Black Friday 2022: The best and worst time to buy a smartphone
Black Friday 2022 will surely be an opportunity to buy a smartphone at a special price for the upcoming holiday season. However, one does have to ask: Is it really the best time to pick up a new smartphone? The answer is Yes and No, and in some cases, it trends more toward No than Yes for that matter.
I already wrote about this last year for the previous Black Friday. Hence, I'm updating it this year in time for Black Friday 2022, because a lot has changed in one year.
The odds are in your favor...
In terms of pure statistics (or probability, I scored a 5 in my math exam, so leave me alone), retailers rake in the most money during sales that are held throughout this period. It's logical that they bombard the masses with the most discounts and fantastic deals during Black Friday. Consumer electronic devices are also among the most popular product categories and therefore, the obvious place to begin with when it comes to promotions.
Finder, a site that lets you make the most of your money through the comparison of financial products, brands, and services, has published a report on Black Friday 2021. Smartphones, TVs, headphones, connected watches, laptops, and speakers are the categories that tend to receive the highest discounts on average.
Some of the more popular items that consumers tend to go after during Black Friday include TVs and the Nintendo Switch, as well as items from popular brands such as Apple, Verizon, and Hulu. In other words, smartphones and home entertainment tend to rank at the top of most shoppers' lists.
... but quantity often does not rhyme with quality
Yes, Black Friday is the time of the year that concentrates on commercial offers. However, don't we have Black Friday all year long?
It does seem that we also have Black Friday Week, which is the week before Black Friday and is used as a pretext to share the initial wave of good deals in advance. We also have the Black Friday weekend that is punctuated by Cyber Monday. In short, if every day is Black Friday, do we really need to wait for Black Friday to take advantage of deals?
Most of the so-called smart shoppers are already used to bargains that are available on virtual platforms all year long. It is already 2022, we do not really need to wait for an annual shopping holiday to find good deals. After Black Friday, we'll have the last-minute pre-Christmas deals and after that, we'll have the winter sales and New Year deals, and so on and so forth.
Maybe Black Friday concentrates more offers and discounts in one go, but you clearly have the possibility of finding equally interesting promotions similar to what Black Friday offered all year long. Don't be fooled by FOMO (fear of missing out), including the fear of missing out on the deal of the century.
Theoretically fewer fake promos this year...
Black Friday 2022 is also the first time when Amazon, Walmart, and other e-retailers will be able to 'cheat' consumers with the discounts offered.
I am quite sure that many of you are now familiar with the inflated prices of a product in order to offer a seemingly larger discount. You all know this trick which consists in inflating the price of a product to make the amount of the discount more important. Theoretically speaking, this should be less rampant this year since consumers have wisened up. I am quite sure that many of them would have kept track of the average market price for a particular item over the year, and will be able to see through the retailer's digital sleight of hand with the discount percentage offered during Black Friday.
- Related: Fake Black Friday promos
... but in reality, it still happens
Well, we are all well aware of how different theory is from practice. According to an article from UFC Que Choisir, the explanation is concise and accurate, applicable even across the Atlantic.
"E-merchants offer other deals where the crossed-out price is the 'manufacturer's recommended price', a 'median price' or an 'average observed price'. For the merchants, it would not be in any case of an original price, but of a 'comparison price' which would be there only to help the consumer to make his or her choice. These offers may have a crossed-out price and sometimes even a percentage reduction, but in no case, they swear, is it a promotion."
Basically, Amazon skirts the issue by using the recommended retail price and then advertising a massive discount, never mind that the market price has since been slashed.
It is here where we see the lack of research by tech journalists and influencers when it comes to promoting such offers. Unless one has a massive spreadsheet that keeps track of everything daily, it is a massive ask to distinguish between real and unofficial promotions.
Black Friday arrives at the right time after the flagship season ends...
Black Friday 2022 comes right after the high season of the consumer electronics market—from September to October, where we constantly rant about Techtember and Techtober. By the end of November, all the flagships of the year have already been released by Samsung, Apple, Google, and the rest. For the mid-range side market, the major launches are usually already over for the year.
Admittedly, you're very unlikely to find an iPhone 14 on sale during Black Friday 2022. This is normal, the smartphone has just been released. But then, you should see some interesting discounts on previous models like the iPhone 13 or the iPhone 12.
The same goes for Android, the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro or the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 and Galaxy Z Fold 4 are too recent to be the subject of actually amazing deals. However, there should be some nice offers on the Pixel 6/Pixel 6 Pro and the Galaxy Z Flip 3/Galaxy Z Fold 3.
... but the discounted smartphones won't be the newest
If the strategy I just mentioned worked pretty well with high-end smartphones, it will not be as effective when it comes to less premium models, at least where Android handsets are concerned.
The primary drawback is that you potentially "lose" a year of software maintenance. As I've just explained, the best deals will mostly concern smartphones released several months ago or even last year. These smartphones were all running on Android 12 when they were launched and their manufacturers guaranteed a certain number of updates.
Sounds fine and dandy, but in the meantime, Android 13 was released this fall. Let's say you buy an "old" smartphone on a special Black Friday offer, you'll receive one less Android version and a year's worth of security updates compared to a smartphone that was released this fall, having shipped with Android 13 right out of the box.
Now, I know some of you don't care much about updates. But even apart from that, certainly an "old" high-end smartphone like the Galaxy S22 is still totally competitive in 2022 and even in2023. This is not necessarily the case for a mid-range or even entry-level smartphone.
So, should we buy or not?
Either way, you are free to do what you want, it's your money, not mine. And I'm not a scientist or an expert in market dynamics either.
Everything I just wrote here, I did so from a consumer point of view, from the perspective of someone who wants to take advantage of Black Friday 2022 to buy a smartphone.
On paper, Black Friday is a strategic time to make a purchase. This short period of the year is the one that is full of promotional offers. This large number of offers increases your chances of finding a good deal.
However, in my opinion, the Black Friday deals are not significantly more exceptional than the deals you can find all year long.
It also depends on what smartphone you're looking to buy. If you're aiming for a model that was released at the end of the year like an iPhone 14 (Pro), a Pixel 7 (Pro), or a Galaxy Z Flip/Fold 4, don't be disappointed by this pipe dream. If you're aiming for a model from last year or released in early 2022, you already stand a better chance from the get go.
Anyway, NextPit will obviously be here to guide you and filter fake promotions on your behalf, but remember that during Black Friday, there are plenty of good deals to buy a smartphone on sale. But buying a smartphone during Black Friday is not always a good deal.
This best list was revised in November 2022. Existing comments were maintained.
For what's out there, I can wait 6 or so months for the newer wave of phones I find more interesting than is currently available given my current phone.