U.S. indicts Iranian hackers responsible for deploying 'SamSam' ransomware

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States on Wednesday indicted two Iranians for launching a major cyber attack using ransomware known as “SamSam” and sanctioned two others for helping exchange the ransom payments from Bitcoin digital currency into rials.

The 34-month long hacking scheme wreaked havoc on hospitals, schools, companies and government agencies, including the cities of Atlanta, Georgia, and Newark, New Jersey, causing over $30 million in losses to victims and allowing the alleged hackers to collect over $6 million in ransom payments.

The deployment of the SamSam ransomware represented some of the highest profile cyber attacks on U.S. soil, including one in 2016 that forced Hollywood Presbyterian Hospital in Los Angeles to turn away patients and one last year that shut down Atlanta courts and much of its city government.

The six-count indictment, unsealed Wednesday in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, charges Iran-based Faramarz Shahi Savandi, 34, and Mohammad Mehdi Shah Mansouri, 27 with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit fraud related to computers, and other counts accusing them of intentionally damaging protected computers and illegally transmitting demands related to protected computers.

The Treasury Department said it had sanctioned Ali Khorashadizadeh and Mohammad Ghorbaniyan for exchanging digital ransomware payments into rials.

Neither Khorashadizadeh nor Ghorbaniyan were named in the indictment, though the indictment appeared to reference their activities.

“The allegations in the indictment unsealed today — the first of its kind — outline an Iran-based international computer hacking and extortion scheme that engaged in 21st-century digital blackmail,” said Assistant Attorney General Brian Benczkowski, in announcing the criminal charges on Wednesday.

Reuters could not immediately locate the four Iranians named by the U.S. government, and it would likely be difficult to hold them accountable in a federal court because the United States does not have an extradition treaty with Iran.

Some cyber security experts said the actions are unlikely to have an impact because of that.

“These cases are mostly symbolic,” said Leroy Terrelonge, an analyst with cyber intelligence firm Flashpoint.

Kimberly Goody, who manages financial crime analysis for cybersecurity firm FireEye, said the SamSam hackers might take a break to modify their operations to make them more difficult to identify and block.

“There may be a lull but I would expect them to continue,” she said.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, however, said at a press conference that he remains confident the suspects will be apprehended.

“American justice has a long arm and we will wait and eventually, we are confident that we will take these perpetrators into custody,” he said.

According to the Treasury, the SamSam ransomware scheme targeted more than 200 victims.

The indictment, however, only named 12 of them.

In addition to Atlanta and Newark, other victims cited by the Justice Department included healthcare companies such as Laboratory Corporation of American Holdings and Allscripts Healthcare Solutions, Inc as well as the Colorado Department of Transportation, Medstar Health, the port of San Diego, University of Calgary, Nebraska Orthopedic Hospital, Mercer County Business, Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center and Kansas Heart Hospital.

Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Additional reporting by Lisa Lambert, Makini Brice and Timothy Ahmann in Washington, Jim Finkle in New York and Babak Dehghanpisheh in Geneva; Editing by Susan Thomas and Richard Chang

Can Innovative Technology Fill Your Jewelry Box?

Self-proclaimed serial entrepreneur and tech disruptor Pamela Norton put together a handful of innovative tech things most people know nothing about, to build a business prepped for the modern world of luxury coupled with crypto, nano, and securitization. Before I profile her unique launch, let’s take a quick walk down memory lane.

Jump Back 10 (or 30) Years

There’s a reason cryptocurrency and the blockchain is catching so much attention now. Point blank, that reason is trust… or a lack thereof. Curious and brave types have been dabbling in encryption and crypto potentials since the 1980’s. Bitcoin has actually been around since 2009, so it didn’t just pop on the scene, and today, there are over 1,600 cryptocurrencies out there.  And if entrepreneurs have learned anything from then until now it’s that funding is a huge hurdle, and partnering with funds you can trust isn’t guaranteed.

Checks + Balances + Control

This lack of trust has created an absolute gap in the marketplace. Usually the gaps we see are more product geared and less financial, but this time it’s different. This time, this gap, has everything to do with the missing connection between security, transparency, and financial sustainability. That’s why Pamela Norton’s business is so unusual. Borsetta.io is a secure supply-chain platform that makes it easy to inventory and authenticate high-value, mission critical assets with unique, tamper-proof signatures. The short of it: they protect physical assets using blockchain and nanotechnology.

Criminals Are Getting Smarter

If there’s something good to steal, you can bet someone out there is trying to steal it. In the case of luxury items and funds, it’s usually a lot of thieves. According to Norton and Borsetta, counterfeit is the largest criminal enterprise in the world- $1.7 Trillion and growing to $4.2 Trillion by 2022. Security and protection are huge concerns, and it isn’t only big businesses who are looking to protect their assets.

Smart Contracts, Securitization & Luxury Items

A patented decentralized security protocol to protect, secure, tokenize, and transact physical assets is a solution that includes nanotechnology, hardware, software, a patented protocol layer and even a developer toolkit. The Borsetta platform can also connect with Ethereum, Hyperledger, Hedera, and other blockchain solutions while supporting QR, RFID, and other third-party applications and unique signatures.

What’s Jewelry Got To Do With It?

Luxury, eco-conscious jewelry and lab cultivated diamonds got Norton questioning why there wasn’t transparency in the market that dominates around $30 billion in profits every year. When she entered the business, she was shocked at all the holes, gaps, and lack of transparency in such a massive market. She found herself wondering how she could connect the physical assets to the digital titles on the blockchain? How could she  validate these luxury or high value items? How could she protect them? And how could she put our assets to work for us? How could she revolutionize the value in our lives?

These Are Smart, But So Are You

Don’t let the terms fool you. These are just smart technologies, allowing transactions to take place that protect everyone involved, from start to finish. The marketplace now allows for too much corruption, counterfeits, theft, rip-offs, dishonesty, and unsustainable methods. Norton wants to be part of the movement to minimize those things, to give the value to the creators, to protect assets, and to ensure transparency.

Get On Board

As we wait around for the blockchain technology to take off, and the digital infrastructure to show up, we can dream about a future full of protection, securitization, smart contracts, and the real-life applications just over the horizon. The next industrial revolution is upon us, and we must adopt to adapt, or be left behind

Facebook Will Crush The Skeptics In 2020

Facebook (FB) continues to defy the market expectations by growing revenues and earnings, and buying back lots of stock. Nonetheless, it appears that extreme pessimism has led the stock to trade at mind-boggling valuations. I expect the stock to report a modest 2019 before resuming its usual exemplary performance in 2020. FB is too cheap to ignore and continues to be my highest-conviction buy.

Blood In The Streets

FB has been a terrible stock to own this year. The current environment, however, suggests that this has more to do with extreme pessimism rather than objective logic. The company’s recent earnings had a lot to be optimistic about.

Revenues grew 33% YOY, and management guided for the growth to drop at mid- to high-single digit rates next quarter as well. This suggests a Q4 revenue growth rate in the 24-27% range, which looks to be much better than many projections, and that called for growth to slow down to 20%. I also liked that FB used basically 100% of free cash flows on share repurchases. While the company has only recently begun buying back shares since 2017, the management team is showing tremendous maturity in returning cash to shareholders, especially when prices keep going lower.

There were indeed some disappointing notes. Operating margins dropped from 50% to 42%, which was a less-than-“gradual” decline as one would have expected when management said that operating margins would trend toward the mid-30s “long term.”

Management did indicate that the largest changes to the company’s margin structure would happen in 2019. I caution that 2019 may appear to be a mixed bag financially; I expect revenues to continue to grow, but the bottom line to be pressured due to expense growth. 2019 looks to be a crucial year in which FB intends to front-load significant amounts of capital expenditure and set the foundation in place to make sure that it never allows the data privacy issues that surfaced in the past two years to ever happen again. We will look at how this impacts the numbers in just a moment. I appreciate that the company is able to complement this forward thinking with share repurchases which help to boost shareholder value in the near term.

Nonetheless, there appears to be blood in the streets now. Countless articles like this one are released almost every week implying that morale is low, and as a result, FB employees are leaving in aggregate. This just does not add up, as while I can believe that these are not necessarily the best of times due to the poor stock price action, FB employees are treated to free food and work at a Disneyland-like campus. Even more articles try to imply that FB is seeing massive user backlash and seeing users deleting their accounts en masse.

The company proved these conjectures wildly off base when it showed very minimal declines in Europe and North America plus modest user growth overall:

(Source: 2018 Q3 Presentation)

I continue to find FB to be that rare combination of a company capable of compounding earnings at double-digit rates for years to come trading at a value-type multiple, while aggressively buying back its own stock.

What to Expect in 2019 and Onwards

After the last quarter’s results, I need to update my expectations for next year. I did not anticipate margins to drop as quickly towards the 35% range as they did in Q3. For Q4, I am projecting 25% revenue growth and 35% operating margins – both numbers being on the conservative end given management’s guidance. I also am projecting 35% margins immediately in 2019 with 25% revenue growth. Even though revenue growth is expected to pick up following the major changes in 2019, I use the same 25% revenue growth in 2020 as well. I should note that revenues had been growing over 40% prior to the recent struggles.

Below, I show my revenue and earnings expectations for 2019 and 2020:

(Chart by Author)

As we can see above, while I expect EPS growth to be slower in 2019 due to the increased expenses, EPS growth picks up dramatically in 2020, when expenses will no longer grow so rapidly. I also note that these estimates will probably prove to be too low, as I am counting on FB to strongly beat on my operating margin assumptions as well as revenue growth rates. Furthermore, the estimates do not include any effect from share repurchases, which could be a major factor moving forward if FB decides to monetize its cash hoard, or better yet, take some leverage onto its balance sheet.

Valuation

FB is trading at its cheapest levels ever on a historical basis.

Of course, it trades much lower than its 5-year average of 55 times earnings:

(Chart by Author, data from Morningstar)

The stock is also trading significantly lower than its 5-year average of 14.4 times sales:

(Chart by Author, data from Morningstar)

Compared to the S&P 500 too, FB appears to be cheap. Whereas the S&P 500 trades at about 22 times trailing earnings, FB trades 20.2 times trailing earnings of $6.64 per share.

Again, I anticipate 2019 to be a year of conservative-to-moderate earnings growth for FB, before accelerating once again in 2020. The company arguably has more consistent and higher-quality earnings than the broader market due to its pristine net cash balance sheet (as compared to the average 1.7 times debt to EBITDA of the S&P 500), secular growth tailwinds of online advertising, and social networking platforms (especially Instagram) gaining more and more momentum due to growing user counts and engagement. I greatly doubt that its growth story has been significantly impaired in the long term. FB arguably deserves a larger premium – now let’s try to determine a price target.

Price Target

My 12-month price target for FB is $200, which would be about 29 times 2019 earnings but 22.7 times 2020 earnings. While it may appear high considering the EPS growth slowdown in 2019, the valuation would appear reasonable once EPS growth picks up again in 2020. This could be reached, for example, through continued strong execution, as well as if management could show surprise upside perhaps through accelerated share repurchases funded by levering up the balance sheet. I should, however, once again stress that this should be viewed as a long-term investment, as the company might not show meaningful EPS growth until 2020.

Risks

  • The biggest risk is that FB loses its dominance in the online advertising space and sees a larger-than-expected growth slowdown, or even begins to see negative results. This risk cannot be ignored considering that the company currently does not really have revenues other than those from online advertising through its social networking platforms. However, considering that rival Snapchat (SNAP) recently reported struggling user growth, it does not appear that FB has significant competitors that would challenge to take over. That means one would need to count on a widespread move away from the use of social networks for this risk to play out – I find this highly unlikely.

  • Another risk is that management does not view the company’s shares to be as cheap as your author does, and prefers to let them linger at low levels. This would manifest itself in decelerated share buybacks. However, FB has been very diligent in directing all of its free cash flow towards share repurchases this year, showing that management does view shares as cheap. Furthermore, it is unlikely that the company will willingly risk employee turnover due to the struggling share price, as share-based compensation continues to be a significant component of employee expenses.

  • Cheap stocks can always get cheaper. I didn’t think that FB would be able to fall below $150, but here we are. I, however, am not afraid of this possibility, because it would only help the company achieve higher EPS numbers due to a more powerful share repurchase program.

Conclusion

It seems that the further FB falls, the more negativity surrounds it. The company, however, continues to execute and buy back as much stock as its free cash flow allows for. Assuming management can deliver on improving data privacy in 2019, company earnings may continue their strong growth rate and prove the skeptics wrong. FB shares have about 50% upside to my price target in the next 12 months.

If you liked this article, please scroll up and click “Follow” next to my name to not miss any of my future articles. I am always looking to expand my network of intelligent investors. I have a reputation for replying to every comment, leave a comment below!

(TipRanks: FB: Buy)

Disclosure: I am/we are long FB.

I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

Best Cyber Monday Deals for Parents (and Kids)

As the old saying goes, “Home is where the heart is… and all your stuff, and your kids’ stuff, and a lot of other things you need to clean or put away.” Once you’re done with holiday shopping for your friends, family, and kids on this Cyber Monday, don’t forget to pick up a few things for yourself as well. A smart home thermostat, or robot vacuum, can go a long way towards making your household chores just a little easier.

Deals tend to flow and out of availability and vary in price during Cyber Monday. Please bear with us. We will continue to update this list as we learn about new deals, and cross out links that no longer offer the promised discount, or sell out.

More WIRED Cyber Monday Deals

Our Favorite Kids and Toy Deals

Amazon

Kiwi Crates starting at $8 ($12 off)

KiwiCo

My one-year-old and three-year-old both enjoyed their crates from Kiwi, but the company also offers age-appropriate activities for kids up to fourteen years old. For the holiday, you can get 60 percent off your first month’s box.

Anki Cozmo for $140 ($40 off)

Amazon, Walmart, Target

Cozmo is so fun, and cute, that you might be excused for forgetting that he’s actually teaching your child (and possibly you) to code.

Jimu Robot UnicornBot Kit for $108 ($10 off)

Target, UBTech

My almost four-year-old has a very similar unicorn robot that she loves. The only thing that makes a unicorn better, is if you make it a robot that you can build yourself.

Burley D’Lite Bike Trailer for $517 ($172 off)

Burley with code BFriday2018

We loved Burley’s jogging stroller, and their bike trailers are even better. They’re offering 25-30 percent off bike trailers and bundle deals through November 28. The D’Lite can seat two children and convert to a stroller, a jogger, or a sled.

Thule Chariot Lite 2 Multisport for $680 ($170 off)

REI, Nordstrom

REI sat out the Black Friday bonanza, which, okay. But they’re not missing out on Cyber Monday madness, with a ton of big-ticket items on sale for up to 40 percent off. This is the Thule trailer that I use for my two children, which I switch frequently in between a stroller and a bike trailer. Once you get to your destination, just unhook it from your bike, pop the rugged wheels on, and be on your way down the trail.

REI Co-op Cycles for $135 ($44 off)

REI

If your kid wants a bike for the holidays, now’s your chance! This aluminum-framed REI Co-op bike is lightweight and comes with a chain guard, training wheels, and stickers. Plus, all REI bikes come with a free warranty tune-up within 6 months of purchase.

Kinsa Smart Ear Thermometer for $26 ($14 off)

Amazon

Measuring and tracking the temperature of a feverish kid is about as easy as solving a problem like Maria, to throw in a Sound of Music reference. An ear thermometer is more accurate than a forehead swipe, and causes less agitation than a rectal thermometer. Kinsa’s Wi-Fi-enabled products are accurate, and remarkably well-priced.

Baby Jogger City Mini for $220 ($140 off)

Amazon

This lightweight, cult favorite, city stroller has all-terrain wheels, one-handed open-and-close operation, and a hand brake.

LittleBits Avengers Hero Inventor Kit for $100 ($50 off)

LittleBits, Amazon

Why build superheroes when you can become one? Kids who are eight years and older can use the included light sensor, accelerometer, and LEDs to built their very own superhero gauntlet. Oh yeah, and stickers.

Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids for $90 ($40 off)

Amazon

In my opinion, the Amazon Fire kids tablet is the easiest way to let a child explore a wealth of age-appropriate books, movies, and games. Amazon FreeTime is easier to navigate than ever, and now includes books in Spanish and audiobooks as well.

Carcassonne Board Game for $18 ($17 off)

Walmart

Disclosure: I have never played this game. But I’ve been told (repeatedly, and with much enthusiasm) that this is a great board game for anyone who is tired of Catan.

Arcade1UP Pac-Man Old School Arcade Cabinet for $249 ($50 off)

Walmart

If you have a child, and a basement, you probably need a full-sized arcade Pac-Man. It has commercial-grade construction, but you don’t need any coins, thank goodness.

Lego Minecraft Ocean Monument for $97 ($23 off)

Amazon, Lego Store

Combine your child’s interests in Lego, and Minecraft, with this 1,120-piece set. It comes with a Steve and Alex minifig, as well as some assorted guardians, squids, and sea sponges.

Home and Kitchen Deals

Google

Google Home Hub for $99 ($50 off)

Walmart, Google, Target

We have complicated feelings about running our smart homes with talking speakers. But if you don’t, there are a couple good deals on the new Home Hub right now.

Ring Video Doorbell 2 + Free Echo Dot for $139 ($189 off)

Amazon

Peepholes are so over. The Alexa-enabled Ring video doorbell gives you motion alerts so you know when people are dropping packages off (or stealing them off your porch). You can also see visitors in 1080p HD, and talk to them. Or not.

Amazon Smart Plug for $5 ($20 off) with any Echo Purchase

Amazon

We have a separate list of our favorite Amazon devices that are on sale for the holiday. But smart plugs are endlessly useful, and this one is basically free. We recommend picking up an Echo Dot if you’re on a budget. The Echo Plus sounds the best.

Nest Thermostat for $179 ($70 off)

Nordstrom, Best Buy, Ace Hardware

Okay, so I prefer the Ecobee4. But we also have a Nest, and it’s the O.G. smart thermostat, and it’s irresistibly beautiful and easy to use. This is the cheapest we’ve ever seen it. The slim, low-profile Nest E is also on sale too.

Nest Outdoor Security Cam for $149 ($50 off)

Nordstrom

When I tested the Nest outdoor security cam, I found that I was able to zoom in and watch our neighbors across the street (sorry, neighbors). However, you’ll need to subscribe to Nest Aware for better identification algorithms, storage on the cloud, and better alerts.

SHOP HAPPY

Get Gadget Lab’s picks of the best holiday deals this season. Headphones, laptops, TVs, oh my!

Eufy Robovac 30 for $200 ($70 off)

Amazon

This is the non-Wi-Fi-enabled version of one of my favorite robot vacuums. It’s amazingly slim, quiet, and powerful. And it looks great, too.

iRobot Roomba 690 for $249 ($126 off)

Amazon, Home Depot, Target, Lowe’s, Best Buy

Another one of our favorite midrange vacuums. The Roomba 690 is Wi-Fi-enabled and has the same impressive navigational technology as iRobot’s other, much pricier models.

August Smart Lock Pro + Connect for $224 ($56 off)

Amazon, Best Buy ($230), Bed Bath & Beyond ($235)

Congrats! You never have to worry if you locked the door before you left on vacation, ever again!

Uuni 3 Pizza Oven Bundle for $268 ($67 off)

Huckberry

My family, and especially my toddler, was enthralled with the charred, blackened pizza goodness of the Uuni Pro. The only difference with the Uuni 3 is that it’s slightly smaller, which means that it cooks 12-inch pizzas instead of 16-inch ones. This bundle includes a skillet pan.

Cyber Monday Sale Pages for 2018

We’ve sifted through the mess of deals, but if you want to look for yourself, here are some links. Many of these prices may not be live until day-of.

When you buy something using the retail links in our stories, we may earn a small affiliate commission. Read more about how this works.

An Open Letter to My Fellow Baby-Boomers

I’ll cut to the chase: it’s time to let the younger folk take the lead. We boomers have a stranglehold on leadership positions in business and government alike and it’s showing up as a lack of flexibility and an inability to evolve.

In government, the situation is even worse. Prior to the recent election, the US congress was among the oldest in history. The average age in the House was 57, in the Senate, 61. That’s up from 49 and 51 respectively as recently as 1981.

The political scene is full of boomers who intend to run for President: Trump, Warren, Biden, Clinton, Sanders. Subtract their cumulative ages from the year 2018 and you get the year 1659. 

This is not to say that boomers are incompetent. Actually, many of them are quite talented, especially at holding onto power and money. For example, note how effectively Nancy Pelosi fought off her recent leadership challenge. Let’s face it, no Democrat will get that gavel from Pelosi unless they pry it from her cold, dead hands.

Where the boomers are lacking is in the area of new ideas. Take Bernie Sanders. Despite his ability to electrify a young crowd, his speeches–let’s be honest here–come off as brittle and well-worn, like the golden oldies of the silver lefties. Same thing with the boomers on the right. Either it’s Trump’s drivel or Mitch McConnell’s fluent weasel-ese.

The same is true in the business world. You already know what your typical boomer CEO is going to say long before he says it. Most of them obviously haven’t had a new idea in decades; they’re overpaid barriers to change.

The inadequacy of boomer leadership becomes particularly clear when you look at how they struggle with technology. The only boomer politician who arguably “gets” Twitter is Trump and, even then, he only uses it to issue the equivalent of press releases.

By contrast, Beto O’Rourke (who is Gen-X) live-streamed his campaign into national prominence. Better yet, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (a Millennial, of course) has turned her adventures in Washington into a major Web event, positioning herself as an every-woman (or, rather, every-Millennial) bemused by the possibilities and pomposity of political power.

Considering that the Democrats would win nearly every election if they could get young people to vote, which of the below do you think will resonate with young voters?

  • Clinton (in a speech): “Pokemon Go to the polls.”
  • Ocasio-Cortez (on an Instagram of the Capitol rotunda): “Welcome to Hogwarts.”

The same thing is true in business. Most companies (especially those led by boomers) have a Web presence that could best be described as “brochure-ware on Quaaludes. Consider, by contrast, Gen-Xer Elon Musk. While he sometimes tweets crazy stuff, it’s because he’s in a crazed state of mind.

Musk, O’Rourke and Ocasio-Cortez understand what escapes most boomers, which is that there’s no more public vs private.  If you’re a public figure, you live your life online. It’s not about controlling the media; it’s about being transparent.

That’s a very hard concept for the TV generation to grasp, especially those who were media trainer and have a near-religious belief in the power of the focus group. (Hint: nothing in business is more ridiculous or more useless today than the focus group.)

But this failure to understand how technology changes things is really just a symptom of a bigger problem, which is (as much I wish it weren’t true), the human brain becomes less effective as it ages. Thinking becomes ossified. Creativity wanes.

None of this is to say that boomers shouldn’t continue to contribute. Experience has value. So does the perspective of age. But here’s the thing: we boomers are clinging to leadership past the point of our ability to pivot.

So I say to my fellow boomers, it’s time–indeed past time–to get off the center stage and give up the reins. The kids are all right. Give them their chance. 

Geoffrey James

Apple CEO Tim Cook Just Revealed What He Does at 4 In the Morning. Here's Why More Business Leaders Should Do It

Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 

A stagger to the bathroom, a quick shower and a wander to Starbucks?

That doesn’t seem to be quite Tim Cook‘s routine.

He gets up, he said, just before 4 a.m.

How can anyone do this on a regular basis? If I have to get up at four, it’s usually to catch a plane. It’s usually accompanied by a grisly mood and a desperate need for coffee.

It’s definitely not accompanied by an enthusiasm for work. Or even for thinking.

Cook, though, told Axios: 

I like to take the first hour and go through user comments and things like this that sort of focus on the external people that are so important to us.

Or how Cupertino only provides 5GB of cloud storage.

Would you enjoy starting your day listening to several thousand humans gripe into your ears, even if there are also a few praising your latest phones to the heavens?

Yet, if Cook is to be believed, he’s addressing the simplest core idea of running a business. 

If you don’t know what your customers are thinking about your product, how can you hope to please them?

No, I can’t believe he spends hours doing it. I do believe, however, that there are a lot of CEOs who rely on others in their company to tell them what customers think.

You might imagine that those others could be tempted to, well, edit the truth. Or, worse, to merely commission market research that’s riven with biases. 

As CEO, though, you can’t afford to let that happen. You can’t afford to distance yourself from your customers.

I can’t help, in this context, thinking about American Airlines CEO Doug Parker. 

Worse, he couldn’t believe why it would bother anyone that he hadn’t.

He left the impression that profits are the only thing he cares about. While many stared wide-eyed at his blindness toward humanity, Parker was steadfast.

Indeed, it was many months before he bothered to get on the MAX. His review was, well, tepid. He said it was:

In line with U.S. carrier main cabin products with a couple of pleasant surprises.

It was the same as the others, he felt, which meant he was happy.

It’s not as if Cook isn’t profit-oriented. Several people who regularly do business with Apple tell me he enjoys an extreme keenness on the money side of things.

However, he understands that his business depends on real people staying emotionally committed to his brand.

So he tries to make sure he’s aware of their feelings.

Even if the best time to do it is 4 a.m.

George Orwell's Advice on How to Tweet Effectively

George Orwell has been in the news lately, not because he authored the classic dystopian novel 1984 but because he wrote a famous set of rules for clear writing which, if followed, might resemble Trump’s tweets.

I say “famous” with some reservations since I had never heard of them before (or forgot about them if I had). Anyway, since I’m always looking for pointers on good writing, I decided to check them out.

What I discovered is that, whatever his original intentions for these rules, they’re a concise and valuable summary of how to write great tweets or, more generally, the short slices of writing that work well when you’re communicating online. Here they are:

1. “Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech that you are used to seeing in print.”

Most journalists write on deadline and write articles that must be of a pre-defined length. Since most journalists don’t have much to say, they tend to add a lot padding in order to hit their target article length.

That’s why you see figures of speech in mainstream journalism like “In this day and age,” “ballpark figure,” “when all is said and done,” “make no mistake,” etc. These sort of clichés are boring and add bulk to your writing without adding meaning. They waste space even as they fade into the background.

Brevity, however, is the soul of tweet.  When you’re tweeting, texting, commenting, or doing anything online other than writing articles or long emails, you want everything to be crisp and vivid as possible. Online readers won’t wade through fluff; they’ll just move on.

2. “Never use a long word where a short one will do.

Twitter famously has an artificial limitation of 140 (and now 280) characters. While it’s easy to do multiple 1,2,3… tweets, the more wordy you get, the less likely readers are to keep reading. 

An easy way to shorten the character count of a tweet is to substitute short words for long words that have the same meaning. Examples: “use” rather than “utilize,” “absurd” rather than “ludicrous,” etc.

However, when you apply this rule, the long and short words in question must have identical meanings. When words have different implications, a long word might pack more punch than a short one and thus be worth the extra length.

For example, while “spectacular” and “showy” have almost identical meanings, the sentence “she wore a spectacular dress” has a different flavor and emotional connotation than “she wore a showy dress.” 

3. “If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.”

Extra words add bulk without adding meaning. And since bulk is the enemy of good in the twitter-sphere, removing words or restructuring sentences to eliminate words are both good habits to cultivate. Examples:

BAD: “The reason people believe in him is that they’re gullible.”

BETTER: “People are gullible and hence believe him.”

BAD: “This application was designed to enable users to reduce cycle time.”

BETTER: “This application reduces cycle time.”

4. “Never use the passive where you can use the active.”

There are two reasons why the active voice works better for online communications than the passive voice:

  1. The active voice (e.g. “he hit me”) is more vivid than the passive voice (e.g. “I was hit by him.”).
  2. The active voice requires fewer words, thereby making your writing tighter. 

I might note that this advice to use the active and eschew the passive is less important in longer form writing because the passive can be quite effectively used to throw emphasis on what’s important in the next sentence.

The sentence above (“I might note”…) makes this point. Converting it to the active voice…

“Because if you want to throw emphasis on an idea that’s going to appear in the next sentence you can use the passive to stick the word you want to emphasize at the end of the sentence.” 

…is pretty awkward. 

5. “Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.”

Foreignisms, techie-talk and jargon are how insiders communicate among their own. They must therefore be avoided whenever your intent is to transfer ideas to those outside your in-crowd. I might add that acronyms have the same limitation.

Obviously, some tweets (like the Instagrams my kids share with their friends) are intended to be understood only by a limited audience (not including parents) and are thus intentionally use jargon. That’s fine, as long as you know what you’re doing. LOL

6. “Break any of these rules sooner than say anything barbarous.”

Expletives, slurs, obscenity, and profanity, as communications tools, can be both vivid and crisp. As such, “barbarous” communication can easily fall within the restrictions of the five rules provided above.

However, using such language can come back to bite you, big time, especially since nothing ever really disappears on the Web. 

BTW, Orwell included this rule because he observed that politicians use neologisms and misdirection to tart up dumb ideas, make banal observations seem profound, and hide bad intentions behind high-minded rhetoric.

He believed that following the five previous rules would make those communication strategies impossible. Trump is an excellent example of this. He’s never attempted to use eloquence to hide dumb ideas, banal observations, or bad intentions.

The problem–from the Orwellian perspective–is that Trump says “barbarous” things that actually reflect how he thinks and what he believes. That’s good, in a way, because nobody is being bamboozled by fancy verbiage.

A Driver Returned to His Car to Find a Note and An Incredible Lesson on Doing the Right Thing. The Note Was From a 6th Grader

Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 

A grasp of ethics is becoming slightly more popular in business these days.

Well, we can thank the Valley’s abject disregard for ethics, one that’s finally caught up with many of its companies. Why, even Stanford has begun to discover the concept.

Still, when you run a business you don’t always — often? ever? — expect people to do the right thing.

Which is, perhaps, why the story of Andrew Sipowicz and his car has moved so many this week.

He returned to his car last Monday, parked in Buffalo, New York, to experience a sinking feeling. 

He also experienced something he never expected.

His car, you see, had endured a substantial dent in its front left side. It seemed as if there had been a hit and a run. 

Yet perched inside his windshield wiper was a note. A very detailed note, as it happened, from a 6th grader.

The spelling wasn’t perfect. The sentiment certainly was.

It read: 

If your wondering what happen to your car.

Bus: 449 hit your car It stops here everyday to drop me off.

At 5:00pm.

What happened? She was trying to pull off and hit the car. She hit and run. She tried to vear over and squeeze threw but couldn’t. She actually squeezed threw. She made a dent and I saw what happened.

-Sorry

-Driver seat left door

-A lady in the bus driver seat 499.

-Buffalo Public School bus

-A 6th grader at Houghten Academy

It sets a good example for a lot of students. Not just students, but just people in general.

What resulted is that the bus company is covering the cost of repairs and giving Sipowicz a loaner car. The bus driver, reports CNN, will be fired.

We get wrapped up in the bad deeds of companies because they appear to have such large consequences.

At heart, though, the bad deeds of companies are merely the bad deeds of individuals, written in capital letters and involving large amounts of capital.

Yet simple stories of goodwill also spread around the web, as this one has. 

It’s almost as if people want to be reassured that, in the midst of a world that seems to bathe delightedly in corruption, there still are good people. 

That story led to unexpected consequences and national attention. 

These days, we watch as so many who could say something, end up saying nothing.

We’re told that kids don’t bother with anything but themselves, buried as they are in their phones. 

Here, though, is a simple lesson of a 6th-grader who stopped, looked around and did the right thing. A generous thing.

Perhaps we should all do that a little more often.

Black Friday 2018: The Absolute Best Tech Deals Online

We know how you’re feeling. You’re full of turkey (or maybe Tofurky!) but the deals are happening, and they’re happening right about now. Well, fear not. We here on the WIRED Gear team have been patrolling every online deal we could find for the past week. We’ve produced half a dozen or so guides covering a good swath of the tech world, and this guide has our absolute favorite sales. It has super expensive, amazing TVs and $5 smart plugs, side by side. Keep this page bookmarked, too. It will also become our home for Cyber Monday deals in just a few days.

Note: Deals tend to flow and out of availability at a rapid rate during Black Friday, and some may not be available until 12 a.m. Friday, or early in the morning. Please bear with us. We will continue to update this list as we learn about new deals, and items sell out. You can read more WIRED Black Friday 2018 Deals guides here.

TV Deals

LG OLED C8 55-Inch 4K TV for $1,697 ($400 off)

Amazon

Once you spend a day with LG’s OLED screen tech, you won’t go back. Visually, nothing compares to it. The contrast and inky blacks are as good as they come, and the LG C8 is a perfect example. OLED TV’s have yet to get cheaper than $1,500, which is a shame, but if you want the best, they’re worth the extra cost. Read our C8 review to learn more.

43-Inch TCL 4K Roku TV for $320 ($80 off)

Amazon

You can find cheaper TVs, and some of them may also be from TCL with Roku built in, but this is the one you want. The TCL 5 Series strikes a really good balance between beautiful picture quality and price. And, as always, since it has a Roku inside it, the interface and remote are easy to use and great for streaming out of the box.

Headphone and Audio Deals

Lenovo

Sonos One for $174 ($25 off)

Amazon, Sonos

The Sonos One is the Best Smart Speaker you can buy. It sounds incredible and is a perfect starter speaker to a larger Sonos world. The thing that’s best about Sonos is that the speakers network together around your home, and you can easily group and ungroup them, and play music from just about any streaming service. The One also has Alexa built in, works with Apple AirPlay 2, and will connect to Google Home in early 2019, we’re told. It’s rarely discounted, but this weekend you can also get $50 off the Beam, and $100 off the Sub.

Lenovo Smart Display for $99 ($100 off)

Walmart

Lenovo’s Smart Display is one of the Best Google Speakers you can buy and a top Smart Speaker, too. We like Google Home a bit more than Amazon’s Alexa right now for its ease of setup and use. This was Google Home’s first smart display (now, there are many), and it does a great job of making itself a relevant addition to the kitchen, especially. It has interactive recipes and delivers morning video news reports.

Sony WH1000XM2 for $200 ($150 off)

Amazon

These Sony 1000XM2s can’t quite match the Bose QC35 headphones(see below), but they’re pretty close. (The 1000XM3 are even better.) They cancel noise incredibly well, and if you put your hand over the right earcup, it amplifies the sound around you, so you can hear the bus driver or pilot say something you hoped would be important.

Bose QuietComfort 35 II for $299 ($50 off)

Amazon, Jet, Dell

Bose’s killer travel headphones are on sale! Almost nothing can match the noise canceling abilities of these cans. They’re a rock-solid pick, all around, but even at a discount… they’re pricey.

Beats Studio3 Wireless Headphones for $200 ($150 off)

Amazon, Best Buy (Available Now), B&H, Target

Starts Friday. The Studio3 get excellent battery life, work remarkably well for phone calls, connect especially well to iPhones, and cancel noise better than you’d think. They are very underrated. Yes, they are a bit bassy like most Beats, but they sound pretty great.

Google Home Hub for $99 ($50 off)

Walmart, Google

Google, or Amazon? Amazon, or Google? If you’re a Google household, there are a couple good deals on the new Home Hub right now.

Home, Kitchen, and Toy Deals

Furbo

Instant Pot Duo 6-Quart for $70 ($30 off)

Amazon, Walmart, Target, Macy’s

It wouldn’t be a shopping holiday without a sale on the Instant Pot, the multi-purpose cooking device which has saved dinner for millions of parents across the country. Naturally, it’s on sale for Black Friday.

iRobot Roomba 960 for $499 ($200 off)

iRobot, Amazon, Best Buy, Target

iRobot’s Roomba 900 series is one of our favorites, with smart navigation, Dirt Detect to sniff out gross spots, and AeroForce cleaning tech to suck up debris with a typhoon’s force.

Amazon Smart Plug for $5 ($20 off) with any Echo Purchase

Amazon

We have a separate list of our favorite Amazon devices that are on sale for the holiday. But if you’re in the process of setting up your smart home, it’s hard to go wrong with a simple smart plug that’s basically free.

Furbo Dog Camera for $135 ($114 off)

Furbo

One of our favorite devices for pet parents who have to work out of the home is over $100 off for the holiday.

ChefSteps Joule Sous Vide for $159 ($40 off)

Amazon, ChefSteps, Sur la Table

Are you cooking a large hunk of meat over the holidays? This smart sous vide immersion wand will take a lot of stress out of the process.

Kiwi Crates starting at $8 ($12 off)

KiwiCo

Our favorite kid’s gift subscription has boxes with fun age-appropriate activities for ages 0-14. For the holiday, you can get 60 percent off your first month’s box.

Fitness and Outdoor Deals

Fitbit

Fitbit Versa for $149 ($51 off)

Target, Walmart

The Fitbit Versa is one of the most effective, attractive, and affordable fitness watches you can buy. The Apple Watch Series 3, also an excellent fitness watch, will also be $80 off.

Fossil Sport Smartwatch for $179 ($76 off)

Fossil, Amazon

Confession: Our tester model is still en route to the office, but word on the street is that this sport smartwatch is an excellent value for the money, and we’re very excited about checking it out. We would be remiss to not point out that it’s on deep discount right now.

Mission Workshop The Rhake for $292 ($73 off)

Mission Workshop

Mission Workshop’s burly bags are a favorite around the WIRED offices. Through November 26, you can get 20 percent off all purchases, plus a $20 gift card, plus a free bag of coffee!

Brazyn Collapsible Foam Roller for $51 ($17 off)

Huckberry

All of Huckberry’s Black Friday deals are worth checking out, especially if you have an outdoorsy man in your life. Our pick is this lightweight, collapsible foam roller, which is easy to pack if you fear for the state of your IT band while traveling over the holidays.

Arc’teryx Gamma MX Hoody for $262 with code TAKE25ARC ($87 off)

Backcountry

Arc’teryx’s jackets are durable, weatherproof, and cut to allow you maximum freedom of movement while still looking svelte. But they’re too expensive to buy without a discount. Backcountry is currently offering 25 percent off one full-price Arc’teryx item through November 26.

Burley D’Lite Bike Trailer for $517 ($172 off)

Burley

If you and your child want a bike trailer for Christmas, Burley is offering 25-30 percent off bike trailers and bundle deals through November 28. The D’Lite can seat two children and convert to a stroller, a jogger, or a sled.

Free Belt Plate, Skid Plate, and $50 Gift Card with Boosted Mini S Purchase ($749)

Boosted

Boosted is currently offering free accessories with the purchase of the Boosted Mini S.

Gaming Deals

Catch all of our favorite Black Friday Gaming Deals in our official guide, updated regularly.

Nintendo

PS4 Slim with Spider-Man for $200 ($160 off)

Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy, GameStop

Marvel’s Spider-Man is one of our favorite games of 2018 and is a perfect starter if you’re entering the PS4 world. There are a ton of fantastic games to play and the Slim looks good on any TV.

Nintendo Switch Mario Kart 8 Bundle for $300 ($60 off)

Walmart, Best Buy

Everyone likes Mario Kart, and it’s one of the best games on the Nintendo Switch. If you don’t yet own the system, pick one up. There are quite a few really amazing games on it already. When you’re ready to up your game, check out our list of fun Switch accessories.

Two Nintendo Labo Kits for $99 ($40 off)

Best Buy

The Nintendo Labo is like Legos meets videogames, and we love it. Using on-screen instructions, you put together crazy cardboard contraptions like a fully functional steering wheel, and then use them in a game by plugging the Nintendo Switch display or Joy-Con motion controllers into slots in the cardboard. Building is fun for adults, but kids will have a blast doing this alone or with parents. The Vehicle Kit is our favorite, but the Variety Kit is also a lot of fun. Both Kits come with multiple things to build that will take at least a dozen hours of focused fun. Then you get to play!

Laptop, Phone, and Device Deals

For all our computing recommendations, read our Black Friday Laptop, Tablet, and Phone Deals roundup.

Amazon

Apple iPad 2018 for $249 ($80 off)

Amazon, Apple

Starts Friday. If you have any leanings toward a new iPad, this is the time to buy it. The 2018 iPad is fantastic and now compatible with the Apple Pencil. There are no real surprises about it: it just works very nicely for casual tasks and has more worthwhile games and apps than any other tablet.

Samsung 11-Inch Chromebook 3 $99 ($100 off)

Walmart

If your needs are few and your expectations are in check, this Chromebook might satisfy your computing needs. It can check email, browse the web, and do other basic tasks. That’s all we ask of a $100 computer.

Microsoft Surface Pro 6 with Keyboard for $799 ($260 off)

Microsoft, Newegg (+$20 gift card)

The Surface Pro 6 is a hybrid laptop/tablet that WIRED Recommends). We particularly like this Black Friday deal because it bundles in the magnetic keyboard.

SHOP HAPPY

Get Gadget Lab’s picks of the best holiday deals this season. Headphones, laptops, TVs, oh my!

Kindle Paperwhite for $80 ($40 off)

Amazon

You’ve seen a Kindle. You know what the Kindle is all about. If you need to read, and want to do it with a nice backlight, this 7th gen Kindle gets the job done at a lower price than we normally see during Amazon sales.

Nokia 6.1 for $180 ($75 off)

Amazon, Best Buy, B&H

The Nokia 6.1 is one of the only budget phones to get updates straight from Google, making it one of the most secure and up-to-date phones you can buy—all for less than $200 during Black Friday and Cyber Monday. If you’re looking for a good affordable phone, try this. It’s not a beast like the Galaxy S9, but it’s completely usable and has a durable metal unibody.

Samsung Galaxy S9 for $520 ($200 off)

Amazon, Walmart, Samsung, Best Buy, B&H

Most high-end phones cost $800 – $1,100 this year. That’s ridiculous, which is why we’re happy to see the Galaxy S9 on sale for around $500. It’s worth that amount of money and has a camera, processor, and display that’s competitive with any other phone on the market.

Black Friday Sale Pages for 2018

We’ve sifted through the mess of deals, but if you want to look for yourself, here are some links. Many of these prices may not be live until day-of.

When you buy something using the retail links in our stories, we may earn a small affiliate commission. Read more about how this works.

Black Friday 2018: Best Laptop, Tablet, and Phone Deals

Laptop makers love to hitch their wagon to a good sale, and Black Friday weekend is one of their favorites. There are a bunch of PC deals going on all the way through Cyber Monday as well. We’ve spent days sifting through sales to find devices worth your time. Below are the best laptop deals we’ve found so far, along with our favorite tablet and smartphone deals for good measure.

Note: Deals tend to flow and out of availability at a rapid rate during Black Friday, and some may not be available until 12 a.m. Friday, or early in the morning. Please bear with us. We will continue to update this list as we learn about new deals, and items sell out. You can read more WIRED Black Friday 2018 Deals guides here.

Best Black Friday Laptop Deals

Microsoft

For a little insight on the laptops we like, check out our new list of Best Laptops for 2018.

Samsung 11-Inch Chromebook 3 $99 ($100 off)

Walmart

This is a petite, lightweight Chromebook for lightweight tasks. It’s good for email, browsing, and some basics but it should do them admirably. At this price, that’s OK.

HP Pavilion 15-Inch Gaming Laptop $750 ($250 off)

Walmart

This HP laptop has a Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 GPU, Intel Core i7 (8th Gen) CPU, a 1TB hard drive with 16GB of Optane memory, and 8GB RAM. If you like color LED-lit keys, it can likely rip through some office work, as well.

Asus 17-Inch Gaming Laptop for $999 ($400 off)

Best Buy

With an Intel Core i7 CPU, an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 GPU, a 512 GB SSD, and 16 GB of RAM, you should be able to do just about anything on this gaming laptop, even a little VR. To get all that for one grand is a great deal.

Microsoft Surface Pro 6 with Keyboard for $799 ($260 off)

Microsoft, Newegg (+$20 gift card)

When the first Surface debuted, it was a strange tablet/laptop hybrid. Years later, the Pro 6 is one of the best, most versatile PCs you can buy, and its keyboard rocks (8/10, WIRED Recommends). To get it for under $1,000 with a Keyboard cover is an excellent example of a good Black Friday laptop deal.

Huawei MateBook X Pro with All the Fixins’ for $1,350 ($150 off)

Microsoft Store, B&H, Newegg

If you want just about the most kickass little laptop money can buy, the 14-inch upgraded MateBook X Pro is it (7/10, WIRED Review), with an Intel Core i7 (8th Gen), 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD, and a Nvidia GeForce MX150 graphics card. The screen is extra nice on this one. It’s touch and stretches all the way to the edges, meaning you get a 13-inch screen in a much smaller body. The only downside is the webcam, which is stored inside a key on the F keys. It’s really fun to pop open, like old Corvette headlights, but isn’t a fun angle.

SHOP HAPPY

Get Gadget Lab’s picks of the best holiday deals this season. Headphones, laptops, TVs, oh my!

Lenovo Ideapad 720S Laptop with 4K Display for $950 ($550 off)

Newegg, Lenovo ($450 off)

If you want a Retina-like display on a Windows machine, this IdeaPad packs a lot of pixels into a 13-inch rectangle. With an Intel Core i7 (8th Gen), 8GB RAM, a fingerprint reader, and a 512-gigabyte SSD for storage, it should be able to handle most work tasks with ease. If you want to spend a bit less, the Lenovo 710S is also a good buy and only costs $760 on Amazon right now.

Gigabyte Aero 15X VR-Capable Laptop $1,749 ($550 off)

Newegg

Deal ends Saturday, November 24

This is another nice gaming laptop, this one with top-notch specs, 8 GB of video RAM and a Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070, which is quite capable of almost any gaming or VR system you can throw at it. It has all the ports you’ll need too.

Google Pixelbook Chromebook for $899 ($300 off)

Amazon

Is the Pixelbook excessive? Maybe, but even if you’re only running the Chrome browser, it doesn’t hurt to have a powerful processor and plenty of RAM/storage. And that’s just what Google’s official Chromebook has. Read our full review to learn more.

Black Friday Tablet Deals

Apple

To learn more about what’s hot, read our Best Tablets and Best iPads guides.

Apple iPad 2018 for $249 ($80 off)

Amazon, Apple

This is a rare iPad deal. The standard iPad is compatible with the Apple Pencil, making it the most well-rounded affordable tablet you can own. Period. It has better apps and better games than any other platform. It’s the same iPad you’ve seen before, and should last you years.

Apple iPad Mini 4 (128GB) for $300 ($100 off)

Amazon, Apple

Apple only sells a 128GB iPad Mini 4 now. It hasn’t updated its smallest tablet in a while, but it’s still the best option if you want a more travel-friendly screen size—and it still works great. The storage is more than you’ll likely need, and we’ve never seen it at this low a price before.

Apple iPad Pro 10.5 for $575 ($75 off)

Amazon, Apple

Apple may have released a new iPad Pro with Face ID and no home button, but it’s still selling last year’s 10.5-inch Pro, and it’s still an awesome Pro-level tablet. It can do most everything (work-wise) that the new iPads can do, and at this price, it’s hundreds cheaper.

Kindle Paperwhite for $80 ($40 off)

Amazon

No, it’s not technically a laptop, phone, or tablet, but whatcha gonna do? The Kindle is one of the last surviving ebook readers, and for good reason: it’s a fantastic reading device and gets a month of battery life on a charge. This model isn’t the brand new waterproof Kindle, but it’s still fantastic and has a wonderful built-in backlight

Fire HD 10 for $100 ($50 off)

Amazon

The Fire HD 10 is no workhorse, but it’s big enough and powerful enough to act as a second (larger) screen when you need one—perfect for simple games, hands-free Alexa, reading, or Netflix binging. (Of course, Amazon would prefer that you stream Prime Videos instead.)

Best Black Friday Smartphone Deals

Nokia

There are some smartphone deals happening on Black Friday too. To understand the market a bit more, you may want to check our Best Android Phones and Best iPhones guides.

Belkin 5,000mAh Portable Charger for $15 ($15 off)

Amazon

This charger is smaller than your phone, but will recharge it almost two times from an empty battery (depending on your phone model).

OnePlus 6 for $429 ($100 off)

OnePlus

The OnePlus 6 is still as powerful as any phone on the market, with a Snapdragon 845 processor and plenty of RAM. At less than $500, it’s a complete steal. Unlike the new OnePlus 6T (which we also really like!), the 6 still has a headphone jack. It also comes with a case in the box. The only downside: it won’t work on Sprint or Verizon. Read our full review to learn more.

Samsung Galaxy S9 for $520 ($200 off)

Amazon, Walmart, Samsung, Best Buy, B&H

The Galaxy S9 is still at the top of the class of 2018 phones. It’s as fast as they come, and its camera shines brighter than most Android phones outside the Pixel 3 (see below). It’s now on sale for $520 for the holidays, making it the cheapest flagship phone around—even cheaper than the latest OnePlus, though you should consider the OnePlus 6 above if you’re on AT&T or T-Mobile. If not, Samsung’s phone will work on any carrier.

Apple iPhone XR for $600 ($150 off)

Best Buy

This is our favorite new iPhone. It has the full-size screen like the X and XS iPhones, along with Face ID, and it comes in a rainbow assortment of colors. We like that Best Buy is just offering a straight discount on the phone for any carrier, though they like it if you sign up for a 24-month payment plan.

Sandisk 64GB MicroSD Card for $14 ($11 off)

Amazon

If you’re running low on storage and your phone has a MicroSD slot (many do), this is a cheap way to extend the life of your phone—and extend your sanity.

Nokia 6.1 for $180 ($75 off)

Amazon, Best Buy, B&H

The Nokia 6.1 is always a good deal, but during Black Friday weekend, it’s an outstanding phone deal. It’s a bit speedier than a Motorola Moto G6 (the go-to affordable phone), but even cheaper. Thanks to a nice metal unibody design and Android One, it’s a better overall phone. It gets security updates and new OS updates direct from Google. Very few other phones, even expensive ones, will get a fraction of the software love this little Nokia gets. It works on AT&T and T-Mobile networks.

Motorola Moto Z3 Play for $370 ($80 off)

Amazon

The Moto Z3 Play is such a nice mid-range Android phone that I kept using it for more than a month after I wrote my review of it. For a professional phone reviewer, that’s a life time. It doesn’t lag much and I really like the Moto Mod that comes in the box. It’s a magnetic battery pack you can snap on the back, and it’s thin enough that I just kinda left it on for days at a time. With it, you’ll always get at least two days of battery life. It works on all major wireless networks.

Motorola Moto X4 for $180 ($70 off)

Amazon

The Moto X4 is just a nice little phone. It’s right up there with the Nokia 6.1 and a step above the Moto G. If you want a dependable phone that won’t break the bank or drive you nuts, this is it. It’s not perfect, but it works well. It works on any U.S. wireless carrier.

Google Pixel 3 for $650 ($150 off)

Google Store

The Pixel 3 is the best Android phone you can buy for all these reasons. For Black Friday, Google is running a few different Pixel deals. The Pixel 3 will have a discount on it, and if you buy two, you’ll get the second one half off. On Cyber Monday, it will also run a promotion bundling it with the new Home Hub.

Black Friday Sale Pages for 2018

We’ve sifted through the mess of deals, but if you want to look for yourself, here are some links. Many of these prices may not be live until day-of.

When you buy something using the retail links in our articles, we may earn a small affiliate commission. Read more about how this works.