Best Cell Phone Deals 2021

We scoured the web and compared all the cell phone deals we could find. These are the best ones for this month.

Easton Smith
Mobile, TV, & Moving Expert
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Published on December 16, 2021
8 min read
Holiday Deals ❄️
Deals
Deals for mobile

The holidays offer not only a chance to pick up a great new smartphone but also stellar savings on wireless carrier plans. Find the best carrier deals that enable you to call family, text friends, and catch up on the latest holiday trends—all without breaking the bank.

Stay connected with friends and family this year without fretting over your bill.



The best baller, mid-range, and budget smartphones on major carriers

Looking for a little one-on-one guidance for choosing a smartphone? Check out this video from our smartphone guru Tshaka for some pro shopping tips.

Best Xfinity Mobile cell phone deal: Get a free Moto One 5G Ace phone when you switch to Xfinity Mobile

Xfinity Mobile is offering a free Motorola 5G smartphone for new customers
Pros
  • Get a fast 5G smartphone free
  • Uses Verizon's great network
Cons
  • Available only to existing Xfinity home internet customers

Xfinity Mobile has a few great deals going on right now for new customers. (Remember, Xfinity Mobile is available only to existing Xfinity home internet subscribers.)

The deal we're highlighting is a free Motorola Moto One 5G Ace smartphone. This deal is available to new customers who purchase the device from Xfinity Mobile and transfer their numbers within 30 days. Customers will see credits applied over 24 months of the device payment plan. Offer ends January 10, 2022.

If you want to learn more about the Moto Ace, check out our video review.

For new customers who already love the phone they have, they can receive a $200 prepaid card when they switch to Xfinity Mobile and bring their own phone or device (BYOD). This BYOD offer from Xfinity Mobile ends December 21, 2021.

Best AT&T cell phone deal: New iPhone 12 for $15 a month

Score the second-newest iPhone for about the same price as a Netflix subscription.
Pros
  • Pick up a new iPhone 12 on the cheap
  • Get great AT&T service
Cons
  • Must switch to AT&T or add a new line
  • Discount applied over 36 months

While everyone is scrambling for the newest iPhone (iPhone 13), it’s the perfect time to score a deal on last year’s model.

The iPhone 12 is a more-than-capable device that sports an incredible camera, beautiful screen, and, of course, top-end processor.

AT&T will sell you an iPhone 12 for just $15 a month. That’s a pretty darn good deal for a phone that retails at $729.

Best T-Mobile cell phone deal: Free iPhone 13 with trade-in

Pay nothing for Apple’s new flagship phone when you trade in an old device
Pros
  • Get an Apple iPhone 13 for free
  • Get great AT&T service
Cons
  • Must trade-in old device

The iPhone 13 may have been on the market for a few months now, but don’t sleep on it.

This new flagship device has an upgraded display, better battery life, and best-in-class camera (along with the high-end performance you always get from Apple).

And did we mention you can get the iPhone 13 for free from T-Mobile? It’s a great way to take advantage of the carrier’s incredible data speeds. You just have to trade-in an eligible device.

Plus, T-Mobile just rolled out a new concept called “Forever Upgrade,” which means that the value of your new iPhone 13 will be locked in at $800. You can upgrade to the newest iPhone every two years from here on out, maintaining that $800 value.

Best Verizon cell phone deal: Up to $2,000 in savings with trade-in on the Galaxy Z Fold3 5G

Think of all the things you could do with $2,000?
Pros
  • $1,000 off top-of-the-line phone
  • Up to $1,000 virtual MasterCard
  • Enjoy Verizon's amazing coverage
Cons
  • Requires new line on select unlimited plans
  • Must sign up for payment plan

Verizon Wireless has the biggest network in the country, some impressive data speeds, and, as you can see here, some awesome deals on brand new phones.

Right now, you can get up to $1,000 off the super Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G (the name is almost as big as the phone itself). Plus, when you add a new line and buy the phone in installments you can get another $1,000 in the form of a virtual MasterCard.

If you’re not familiar with the Galaxy Z Fold3, hold on to your hat. It has a beautiful 6.2” display that unfolds like a book to give you a 7.6” edge-to-edge screen. It’s kind of like having a phone and tablet in one device. It sports premier camera technology that lets you take high-definition photos and 4K video. And, of course, it has a powerful, seamless processor that can handle everything from scrolling social media to playing the newest online games.

Best Visible Wireless deal: $200 virtual gift card with purchase of iPhone 13 Pro for new customers

An enticing offer to switch to one of our favorite MVNOs
Pros
  • Free $200
  • Free mobile hotspot data
Cons
  • Download speeds capped at 12 Mbps
  • Upload speeds capped at 5 Mbps

We consider Visible the best value for a Verizon MVNO—the plan price is just too hard to beat. With those savings, you might want to jump to Visible while upgrading to a new iPhone 13 Pro. Just remember that to qualify for the deal, new customers must transfer their current number from another carrier.

Best Mint Mobile deal: Get a new iPhone 12 mini plus 2 years of Premium Wireless service

A sweet deal on a sweet smartphone
Pros
  • Free iPhone 12 mini
  • Free Premium Wireless service
Cons
  • For new customers only

Mint Mobile is already known for offering incredibly cheap cell phone plans. But you know what’s even cheaper than cheap? Free.

Tips and tricks for finding the best cell phone deals

This is how to find cell phone deals like a pro

Here’s the golden rule of buying a new phone: never pay full price. There’s almost always a way to get the device you want with a discount, a BOGO deal, or some other promotional offer. Here’s what to look for when you’re shopping.

See if your carrier offers the latest phones for existing customers

Last year AT&T announced that it would start giving its existing customers some of the very same phone deals that it offers to new customers. Since then the other two major carriers—T-Mobile and Verizon—have followed suit.

Be sure to check your current carrier’s deals before running to a new company. It can help to actually call (so old fashioned) and tell a representative what you’re looking for (especially if you say you’re thinking of changing carriers!).

Look for refer-a-friend programs

You like your friends (most of the time) and you like saving money (all of the time), so why not put the two together? Many carriers—like Mint, Visible, and AT&T—will give you an account credit when you refer a friend.

While these account credits aren’t exactly phone deals, they do cut your monthly bill. Since many phones are bought on installments that you pay with your monthly bill, it’s basically the same thing.

Look for trade-in programs

Verizon is usually running some kind of incredible trade-in deal that will give you $800+ off your new device when you give up your old one. While not every carrier offers that kind of cash, most do have some sort of trade-in policy.

Remember, if you’re trading in an iPhone 6 with a busted screen, it’s going to be worth a lot less than a Samsung Galaxy S20+ that’s just a year old.

Consider switching carriers to get the new customer treatment

We talked about how some carriers are beginning to offer deals to existing customers. But this is the exception to the rule. In most cases, switching to a new carrier opens up a whole new world of phone deals.

Companies often save their best deals—like iPhone BOGO offers—for those who sign up for an unlimited data plan. Besides, switching to the right company can save you money and give you more data (depending on what plan you’re on now).

Factor free streaming subscriptions and other perks into the total savings

Cell phone companies like to throw in perks to get you to sign up for their plans. Some perks are boring, like 500 MB free data when you travel south of the border. But there are other perks that are, to be honest, freakin’ awesome.

AT&T will give you a free HBO Max subscription on certain plans. T-Mobile will hook you up with a Netflix plan. And Verizon plans often give you Disney+, Hulu, and other subscriptions! These may not be directly related to your phone purchase, but they sweeten the deal for sure.

Frequently asked questions about cell phone deals

Welcome to the FAQ section, where we answer all of your burning questions about love, life, and cell phones. Well, mostly about cell phones actually.

When is the best time to look for cell phone deals?

It depends on what you want. It’s well known in the industry that Apple tends to unveil its new devices in September of each year, while Samsung usually sticks to a January release date. So, if you want a new iPhone or Galaxy phone, then those will be the times you’ll see a flurry of deals on new models.

You’ll also see a good amount of deals landing around Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and other holidays.

If you’re not interested in waiting for the right deal to land in your lap, then you can take the initiative by switching to a new carrier or adding a new line to your plan (to make it a family plan). Since pretty much every company has done away with restrictive contracts, it doesn’t really matter when you switch.

Should I switch to a different cell phone carrier to get a good deal on a cell phone?

The short answer is yes, unless you’re really happy with your current carrier.

Not only are the best deals usually saved for new customers, but many companies will also give you other incentives to “break up” with your current cell phone company. For example, T-Mobile will pay up to $650 for you to pay off your phone or phone bill with your old carrier when you switch over.

What are the best upgrade cell phone deals?

There is some incentive for folks to stay with their existing carrier. Most companies will offer upgrade deals every year or two. These deals can help you keep up with the latest models from Apple, Samsung, or Google, but they might not be as substantial as the deals for brand new customers.

If you think you should be eligible for an upgrade, give your carrier a call.

What are the best refer-a-friend cell phone deals?

Mint Mobile has one of the best referral deals around. You can get up to $240 of credit when you refer up to five friends. That’s enough credit to get you a full year on Mint’s 10 GB plan! Plus, each friend that you refer will get a $15 credit for themselves. Everyone wins.

Most companies have a referral program. So, if you’ve got friends looking for a new phone plan, be sure to ask your current carrier about their referral deals. You may be able to score some credit for a new phone or to help pay your bill.

What are the best cell phone trade-in deals?

That old iPhone 8 may seem totally worthless to you. But it could be worth a couple hundred bucks in the right context. Verizon Wireless probably has the most robust trade-in program, offering up to $800 (!) off a new iPhone 12.

Of course, trading in your old phone might not fetch as much as selling on your own using Facebook Marketplace.

What are the best smartphones?

There are several contenders for the best smartphone on the market. But after a lot of research and analysis, we’ve come up with three devices that clearly beat out the competition.

  • Best overall performance: The Samsung Galaxy S21+ quite simply has everything. The best camera, a lightning-fast processor, an insanely beautiful display, 5G capability, and pretty much everything else you could want.
  • Best overall value: If you want a phone that balances incredible performance with reasonable price, the iPhone 12 is the way to go. You’ll get the beautiful design and solid reliability of an Apple product for less than $1,000 factory price.
  • Best for budget: Google has snuck into the cell phone market in recent years with some phones that rival the performance of Apple and Samsung but cost half as much. The Pixel 4A is no different. You can get this surprisingly powerful phone for under $400.
Easton Smith
Written by
Easton Smith
Easton has worked as a freelance writer and researcher for several years, reviewing health, lifestyle, and technology products. He has probably read more Terms of Use contracts than any human alive. When he’s not sitting in front of a computer, Easton spends his time camping, climbing, and volunteering with humanitarian aid organizations.

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