Home / News / Best Phone Deals: Up to $255 Savings on Unlocked Phones and Up to $1,000 in Trade-In for Carriers

Best Phone Deals: Up to $255 Savings on Unlocked Phones and Up to $1,000 in Trade-In for Carriers

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Iphone 15 Pro

See at Amazon

Iphone 15 Pro

Boost Infinite Apple iPhone 15 Pro: $0

Get it for free

See at Best Buy

The iPhone 15 is displayed against a blue background. The iPhone 15 is displayed against a blue background.

Apple iPhone 15 at Best Buy

Trade-in savings for AT&T and Verizon customers

See at Verizon

google-pixel-8-pro-review-cnet-17 google-pixel-8-pro-review-cnet-17

Pixel 8 Pro at Verizon

Up to $1,000 off with trade-in and new line

See at Verizon

Two Samsung Z Fold 5 phones against a blue background. Two Samsung Z Fold 5 phones against a blue background.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 at Verizon

Up to $1,000 off with trade-in and new line

See at AT&T

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 in black shown open and half folded Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 in black shown open and half folded

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 at AT&T

Up to $730 in trade-in value

With so many great options for phones out there, it can be tricky to find a device that suits your needs — and budget. Luckily, with Apple and Android phones, you can find solid selections at both ends of the price scale, with high-end offerings like the iPhone 15 and the Z Fold 5 and budget-friendly choices like the Apple SE 2 and the Samsung A54. Whatever it is you’re looking for, there’s almost certainly a good deal going for it, which is why we’ve rounded up the best bargains we could find.

If you aren’t sure which plan or carrier you should go with, you may want to snag an unlocked model — which you can pick up on sale at retailers like Amazon or Best Buy — and then sign up later. Or, if you already know which network works best for you, you can take advantage of serious savings with a trade-in or new line through major carriers like Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile. Below, we’ve gathered up some of the best offers in both categories so you can find the bargain that works best for you.

Best unlocked phone deals right now

Shopping for a new phone from a carrier comes with all kinds of red tape and fine print that can be a headache to figure out. If you’re looking for an easier alternative, you can pick up an unlocked model instead. Opting for an unlocked phone means you won’t be immediately locked into a multiyear contract or service plan, and you can always activate it with your preferred carrier after the fact. Plus, there are plenty of no-strings-attached deals that you can take advantage to bring down the starting price. These deals won’t save you as much as the carrier deals below, but also don’t require a trade-in or a new line of service. Below, we’ve rounded up some of the best discounts on unlocked phones that you can shop right now. 

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The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra has the most versatile camera setup on a smartphone available right now. The 10x zoom telephoto lens is unmatched when it comes to taking detailed distance shots. It is combined with powerful performance, top-notch battery life, excellent display and a design that’s comfortable to hold.

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white Pixel 7 on a green table against a dark background white Pixel 7 on a green table against a dark background
James Martin/CNET

The Pixel 7 Pro may be a generation old, but due to some issues with the new Pixel 8 Pro, it’s still our favorite Android on the market right now. It features Google’s Tensor G2 processor, a 6.7-inch OLED display, a 50MP camera and 12GB of RAM, and the base model has 128GB of storage. 

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z-flip-5-review-cnet-00-00-18-22-still003.png z-flip-5-review-cnet-00-00-18-22-still003.png

The unique Samsung Z Flip 5 is our favorite foldable phone overall on the market right now. It features a convenient 3.4-inch cover screen and a 6.7-inch main display, a 12MP camera and comes equipped with a powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor for smooth performance. Amazon currently has it on sale for $150 off, which drops the starting price to $850. You can also bundle it with a $100 pair of Galaxy Buds 2 Pro, which is $130 off the list price of these top-rated earbuds. 

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samsung-galaxy-a54-5g-cnet-review-3 samsung-galaxy-a54-5g-cnet-review-3
Andrew Lanxon/CNET

If you’re looking for a 5G phone that won’t break the bank, the Samsung A54 5G is one of our favorite budget-friendly options out there at the moment. It has a 6.4-inch AMOLED display, a 5,000-mAh battery and 128GB of built-in storage (which you can expand with a microSD card). 

Best phone deals from carriers

You can also save by trading in your old device or activating a new line of service at major carriers, meaning you have plenty of places to look for phone deals. That’s why CNET is working with Navi to help cut through the confusion. Navi is an independent marketplace that aggregates information on service plans and phone deals to help consumers find the best choices and prices on the market. Below you’ll find some of the best deals out there for both new and existing carrier customers who are adding lines, trading in phones and more.

Read more: Best Phone Plan Deals

Carrier contracts as we knew them may not be around anymore, but these newer phone deals from Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and more are similar in many ways. Through monthly bill credits, you can get a phone for next to nothing in many cases. The stipulation is that you must remain a customer for a set length of time while you’re receiving the credits. Otherwise you’re responsible for the remaining costs and potentially more, depending on the carrier. 

In addition, some carriers will only allow you to take advantage of these deals on specific plans, which are usually some of their more expensive 5G plans, so be sure to understand the monthly costs associated with switching before taking advantage of that “free phone” deal you see advertised.

Read more: Cheap Phone Plans, Compared

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Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4
James Martin/CNET

Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold is our go-to option for book-style foldables. This previous-gen model still lists for $1,800, but you can grab it with a plan from Verizon for $800. Though the updated Z Fold 5 is already available, this 2022 model is still a good buy, especially when you can find it on sale.

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Iphone 15 Pro Iphone 15 Pro
Apple/CNET

The new iPhone 15 Pro comes with USB-C and a few other minor upgrades here and there. If you’re just entering the Apple ecosystem, the iPhone 15 Pro is likely the way to go, with an improved A17 chip, the better 3.2 USB protocol, and the new optical zoom, which is better than the competition. With this deal you will only pay taxes and shipping and a $60 activation fee, which gets credited to your account. Then it’s $60 a month for Boost Infinite, which gives you unlimited talk, text and data. Plus, you can upgrade to the latest iPhone every year.

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The iPhone 15 is displayed against a blue background. The iPhone 15 is displayed against a blue background.
Apple/CNET

If you don’t mind being tied to a carrier and service plan, Best Buy is offering even more trade-in savings than Apple right now. The tech retailer has partnered with both AT&T and Verizon to offer some massive trade-in discounts when you activate through the carrier. Both carriers are offering enhanced credit, which can save you up to $700 with an eligible trade-in and qualified activation. Plus, AT&T customers will save $100 when activating a new line or account. 

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iphone-se-2020-21 iphone-se-2020-21

Apple’s budget-focused iPhone SE is available for the low price of $0 (plus a $35 activation fee) at Verizon with a new line on an unlimited data plan, which starts at $65 a month. The deal applies to the 64GB model, and the discount is applied via monthly bill credits. You can up the storage capacity for just a few bucks per month extra. Verizon is also offering a few bonuses, including up to $280 off an eligible iPad and $120 off the Apple Watch SE 2, Apple Watch Series 8 or Apple Watch Ultra with the purchase of an iPhone SE and activation on any plan.

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google-pixel-8-pro-review-cnet-17 google-pixel-8-pro-review-cnet-17
Andrew Lanxon/CNET

Verizon customers with an old phone to trade in can save up to $1,000 on the Pixel 8 Pro with a new line on a qualifying unlimited plan or up to $800 if they’re already on an unlimited plan and qualify for an upgrade. Verizon is also offering some other bonuses, including a $220 promo credit on a Google Pixel Watch 2 with the purchase of a Pixel phone or $350 in credit for an eligible Galaxy Watch 6 for new customers who switch their existing number over from another carrier. And if you need more than one new phone, you can buy one and save $800 on another.

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The iPhone 13 Pro has one of the best camera systems around on a phone. 

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capture-one-catalog0461-1 capture-one-catalog0461-1
Andrew Hoyle/CNET

New customers can get this phone free with a new line of service. Verizon is also offering $280 off an eligble iPad and $120 off an Apple Watch SE 2, Apple Watch Series 8 or Apple Watch Ultra, though you’ll need a service plan for those devices as well. 

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Two Samsung Z Fold 5 phones against a blue background. Two Samsung Z Fold 5 phones against a blue background.
Samsung

Trade in your old Galaxy phone to Verizon and get up to $1,000 off your new Galaxy Z Fold 5 when you sign up for a new line on a qualifying unlimited plan. Or, if you’re an existing Verizon customer who qualifies for an upgrade, you can still save up to $800 with just an eligible trade-in. The credit is doled out over a 36-month period, and if you cancel service before the 36 months is up you’ll have to pay the remaining balance. Also be aware that credits begin within three bills and require that you pay all taxes and associated fees on the retail price up front.

Verizon is also offering some other bonuses with this purchase, including $350 off a Galaxy Watch 6 and a free Galaxy Tab S9 FE 5G, but note that you’ll need a new line of service for these devices as well. You can also buy one phone and save $800 on a second if you need more than one.

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Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 in black shown open and half folded Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 in black shown open and half folded
Samsung

AT&T is offering up to $730 in trade-in value for the Z Flip 4, though sadly there aren’t any other incentives or direct discounts.

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Apple iPhone 13 Pro Apple iPhone 13 Pro
James Martin/CNET

Right now T-Mobile is offering new customers quite a few ways to save on the iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Plus, iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max. Folks with an old phone to trade in can save up to $830 with trade-in on a Go5G Plus plan for an iPhone 14 or 14 Plus. You can also get an iPhone 14 Pro Max for up to 100% off with a trade-in on Go5G Next. And if you need more than one new phone, you can save up to $700 on a second iPhone when you add at least one new line of service on an eligible plan. 

The iPhone SE for 2022.

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The iPhone SE for 2022.

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The iPhone SE for 2022.

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The iPhone SE for 2022.

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apple-iphonese-color-lineup-yellow-4up-220308-big-jpg-large apple-iphonese-color-lineup-yellow-4up-220308-big-jpg-large
Apple

Released in March 2022, the third-gen iPhone SE offers a familiar design with enhanced internals. For people who are looking to stick with Touch ID and who have an older phone, this is the best bet. T-Mobile is offering up to $830 off with a qualifying trade-in while on a Go5G Plus plan; up to $350 off if you’re on a Go5G, Magenta or One Rate plan; or $200 off if you have another qualifying service plan. You can also save 50% if you’re adding a new line of service. 

Do you get the best phone deals when you switch carriers?

In order to attract new customers, carriers often reserve their steepest discounts for switchers. That means you may find a more appealing phone deal if you consider moving carriers. It’s a straightforward process for individuals, but can be a little complicated for those with multiple lines. Ultimately, it’s worth shopping around when it comes time to upgrade your phone in case another offers some kind of switcher bonus or switcher-exclusive phone deal.

Unlocked vs. carrier: Which phone deals are the best for most people?

Whether you want to get your new phone on a carrier deal or unlocked will depend on your preferences and circumstances. For a lot of folks, being able to spread the cost of the phone over two or three years makes it much easier to upgrade to one of the best phones on the market. For others, being locked into a long-term plan is less ideal. While carriers often compete with each other for and offer some steep discounts or added freebies, manufacturers now tend to offer their own trade-in and financing programs to make it more affordable to upgrade without involving a carrier in the process.

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