Shopping | Tech

Our Guide to the Best Cell Phone Deals in 2021

Written by Jacqueline Quach | June 12, 2021

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If you’ve had your phone for a while or feel that your current one is lackluster, it may be time to upgrade your phone. With so many phones to choose from and endless reviews on the Internet, making the switch to a better phone can feel like a daunting task. Luckily, we’ve done the research for you and have compiled a list of the best cell phone deals for 2021, from T-Mobile, Samsung, AT&T Wireless, Best Buy and more!

Before we dive into the goods, we have some helpful pointers. When shopping for phones, pick a price range and decide which features matter most: screen size, resolution (how sharp the images on your screen appear), memory storage, or camera quality. Once you’ve decided what’s important to you when shopping for a phone, you can start looking. The right phone for you will fit your budget while offering your selected features. Buying a phone at a great price can be super simple, easy, and stress-free. Plus, with deals as good as these, you’ll have your next phone in no time.

Best Deals for Apple iPhone 12

Best Deals for Apple iPhone 12

Retail Price: $799.99 (64GB)

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Pros

  • OLED display
  • 5G connectivity
  • Offers lots of screen space: 6.1 inches

Cons

  • Average battery life
  • Cameras are minor improvements to previous iPhone models
  • Pricier than the iPhone 11

If you’ve been hanging onto your phone for a few years and are looking to upgrade, the iPhone 12 will feel like a major improvement. It has a wide screen surface area, an impressive OLED display (which is also used on the iPhone 12 Pro), and a MagSafe connector that allows you to charge your phone much faster. While it doesn’t have much of a difference in camera capabilities compared to its predecessor, you can use Night Mode and get some great shots after the sun sets. The upgraded display is also ideal for watching movies and videos on your phone. The iPhone 12 is a great all-around phone for the person who enjoys improved tech features, but isn’t too picky about the specifics.

Best Deals for Apple iPhone 12 Pro

Best Deals for Apple iPhone 12 Pro

Retail Price: $999.99 (128GB)

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Pros

  • More advanced features than the standard iPhone 12
  • Larger storage options: choose from 128 GB, 256 GB, or 512 GB

Cons

  • Not significantly different from the iPhone 12
  • 5G connectivity compromises battery life

The iPhone 12 Pro is perfect for the tech-savvy who are looking to get the most out of their phone. The incentive for buying this phone is all the impressive features: it has 6 GB of RAM, an upgrade from the standard 4 GB in previous iPhones, which means applications run faster and more smoothly. It also has an upgraded camera: there are three camera sensors that allow you to get pictures close up with two times the optical zoom. The fanciest feature is the LiDAR, which is a sensor on the rear camera that perceives distance and is meant for augmented reality features. Overall, it’s pretty much the same as the iPhone 12 in size, shape, screen technology, and resolution. If the features are what make or break it for you, then choose the iPhone 12 Pro.

Best Deals for iPhone 12 Mini

Best Deals for iPhone 12 Mini

Retail Price: $699.99 (64GB)

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  • Free with an unlimited plan at Verizon
  • Up to $700 off with trade-in and unlimited plan at AT&T

Pros

  • Compact design
  • Higher screen resolution
  • Offers many of the same features as the iPhone 12

Cons

  • Battery life could use improvement
  • Limited memory options

The iPhone 12 Mini is great if you prefer something that fits more easily in the palm of your hand while enjoying many of the same features as the iPhone 12: improved screen display, MagSafe connector, 5G capability, just to name a few. The battery life is solid, but you may find yourself needing to refresh your battery if using your phone heavily, or connecting to 5G. It also comes at a lower price point while retaining the same premier design and build. If you’re looking to enjoy the improvements of the iPhone 12 while paying less, then consider getting the Mini.

Best Deals for Apple iPhone SE (2020)

Best Deals for Apple iPhone SE (2020)

Retail Price: $399.99 (64GB)

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  • Free with new line from Verizon
  • $5 per month for 30 months with a new line from AT&T

Pros

  • Great value
  • Lightweight
  • Impressive performance for the price

Cons

  • Battery life could use improvement
  • Screen display is dated

The iPhone SE is for you if you’re looking to get a new iPhone and have decided you’d rather not pay top dollar for an iPhone.This model runs less than half the price of the latest standard iPhone, which is the lowest price you can get for an iPhone. It carries older iPhone features, like the home button with fingerprint scanner. On the SE, the camera is solid, though not as strong as the iPhone 12 series — understandable considering what you pay for. You’ll recognize it because it carries the same design as the iPhone 8, so elements like the screen display are the same. But don’t overlook it based on its exterior; this phone has an improved chipset that higher range iPhones carry, which ups its overall performance and speed. In short, this is a solid phone that offers great value for the price.

Best Deals for Samsung Galaxy S21

Best Deals for Samsung Galaxy S21

Retail Price: $799.99 (128GB)

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  • Buy one, get one free or $800 off with trade-in and unlimited plan at Verizon
  • Up to $700 off with trade-in at Samsung

Pros

  • High-performing camera
  • Strong battery life
  • Powerful phone overall

Cons

  • No charger
  • Downgraded screen resolution
  • Limited storage memory

The Samsung Galaxy S21 is great for dedicated Android users who have owned their phone for a few years and are looking for a major upgrade, or those curious about switching to Android. While the specs aren’t as strong as its predecessor, the Galaxy S20, it comes at a lower price point. This phone shines in its overall performance: it has a powerful chipset, improved camera software, and strong battery life. It does come without microSD support, which limits the memory capabilities of this model compared to other Android phones. The display measures 6.2 inches, and features a Full HD+ AMOLED display. The S21 offers 5G connectivity and is more compact than the other phones in the Galaxy S21 range. The camera is capable of thirty times the hybrid optical zoom and features improved camera software for clear, crisp photos. Smaller among Android phones, this runs on the compact side among its Android peers.

Best Deals for Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G UW

Best Deals for Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G UW

Retail Price: $699.99 (128GB)

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  • $10 per month for 24 months with unlimited plan at Verizon
  • Up to $300 off with trade-in at Samsung

Pros

  • Takes great photos
  • Offers a wide variety of color options
  • 5G capabilities

Cons

  • Pricey for what you get
  • Lackluster battery life

The Samsung Galaxy S20 FE UW is a more affordable version of the early 2020 Galaxy S20. This phone is suitable if you’re looking for a Samsung phone and would like something that’s less pricey while still offering some features of its higher-end phones. Though Samsung discontinued its Galaxy S20 line, the brand still offers the Galaxy S20 FE UW. It offers many signature features of Samsung’s flagship phones, including a smooth display and powerful processor. You can run applications smoothly and take great photos with the model’s three rear cameras. There are a plethora of colors to choose from; however, the build is made of plastic and feels a bit lower-end compared to its top-line siblings. Still, it’s a solid phone that has quite a bit to offer.

Best Deals for Samsung Galaxy A52

Best Deals for Samsung Galaxy A52

Retail Price: $499.99 (128GB)

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  • $125 off with trade-in at Samsung

Pros

  • Great value for a 5G phone
  • Outstanding specs for the price

Cons

  • Lower-end build and feel

The Samsung Galaxy A52 is intended to be an affordable phone option, so expect it to omit the bells and whistles of top-end phones. While it’s not meant to compete with the best phones, it still offers a high-refresh rate screen and solid rear camera. The high refresh rate is usually only available on higher-end phones in the Galaxy line: it makes your scrolling and gaming experience much smoother. Plus, this model offers an in-screen fingerprint scanner, and its display features Full HD+ resolution. When you hold it, you’ll notice that it feels lower-end as it has a plastic and aluminum build. That aside, it’s a solid, hefty phone that is on the larger end, and feels quite durable.

Best Deals for Motorola Moto G Power

Best Deals for Motorola Moto G Power

Retail Price: $249.99 (64GB)

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  • $149.99 with same-day activation at Best Buy

Pros

  • Great value for the specs
  • Impressive battery life
  • MicroSD storage

Cons

  • Low-resolution display
  • Slow to charge
  • Bulky build

The Motorola Moto G Power isn’t particularly pretty or fancy, but it’s a solid phone that meets your basic needs; it’s a perfect introductory phone for parents ready to give their kids a bit of technological independence. It has spectacular battery life that can last multiple days on a single charge. However, it does charge slowly, and it won’t allow you to use many payment apps due to the lack of Near Field Communication (NFC), a feature that enables short-range communication between devices. With a 6.6-inch LCD display, you’ll enjoy a wide screen, but may notice that some things look pixelated due to its lower resolution. This model also features a triple-lens rear camera that takes solid pictures and offers Night Vision mode. For the price, it has smooth performance, a sturdy body, and solid cameras.

Best Deals for Google Pixel 5

Best Deals for Google Pixel 5

Retail Price: $724.99 (128GB)

Best Deals Today

  • Up to $200 off with trade-in at AT&T

Pros

  • Great camera software
  • Compact in size
  • Sleek build

Cons

  • Lackluster night photography
  • Lacking in zoom capability
  • No microSD

The Google Pixel 5 is a solid phone with a noteworthy camera experience. The camera has an ultra-wide lens that is perfect for fitting groups into one shot. This model shines in its editing software, which is easy to use and noticeably improves photos post-shoot. It also features a metal back and a Full HD Plus display that runs smoothly. Offering wireless charging and a physical fingerprint sensor on the rear of the phone, the Google Pixel 5 has some elements to consider. Its processing power does trail in comparison to other affordable smartphones on the market, something to keep in mind when choosing a phone. Overall, if you’re an Android fan, enjoy taking and editing pictures, and intend to keep your phone compact, this phone may be for you.

Best Deals for Google Pixel 4a

Best Deals for Google Pixel 4a

Retail Price: $349.99 (128GB)

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  • $50 off with same-day activation at Best Buy

Pros

  • Easy to use with one hand
  • Excellent camera
  • Compatible with other Google devices

Cons

  • Battery life is lacking
  • Missing 5G capability
  • Lower-end build

Affordable, lightweight, and easy to use, the Google Pixel 4a is worth considering when looking at budget-friendly phones. This model allows you to use social media and check emails with ease while taking great pictures. It comes with 6 GB of RAM and more storage than its predecessor, which means smoother use and more room to store photos. You’ll find that this Google phone has a minimal design and feels less premium in the palm of your hand than other phones. It also has just two cameras that yield excellent photos: one in the rear and one in front. This is a solid purchase on a budget, though keep in mind if you’re a gamer or avid music listener: the battery gets drained more quickly while gaming or streaming.

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