Still looking for that perfect gift with just days to go before Santa arrives? How about a smartphone?

While the sales of Black Friday and Cyber Monday may be distant memories, there are still deals out there on a lot of the best smartphones. Just be aware that many of them come with lots of conditions and phone-service commitments that may make the deal less attractive.

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The brand-new $1,000 iPhone X is rarely included among the holiday smartphone deals, but many other popular Apple, Samsung, and other Android smartphones are in the mix. And that includes phones near the top of Consumer Reports' list of most highly rated models.

We’ve reviewed the offers from the country’s largest cellular carriers, along with those of major retailers, such as Best Buy and Target, to find you the best holiday smartphone deals. But don’t wait too long to hitch up your reindeer and head to the store. Some of these offers expire as soon as Saturday.

Apple, (iPhone X, 8 and 8 Plus)

Target will give you a $100 gift card if you buy an iPhone 8 or an iPhone 8 Plus. But the deal, which ends Saturday, is only good if you're adding a new line to your existing service or a current phone is eligible for an upgrade. You also have to agree to pay off the new phone through a monthly plan. 

In addition, you have to go to a Target store—you can't have the phone shipped to you. Your order needs to be completed and the phone picked up by Saturday.

Both phones are near the top of our ratings, with top-scoring cameras, wireless charging (a first for iPhones), and the same fast A11 Bionic chip found in the iPhone X.

Verizon has a buy one, get one offer for both the 8 and 8 Plus, along with a similar deal for Samsung’s latest models.

But there are a handful of catches. Both phones need to be attached to one of Verizon’s unlimited service plans, which start at $80 per month for one line. Also, the second phone comes in the form of a $700 credit that’s spread over a 24-month period, so you would have to pay the remaining amount of the new phone if you dropped the service before then. In addition, at least one of the phones must be attached to a new line of service.

AT&T has a similar “Buy One, Give One” promotion. Both phones have to be used with an AT&T Next plan, which runs for 24 to 30 months, along with an eligible service plan. The credit for the free phone is spread over that period, so if you cancel your service early, you have to pay the remaining balance.

With Sprint you can save $300 off an 18-month lease of an iPhone X, 8, or 8 Plus if you trade in one of a wide variety of phones dating back to the iPhone 6. As with the other carriers’ deals, the discount is spread out in monthly credits over the life of the lease.

The deal is good for both new lines and existing customers who are eligible for an upgrade. But, if you cancel, the remaining balance on the phone comes due immediately.


Go to Consumer Reports' 2017 Holiday Gift Guide for updates on deals, expert product reviews, insider tips on shopping, and much more. And be sure to check our Daily Gift Guide.
 

Samsung, (Galaxy S8, S8+, and Note8)

Best Buy is running a deal through Christmas Eve that takes $300 off the price of an S8, S8+ or Note8 on the Verizon or Sprint network. But, as with many of the other deals we're seeing, the discount is stretched over the 20- to 30-month period that you pay for the phone. And, if you leave your carrier early, the balance on the phone becomes due.

All three of those Samsung phones, introduced in 2017, are highly rated by Consumer Reports. In particular, the S8 and S8+ rack up an excellent 26 hours of battery life in CR testing, and all three phones have great cameras and sharp, vibrant displays.

Target will give you a $300 gift card with the purchase of any of these three phones. But they have to be on the Verizon or Sprint networks, paid off over a period of months, and involve either a new line of service, or a line that’s eligible for upgrade.

Verizon will give you a free S8, if you buy an S8, S8+ or Note8. But, you guessed it, there are catches.

First of all, as with Verizon’s iPhone deals, you need to set up unlimited service on both phones. The free phone comes in the form of a $756 credit that’s applied over a 24-month period and one of the phones has to be a new line of service.

You can get an S8+ or a Note8 as your second phone, instead of an S8, but since they’re more expensive, you’ll be responsible for the price difference after the $756 promotional credit.

There’s a version of AT&T’s “Buy One, Give One” deal for Samsung phones, too. If you buy one S8 you can get another for free in the form of a $750 credit that’s spread over a period of 24 or 30 months, depending on the plan.

But, if you cancel service before your plan is up, you could lose your credits. The credit can also be used on more expensive Samsung phones, but you have to pay the difference.

T-Mobile also has a buy-one-get-one offer for Samsung phones. It applies to the S8, S8+, S8 Active, and Note8, and the free phone comes in the form of a rebate. It’s a prepaid MasterCard card that’s mailed to you six to eight weeks after you activate your phones and fill out an online form.

At least one new line is required and the phones must be paid off through T-Mobile’s 24-month plan. Cancel early and you’re on the hook for any remaining balance.

And Sprint will give you 50 percent off an 18-month lease of S8, S8+, S8 Active, or Note8 phones, if you activate a new line. Terminate service early and the remaining balance is due immediately.

Other Android Phones

Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL

Target is offering a $250 gift card with the purchase of either of these models. The deal, which runs through Saturday, requires that the phone be financed, and it's only good for lines that are new or eligible for an upgrade.

Verizon will give you $300 off either of these phones; the discount comes as a credit spread over a 24-month period.

LG

AT&T’s “Buy One, Give One” promotion extends to the LG V30, G6, and X Venture, too. Any combination of these phones is okay, but the cheaper phone will be the free one. Like the other AT&T deals, they require an AT&T Next plan and the free phone’s cost will be spread over that period in the form of credits, so you'd have to pay off any remaining amount if you dropped the service early.

T-Mobile also has a buy one, get one deal for LG phones, including the G6, V20, V30, and V30+. It has the same terms and conditions as its Samsung phone offer.

And Sprint is offering two-for-one 18-month leases on the V30. At least one of the two lines needs to be new, while the other can be an eligible upgrade. Terminate early and the balance comes due.