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The Weekly Authority: Black Friday tips, tricks, what we use, and more
Welcome to The Weekly Authority, I’m Tristan Rayner (@tristanrayner on Twitter), with your wrap of the top Android and tech news from the week, plus one deeper dive each week into what’s happening and what matters.
Let’s get started with the news, keep scrolling for the Black Friday guide.
- New M1 Macs achieve some pretty big goals for Apple: borderline unbelievable performance from even low power chips, crushing the competition from Intel and AMD, and setting itself up to dominate other laptops in the performance and battery life stakes. A great spark for Arm-based processors on desktop may be the chance for the likes of Qualcomm and Google (rumored to be working on its own chips) to step up for mobility (November 18, 2020).
- HUAWEI split off HONOR and sold it to a large Chinese consortium. Only limited details have emerged as to what that all means, but a $15B price tag indicates plenty of hope for more smartphone sales. HONOR later confirmed it’ll work with “partners to continue providing security updates and after-sales service for existing smartphones and those that are currently on sale.” Still a lot of unknowns. Will it have any access to HUAWEI hardware or software? Will it regain access to Google Mobile Services? (November 16, 2020).
- The Google Pixel 4a in Barely Blue (for a limited time) surprised this week, given all reports were that Google killed it off. Definitely not a huge fan of devices coming out with nice color options only after the early adopters have jumped in, but I’ll let this one pass: the Pixel was already massively delayed (November 16, 2020).
- Amazon now selling prescription drugs online (Business Insider) is a big deal this week, especially with discounts for Prime members for people paying without insurance. Healthcare is huge and Amazon’s focus on customer service could mean good things for the wider industry. That said, Amazon is becoming more like Buy n Large, if you get the Wall-E reference (November 17, 2020).
- There were big leaks around the coming OnePlus 9 flagship. First were renders of the design via OnLeaks, with Steve Hemmerstoffer revealing CAD renders of the 2021 all-glass flagship at Voice. The report set a March 2021 launch date, and dropped specs like a 6.7-inch display with punch-hole in the top left, with the curved glass design to return. The general tone? A mix of 8 Pro and 8T designs, nothing wild.
- Adding to the OnePlus 9 news is 91Mobiles with a leak drop of camera specs details, including a 48MP primary sensor with 12MP output and 6mm focal length, plus a 48MP ultra-wide-angle sensor, up from the 16MP lens from the 8T. There a “live-image” of the camera module too but caution is required here, given no one really knows what is happening with final prototypes (November 21, 2020).
- Samsung’s first in-display camera phone may be coming with the Galaxy Z Fold 3, to give the foldable screen an all-display look, likely with a mild drop in selfie camera performance. Given you can take selfies with the rear cameras and see yourself in the front display, this all makes too much sense (November 19, 2020).
The N100 just doesn’t get it done convincingly, and the iPhone 12 Mini convinced a small-phone fan this week:
- OnePlus Nord N100 review: Oh dear. The compromises on camera, design, and performance are too much. Spend a tiny bit more to get way more for your money. — Ryan Thomas Shaw.
- Another in our iPhone 12 series reviews: iPhone 12 Mini review: A pint-sized powerful phone in a world where most flagship phones are getting a little too big to easily handle. — David Imel.
- Zepp Z review: Another gorgeous smartwatch from Huami, decent features, but way overpriced, no NFC, and no apps. – C. Scott Brown.
Instant Authority: Black Friday/Cyber Monday tips and tricks
Black Friday, coming up this week on November 27th, feels more like Cyber Monday this year. Deals are more focused on online purchases, and the whole extravaganza has become a full week, or even month — we’re already seeing plenty of great early deals. There are no rules anymore.
What is there to know about Black Friday in 2020? How can you get ready for the big holiday sales? What’s affected and what’s not? Price matching, extended return policies, tips, and more: here’s our guide to getting a deal.
- Some stores will be open. While major retailers are keeping their physical stores closed on Thanksgiving Day in 2020, on Black Friday, stores will be open. Walmart and Best Buy open from 5AM.
- Given the pandemic and shifting focus to online deals, we expect “in-store only” specials to be extremely limited.
Price Tracker Extensions
There are an array of price tracking extensions and plugins that can helpfully let you know if a deal is really a deal.
- We strongly recommend getting a price tracker extension at least while shopping during this time.
- Camelizer (from old faithful CamelCamelCamel) and Keepa both track pricing on Amazon which is super helpful to check if you’re actually getting a good deal and how pricing changes month-to-month.
- I use Camelizer and have always enjoyed CamelCamelCamel for its sheer simplicity and independent nature.
- Here’s why CamelCamelCamel got the name, too.
- For a long time, I’ve suggested avoiding or at least understanding what coupon plugins like Honey are doing with your data. Maybe the best in-between would be to use similar only during Black Friday week.
The best deal sites
- While we’ve got you covered for tech right here, deals aren’t just in new smartphones, headphones, TVs, and laptops.
- Sites like SlickDeals spot good deals but the benefits go further: it’s the discussion forums and comments where deals, value, and alternatives are discussed.
- Dealnews and Kinja deals offer similar services, but forums aren’t as busy.
Watch out for holiday-specific models
- Retailers and manufacturers always want to offer a juicy deal. One trick they sometimes use is taking big name brand products and offering tweaked models at a cheaper price that are just like the regular products but with a few features left off.
- There’s a valuable Reddit discussion on this explaining how this can work with TVs, which have huge discounts because they package up lower-tier displays, or drop the number of HDMI/USB ports, to reach cut-price offers.
- It’s all in the model numbers, so keep an eye out if you see a too-good-to-be-true deal and the model number doesn’t come up in reviews or at other retailers.
You might spot a great deal, but not at your favorite retailer. You might be able to change that with price matching. But there are always rules for price matching and the policies are usually enforced. Having your original proof of purchase on hand is just the start.
Normal price-matching retailers:
- Target: A Price Match Guarantee that is still valid over the holiday period! Target’s guidelines state it will price match, with a list of limitations, including matching only certain online retailers. Holiday sales including Black Friday are valid at any lane, all the way to December 24 price matching.
- Best Buy: Best Buy’s Price Match Guarantee is a favorite for many but during this period it looks all-but impossible. Best Buy has an exclusion list for price reduction items during Black Friday, and in its Black Friday Ad T&Cs writes the following: “Price Match Guarantee does not apply to … our competitors’ items for sale the Sunday before Thanksgiving Day through the Monday after Thanksgiving and is not valid on prior purchases.”
- Walmart: Mostly bad news here. Walmart.com has a Price Match Policy for one item per customer per day and is only applicable to certain online retailers. There’s also a long list of restrictions and sadly there’s also no price match on items “related to Black Friday and Cyber Week” even including pre-Black Friday event prices.
- Newegg: Black Friday Price Protection offers automatic refunds. It’s more of a promotion than a policy, and is only valid on eligible products displaying a certain badge. It’s only for those products on Newegg.
- B&H: Case-by-case basis only.
- Amazon, Costco: No price-matching policies.
Popular brand stores:
- Microsoft: While Redmond doesn’t usually offer price matching, it is during this season on its own store at least: “If you find Microsoft Store offers a better price on a product purchased at Microsoft Store between now and Jan 3, 2021, we’ll refund the difference.”
- Apple: Usually, Apple doesn’t touch special sales like a Black Friday deal. However, Apple does offer price-matching if you’ve already bought an item and you see it cheaper elsewhere within a 14-day window.
- Google: No price-matching policies.
- Dell: Price-match policy that doesn’t apply from Thanksgiving Day through to Cyber Monday.
Shipping and returns
With the expected heavy demands on e-commerce and online shopping, and COVID-19 related staffing issues, express shipping may face bottlenecks. Maybe don’t press your nose against the glass once you hit buy on that shopping cart this year.
Return policies are a little more generous this time of year, though. Here are the extended shipping policies from the big guns:
- Amazon: Anything bought between now and December 31 can be returned until January 31.
- Apple: Products bought between now and December 25 can be returned until January 8.
- B&H: Most items can be bought between now and January 1 can be returned until February 8.
- Best Buy: Some items bought between now and January 2 can be returned until January 16.
- GameStop: Unopened items can be returned by January 15.
- Newegg: Some items can be returned until January 31.
- Walmart: Extended returns depending on normal return windows — e.g. buy an item now, if your standard return window is 14 days, you can return until January 8, 2021.
Early Black Friday deals
- While the majority of deals start on Thanksgiving, early Black Friday week or Black Friday month deals often roll out early and roll out pretty hard.
- We’ve already seen the uber-popular Sony WH-1000XM4 headphones, that usually sell for $349, drop to $278 in the Black Friday lead-up.
- If you see a deal now on something you want, you can beat the rush, relax, and keep your eye out for something else. It’s always tempting to hold out though…
Our favorite deals so far:
- You can already save $116/40% on a Fossil Gen 5, and there are many, many more early Black Friday deals from the likes of Best Buy, Walmart, Samsung, and more.
- Right now: Samsung Galaxy S20 for $599.99 ($400 off), Samsung Galaxy Note 20 for $749.99 ($250 off), OnePlus 8 12GB/256GB for $599 ($200 off).
- Also: Apple’s premium AirPods Pro can be grabbed from Woot for $189.99 (full $60 off) until December 1, or until they sell out. This beats a previous cheapest best of $195.
Be sure to keep an eye on Android Authority‘s Black Friday deals hub for all the top offers on the best tech.
Features & Opinion
- The OPPO-ification of OnePlus is getting worse — by Igor Bonifacic, November 22, 2020.
- My opinion on this opinion: What made OnePlus great was its simplicity in its flagship-killing approach. With lots of change amid the new Nord line, it’s not that OnePlus is in a state, nor that it can’t add new product lines and go for value phones. It’s that the DNA of the company has changed, like when it pushed Amazon’s shopping app to devices. Ouch. That’s so against basic user trust built up in the company.
Tech Tweets of the Week
Coming up this week:
- Xiaomi Redmi Note 9 launch (November 26).
- Black Friday (November 27).
- Cyber Monday (November 30).
- First prize: OnePlus 8T and an AA hoodie
- Second prize: Garmin Venu and an AA hoodie
- Third prize: Sony WH-1000XM4 and an AA t-shirt
That’s it, folks! We’ll have more top Android stories for you next week. To stay up to date on all things Android Authority in the meantime, be sure to subscribe to our newsletters at the link below.