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If you're in the market for a new phone, it might be worth your while to hold off until Black Friday — especially if you're in the market for an Android phone. This is the guide for you, as we predict the best deals you might see on a new (or refurbished) smartphone.
So what can you expect from Black Friday TV deals? We've created a "cheat sheet" with the top tips you need to know when shopping. Savvy consumers who want more information should scroll down for our in-depth analysis.
The Cheat Sheet: Black Friday Smartphone Predictions
Prices to Expect
- iPhone X is unlikely to see discounts; iPhone 8 with up to $250 in gift cards
- Galaxy S8 under $350, possibly less with gift cards
- Low-end HTC and LG Android handsets might be nearly free
4 Quick Tips You Need to Know
- Android deals will be substantially easier to find than iPhone deals.
- Black Friday will see more deals than Cyber Monday.
- If you don't see an offer you like, just wait! Discounts of equal or greater value continue through December.
- Brick-and-mortar retailers didn't offer much last year; shop online.
Want more details on how, what, where, and when to buy smartphones this Black Friday? Then check out our full analysis below.
What to Buy
The Android versus Apple debate will soon enter its tenth year. While fans of each will undoubtedly flock to their preferred platform during Black Friday sales, there's no question as to which had better deals last year. Android-based phones had both a wide selection of deals and much deeper price cuts.
The iPhone 8 Will Come With Gift Cards of Up to $250
The iPhone 8, 8 Plus, and X all debuted recently, and this generation of handsets is Apple's most expensive yet. That said, your "cheapest" option is surely the iPhone 8, which is priced from $699 for the 64GB model. Shortly after Apple's announcement, T-Mobile said it would briefly charge $0 down for the base model, with the phone's cost spread out across a 24-month installment plan in $29 increments.
Come Black Friday though, we expect numerous stores to offer the iPhone 8 with gift cards of up to $250 — just like Best Buy, Target, and Sam's Club did last year with the iPhone 7. If those are stores you frequently shop, then that's like getting $250 off your purchase.
We expect numerous stores to offer the iPhone 8 with gift cards of up to $250 — just like Best Buy, Target, and Sam's Club did last year with the iPhone 7.
Alternatively, if you have a recent smartphone in good condition, then you might be able to score a stellar trade-in deal. Last year, both T-Mobile and Verizon offered the iPhone 7 for free when trading in select, paid-off smartphones and committing to a 2-year contract. That was, by far, the best offer we saw on the newest iPhone, and we wouldn't be surprised if at least the renegade "uncarrier" T-Mobile repeated this promotion with the iPhone 8.
There's also the possibility that we'll see the unlocked iPhone 8 at a slight discount. Last year, the iPhone 7 was marked $39 to $79 off on eBay. At the iPhone 8's higher price, we might see that discount increase proportionally up to $84 off, but that's still a small discount overall. If you don't need an unlocked phone, then the aforementioned discounts are much better.
Finally, it should be noted that straight-up discounts on the iPhone 8 are likely to be more numerous and possibly better in December, as was the case last year with the iPhone 7. So if a trade-in offer doesn't apply to you, and you don't care about gift cards, then you might want to skip Black Friday.
Sadly, discounts on the iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X are much less likely to show up this Black Friday season. While the 8 Plus will probably be eligible for trade-in offers, the high-end X may be exempted from even those offers. If you're in the market for this fancy handset, we recommend that you wait.
Want to find out what's in store for other iPhone generations? Check out our complete Apple predictions for Black Friday 2017.
Take Your Pick of Androids
There are a significant number of flagship phones released in 2017 — the Galaxy S8, HTC 11, and the OnePlus 5, to name a few — and shoppers will likely see deals on their predecessors.
Unlocked Galaxy S7 Edge smartphones sold by Samsung via eBay went for $350 and came with a case and free shipping last Black Friday. We expect to see similar price points for unlocked S8 units sold by Samsung's official eBay store.
Additionally, T-Mobile recently sold Galaxy S8s for $325 apiece (if you bought two), and they were bundled with a memory card, cover, and 6-month Netflix subscription. This is just more evidence that Samsung handsets will be priced aggressively during Black Friday. Again, you'll see Galaxy S8 phones for $350 or less, possibly bundled with gift cards.
Samsung handsets will be priced aggressively this Black Friday, with the unlocked Galaxy S8 dropping to $350 or less.
Deals on Motorola phones were particularly good last year, so look for possible deals on Motorola's flagship Z and X lines. The Moto Z Droid, for instance, sold for $120 on Black Friday last year. The aging phone is still available through Verizon, and we'd be surprised if they didn't go even lower this year — possibly even below $100. You might also see T-Mobile reprise its trade-in deal from last year.
Android phones were plentiful on prepaid contracts, so long as you didn't want a top-of-the-line smartphone. We saw an LG K3 go for as low as $14 last year. If you just need a prepaid phone, and aren't particular about who makes it or what the specifications are, you'll want a deal like that. It's tough to tell exactly which of yesterday's phones will get the $14 treatment, so keep a watchful eye. Likely candidates include HTC's Desire 530 and LG's K20V.
Lastly, Verizon Wireless sold the Google Pixel smartphone for $240, or $10 per month last year. Expect a similar offer in 2017 — though it could be online-only, depending on local Verizon store stock.
When to Shop
We saw more deals on Android phones and iPhones on Black Friday than on Cyber Monday, but we continued to see new deals throughout the month of December. That will be especially true of the latest iPhone. So, pay attention during the shopping holidays, but if those iPhone deals don't excite you, then consider waiting until December.
Where to Shop
Most of the cell phone deals we posted during the shopping holiday last year were from online retailers, or brick-and-mortar retailers with a significant online presence. Visit retailers to get hands-on time with a particular phone if you like, but you'll mostly find the best Black Friday deals online. In other words, there's no need to storm the gates of your local Best Buy to find a smartphone deal.
Visit stores to get hands-on time with a particular phone if you like, but you'll mostly find the best Black Friday deals online.
Speaking of Best Buy, you should be aware that last year the retailer bundled a $100 Best Buy gift card with at least one smartphone deal — and significantly undercut carrier prices on others. There's no reason to think the electronics giant won't do this again, so keep your eyes peeled.
Meanwhile Walmart ran several cheap specials on prepaid Android phones like the Huawei Ascend XT. The store also offered an iPhone deal for shoppers interested in its Straight Talk Wireless service.
Last but not least, B&H Photo Video ran a number of deals on Androids last year, and eBay and Amazon weighed in with numerous Editors' Choice offers.
Sean Flynn is a contributing writer at dealnews. Republished with permission.