pairing. Solid build quality and long battery life. Powerful enough to be a laptop replacement.

Other things to know: Previous gen model, but still fast enough for all but the most demanding tasks. Lacks 120 Hz refresh rate screen. Lightning cable charging. Thicker and heavier than the Pro and Air.

Read our review of the best tablet.

What we like: Great option for those seeking a tablet with more screen space for creative work, such as digital illustration or audio editing. Larger screen is useful for multitasking and produces deeper blacks and brighter highlights than the smaller size.

Other things to know: Last generation, but nearly identical to the M2 model (aside from the slightly faster processor and Hover pencil feature).

What we like: A variant of our top-pick pro tablet. Large vivid display great for digital art and video editing. Faster processor, more capable camera than previous models.

Other things to know: Not a meaningful upgrade to a M1 iPad Pro or an iPad Air from the last two years. Available in Space Gray.

Black Friday deals on AirPod alternatives

A pair of Beats Fit Pro Wireless Bluetooth Earbuds and case in a light orchid color.

Photos: Wirecutter Staff

A handful of the earbuds we do recommend are discounted for Black Friday. Though they may not have that instantly recognizable white stem, some of these earbuds offer other perks that AirPods don’t (including better sound and a more affordable price). Here are the best deals we’ve found on some of our favorites.

What we like: The best true wireless earbuds. Fit securely. Sound great. Easy pairing and connection to swapping iCloud-connected Apple devices. A variety of convenient features.

Other things to know: People sensitive to pressure in the ear may not like the fit. Inability to pair them with two devices simultaneously.

What we like: A former runner-up pick. Pair quickly and easily with Apple devices. Offer Siri voice activation. Sound great. Long battery life.

Other things to know: No hear-through mode (but earpieces can be worn individually for situational awareness). Water resistant but no official IP rating.

What we like: Great fit. High water and dust resistance. Intuitive controls.

Other things to know: Fussy device connectivity. Microphone sounds muffled on calls. Middling active noise cancellation. Available in black, navy, and mint.

What we like: Provides fun, bass-forward sound. Comfortable fit. Water resistance (with an IP55 rating). Easy-to-use controls.

Other things to know: Former budget pick. Only five hours battery life per charge, but 19 hours total from the included charging case. Mediocre microphone.

Why we don't recommend Apple AirPods

Apple AirPods shown next to their charging case.

Photo: Michael Hession

According to Wirecutter senior staff writer and resident headphone expert Lauren Dragan, there’s not much that a pair of AirPods can do that other, often cheaper earbuds can’t do better. The only thing that separates the original AirPods from the competition is their unsealed design, which some folks prefer over earbuds with rubberized silicone tips that fill the ear canal and sometimes cause the occlusion effect—the sudden awareness of sounds from bone conduction that happens when you plug your ears. “Otherwise, there’s no good reason to buy them,” Lauren says. “They don’t sound that great, and they lack a lot of controls because Apple kind of assumed you would use the voice functionality to do most things, which many people don’t love doing.”

Similarly, the AirPods Pro earbuds offer little in the way of beneficial unique features, and Lauren says they have issues of their own. She calls the controls (which you activate by squeezing) wonky and finicky; our testers found themselves pausing or restarting a song when they meant to skip to the next. Spatial audio and head tracking have not proven to be more than a gimmick yet. And other true wireless earbuds have long surpassed the Pro pair’s four and a half hours of battery life per charge. The sealed-design Pro set does offer noise cancellation, but it’s not great. Since some people forgo sealed earbuds to avoid the occlusion effect, the Pro earbuds are made with a vented design meant to combat the phenomenon—but that only filters out some outside noise and leads to other issues, such as eardrum suck.

That’s not to say you can’t enjoy a pair of AirPods if you aren’t able to resist acting on these new low prices. “If you’re already in the Apple ecosystem, love Apple products, and all you want is something that immediately connects to your laptop, AirPods will do that—and if you don’t care about the sound and the controls, then they may be the best earbuds for you,” Lauren says. But if you want more functionality out of your earbuds, she adds, you can find cheaper options or Apple-friendly pairs like the Beats Fit Pro that can give you an overall easier and more pleasant listening experience.

Best Apple Watch Black Friday deals

Apple Watch SE

Photo: Michael Murtaugh

Apple Watches are nearly always on sale, but Black Friday (and pre–Black Friday) sales tend to offer the best pricing for them. We still like the Series 7, and it should be deeply discounted this shopping season, but we also recommend the new (and newly discounted) Series 8 and SE models for anyone seeking the most recent tech. We are even seeing small price drops on the sought-after Ultra.

What we like: More affordable than our top pick, the Apple Watch Series 7. Great screen and god battery life. Attractive option for a first smartwatch or if you want it only for certain tasks.

Other things to know: Lacks the Series 7's always-on display and certain health functions. Available in three colors and an aluminum case.

What we like: Same great features as in the Series 7. New features include crash detection, a faster processor, watchOS 9, and a temperature sensor.

Other things to know: Still in testing but likely to be our new top pick. Best if you’re upgrading from an older watch (Series 4 or earlier) or a first-time Apple Watch buyer. Multiple colors available, 41 mm screen.

What we like: Same great features as in the Series 7. New features include crash detection, a faster processor, watchOS 9, and a temperature sensor.

Other things to know: Still in testing but likely to be our new top pick. Best if you’re upgrading from an older watch (Series 4 or earlier) or a first-time Apple Watch buyer. Multiple colors available, 45 mm screen, with the Sport Band in the S/M or M/L size.

What we like: Titanium case should prevent cracks. Lengthy battery life. Biggest display of any Apple Watch. Action button launches apps fast.

Other things to know: Flat-edged screen. Siren feature for search and rescue. Size may be overkill. Hefty price tag.

What we like: Our favorite faux-leather Apple Watch band. Cruelty-free vegan leather construction. Wax-coated and cross-hatched for optimal scratch- and water-resistance.

Other things to know: Rare deal. Available in thousands (!) of designs. Use code BLACKFRI22. Price includes shipping.

Best MacBook Black Friday deals

A macbook air laptop that is open and features a colorful background in the home screen.

Photo: Andrew Cunningham

Two models of the MacBook Air are seeing discounts, and both are picks in our MacBook guide. Our upgrade pick is the 2022 model with a faster M2 processor. If you don’t need the latest and greatest and would rather save a couple hundred bucks, the 2020 M1 model is available for only $800. We are also seeing a $300 price drop on an Apple MacBook Pro.

What we like: Our top pick MacBook. Enough speed, memory, and storage for most day-to-day computer tasks. Battery life a little over 14 hours. Lightweight. Solid construction. Comfortable keyboard. Industry-leading support.

Other things to know: Specs include Apple M1 processor, 8 GB of RAM, 256 GB SSD, 13.3" Retina display, one 3.5mm jack, and two Thunderbolt 4 ports.

What we like: Updated design with a brighter screen and better webcam. Faster and more ample storage. Brings back the MagSafe port. A good all-around option for Mac users.

Other things to know: Available in multiple finishes. Not ideal for editing photos or videos, or otherwise processing large media files.

What we like: Faster than any other laptop we’ve tested for photo or video editing. Impressive battery life. Larger 16-inch screen. New scissor-switch keyboard.

Other things to know: Pricey, but has the fastest and most powerful components Apple laptops offer. Specs include M1 processor, 16 GB RAM and 512 GB storage. Available in Space Gray.

Best Apple accessories Black Friday deals

 orange, navy blue, red, transparent, tropical floral, and more.

Photo: Michael Hession

Apple accessories can make the products you own a little (or a lot) more useful. From protective leather cases to iPad keyboards to an extra charger, now is a good time to purchase any add-ons you've been looking for.

What we like: Flexible. Grippy. Minimal logos and branding. Textured all the way around, rather than just along the perimeter. Buttons click with little resistance or dampening.

Other things to know: This version of the Caudabe case is an "other good" alternate in our guide. It would be a stronger recommendation if not for its (normally) not very competitive price. Buy two cases and use code 30EARLY4BF.

What we like: Compact. Best if you only need to charge two devices. Ideal for traveling or limited nightstand space. Charges at full 15W with MagSafe.

Other things to know: Only two charging spots (one for iPhone or AirPods case and one for Apple Watch). Doesn't come with a 20-watt power adapter. Still quite pricey and doesn't match the lowest price we've seen.

What we like: The best leather phone case for the iPhone 14 Pro Max. Sleek. High-quality materials. Clicky buttons. All-around protection. MagSafe compatibility.

Other things to know: Not a forever case. Plastic inner liner may show wear within a year.

What we like: The best leather phone case for the iPhone 14 Pro Max. Sleek. High-quality materials. Clicky buttons. All-around protection. MagSafe compatibility.

Other things to know: Not a forever case. Plastic inner liner may show wear within a year. Available in Ink, Orange, or Midnight.

What we like: Great for purchasing Apple products or accessories such as phone cases and the like.

Other things to know: You'll get a $15 Target gift card with a $100 Apple gift card purchase.

Read our review of the best tablet.

What we like: Best keyboard case if you want a trackpad. Offers an impressive keyboard, plus a removable case. Slimmer than our top pick. Draws power from the iPad’s Smart Connector.

Other things to know: Can stay positioned in a wide range of angles but isn’t well suited for using on your lap. New low price.

What we like: Can detect light, temperature, and vibrations. Innovative design. Excellent mounting options.

Other things to know: Fibaro’s app required for more advanced settings. Easy to discreetly tuck into corners.

What about deals from Apple itself?

From Black Friday, Nov 25 to Cyber Monday, Nov 28, shoppers get an Apple Gift Card when they purchase eligible Apple products from the Apple Store. This can be a good option for anyone who plans to purchase multiple Apple products. In most other cases, the Wirecutter Deals team finds that deals from other retailers usual edge out Apple’s prices during Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales.

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