Nowadays, cell phones are becoming more and more expensive. What many people don’t know is that instead of spending a small fortune on the latest and greatest smartphone, deals can be found as long as you know where to look!
If you want the latest and greatest smartphone, you could find yourself out at least a thousand dollars. That’s only if you’re paying MSRP too, as scalpers tend to make things even trickier.
Once you do have your device in hand, you still have to keep your wallet open. Flagship devices these days don’t come with chargers in the box. On top of other physical accessories like earbuds and cases, you’ll also need to pay your monthly bill and possibly device insurance.
That all will add up, but don’t worry. Saving money on a smartphone doesn’t mean buying the cheapest unit available. Here are some tips to get a fantastic device for a great price.
Watch the Timing
While prices tend to be very stable around launch days, that doesn’t stay the norm for long. With promotions, new models on the horizon, and overstock, the cost of a phone will fluctuate throughout the year. If you are willing to shop around and wait for the right deal, you could get an expensive phone at a deep discount.
Just keep in mind that these price drops might not last very long. This is especially true of the larger discounts, which may be reserved for flash sales or other short-term promotions. Also, keep your eyes on multiple retailers to ensure you secure the best deal.
Of course, it helps to know what times of the year are most likely to cause sales.
Shop During the Holidays
Everyone knows about Black Friday, but there are many other celebrations that tend to trigger low prices. Carriers and retailers alike will unleash deals around bigger holidays such as July 4th or Labor Day. There are also annual shopping events that happen at the same time every year, such as Amazon’s Prime Day or back-to-school sales in the summer.
Check Carrier Promotions
Carriers are in constant battle for new customers, and will offer attractive promotions for potential clients. They may even have deals that specifically target someone under contract with a rival to steal them away. The important thing here is to always read the fine print before signing a contract. Be aware of how or even when you receive bonuses. For instance, a lot of cashback deals pay you back in the form of bill credit over time.
Buying an unlocked phone might seem counterintuitive to saving money, but that’s the power of flexibility. By not signing a contract with a carrier, you are free to jump ship whenever you want. That way, you can follow the best service plans for your lifestyle instead of being locked into a particular rate.
Online vs In-Store
Be aware that final prices can vary between a carrier’s website and their brick-and-mortar locations. For example, you might get a free activation by purchasing online but not have that option when buying in-person. There will also be promotional gifts or credits on the website that may not be available if you drive to the store. While this might only save you 50 dollars, every penny counts.
Get an Older Model
If you have your heart set on a particular brand, you could save big bucks by turning back the clock. Much like with car dealerships, electronic stores have to get rid of old stock to make room for the incoming models. A newly released mid-tier phone might cost as much as last year’s discounted flagship. You can use this information to your advantage by buying when they have to put the older phones on sale.
Buying a refurbished phone is not the same as buying second hand from a person. Stores will make repairs or replace the battery before listing units as refurbished. They’ll also put them through testing to make sure everything is working correctly. Most importantly, refurbs often come with warranties so that you can get another device in case something goes wrong. If you buy a used phone from a stranger, you won’t have those kinds of guarantees.
One thing to watch out for is that you are buying a model of phone that can support the carrier you are on. Look up the exact model on the internet and double check that it can connect on the appropriate band. Also, you’ll want to go through the original manufacturer or big box stores.
Trade In Value
Something that is offered at most places are trade-in promotions. By trading in your old phone, you can get credit that will go towards a new device. In general, devices by Apple, Google, and Samsung will garner the most value.
While dedicated trade-in sites aren’t as easy to use, they will generally give you more value than what you would get with a carrier. It all depends on whether ultimate savings is more important than convenience to you. It’s also important to read the fine print to see if you’ll be getting the credit in a lump sum or in installments against your monthly bill.
Top Phone Deals
Apple iPhone 12 – From $599
Although the iPhone 12 is more than a generation old, there’s still a lot to love about the device. The important thing here is that it supports iOS 16, the latest iteration of the operating system that released in September 2023. That means you’ll get the same user experience and the Apple ecosystem without having to buy an expensive iPhone 14.
Samsung S20 FE 5G – From $524.99 with trade-in
Like with the iPhone, the Samsung S20 FE has support for the newest version of Android that came out in August 2023. It also has a gorgeous 120hz Super AMOLED display that will look very good for a two-year-old device. The triple lens camera system is also a nifty feature for amateur photographers who want to snap pictures in their spare time.
OnePlus 8T – From $349
This is the first phone on this list to really climb into budget territory without giving up strong performance. You still get a 120hz display and strong battery life despite paying under $400 before other discounts. Given that you can also charge the phone to full in around 40 minutes, it’ll be difficult for you to run completely out of juice.
Asus Zenfone 8 – From $549.99
With many phones trending larger and larger, it’s always nice to have a smaller option if you want it. That’s what you get in the Zenfone line, with the 8th iteration smashing everything into a 5.9” device. Long touted as a “flagship-killer”, you’ll find a smooth and zippy experience in a package that’s easy to pocket.
Motorola Razr – From $499.99
For those who want to give foldables a shot without paying the foldables premium, you can buy the first generation Razr for quite a steep discount from Motorola. Many see the technology as the future of the industry, but devices can cost as high as $2000. This deal definitely gives you a taste while also being a very unique-looking device.