If you’re looking to buy a new cell phone for that certain someone on your gift list—or just need a new phone for yourself—now’s the time to check out Black Friday deals.

Best Buy, Samsung, SprintT-MobileTarget, Verizon and Walmart all have deals for both iPhones and Android devices. Some are straight-up discounts, while others require you to buy the phones at full price, but throw in a store gift card that you can use to buy other gifts or whatever else you need. The gift card amount depends on which phone you buy.


Go to Consumer Reports' 2018 Holiday Central for updates on deals, expert product reviews, insider tips on shopping, and much more. 
 

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For many people, the retailer deals may work better than many of the deals being offered by the major carriers. Most of those require you to buy one phone at full price to get a second phone at a discount. That’s not helpful if you only need one.

But here's a warning: Many deals from retailers such as Best Buy and Target can come with the same kind of catches that the carrier offers do. Be prepared to finance the phone with your chosen carrier over a period of two years or longer and commit to staying with that carrier for that amount of time. If you don't, you're on the hook for the balance of the phone's cost. And, as with any installment plan, you need to have good credit to qualify.

Target’s smartphone deals start at 7 a.m. on Black Friday and run through the end of the day Sunday, while Walmart's begin online at 10 p.m. ET the day before Thanksgiving and in store at 6 p.m. (local time) on Thanksgiving. Best Buy's kick off in store at 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving, but some will be available earlier. Many of the Samsung and T-Mobile deals are already available, while Sprint's run Nov. 21 through Dec. 2.

The offers cover just about all the latest and greatest iPhones and Samsung Galaxy phones. But if you’re in the market for something a little cheaper, there are a couple of deals for you, too. 

If you're a Consumer Reports member, make sure to check out our full ratings before you buy.

iPhone Deals

iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max
Buy either of these pricey phones, which came out this fall, and Walmart will give you a $300 gift card. But there are catches. First of all, this is an in-store only offer, which means you won't be able to get it by shopping at home in your jammies. And, you'll need to be an early bird. Store quantities are limited.

You also will need to set the phone up for AT&T, Sprint, or Verizon service and finance it  through your chosen carrier. Cancel your service before the phone is paid off and you're in the hook for the balance.

Target has a similar offer—involving a $250 gift card—with similar catches. The same three carriers are involved and similar financing deals are required. Target also has a limit of two phones per shopper.

Best Buy's Black Friday ad is short on specifics, but the company says you can save up to $150 if you buy either of these phones, provided you activate the phone on the AT&T, Sprint, or Verizon network.

In terms of the carriers, so far, Verizon is the only one with notable deals here. Verizon will give you $300 off one of Apple's latest devices. But, in addition to agreeing to pay off the phone over a two-year period, you're going to need to add a new line.

Don't need a new line? You can get $100 off if you trade in an eligible phone. Both of these offers run all weekend.

iPhone XR
T-Mobile will give you a "free" XR, but you're going to have to activate two new lines of service and trade in an old iPhone. Phones in good condition dating back to the 6s are acceptable. 

And the deal comes in the form of 36 monthly credits, so you're going to have to stick with T-Mobile for three years. Leave early and you'll have to pay the phone off.

Sprint will also give you a free 18-month lease of a iPhone XR, if you pay to also lease a X, XS, XS Max or XR through the company. As with the T-Mobile deals, the free phone comes in the form of a monthly credit. And you'll have to either activate two new lines, or activate one new line and upgrade an existing one.

Walmart's in-store $300 gift card offer also applies to purchases of this just released model, which starts at $750. The same conditions apply. Best Buy's "save $150" offer for the XS and XS Max also applies to XR.

iPhone XiPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus
Walmart is offering a $400 gift card if you head to one of its stores and pick up any of last year's iPhones, while Target is offering a $150 gift card. The same rules for both retailers' above offers apply here too.

And Verizon will give you $400 off an iPhone X, but you'll need to finance the rest of the phone for a 24-month period. This deal, which starts online on Thanksgiving, runs through the end of Friday. 

Meanwhile, Best Buy says you can save up to $200 on the iPhone X, if you set the phone up on AT&T, Sprint, or Verizon service. The retailer doesn't have any offers for the iPhone 8 or 8 Plus.

But if you sign up for one 18-month lease of an iPhone 8 or 8 Plus through Sprint, that carrier will give you a second one for free. Just like with Sprint's XR deal, the discount will come in the form of a monthly credit, and you'll have to activate two new lines—or one new line, plus upgrade a second line. 

Just a reminder, these phones are now a year old, so their prices have fallen in recent months. When combined with a super-sized gift card, that could make for a great deal.

Older iPhones
Looking for something priced more like a stocking stuffer than a major investment? Here are a few more options.

Sprint will sell you an iPhone 7 for about $100. The catch is you have to pay for it over a span of 24 months, which amounts to monthly payments of $4.17. Cancel early, and the balance is due.

Best Buy is selling versions of the iPhone 6s, which was introduced in 2015, tied to the Simple Mobile and Total Wireless networks for $200. And it has the tiny iPhone SE, set up for Simple Mobile, for $80.

Meanwhile, Walmart is selling the iPhone 6s Plus with Straight Talk service for $300. That's $100 off. And it's selling the iPhone 6, tied to either Straight Talk or Total Wireless service, for $100. That's a savings of $50. (The iPhone 6 was launched in 2014.)

Finally, Walmart has the iPhone SE, set up on its own Walmart Family Network, for $80. That's a $60 discount. 

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Samsung Phones

Galaxy Note9
Starting on Thanksgiving, Verizon will give you $400 off this device, as well as Samsung's other top phones. Of course, you'll have to agree to pay off the rest of the phone over a period of two years. Leave Verizon early, and you're on the hook for the balance.

But, you'd better hurry. When Black Friday ends, so does this deal, though Verizon will still give you $200 off through the rest of the weekend.

Buy this top-rated, $1,000 smartphone from Target or Walmart and you get a $300 gift card. This is an in-store only deal at both retailers.

Target's deal only applies to phones on the AT&T or Verizon network, while Walmart's also applies to Sprint phones. Target has a limit of two phones per person.

Most of the conditions that apply to both retailers' Apple deals apply here, too. You need to have good credit, finance the phone with the carrier, and keep your service until the phone is paid off.

Or, you could get your Note9 directly through Samsung's website, or at Best Buy. They're both selling unlocked versions for $200 off. Samsung's offer is also good for AT&T and T-Mobile phones. They'll also give you $300 off the Sprint version, or $100 off a Note9 set up for Verizon.

Meanwhile, with Best Buy you can save $300 off Note9 phones activated on the AT&T, Sprint, or Verizon network.

And Sprint will lease you a Note9 for 8 months for $20 per month. That's down from the regular lease price of $41.67 per month. The credits stop after 18 months, and you'll have to activate a new line of service. 

Galaxy S9 9+, 8 and 8+
Verizon's $400-off offer also applies to the S9 and S9+. The same conditions apply here, too. 

And T-Mobile's offer of a free phone also applies to the S9. The same conditions apply. You're going to need to activate two new lines of service and agree to stay with the carrier for 36 months. In this case, eligible trade-ins include Samsung Galaxy phones dating back to the S6, along with a bunch of recent LG, Google, OnePlus and Motorola phones.

Samsung's $200-off offer also applies to unlocked, as well as AT&T and T-Mobile, versions of the S9. You can get 64GB versions of them for $520 and $640 at the two carriers, respectively.

You can also save $372 off a Sprint phone, or $100 off the Verizon version. All of the same deals also apply to purchases of the slightly more expensive S9+, with the exception of phones set up for AT&T. Those are $275 off.

Target's and Walmart's in-store offers of $300 gift cards also apply to purchases of the S9 and S9+. And, in this case, both retailers' deals are good for AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon phones. All of the other restrictions still apply.

You can also get an 18-month lease of an S9 or S9+ through Sprint for $5 or $10 per month, respectively. That amounts to a $28-per-month discount. Just like with Sprint's Note9 offer, the discounts go away after 18 months and you'll need to activate a new line.

If you're looking to save even more money, Walmart also will give you the same $300 gift card if you buy an S8 or S8+. Like last year's iPhones, these phones have also come down in price this year, boosting the potential for a bargain. 

Meanwhile, Best Buy will give you the same deal on an S9 or S9+ as it will on a Note9. You can save $200 on an unlocked phone, or $300 on a phone that's set up for the AT&T, Sprint, or Verizon network.

Best Buy also is selling an unlocked version of the S8 for $450, which amounts to a $150 savings.

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Other Samsung Phones
Looking for a Samsung phone that's a lot less expensive? There are deals for you, as well.

Walmart has the Galaxy S7, introduced in 2016, set up for the Straight Talk network, for $200. That's $130 off. 

And Target and Best Buy are both selling the Galaxy J3 Orbit for $65. While the Target version is exclusive to Total Wireless, the Best Buy phones are available for the Simple Mobile, Total Wireless and Tracfone networks.

The model is similar to the Galaxy J3, another budget-oriented phone that did okay in our testing. While its camera is nothing special, the J3's battery lasted an impressive 24.5 hours. 

Also at Target, you can also get a Galaxy J7 set up for Total Wireless for $100. That's $90 off Target’s regular price. And both Best Buy and Walmart have the J7 Crown. The Best Buy version costs $100 and is tied to the Simple Mobile or Total Wireless networks, while the Walmart phone costs $80 and is tied to Straight Talk. 

Both phones are similar to the J7 Prime, which did just fine in our testing. While it doesn't have a lot of flashy features, the J7 Prime's battery made it more than 30 hours in our testing. That puts it in the top tier for battery life.

Other Android Phones

Google Pixel 3 and Google Pixel 3 XL
Verizon's $400-off deal also applies to both of Google’s latest smartphones. The offer, which gets slashed in half at the end of Friday, also comes with the same 24-month commitment.

We haven’t finished testing these recently released phones, but last year’s models, the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL, are recommended in CR testing.

You could also buy one from Target and get a $200 gift card. Like Target’s Samsung deals, this one is a doorbuster with limited quantities available, so be prepared to fight the crowds.

And this deal is only good if you sign up the phone for Verizon service. All of the same conditions, including the installment-plan requirement and two-phone limit, apply here, too.

Meanwhile, Best Buy says you can save $200 off either of these phones, if you buy from them, provided you set the phone up for Verizon service.

Google Pixel 2 and Google Pixel 2 XL
Okay with last year's Pixels? Best Buy says you can save up to $400 on those phones, as long as you sign up for Verizon service.

LG G7 ThinQ, and V40 ThinQ
T-Mobile's free phone deal also applies to these most recent LG phones. You're going to have to sign up for a 24- or 36-month agreement and trade in an eligible Android phone.

Verizon's $400-off deal applies here, too. Same conditions apply.

Or, you could lease a V40 through Sprint for 18 months for $20 per month. That's half off the usual rate. And the company will throw in a 49-inch LG ultra HD smart TV. It's unclear exactly which model the company is giving away, but it'll ship in about eight weeks.

Sprint is also offering $15-per-month leases of the G7, (that's an $18 per month discount), but there's no free TV with one of those. 

OnePlus 6T 
We haven't tested this exact version, but it's very similar to the OnePlus 6, which did very well in our testing. And T-Mobile has a free phone offer for it, too. In this case, the discount comes in the form of bill credits spread over 24 months.

Here, too, you're going to need to set up two new lines and trade in a qualifying Android phone.