Planning for Black Friday 2020 is very different from any year prior. Due to the pandemic, most retailers are hosting week-long (in some cases, month-long) sale events rather than focusing all of their low prices on just one day or one weekend. As a result of this change, many retailers have moved away from heavily discounted items to instead focus on a smaller range of mediocre deals spread out over time.
Planning ahead is always the smartest way to handle Black Friday, especially when so many retailers will be holding sales for an entire week. In an effort to help you be as prepared as possible for the upcoming Black Friday events, we’ve prepared a list of where to shop for all things tech.
Shopping for a tech gift? In early November, we surveyed readers (via Google Surveys) about which tech products they were most excited to purchase on Black Friday 2020. Topping consumers’ lists this year are the newest iPhone and the newest PlayStation console:
However, knowing what you want this year (for gifting or self-gifting) is only half the battle. You have to know where to find it at the best price — and know which retailers are most likely to offer the best deals on the categories you’re shopping.
In our early-November survey, we asked consumers which retailers they expected to offer the best Black Friday deals. Amazon was the clear winner:
However, based on our analysis of all retailers’ Black Friday 2020 ads and deals lists, Amazon isn’t necessarily the first place you should shop for everything on Black Friday. Here’s our breakdown of which tech items to buy where.
Where to buy televisions on Black Friday 2020: wait for 2021
In a traditional year, we would advise you to wait until the Super Bowl in the following year to pick up a brand new television. This is because, traditionally, the week of the Super Bowl is when the lowest prices can be found on televisions due to the release of the newer model sets happening around the same time. While Black Friday tends to have great prices on televisions, these sale prices are typically on older or cheap models that aren’t always worth your money.
However, due to the pandemic, we highly recommend that you wait until sometime in 2021 to make any large television purchase. Television models for 2020 have missed the mark considerably when it comes to the latest and greatest features. The biggest issue at hand is the new standard audio and visual format, HDMI 2.1. Many televisions released in 2020 don’t have HDMI 2.1 inputs and the ones that do don’t have every input as HDMI 2.1. The new format is certain to become standard on televisions starting as early as 2021, and purchasing a television without it could cause shoppers quite the headache later on down the road.
The two hottest video game consoles, both released in November, offer plenty of features that can be accessed only using HDMI 2.1. This doesn’t mean the consoles won’t work on older sets with HDMI 2.0b (the previous HDMI standard), but it does mean that the consoles won’t be utilizing several features that make them really stand out against the old generation of console gaming.
If you absolutely must purchase a new television this year or just love to buy good deals, then Best Buy is the best place to snag a solid deal on a TV for Black Friday. Best Buy’s ad was heavily focused on televisions this year and featured one of the lowest prices we saw on a 50-inch television: the Insignia 50D for only $150. Best Buy has also advertised fantastic prices on the entire LG CX OLED line of televisions, including the 65-inch at $1,850. LG’s CX models feature four inputs, all of which feature HDMI 2.1.
Where to buy smart home devices on Black Friday 2020: Amazon
It has been a tremendous year for smart home devices, due in large part to so much of the population being at home for the last eight months. As a result, many shoppers are moving toward using smart devices to enable many new forms of functionality in their homes. From lightbulbs to vacuums to doorbells, smart tech has invaded not only our homes, but Black Friday as well.
While Best Buy and Costco have the best pricing on many smart lightbulbs this year, Amazon has dominated the smart home market in 2020. This is largely due to the fact that Amazon has released so many Amazon-branded smart gadgets that shoppers are really excited about. Amazon announced a slew of new Amazon smart home gadgets in October, with some of them releasing this month. As a result, Amazon has drastically dropped the pricing on several of the older-generation devices for Black Friday.
Amazon announced huge discounts to their Ring Doorbell line, along with big savings on new- and older-generation Echo, Echo Dot and Echo Show devices. One of the hottest deals on older generation devices is Amazon’s Echo Show + Blink Mini for only $50. In addition to their own brand of products, Amazon also announced savings of up to 40% off select Ninja products, as well as discounts on iRobot cleaners and Kasa Smart Plugs.
Where to buy games and game consoles on Black Friday 2020: GameStop or Walmart
Due to the release of the PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Series line, there have been no bundle savings on either the PlayStation 4 or the Xbox One line. The Nintendo Switch has a new version of an old bundle this year, which features Mario Kart 8 and a three-month subscription to Nintendo Online. This bundle is better than in years past, due to the Switch model being the newest model that released in 2019 (featuring better battery life). GameStop announced on Nov. 20 that their Black Friday version of the Switch bundle will include a set of four Mario glasses (which feels random, but beats out the other retailers). However, shoppers looking to snag one of the newest consoles should head to GameStop, where every location will have two of each console on Black Friday. We highly recommend you get in line extra early if hoping to snag one!
Nintendo confirmed that there would be several Switch titles heavily discounted this year and, as per usual, Walmart‘s Black Friday ad featured each of the Nintendo exclusive titles (“Mario Aces,” “Yoshi’s Crafted World,” “New Super Mario Bros Deluxe,” “Fire Emblem Three Houses” and “Splatoon 2”) at $10 cheaper than Nintendo’s recommended Black Friday price. In a somewhat shocking move, GameStop released a new ad that featured the same titles but undercut Walmart by $3 on each. If you’re shopping for Switch games this year, both stores are a great choice.
PlayStation and Xbox owners hoping to find great deals this year will be somewhat disappointed in the lack of exciting new releases and even more disappointed in many retailers’ Black Friday video game pricing (or lack thereof). One of the best deals we saw is on the just-launched “Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla” which will be $47 at GameStop on Black Friday.
Where to buy phones on Black Friday 2020: Target or Walmart
Typically, Walmart is one of the best places to snag a great deal on a cellphone during Black Friday. The retailer generally has great pricing that includes discounts or gift cards when activating a new line. However, Walmart treated Black Friday quite different this year. For almost all of November, Walmart hosted various pre-Black Friday deals and specifically held a Black Friday cellphone event on Nov. 14. As a result, Walmart’s official Black Friday ad is completely void of any cellphone deals. It was not clear if Walmart’s Black Friday cellphone pricing and offers will continue all the way through Black Friday.
Target is the next best place to snag a good deal on a cellphone, though their deals this year seem tame compared to previous years. Shoppers wanting to snag an iPhone can save $250 when switching to AT&T at Target. Target also has a couple reasonable offers on older-model phones, including a free $30 Target gift card when buying the iPhone 7 on Total Wireless for only $130. Target also has the Note20 5G, the S20+5G or the Note10+ with a free $400 Target gift card with new activation.
Where to buy computers on Black Friday 2020: Best Buy
When it comes to laptops, computers and tablets there is still no retailer that offers better pricing or incentives than Best Buy. The retailer has been dominating the category for several years and, outside of Micro Center or Fry’s (both of which aren’t located in every state), no other retailer comes close.
Best Buy is offering the HP Spectre x360 2-in-1 15.6-inch i7 laptop for only $1,100, which is $500 off its regular retail price. Best Buy also is also hosting one of the best deals on Chromebooks with the Lenovo Flex 3 11-inch Chromebook for only $180.
Best Buy’s Black Friday savings on iPads range from $70 off to $150 off, depending on make and model. For the second year in a row, Best Buy is also heavily discounting the Surface Pro 7 line, with $230 to $360 in savings depending on which model you pick up. The retailer is also offering Best Buy gift cards with purchase of select Samsung Galaxy tablets.