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The best cell phone deals for September 2021

Whether you're an Apple fan or an Android aficionado, you'll find all of this week's best cell phone deals all rounded up right here on this page. We've searched every carrier and trusted retailer to come up with some handy recommendations, which are great whether you're looking for a cheap unlocked device, an upgrade, or even a new cell phone plan.

This week's cell phone deals include what's likely the biggest trade-in rebates we've seen yet from Verizon, excellent unlocked prices on Android flagships at Amazon, and some great freebies from Visible - a leading prepaid carrier. 

Cell phone deals: quick links

best phone deals sales cellphone smartphone unlocked prepaid

(Image credit: Future)

Jump to the section that's relevant for you:
1. Carrier phone deals
2. Unlocked phone deals
3. Prepaid phone deals
4. Specific pages for more phone deals
5. Phone deal tips

Generally speaking, you'll find cell phone deals coming in two forms - first as an outright sale on an unlocked device, and secondly as part of a carrier-plan tie-in. The latter can be a bit tricky, involving new cell phone plans and also trade-ins on old devices, but the savings can be absolutely huge if you're eligible. We've also included a third alternative option - cell phone deals from prepaid carriers. These smaller carriers don't tend to offer huge savings on a device, but you'll generally be scoring a much cheaper cell phone plan so it's worth considering the switch for sure.

It's a good time to be checking out cell phone deals too. We've just had a crop of excellent Android flagship launches from Samsung and OnePlus, both of which have already seen great sales prices. Plus, the iPhone 12 has had some time on the shelves now, which means recent promotions are way more generous than the ones previously offered.

We've rounded up our top picks just down below, but if you're looking for something a little more specific, we've also got individual sections for carrier deals, unlocked phones, and prepaid phones. Simply scroll down or use the handy navigation links to jump to the section that's relevant to you.

Today's best cell phone deals at a glance

Carrier phone deals

Apple iPhone 12: buy one get $700 off second, or save $1,000 with trade-in at Verizon
Probably the best carrier cell phone deals on the iPhone 12 series can be found at Verizon this week. Not only is the carrier offering a huge trade-in rebate of up to $1,000 if you get a device with a new line, but you can also opt to get $700 off an additional device if you'd prefer. Just need an upgrade? Simply trade-in and keep your line for a discount of up to $440. Also available on the iPhone 12 Mini, iPhone 12 Pro, and iPhone 12 Pro Max.View Deal

Apple iPhone 12: save $700 with trade-in and unlimited plan at AT&T
AT&T's cell phone deals on the 12-series this week will score you a very respectable saving of up to $700 with an eligible trade-in. Note, like promotions at other leading carriers, you will need to be picking up a new unlimited plan in addition here to be eligible. The good news is, however, that these savings are also available on the 12 Mini, 12 Pro, and 12 Pro Max.View Deal

Apple iPhone 12: save up to $415 with eligible trade-in at T-Mobile
Get the best coverage with T-Mobile? No problem, there are also great cell phone deals at this carrier on the iPhone 12. At a maximum discount of $415 with a trade-in, this week's savings at T-Mobile aren't quite as good as those offered by rival carriers, however. That said, if this is your carrier of choice, then you can still get yourself a nice little saving.View Deal

Apple iPhone 11: free with a new unlimited data line at Verizon
Verizon's cell phone deals this week don't just cover the latest iPhone 12 devices - there are also awesome options on older devices. Right now, in fact, is the option to score the iPhone 11 for absolutely free with a new unlimited data line. This phone is still worth $600 by itself, so this is a fantastic choice if you're unable to trade-in. More interested in AT&T? You can get this device for $10 a month over there with the same termsView Deal

Samsung Galaxy S21 series: BOGO, or save up to $1,200 with trade-in at Verizon
If you're more into your Android flagships then Verizon's latest promotions on the Galaxy S21 series are arguably even stronger than those on the iPhone 12. Trade in your old device and pick up a brand new Galaxy device with a new unlimited data line to save up to $1,200 off, or, alternatively, get up to $800 off a second device when you purchase the first outright with a new line. Note, this deal is also available on the Galaxy S21 Plus and the Galaxy S21 Ultra.View Deal

Samsung Galaxy S21 series: save up to $700 with an eligible trade-in and new unlimited plan at AT&T
AT&T's cell phone deals extend to the Galaxy S21 series this week with yet again another very strong set of trade-in options. A potential rebate of up to $700 is up for grabs right now, which, while not scoring you a free device, can cut the cost of these phones significantly. Note, this $700 off trade-in deal is available on the Galaxy S21 Plus, and Galaxy S21 Ultra.View Deal

Apple iPhone SE: $16/mo free with a new line at Verizon
Verizon's cell phone deals have included a free iPhone SE for quite some time now, but only with a new unlimited data line. This week, however, the carrier has loosened up the level of eligible plan needed to score this device for free. Currently, there's no stipulation for an expensive unlimited data plan, so if you're on a budget and want a free iPhone, you can get the SE with a cheaper plan at big red. Note, you can pick this device up for free at AT&T too, but only after a $200 trade-in saving ($5/mo with a new unlimited plan).View Deal

  • Verizon - has a whole section of their site dedicated to phone deals
  • AT&T - also offers a huge range of phone deals
  • Sprint - currently offering free phones and other great phone deals

If you don't mind switching carriers, you can find many of the best smartphone deals from the big four. The major carriers will often let you split the cost of the phone into monthly payments anywhere from 18 to 30 months, and sometimes longer. The deals they offer frequently cut the price of the phone in half, sometimes even offering the phone for free. 

To get these deals, you'll generally need to be adding a new line and signing up for a specific mobile plan. But, as long as you're planning to get an unlimited data plan anyway, they can make it a lot more affordable to pick up a brand new phone.

If you'd like to deep dive into specific carriers, we've got some great content for you in the form of our Verizon deals and AT&T deals pages. There you'll find a full list of what's available, including discounts on plans and even free phones.

Unlocked cell phone deals

Apple iPhone 12: $799.99 $274 with an eligible trade-in at Apple
Save $525 -
You generally won't find upfront price cut on unlocked cell phone deals on Apple devices since it's pretty much the only retailer to stock them. However, what Apple does have is a very competitive trade-in program that extremely generous savings. Right now the highest possible rate is $540 off - the largest rebate we've ever seen from Apple.
iPhone 12 Pro:
$999 $474 | iPhone 12 Pro Max: $1,099 $574View Deal

Samsung Galaxy S21: $799.99 $649.99 at Amazon
Save $150 -
Amazon's unlocked cell phone deals include the lowest prices yet on the latest Galaxy S21 range - an awesome opportunity to bag a flagship device for less. It is worth mentioning, however, that the standard device has currently sold out of immediate stock right now, so delivery times are around a month unfortunately.
Galaxy S21 Plus: $999 $799 | Galaxy S21 Ultra: $1,199 $999View Deal

Samsung Galaxy S21: $799.99 $99.99 with an eligible trade-in at Samsung
Save $700 -
Like Apple, you can buy unlocked cell phone deals directly from Samsung itself on its excellent range of Android flagships. The possible savings are even bigger here, however, with a whopping $700 being the maximum saving and Samsung will even take devices with cracked screens. If you do happen to have a trade ready, this is most likely your best bet.
Galaxy S21 Plus: $999 $299 | Galaxy S21 Ultra: $1,199 $499View Deal

OnePlus 9 (unlocked, 128GB): $729.99 $649.99 at Best Buy
Save $80 -
Another great choice for an up-to-date Android flagship is the OnePlus 9 - the latest device from the brand that's barely a few months old right now. With a powerful Snapdragon 888 chip, co-designed Hasselblad camera system, and 120 Hz display, this one's definitely up there with the best Android devices money can buy right now. Currently, Best Buy has the cheapest unlocked price on this particular handset via an activation rebate.View Deal

OnePlus 8 (unlocked, 128GB): $699 $390.96 at Amazon
Save $308 -
The price on the venerable old OnePlus 8 keeps getting lower and lower each week at Amazon. Safe to say this latest price cut is easily the cheapest one we've seen so far and an absolute steal for this device, even if it is a little bit older. If you're not fussed about 5G connectivity then you'll get your hands on a very impressive device indeed featuring a ton of power, a good camera, and a gorgeous edge-to-edge 90hz display.View Deal

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE (unlocked, 128GB): $699 $549.99 at Amazon
Save $150 -
Here's another fantastic unlocked cell phone deal from Amazon this week on the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE. Again, this is a slightly older device but definitely don't discount it - it's packed to the brim with powerful components and a good camera. It's also fully 5G capable, which makes it a great pairing with a cheap unlimited prepaid plan from the likes of Mint Mobile or Visible.View Deal

Apple refurb program: save up to $370 on a refurbished iPhone
Refurb tech has a bit of a bad rep but hear us out - picking up a refurbished iPhone directly from the Apple store itself has a number of benefits outside of simply being cheap. Being refurbed by Apple itself means you're getting fully official replacement parts, quality assurance testing, and a really generous warranty and return period too. Definitely consider it if you're looking to save some cash.View Deal

Google Pixel 4a: $349.99 $299.99 at Best Buy
Save $50 -
If you're looking for an excellent budget Android device, then you could consider Best Buy's cell phone deals on the Google Pixel 4a. Right now there's a small but welcome $50 activation rebate being offered, which will allow you pocket this fairly new device for just shy of $300. It's not the lowest price we've seen on this device ($249), but it's still a fairly good option this week.View Deal

  • Apple - offers upfront discounts on unlocked phone deals with trade-ins
  • Samsung -  save up to $500 on select phone deals with trade-ins
  • Amazon - has a vast selection of unlocked phone deals on a range of brands
  • Best Buy - also an excellent place to find unlocked phone deals
  • OnePlus - has a great Black Friday cell phone sale going on right now

Deals on unlocked smartphones aren't always the most eye-popping, as they tend to offer only small cuts to the retail price. Occasionally you'll find a major deal on a new smartphone, usually late into the one-year refresh cycle for that brand. We've seen this kind of price drop commonly for Samsung flagships, but they aren't frequent and rarely match the up-front discounts carriers offer. 

However, the savings you get from unlocked cell phone deals can be hidden. That's because an unlocked phone will let you freely move between carriers, so you can always choose the mobile plan that suits you. This can make your savings add up over time, as you won't be stuck on an expensive data plan for 24 months as you pay off your phone on an installment plan. 

You can also sometimes get deals directly from the phone's manufacturer, as they can offer trade-in discounts that retail stores generally won't.

Prepaid phone deals

Apple iPhone 12: 6-months of free service with switch at Mint Mobile
Mint Mobile's cheap plans already made it a favorite among prepaid plan users, however, it's just released a couple of great cell phone deals on the iPhone 12-series to really entice people over. New customers who buy either an iPhone 12 or 12 Mini upfront can score themselves 6-months of service on the house this week. While pricey upfront, this is a good choice if you're thinking a head and want to save in the long run with a great cheap prepaid carrier.View Deal

Apple iPhone SE: 6-months of free service with switch at Mint Mobile
And that same excellent prepaid cell phone deal at Mint Mobile this week is also available on the iPhone SE. This one's got a lower upfront price versus the 12-series devices so it's probably a better choice if you're strictly on a budget and are the type of light user that would make good use of the 4GB plan. Note, however, the iPhone SE isn't a 5G device like the iPhone 12 or 12 Mini though, so your speeds won't be quite as speedy on Mint.View Deal

Samsung Galaxy S21: free $150 virtual gift card and Google Pixel Buds with switch at Visible
Not only can you get an absolutely awesome unlimited 5G data plan at Visible for as little as $25 per month, but the service is also offering some stellar freebies for new customers right now. Buy a Galaxy S21 upfront at Visible and port your number over from another carrier and you'll not only get a free $150 gift card to spend pretty much anywhere online, but you'll also score a free pair of Google Pixel Buds worth $179 by themselves.
View Deal

Google Pixel 5: free $100 virtual gift card and Google Pixel Buds with switch at Visible
And, it's not just the Galaxy S21 series that have awesome prepaid cell phone deals at Visible this week - you can also score some switching freebies with the Google Pixel 5. Buy it outright and port your number in to score a $100 online gift card plus a set of Google Pixel Buds on the house. This device is popular with a capital P, so we expect this one to probably sell out of immediate stock soon.View Deal

iPhone SE: free $50 Mastercard and Nimble charging bundle with switch at Visible
Here's another strong prepaid cell phone deal from Visible - one of the better choices out there right now for a cheap unlimited data plan. If you're a new customer buying the iPhone SE from the Visible store the carrier will throw in a free $50 Mastercard and Nimble charging bundle. View Deal

Apple iPhone SE: $449.99 free with switch at Cricket Wireless
Price drop -
Cricket wireless was already offering one of the cheapest prepaid cell phone deals on the iPhone SE before this week, but they've completely done away with the upfront price for new customers now. To be eligible you will, however, need to be switching over from another carrier, so bear that in mind.
View Deal

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra: $300 off with activation at Google Fi
While we've featured mostly cheap devices in our prepaid cell phone deals section, here's one for all of you who like a more premium device. Over at Google Fi this week you can get a full $300 rebate when you activate a Galaxy S21 Ultra purchased through the store. Note - this promo is also available on the Galaxy S21 Plus and standard Galaxy S21.View Deal

Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus: $999.99 $749.99 at PureTalk USA
PureTalk isn't just offering price cuts on cheap Apple devices this week, you'll also find a hefty $250 saving on the Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus. Again, you'll need to be porting your number over to be eligible, but this one's a great option if you want to cut out the middle man at an unlocked retailer.View Deal

  • Mint Mobile - one of our favorite prepaid carriers offers excellent bundles
  • Visible - has a great unlimited plan plus great phone deals if you switch
  • Boost Mobile - offers upfront savings on a range of phone deals

Pre-paid carriers aren't locking you into a contract, so they don't have the same incentive to offer massive discounts and device installment plans. But even still, there are still some phone deals to be found, even if their sales don't quite match those found on the big carriers.

These deals will generally let you save a little bit of money upfront, while the low cost of prepaid plans can help you save even more money over time. If you want the freedom to switch carriers later on, you'll want to double check what big network these smaller carriers are with and their policy around unlocking phones. If you find them a little too restrictive, we'd recommend checking out the unlocked phone deals above.

If you'd like to see more prepaid phone deals, we recommend checking out our main page on this week's best Mint Mobile deals and Visible wireless deals.

iPhone and Android deals

Looking for something specific? We've got a whole host of dedicated phone deal pages that are super handy if you've got your eye on that new iPhone or Galaxy in particular.

Cell phone plans
Looking to simply save on that bill? Perhaps it's time to switch or upgrade that old plan you've been on for years. Our roundup of the best cell phone plans in the US is one of the best resources on the web for finding the right plan for you. No matter whether you're looking for a cheap plan, unlimited or a plan for your family, our guide will help you out.

iPhone deals
Not sure which Apple device is for you? If you need a guide to the best prices on the whole range, our iPhone deals roundup is the place to start. You'll find the best offers from all the big carriers right here, as well as the cheapest prepaid and unlocked iPhone deals currently available.

iPhone 12 deals
Want the latest and greatest? Apple's latest launch, the iPhone 12 is here, and what's more, it's looking like a fantastic upgrade for Apple fanatics the world over. Check out our latest deals roundup for this week's news on this great new device, and, where to pick yourself one up for much less than you would think....

iPhone 12 Mini deals
The iPhone 12 Mini is now here, and it's really....cute. In a first from the company, Apple has essentially offered a flagship in a pint-sized chassis that's more reminiscent of devices of old. Make no mistake about it though, the small but mighty iPhone 12 Mini still packs in a ton of power and new features, and at a lower price point.

iPhone 12 Pro Max deals
Now the biggest, baddest, and of course, most expensive Apple device on the market, the newly released iPhone 12 Pro Max looks go be the phone of choice for avid phone photographers. Check out our bespoke deals page to see how you can potentially dodge that eye-wateringly high price tag.

iPhone 11 deals
The cheapest of Apple's latest flagship trio, the iPhone 11 is an excellent phone to go for. It sports a dual camera set-up, an ultra fast CPU, IP68 rating and a 3110mAh battery. This luxury phone has a lot to offer, and better still - it even comes at a lower introductory RRP than the also excellent iPhone XR.

iPhone SE deals
Apple's low-cost flagship, the iPhone SE, is the 2nd generation of Apple's fantastic budget range. It brings a lot of impressive, up-to-date specs including Apple's A13 Bionic chip, 4K video, and a new portrait mode. Even with all this brand new tech under the hood it still manages to come in at a wallet-friendly price, thanks to the reuse of the venerable old iPhone 8 design.

iPhone XR deals
The iPhone XR was the budget flagship until the new iPhone SE superseded it earlier this year. That's not to say it's still not an excellent phone however with its powerful A12 bionic chip and massive battery life. Better still the prices just keep getting lower and lower, so you're really spoilt for choice when it comes to cheap iPhones right now.

iPhone XS deals / iPhone X deals
The iPhone X was a massive leap for Apple so the iPhone XS didn't have to change much to impress. It made tweaks to the camera technology, added an extra 1GB of RAM, and introduces a mighty 512GB storage model. The 6.5-inch Max model is also a pretty damn good buy right now, especially considering how much it's come down in cost this year.

Samsung Galaxy S21 deals / Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus deals
Early 2021 has brought a whole fresh range of excellent new flagships from Samsung in the form of the new Galaxy S21 range. Astonishingly, these handsets are coming in at a whole $200 cheaper than the launch prices of the prior generation. That doesn't mean Samsung has cheaped out though, these phones still carry a ton of great specs and a powerful new processor in particular.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra deals
We've also got a separate page for the current biggest and baddest phone from Samsung - the Galaxy S21 Ultra. With a quad-camera array, incredibly powerful processor, and stunning 1440p display capable of 144Hz (!), this is currently the phone to buy if you're really, really serious about your Android devices.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 deals / Galaxy Z Flip 3 deals
Want to try something new? Samsung's latest series of foldable phones have just been released with two excellent devices to choose from. While pricey, both the Flip 3 and Fold 3 are on the very bleeding edge of what's possible with smartphones. They're quite simply special devices with incredibly powerful components, stunning designs, and of course those beautiful foldable screens.

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 deals / Galaxy Note 20 Ultra deals
Are you a fan of big phones? Your first destination should be our roundup page of the best offers on Samsung's latest phablets - the Galaxy Note 20 and Note 20 Ultra. Expanded battery's, updated designs and of course awesome S-Pen functionality are all hallmarks of these awesome new (and huge) phones.

Google Pixel 5 deals
It's not just new Apple phones releasing this quarter, the brand new Google Pixel 5 is also a relatively new addition. A top phone for Android users, the new Google Pixel 5 is actually much more economical than you would think, thanks to a range of excellent design choices.

Google Pixel 4 deals / Google Pixel 4a deals
After Google managed to win the public over with three generations of top camera phones, hopes were high for the Google Pixel 4. For those wanting a camera phone to compete with the best out there, this will be the way to go. It's no surprise to hear that this is Google's best phone yet.

OnePlus 9 deals
Check out this week's best cell phone deals on the latest devices from the well-known Chinese brand OnePlus - the 9 and the 9 Pro. With co-designed Hasselblad camera systems, powerful Snapdragon 888 processors, and gorgeous 120Hz displays, these are a great alternative to the likes of Google, Apple, and Samsung.

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(Image credit: Future)

Phone deal tips

If you want to be sure you're getting a good deal on a phone, there are a lot of factors you need to consider. 

Compare your favorite retailers

For one thing, you should look around for different deals on the same phone. Carriers often offer heavy discounts, but occasionally they can be beat by deals on unlocked phones that will let you avoid getting stuck on an expensive mobile plan. So, if you see what seems like a good deal from a carrier, double check that you can't find a better deal elsewhere. And, be prepared to do some math to consider the price of the phone plus the price of the plan you'll be more or less locked into.

Shop at the right time of year

Shopping around big sales events is also a good time to find a phone deal. While major retailers cut prices on popular products, carriers can also take those opportunities to make their usual discounts even more enticing. Carriers also offer some of these major discounts around the launch of a new phone. Even if the price of the phone doesn't change, there may be some freebies that add extra value.

Switch to get the best phone deals

If you're after the steepest discounts, though, you'll likely need to be ready to switch carriers or at least add new lines to your account. Major carriers strongly incentivize this, and it's one of the few ways you'll get a new phone for more than 50% off. These deals can sometimes be easier if you have a second person you're shopping with, as buy-one-get-one deals are also incredibly common and often only entail one new line of service.