Prime Day 2016: Amazon Prime Day 2016: everything you need to know about 'deal day'

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To celebrate its 20th birthday last year, Amazon came up with Prime Day. It promised to deliver more bargains than Black Friday, and while some of the deals were less attractive than others there were still lots of tech deals and bargains to be found.

Amazon has decided to make Prime Day an annual event, and this year Amazon Prime Day is on 12 July 2016. Here’s what you need to know.

When is Prime Day 2016?

Prime Day 2016 is the 12 of July, beginning at midnight Pacific Standard Time (PST). However, Amazon is also doing what it does with Black Friday and Cyber Monday – running a week of deals. The deals week starts on the 5th of July.

Which countries will Prime Day be happening in?

Prime Day is running in every country where Amazon operates. Sorry, Australia 🙁

Can anybody take part in Prime Day?

Yes… and no. You need to be an Amazon Prime member. That’s Amazon’s free delivery membership scheme, which has expanded to include streaming video, music, ebook rental and photo storage. If you aren’t currently a member of Amazon Prime you can take advantage of the 30-day free trial, which you can then cancel if you don’t want to continue as a Prime member. If you decide to stay, Prime memberships are $99 per year in the US and £79 in the UK. Last year Amazon took £20 off the price for Prime Day, although it’s unclear whether it’ll do the same this year.

It’s worth remembering that if you don’t want to remain in Prime after Prime Day you have to actively cancel the Prime membership before the free trial expires. If you don’t, you’ll be billed for a year’s subscription automatically.

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Are there any special deals for students?

There are. Amazon Student offers a six-month free trial of Prime, including all the services bar ebook lending, and 50% off Prime membership if you want to continue after the trial expires. You’ll need to have an email address from a recognised institution; sadly the School of Hard Knocks and the University of Life don’t qualify.

Is it worth keeping the Prime subscription going?

It can be: Amazon Prime started as a free-delivery scheme but it now also includes unlimited photo storage, ad-free music, unlimited TV and movie streaming and early access to lightning deals throughout the year. If you use all of those things, $99/£79 isn’t a lot of money.

What Amazon Prime Day deals can I expect?

Amazon says it’ll heavily discount more than 100,000 things on Prime Day, and there will be other promotions during the run-up to 12 July. For example, Prime Music is running a promotion to win “unforgettable experiences” with artists including Blink 182, Flo Rida, The Lumineers and others.

In the run-up to Prime Day you’ll see US deals such as a 32-inch TV and Fire TV Stick for $119.99. Expect Amazon to plug its Kindle, Kindle Fire and Fire products heavily – if you’re planning to buy one, you should probably wait until the 12th.

Last year’s Prime Day deals

Last year’s deals included 30% off Xbox Ones, 46% off Fire TV Sticks, 33% off Kindles, 50% off Kindle Fire HDs, 82% off DVD box sets and 75% off Blu-Ray box sets, 35% off projectors, 47% off headphones, 46% off smartwatches, 30% off cameras, 22% off SSDs… you get the idea. The Amazon products were all-day deals, but many of the other ones were lightning deals with limited stocks. When a lightning deal is gone, it’s gone.

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Are the bargains real bargains?

That’s a good question. Like many retailers, Amazon is very keen on comparing prices against RRPs (MSRPs in the US) that nobody really expects anybody to pay – so for example in 2013 the Wall Street Journal noted that an Amazon deal of 45% off a $1,799 Samsung HDTV wasn’t quite so impressive: the previous month, Amazon had been selling the same TV for $997.99, so the actual saving was less than ten dollars. Such deals are essentially the same thing as supermarket wine promotions or amazing, never-ending furniture sales.

If you have a particular product in mind it’s worth keeping an eye on the prices now to make sure the deals are genuine on Prime Day. We find sites such as PriceSpy invaluable, as they enable you to see exactly what prices are being charged for specific things – not just big purchases, but smaller items such as video games too.

Some of the deals will clearly be paper bargains like the one the Wall Street Journal reported, but that doesn’t mean all of them will be. Amazon will have been bargaining hard with key suppliers to cut the prices it pays for some products, and it’ll sell some high-profile items as loss leaders in the expectation of cross-selling, up-selling and, well, selling. From Amazon’s point of view it can lose money on big deals and make it back from Prime subscriptions and by shifting stock it wants to get rid of anyway.

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Will anybody else offer bargains on Prime Day?

We think so. Last year, a whole bunch of retailers clambered on the Amazon bandwagon with deals that in many cases were better than Amazon’s: in the UK that included Zavvi, Curry’s, PC World, John Lewis, GAME and Argos. As we did last year we’ll be tracking all the best bargains on Prime Day and the days running up to it – not just on Amazon, but everywhere.

What should I do in the run-up to Prime Day?

It’s worth thinking about what you actually want or need and how much it currently costs, so for example if you’re quite keen on a 4K TV it’s worth looking at the current prices to get a feel for what X amount of cash gets you.

The likelihood of Amazon doing a brilliant discount on the exact make and model is microscopic, but if you’re flexible and you’ve done your homework you’ll know if a similar model is a banging bargain or a waste of money.

Think in terms of specifications, not specific models: you might not get a deal on the 55UE6523211-VHB-2E 55-inch TV, but you’ll probably get a deal on someone else’s equally enormous set. Don’t forget to use price comparison services and if it’s tech, our reviews here at Techradar: some things are cheap because they’re no damn good.

As you’d expect we’ll keep our beady eye on Amazon and its rivals all the way to the end of Prime Day. If it’s a bargain, we’ll make sure you know about it.

What will TechRadar be doing on Prime Day?

Come back to this page on Prime Day and you’ll find us busily curating lists of all the best deals that Amazon has published. So there’s no reason to be intimidated by the thousands of deals Amazon is putting up, and don’t worry about which ones might be ‘real deals’ – just come to this page on TechRadar and we’ll surface all the best deals so you can go straight to them!

You can get started by signing up for the Amazon Prime trial if you’re not already a member.

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