Cell Phone Black Friday 2021 Deals: Are They Worth It?

NerdWallet is here to help you win Black Friday, while leaving your budget intact. We spend the time, you save the money. Visit regularly for holiday shopping tips and announcements about your favorite retailers. Black Friday is Nov. 26.

Black Friday deals are calling. Should you answer?

With a semiconductor chip shortage impacting smartphone prices and inventory, the hunt for bargains will likely be tougher than in recent years. But we’ve still found notable sales on popular Apple and Android phones.

You’ll need to trade in a specific device or be on a certain plan to qualify for some offers. If you spot a cell phone deal you like, and you meet the criteria, act fast.

What are the best Black Friday cell phone deals in 2021?

Retailers and carriers are releasing cell phone offers ahead of Black Friday. Here are several worth checking out:

  • Target shoppers can get a $200 Target gift card and free Galaxy Buds 2 headphones with an online purchase of an unlocked 128GB Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G phone through Nov. 13.
  • Verizon’s deals include up to $1,000 off the iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max with device trade-in on a new line. Customers switching to Verizon can get up to $1,000 as a bonus. The deal ends Nov. 17.
  • Save up to $600 on select unlocked Motorola phones at Best Buy now, including the 256GB Motorola Edge for $599.99 ($100 savings).
  • Best Buy is also offering up to $900 in savings on the iPhone 13 Pro with qualified activation and trade-in of an iPhone 11 or newer, and up to $725 in savings on the iPhone 13 with qualified activation and trade-in of an iPhone 8 or newer.
  • AT&T’s early deals on Apple phones include up to $800 off the iPhone 13 Pro or Pro Max and a free iPhone 13 or iPhone 13 mini — all require a trade-in.
  • AT&T has the Samsung Galaxy S21 5G for free and up to $700 off the Google Pixel 6 Pro with trade-in on a qualifying plan for a limited time. The carrier is also offering the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G with a silicone case for free with eligible trade-in until Nov. 18.
  • T-Mobile has the Google Pixel 6 for free with trade-in on the Magenta Max plan for a limited time.

How to decide if it’s worth it

Supply issues are unlikely to improve any time soon, so Black Friday cell phone deals are worth pursuing. As you shop, ask yourself two key questions: “Does the purchase price fit my budget?” and “Do I qualify for the deal?”

With cell phone offers, the devil is often in the details. The model and condition of the device you trade in could prevent you from getting the maximum advertised savings. Or you may be excluded from a deal if you’re with the wrong carrier or on the wrong plan. Make sure to read the fine print to better set expectations.

How to budget for a cell phone

A new phone may be one of the biggest Black Friday purchases you make. Compare device and data plan prices across different carriers so you don’t end up paying more than you have to.

An installment plan, which breaks up the cost of a phone into smaller monthly payments, can make the expense more manageable. There are other ways to work the purchase into your budget: Try using a rewards credit card or cash-back app to get a deal.