What is a good Black Friday phone deal? Here’s how to find out

You don’t have to look so hard to find the best Black Friday phone deals (especially since Tom’s Guide had trouble rounding them up for you). But as every savvy shopper knows, some deals are better than others.

Let’s start by agreeing on one thing — if you can find the phone you want for less than you’d normally pay, you’re already playing with the house’s money. You don’t need an endorsement from me if you end up with a discount on one of the best phones.

But I also believe that the best cell phone deals require you to jump through the fewest number of rings. And unlike other electronic hunks that find themselves the subject of Black Friday deals, discounts on phones often come with conditions, whether imposed by a wireless carrier or by the phone maker itself.

Pick up the deal below for the Google Pixel 7, one of the best phones I’ve reviewed in the past year and a flagship that regularly costs a relatively affordable $599. On Verizon, you can get a Pixel 7 for free (Opens in a new tab) – Your wireless carrier offers credits of up to $700 when you trade in another device, even if it’s damaged. And the offer is available whether you’re unlocking a new data line at Verizon or you’re an existing customer.

As far as wireless carrier deals go, this is pretty generous. But there are some points, starting with the fact that you have to sign up for a wireless plan at Verizon. That’s not much of a burden — we rate Verizon’s plans as some of the best unlimited data plans available right now. But the most important part of the fine print comes with the credit you’ll get for your replacement. It is paid in invoice credits, spread over 36 months.

In other words, to take advantage of the Pixel 7 offer, you have to commit to Verizon for three years to get the full credit on your phone. For people who don’t change wireless carriers often, this isn’t a huge ask – I’ve been using Verizon’s service for the better part of a decade now – but if you like the flexibility of being able to go elsewhere for connectivity For your wireless service, a three-year commitment might be less attractive.

Let’s also talk about trade-offs, which can be a great way to lower the cost of buying your smartphone – if you have a device that makes a lot of money. Right now, Samsung has a promotion where it’s offering up to $350 instant discount on the Galaxy Z Fold 4. (Opens in a new tab), depending on the carrier you plan to use. But you can top it up with an extra discount – up to $1,000! – When you replace your current phone. Considering that the Galaxy Z Fold 4 is one of the most expensive phones out there with a starting price of $1,799, this is a very attractive proposition.

But about that exchange — to get the full $1,000 credit, you’ll have to hand in a phone like the Galaxy S22 Ultra, which was released earlier this year, or the Galaxy Z Fold 3, which is barely a year old. An older device, like the Galaxy S20, brings in a much more modest yield — $375, to be exact. So the types of phones most of us likely own won’t give us the biggest discount.

See, an extra $375 off a $350 discount is nothing to sneeze at. You just need to limit your dreams of reducing the price of the Galaxy Z fold 4 to something you’d pay for a mid-range model.

For me, the best kinds of deals over the phone are the ones where you know the exact amount of the discount and that the discount will be applied immediately. This is how you would expect to bargain on TVs, laptops, and all sorts of other equipment that goes on sale this time of year, so why should phones be any different?

That’s why I’ll be paying extra attention to Google’s Black Friday sale, which starts on Thursday (November 17). Along with lower prices on Nest and Chromecast devices, Google is offering its latest Pixel phones at a discount — the Pixel 6a as well as the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro. You don’t need to trade in something to get the best deal.

Specifically, Google is taking $150 off the cost of the Pixel 7 Pro and Pixel 6a, bringing their costs down to $749 and $299, respectively. The Pixel 7 gets a more modest discount — just $100 — but that still means you can get one of the best Android phones for $499.

And as I said, there is no trade-in required to increase or decrease the size of your discount depending on the model and condition of your phone. You know exactly how much you will pay. What do you not like?

If while shopping for a new phone this holiday season you come across a big deal that requires a trade-in or binds you to a specific carrier for two or three years, you still need to think about the offer and whether those terms are an acceptable fit for you. If so, jump on this deal with both feet.

But remember, the fewer terms, the better the deal. This applies to everything in life, but especially when it comes to cheaper smartphones.

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