Black Friday is a time where we celebrate our probably unhealthy love of loading up on stuff. It’s also really, really convenient. Naturally, lots and lots of smartphones will see fairly significant discounts as part of the festivities, but only a handful of devices are really worth considering. So in the interest of your wallet and sanity, we’ve compiled some the weekend’s best deals for the year’s best smartphones.
Before we dive into the discounts, though, a word of warning: Many of these offers aren’t as generous as they first seem. Most of the major US carriers will use these discounts to rope you into a two-year contract or deceptively pricey early upgrade plan, actively resisting the more consumer-friendly unsubsidized payment structure that’s been pushed by companies like T-Mobile in recent months.
They’ll shave a good chunk off your down payments, and that’s great, but they’ll want you to commit all the same. If you’re cool with locking yourself down for a couple of years, you’ll find some mighty enticing options below, but it’s worth remembering that the big boys of the mobile world aren’t being totally altruistic here. With that of the way, savings are savings, so let’s get to the madness.
Apple has never been fond of discounting its flagship handset, but there’ll be a handful of retailers looking to make the year’s most sought after smartphone a little more affordable either way.
Sam’s Club has the best deal of the bunch, as it’s taking $100 off any model (16, 64, or 128 GB) purchased with a two-year contract. You’ll have to find a store to grab one, though.
RadioShack, meanwhile, plans to make the 16 GB model free with a two-year contract on Verizon, AT&T, or Sprint, but you’ll need to trade in a working iPhone 5 to take advantage of the price cut.
Both Walmart and Target will sell a 16 GB model for $180 with a two-year contract on Verizon, AT&T, or Sprint, $20 less than usual. The former will throw in a $75 gift card, however.
Best Buy’s also selling the 16 GB model for $100 with a two-year contract on the same carriers, but you’ll need to trade in an older functioning iPhone to make it happen. That isn’t much of a deal given that you can do that with most carriers by default.
On the same site, you can get an off-contract version for $500 on AT&T, or $600 on Verizon or Sprint. It normally costs $700 without an agreement.
Best Buy is selling the flagship for $50 with a two-year contract on the same carriers today, but that’ll go down to $1 on Black Friday.
If you’d like what essentially amounts to a budget version of the G3, Walmart plans to sell the serviceable LG G Vista for $1 with a two-year contract on Friday too. That one normally costs $50 with an agreement.
HTC One (M8)
HTC’s gorgeous, all-metal flagship is also $0.01 with a two-year contract on Amazon right now, and will be through Black Friday itself. Again, that applies to Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint, and again, it’s a $200 savings.
Without a contract on Amazon, it’s currently available for $600 for Verizon and $650 for Sprint. It too is normally priced at $700.
Best Buy’s deal sees it priced at $100 with a two-year contract for the same three carriers.
Like many popular flagships, the One (M8) has a handful of variants, and a couple of those will see discounts as well. The Sprint-exclusive One (M8) Harman Kardon edition is now free with a two-year contract there.
The One (M8) for Windows, meanwhile, is available for the same $0.01 deal described above at Amazon. We’ll have more on this phone in the very near future, but suffice it to say that it’s a fantastic option for Windows Phone users. The offer goes for Verizon and AT&T.
Samsung Galaxy S5
The latest in Samsung’s ever-popular Galaxy line may be the most widely discounted of any phone this holiday season.
Over at Best Buy, the Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint versions of the flagship are now $1 with a two-year contract.
Target is selling the same editions for $50 with a two-year contract, but it’s also giving a $50 store gift card along with the purchase. You can reason that out to equal “free” if you’d like.
Even T-Mobile has a pulse here, as it’s selling the device for $510 unsubsidized, which is good for a $150 savings.
Verizon will sell the phone for free with a two-year contract on Black Friday only, but it’ll only come to that after a $50 mail-in rebate.
Walmart plans to offer it for $100 with a two-year contract.
Finally, a few of the Galaxy S5’s carrier-exclusive variants will see the same Best Buy sale as their older sibling. These include AT&T’s Galaxy Alpha and Galaxy S5 Active, as well as Sprint’s Galaxy S5 Sport. We’d recommend the original over all of them.
Samsung Galaxy Note 4
Best Buy is selling the handset at full price and offering $50 of store credit with your purchase, but you’ll have to sign up for one of those tricky early upgrade plans we mentioned above, including Verizon Edge, AT&T Next and Sprint Easy Pay. If you’re aware of the risks with those, feel free to take advantage, but we’d say it isn’t worth it.
Sony Xperia Z3v
Sony continues to have trouble getting its genuinely great Xperia lineup to latch on in America, so it doesn’t have many deals to parade this weekend. The only noteworthy one is for the Xperia Z3v, a Verizon-exclusive variant of its Xperia Z3 flagship. The device’s native carrier will offer it for free with a two-year contract on Black Friday only, which is a $200 savings off its down payment.
Again, expect more from us on this superb hero device in the near future, but for now there are a handful of good discounts for Motorola’s already affordable (relatively speaking, at least) creation.
That $0.01 Amazon deal applies here too, this time for a two-year contract with Verizon or AT&T.
For the weird intersection of Android geeks and NFL fans, Verizon will offer its “Football Leather” version of the device for free with a two-year contract on Black Friday only. It’s up for $120 with an agreement now, but is normally priced at $170. Here’s hoping you don’t snap an ACL trying to get one.
If you can wait three whole days until Cyber Monday rolls around, Motorola will take $140 off any unlocked version of the device on its website, which means that you can grab the 16 GB model for $360. That’s a great deal, but Motorola tried something similar to this with last year’s Moto X and failed miserably, its site crashing in the process, so proceed with caution.
Motorola Droid Turbo
This isn’t a discount per se, but the $300 OnePlus One is an awesome bargain in and of itself, so it’s worth highlighting any time you can get through its weird invite system. This weekend happens to be one of those times, as OnePlus will be holding a three-day sale of the high-powered Cyanogenmod vehicle on its website. This is another one we’ll have more words for very soon, but for now we’ll say that if you want the single best value in smartphones today, you should buy this phone.
We’ve mentioned a few deals that hint as much, but the big red carrier is actually chopping $100 off any new Android phone purchased with a two-year contract on Black Friday only. So if you don’t fancy anything we’ve highlighted here, it’s worth checking out.
Nokia Lumia 635
We mentioned the One (M8) for Windows earlier, but outside of that, there aren’t many new and noteworthy bargains for good Windows Phones this weekend. The big exception is the Nokia Lumia 635, a solid little budget phone that brings Windows Phone 8.1 and LTE on the cheap.
Microsoft is looking after its own in this case, bringing the AT&T version of the 635 down to just $40 off contract. That’s $60 off its usual price. The device out of stock on the Redmond company’s site at the moment, but Microsoft has promised that it’ll have more available by Friday.
Best Buy’s cut isn’t quite as drastic, but it does drop the device to $70 off contract, or $1 with a two-year agreement. This is all for AT&T again. The phone is normally $50 with an agreement.
Nokia Lumia 830
At $100 with a contract or $450 without, Microsoft’s new Lumia 830 is already relatively affordable, so it isn’t getting any price cuts this weekend. However, Microsoft is giving away a free Fitbit Flex if you purchase the new flagship with a two-year contract on AT&T. That’s a $100 value, and a good choice for any of you who like Live Tiles and working out.
BlackBerry has hit the highest highs and the lowest lows, and at this point it’s more or less doing whatever it wants. That includes launching the truly strange Passport, a nice-feeling chunk of a phone with a perfectly square display and an impressive QWERTY keyboard. We had our share of issues with it, but the Passport deserves praise if only for fully embracing how weird it is.
So if you’re still fond of BlackBerry and want to give something new a shot, both Amazon and BlackBerry itself are selling the Passport for $500 unlocked this week, down from its usual price of $700. That’s still a bit expensive, but it’s a better deal for an interesting yet ultimately flawed smartphone.
Amazon Fire Phone
Did somebody say “interesting yet ultimately flawed smartphone?” Like the Passport, the Fire Phone brought a handful of different, dare we say forward thinking ideas to the mobile world. Unlike the Passport, it didn’t execute most of them all that well.
By all accounts, Amazon’s first smartphone has bombed spectacularly, so it shouldn’t be much of a surprise to see that it too is getting a heavy discount this holiday season. From now until December 1, Amazon’s selling an unlocked GSM version of the Fire Phone for just $200, way below its most recent $450 price point, and a far cry from its original $650 tag.
Buying the Fire Phone still nets you a free year of Amazon Prime (normally $100), so you could say that it’s even cheaper than that. We’d argue against picking one up because, well, it’s not that great, but if you’re looking for something inexpensive and different, here you go.