The phone offers from Best Buy, Target, and Walmart are worth considering, but make sure you read the fine print
If you’re looking to buy a new cell phone for that certain someone on your gift list, now’s the time to check out the Black Friday smartphone deals.
The brand-new $1,000 iPhone X is rarely included among the special offers, but many other popular Apple, Samsung, and Android smartphones are in the mix.
And if you want to buy a low-priced prepaid model for someone who isn’t all that concerned about selfie cams and augmented reality, there are deals out there for you, too.
In the one offer we’ve seen so far, Walmart does not provide a discount on the price, but it does toss in a $300 store gift card. The deal applies to the X and any iPhone back to the 7 and 7 Plus, as well as the Samsung Galaxy S8, S8+, and Note8.
To qualify for the offer, you need to sign up for service with AT&T or Verizon and agree to a long-term payment plan. If you cancel service before the phone is paid off, you’re on the hook for the remaining cost.
iPhone 8 and 8 Plus
Best Buy will offer both phones for up to $200 off, but this deal comes with caveats, too. You have to sign up for service with Sprint, Verizon, or AT&T. And you have to pay for the phone over a period of months designated by the carrier. As with Walmart’s offer, if you end service with the carrier before the phone is paid off, you’re responsible for the remaining balance.
Target will sell the phones for full price, but it includes a $250 gift card with the purchase. The in-store-only deal also requires you to sign up for service with AT&T, Sprint, or Verizon and agree to a lease or payment plan of 24 to 30 months. If you decide to leave the carrier or return the phone before the deal is paid off, you’re on the hook for the cost of the gift card.
Given those catches, the Black Friday smartphone deals offered by Best Buy, Target, and Walmart aren’t a whole lot different from those currently offered by the carriers themselves, except that those usually require you to trade in a smartphone of some sort, too.
Best Buy is offering a $150 discount on the iPhone 6s. You have to sign up for service with AT&T, Sprint, or Verizon and lease or pay off the phone over 20 to 30 months.
Target has put the iPhone SE on sale for $99, $60 off the usual $159 price. And that’s a big drop from the current Apple Store price of $349, though other major retailers are offering the model for between $130 and $160.
Walmart also has a $99 Black Friday iPhone SE deal, but the phone will be tied to the retailer’s prepaid phone service, Walmart Family Mobile.
And, if you’re okay with an even older model, Walmart has cut the price of the iPhone 6 to $129 from $199. But the phone will be tied to the Straight Talk Wireless prepaid service.
It’s worth noting that the model, which came out in 2014, isn’t sold by Apple anymore. And, because of its age, it might have a tough time running the latest operating system and mobile apps.
Starting on Thanksgiving Day, Samsung will give you up to $400 off any of these models when you trade in your old phone.
Eligible trade-ins include Galaxy models dating back to the S5 or Note5; iPhones dating back to the 5; the Google Pixel and Pixel XL; and the LG G4. Of course, the phones must be functional and in good cosmetic shape.
Those who purchase the S8, S8+, and Note8 can also get $50 off the purchase of a Dex docking station, which normally sells for $150, if they buy through Samsung’s website.
As far as the major retailers go, Best Buy will give you $300 off any of the models, provided you sign up for Sprint or Verizon service. And, as with the iPhones above, that discount is spread over a series of monthly payments.
If you prefer an unlocked version of the phones, Best Buy will give you $150 off. That’s half the discount in the other offer, but there are no service or payment plan requirements attached.
At Target, you pay full price for the phones and receive a $300 store gift card. There’s a similar long-term lease agreement and the early opt-out penalty applies.
And, as mentioned above, Walmart is making the same $300 gift card offer for these three models.
Older Samsung Phones
Galaxy S7, $299
This offer from Walmart represents a $200 discount. But the phone is tied to the Straight Talk Wireless prepaid service. The S7 is last year’s model but remains one of our top-ranked phones.
Galaxy J3 Luna Pro, $30
This offer from Best Buy has the best price, but the phone will be tied to the prepaid Simple Mobile, Total Wireless, or Tracfone network. If you’d rather not go that route, you can purchase the phone at Target for $40.
The model is mainly used as a prepaid phone, so it’s already pretty cheap. Other major retailers are currently selling it for $60 to $100.
You can also get a Verizon prepaid version of the slightly different J3 Mission from Walmart for $39.
Galaxy J7, $100
Available at Best Buy, this is a Verizon prepaid phone usually sold for $160. Walmart is also selling the Sky Pro version of the phone with Straight Talk Wireless service for the same price. We’ve tested versions of the J7, and they’ve received very good marks, though they lack many popular smartphone features.
Other Android Phones
Best Buy has Black Friday deals on a number of Android phones made by manufacturers other than Samsung.
Huawei Honor 6X, $150
According to Best Buy, that’s a $50 drop in price. The phone comes unlocked, so you’re not married to any particular carrier. It has a 5.5-inch touch-screen display, a 12-megapixel main camera, and an 8-megapixel selfie camera. While not among our top scorers, it’s a decent midrange smartphone, according to our testers.
Huawei Mate 9, $400
That’s a $100 discount on a decently rated unlocked phone.
LG G6, $120
Best Buy is advertising this as an opportunity to get the phone for $5 per month. But you have to sign up for service with Sprint and agree to a 24-month payment plan. And if you cancel, you’re responsible for the remaining cost of the phone. On the upside, this is a great discount on one of our top-ranked smartphones not made by Apple or Samsung.
Motorola Moto E4, $50
This is a prepaid phone tied to Virgin Mobile at a 50 percent discount.
Sony Xperia XA1 Ultra, $300
This Black Friday smartphone offer represents a $100 drop from Best Buy’s regular price. The phone has a 6-inch touchscreen display, 23-megapixel main camera, and 16-megapixel selfie camera. Like the Huawei above, this model doesn’t rank high in our ratings but might be good for someone looking for a midrange smartphone.
Sony Xperia XZ Premium, $600
Best Buy says you’re saving $100 with this deal. The phone comes unlocked, so there’s no carrier-related catch. Our testers give the model very good marks.