New year deals on cell phones

Is it battery life, the camera, making a statement to your colleagues and friends? How much are you willing to spent all-in -- including all your cases and dongles? Do you need to be on the cutting edge of features and performance, or is value more important? How long do you want to hold on to your phone: a year, or three? Can you afford to wait for a deal, or do you need to buy a new phone now? For most people, price is the most important factor of all, and in general, cost lines up with performance. Expensive handsets will have the "best" features, fastest processors and the most advanced cameras.


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You'll be able to do more on them, and brag to your friends. Midrange devices are value plays that pack in pretty good features with a slight trade-off in speed, camera tools and nice-to-have extras that most people can live without. If you can happily spend your days without a curved screen or wireless charging, phones in this range will suit you fine. Finally, low-cost phones are great options for people watching their budgets, first-time phone users and those looking for a secondary or backup device.

Luckily, mobile tech has gotten so good, even budget buys can get you usable photos and satisfying performance. After all, they run on the same Android or iOS backbone as the more expensive models. These phones will fly through the basics, and maybe add a perk or two along the way. Looking for more options? Check out our current picks for best phones here. Right now we're nearing the end of the yearly cycle. After a busy summer, we transition into fall, when phone-makers tend to save their most impressive devices for the big holiday push.

Dropping your phone is inevitable. A case will save you money and help preserve your phone's resale value. Learn how to recycle your phone for cash. Android has the better native maps app and assistant by far known as Google Now or Google Voice Search. Another Android benefit: It ties into the same Google services many people already use.

Major updates are typically announced in May. A "pure" Google phone will be first in line for major OS updates, whereas phone manufacturers take longer to upgrade Android. Here's a quick rundown of what each one offers:. After a few struggling years, its speeds really jumped up in our most recent tests. Sprint has had a rocky few years. Its LTE network is improving quickly, but it's still the worst-rated carrier by our readers because of several years of network troubles.

That said, if you're willing to bet on a rising star, Sprint has promotional service plans that can often be insanely cheap, especially if you're switching from another carrier. It's now the best rated of the "big four" carriers by our readers in the Readers' Choice Awards. In our Fastest Mobile Networks tests, it is basically neck-and-neck with Verizon on speed and reliability. New low-band spectrum has radically expanded the carrier's LTE network, so it can finally balance terrific speeds in cities with decent coverage in suburban areas. T-Mobile also has the best international roaming plan, including to Canada and Mexico.

Verizon Wireless is famed for its top-notch network quality and good customer service. Its prices can be higher than the competition, but its combination of very reliable coverage and good speeds made Verizon our Fastest Mobile Networks winner last year. US Cellular is only available in about half the country. It has a reputation for good customer service, but has been suffering recently in our surveys as readers have said its prices and LTE network quality don't match up to some of the alternatives.

There are also plenty of virtual operators that use the big four networks, but offer lower monthly rates, cheaper international calls, or other benefits. They're usually better for lighter users and most don't have family plans. Tracfone is another prominent virtual carrier, with spinoff brands like Straight Talk, Family Mobile, and Net10, all of which have their own plans. But while 5G may change everything in the future, it's not going to happen immediately. In , 5G rollouts will be limited and devices will be expensive, so don't worry too much about waiting if you want to buy a phone this year.

That is not 5G; it is a marketing ploy. Your phone is still running on 4G. The 5G networks and devices will get much more interesting, and more widespread, toward the end of The real differentiating coverage and speeds will initially be in large cities. If you consider yourself an early adopter, you live in a large city, and you want the ultimate in connectivity, you should assume you'll probably want a 5G phone next year. By , the 5G situation will be even better. That could affect your purchase if your budget is limited.

As carriers have moved to increasingly more confusing service and pricing plans, the value of unlocked phones has been rising accordingly. Unlocked phones are bought from a third-party store or directly from the manufacturer, and aren't tied to any specific carrier. But some popular unlocked phones work on all four major carriers. If you want the best flexibility, look for a recent Apple, Google Pixel, Samsung flagship, or a Motorola phone.

If you buy an unlocked phone, you'll be able to move it freely between compatible carriers. But even if you don't intend to ever change your carrier, unlocked phones are free of carrier bloatware and with Android phones often receive software and OS updates more quickly than the carrier versions do. As more people become accustomed to instant email, web, music, and messaging access at all times of the day, regardless of where they are, smartphones have become almost indispensable.

That said, there's plenty of variety out there—not to mention devotees of specific OS platforms. That makes sense, though; sometimes, a platform's user interface or app selection just speaks to you, and that's all there is to it. With that in mind, and at the risk of attracting flames, let's break it down as well as we can for those who aren't so fully vested. There's actually less diversity in smartphone platforms and designs than there was a few years ago. Right now, Android and iOS are the two top smartphone platforms, both in US sales and in the availability of third-party apps. The iPhone has the best app store and the best media features.

But Apple's tightly controlled ecosystem can feel stifling to some, and iOS isn't easy to customize or modify. There's far more variety among Android handsets, and its open-source nature makes it a tweaker's dream. But it also means fragmented third-party app compatibility, occasional bugs, carrier-installed bloatware you can't remove, and scattered, often sporadic OS updates. In terms of form factor, it's difficult to find a smartphone that isn't a solid black slab anymore.

It's a good device, and worth choosing if the physical keyboard is important to you, but fewer and fewer people seem to consider that a key feature with time. Phones are available in a wide range of sizes and shapes, to fit various types of hands. Samsung's Galaxy S10e and the Google Pixel 3 are narrower than most other phones, giving them big screens that are easy to hold in one hand.

A good portion of the US population is still using simpler phones, but there are surprisingly few current choices out there. There are still reasons to get a simple, less-expensive device: They're easier to use, and they charge much lower monthly fees because data isn't involved. There are some killer deals for voice-only usage on virtual carriers like TracFone and Consumer Cellular. There's a big problem with voice phones and current networks, though.

Because all of our carriers are eliminating or reducing the quality of their 2G and 3G networks, voice phones must be verified by the carriers for 4G voice-over-LTE coverage to get good quality and connectivity in the future. Older voice phones don't have that, and there aren't many voice-over-LTE voice phones, period. It's frustrating.

Top 10 Upcoming 2019 Phones That Are Worth Waiting!

We have one voice phone on this list, the Doro for Consumer Cellular. Unlike smartphones, feature phones are a matter of "what you see is what you get. For voice quality, read our individual phone reviews. Wireless network coverage is always the biggest factor, but individual phones can vary in reception, earpiece quality, transmission quality through the microphone, and side-tone the echo of your own voice that helps prevent you from yelling at the other person.

A phone with middling to poor reception quality can be almost impossible to use in a marginal coverage area, while one with excellent reception can make the best of the little signal that's available. Another point to consider: Some phones have much louder speakerphones than others. For more, see our picks for The Best Simple Phones. We also have a roundup of The Best Phones for Kids. We're big fans of Motorola's low-end and midrange phones. They're unlocked and compatible with all US carriers, and they use a fast, clean version of the Android OS.

Because of the current trade war between the US and China, the low-cost market has been hollowed out a bit recently. For the moment, look primarily at lower-end Motorola and LG phones if you're trying to save money. Apple tends to program its operating systems so that once a model is about three years old, it can no longer handle some of the latest features. That means iPhone models older than the 7 are getting to the end of their fully supported lives. Don't buy an older iPhone model, including the iPhone SE. Cell phone pricing is more confusing than ever.

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Best Smartphone Deals for June iPhone, Samsung Galaxy, and LG | Digital Trends

Some carriers still have the old-school, binding two-year contracts where you pay a higher monthly rate in exchange for a discounted phone. But there also now payment plans where you pay the full retail cost of your phone, but pay less on your service plan; fast-upgrade and leasing plans where you pay a monthly fee and trade in your phone for a new one every year; as well as more carriers just selling phones for their retail price upfront. Which one you choose depends on how long you intend to keep your phone and what you want to do with it after you're done with it.

If you intend to upgrade frequently, you'll get the most financial advantage by buying phones upfront and reselling them on eBay when you're done with them, but that takes effort. Traditional two-year deals make sense if you stick with the plan of getting a new phone every two years and you're OK with the long-term commitment. T-Mobile and Verizon don't offer two-year contracts anymore; you either pay upfront, or pay in installments over 24 months. Apple offers leasing and installment plans just like the carriers do.

There are also your monthly carrier fees. And this is where things gets tricky, as the carriers make it exceedingly difficult to figure out how much you'll actually pay per month. T-Mobile now includes fees in its base advertised plan prices, and we hope other carriers will follow.

Sprint and T-Mobile offer considerable savings, especially on unlimited voice, data, and texting plans. To see our most recent reviews, check out our Cell Phones Product Guide. Strictly interested in Android? Head over to our Best Android Phones roundup. And if you want to document the world around you with your phone, we've rounded up the Best Camera Phones too. Fastest processor available. Excellent camera. Long battery life. Pros: Compact. Fast performance. Beautiful OLED screen. Sharp front and rear camera with impressive low-light, zoom, and bokeh capabilities.

Useful Google Assistant functionality. Highly optimized software with guaranteed updates. Cons: No headphone jack or memory card slot.

OnePlus 7 (Mirror Grey, 6GB RAM, 128GB Storage)

Pros: Best-in-class camera. Gorgeous OLED display. Solid performance. Excellent battery life. Cons: Not waterproof. No microSD slot. Pros: Great value for money.

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Fastest Android phone available. Smooth software.

The Best Phones for 12222

Notchless screen. Lots of camera options. Cons: Camera photos are slightly undersaturated.