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This story is part of , your source for the season’s best gifts and deals, hand-picked by the experts at CNET.
So, what about these gift cards? Well, if you’re thinking about changing carriers or adding a new line to your current service, most providers have offers in place where you can get a free new Samsung Galaxy or iPhone if you trade in your old phone year-round. But if you decide to head to Walmart this Black Friday, you’ll find it’s offering a $450 Walmart eGift Card with any iPhone XS or $400 on XS Max upgrade. Or at Best Buy you can get up to $500 off an iPhone 11, 11 Pro or Pro Max. We’ve got more of the best upgrades and unlocked discounts, including from Amazon and Target, in our article below, so read on.
For even more Black Friday shopping deals, see our roundup of the, , and if you’re a big spender, check out our list of .
(As always, prices here are accurate at the time of publication but are subject to change.)
What are carrier installment plans?
Before we dive into the deals, it’s important to quickly clarify what exactly you’re signing up for with carrier installment plans. If you’re not buying unlocked, nearly all of these offers require you to upgrade on one of these plans, which means you’re agreeing to pay your carrier (AT&T or Verizon for the bulk of these deals) a monthly fee for your phone for 24 to 30 months depending on the plan. After that point, the phone is yours.
This is different than leasing programs like Sprint’s Flex, in which after a shorter period of 18 months, the carrier still owns the phone. After that period is done, you can either keep paying for six more months to own the phone, buy it out in one shot or return it and upgrade.
These agreements can help keep your phone’s total price low, but they also function as a way to keep you tied to the carrier. If you do want to switch, however, keep in mind that the remaining balance becomes due, often at the regular, nondiscounted monthly rate.
The good news is that most carriers have year-round deals to get you to switch, frequently offering to pay out your existing installment plan balance if it means you’ll leave your current carrier and join their network.
Black Friday iPhone deals
If you’re not sold on getting a new iPhone 11, 11 Pro or 11 Pro Max and are good with getting last year’s still-impressive iPhones, Walmart has a pretty tempting offer. While it isn’t discounting the iPhones’ list price, it is offering a $450 virtual gift card with the purchase of an XS and a $400 gift card if you buy an XS Max or iPhone XR.
You don’t need to trade in your old phone to get the offer, but if you do you can save up to another $250 depending on the phone and condition (an iPhone 8 Plus 256GB or newer will get $250). The trade-in will need to be done in stores, which will offer a similar discount and offer the deal between Nov. 28 and Dec. 1 at 11:59 p.m. local time. Sprint users will also be able to do this deal in stores.
The online portion of the deal runs from Saturday, Nov. 30 at 9 p.m. PT (Sunday at midnight ET) through 11:59 p.m. PT on Cyber Monday, Dec. 2 (2:59 a.m. ET on Tuesday).
Note: You will need to purchase the phone on a carrier payment plan. Read our iPhone XS review.
Walmart is doing a similar, smaller deal for the iPhone 11, 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max. While it is not offering the same amount for the latest iPhones, $300 is still a solid offer especially considering you don’t have to trade in your phone or switch to a new provider.
The deal for the latest iPhones follows the same times and restrictions as the XS and XS Max. If you want to do a trade-in, you’ll need to head into a Walmart store between Nov. 28 and Dec. 1.
AT&T and Verizon users can do this deal online or in stores. Sprint users will also be able to do this deal, but need to go into stores. Read our iPhone 11 review.
Best Buy’s iPhone 11 deal is great if you’re looking to upgrade from a recent phone like the iPhone X, XR or XS. The retailer is offering up to $500 off if you’re trading in one of those devices in good, working condition and buying an iPhone 11, 11 Pro or 11 Pro Max. You’ll need to be on AT&T, Verizon or Sprint and purchase the new device on your carrier’s installment plan, with the total discount varying based on the phone you’re trading in and the carrier you’re using.
When it comes to the carrier discount, Best Buy’s terms on this deal aren’t the clearest, but CNET has confirmed that the store is offering instant discounts of $150 for Sprint upgrades, $100 for Verizon and $50 for AT&T. Depending on the phone you’re trading in, that will get you to the $500 credit.
Older phones will get a discount, but it won’t be as substantial as a recent iPhone. Regardless, you’ll need to go into a physical Best Buy store to get the deal. The deal runs now through Cyber Monday.
Unlike other deals, the discount will not be given on a gift card. Instead, your monthly payment will go down to reflect the updated pricing. Read our iPhone 11 review.
Target is offering a $200 discount if you upgrade to a new iPhone 11, 11 Pro, 11 Pro Max, XS or XS Max. No trade-in is needed, but you do need to buy on your carrier’s payment plan. While not as hefty as the Best Buy or Walmart deals, those with Target RedCard credit card will be able to stack this with the 5% cash back that card offers for a little extra savings.
The deal runs from 7 a.m. local time on Black Friday through Sunday, Dec. 1. Read our iPhone 11 Pro Max review.
Black Friday Android deals
Like with the iPhones, Best Buy has some aggressive offers for those looking to upgrade their Galaxy phones offering between $400 and $500 off on the latest Galaxy phones, so long as you upgrade on an AT&T, Verizon or Sprint installment plan. If you’re willing to trade in your older phone you could knock off another $250.
The deal requires you to head to a Best Buy store and the actual trade-in discount will vary depending on the phone you’re trading in and the carrier you’re upgrading on. The deal also extends to the Galaxy S10 Plus 5G on Verizon and Sprint as well as the Galaxy Note 10 Plus 5G on Verizon.
Unlike other deals, the discount will not be given on a gift card. Instead, your monthly payment will go down to reflect the updated pricing.
The deal runs now through Cyber Monday (Dec. 2). Read our Galaxy Note 10 Plus review.
Like Best Buy, Walmart will have strong Galaxy deals, including offering a $450 virtual gift card with the purchase of a Galaxy S10, S10 Plus, S10 5G (on Verizon), Note 10 and Note 10 Plus on an AT&T, Sprint or Verizon installment plan.
Those looking for an S10E or Note 9 will get a $300 eGift card, whereas those heading into a store to trade in can get up $700 in gift cards depending on which phone you’re upgrading from.
The deal is live now online and runs through 3 p.m. PT (6 p.m. ET) on Black Friday before returning at 12 a.m. PT (3 a.m. ET) on Cyber Monday and running until just before midnight PT (2:59 a.m. ET) on Tuesday Dec. 2.
Local stores will do something similar, but you’ll want to check the hours and stock before heading in. Verizon and AT&T users can upgrade online, but Sprint users will need to do the whole process in stores. Read our Galaxy Note 10 review.
Looking for a new Pixel? Target’s deal will get you a $300 gift card if you buy a Pixel 4 or 4 XL on an AT&T or Verizon installment plan. No trade-in is required, but you do need to go to a physical store.
The deal runs through Sunday, Dec. 1. Read our Google Pixel 4 review.
Google’s older Pixel 3 lacks some of the bells and whistles of the new Pixel 4 line, but it does still have an excellent camera and runs the latest version of Android. Target’s deal will get you a $550 gift card if you buy a Pixel 3 or 3 XL on an AT&T or Verizon installment plan.
No trade-in is required, but you do need to go to a physical store. The deal starts runs until Sunday, Dec. 1. Read our Google Pixel 3 XL review.
Don’t want to lock yourself into a monthly payment plan? Best Buy is knocking off $200 on the price of an unlocked Galaxy Note 10 or Note 10 Plus. While not as hefty a discount, the fact that you don’t need to trade-in or commit to a carrier is a perk. Read our Galaxy Note 10 review.
If you’re looking for an unlocked Pixel 4, you can save $200 on the 4 or larger 4 XL at Amazon or Google’s Store. Both stores are selling the phones unlocked, which means it should work on all four major carriers. If you have an Amazon Prime credit card, however, you can save a little more, thanks to the 5% cash back that it offers. Read our Google Pixel 4 review.
Amazon is offering free Galaxy Buds with a purchase of the Galaxy S10 or S10 Plus. Both phones are sold unlocked, with the addition of the wireless earbuds making for a savings of $117 on either device.
Those looking to trade in a phone and get a deal with the free earbuds should head to Samsung, which can help knock a few hundred dollars more off the price, depending on the device you’re trading in. Samsung’s deal of free earbuds also applies to the S10 5G, Note 10, Note 10 Plus and Note 10 Plus 5G.
The deals end Dec. 1. Read our Galaxy S10 review.
The OnePlus 7 Pro was one of 2019’s most impressive phones when it launched earlier this year, and it will get even cheaper on Black Friday. OnePlus is taking $150 off of its unlocked 7 Pro. While not as powerful as the 7T, it still features a Qualcomm 855 processor, runs Android 10 and has 8GB of RAM with 256GB of storage. Available unlocked, the phone will work with AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile’s 4G LTE networks.
Those looking to save little more can also trade in their phone to OnePlus. The deal is available now, and I hope you’re a fan of gray, because the other colors are already sold out. Read our OnePlus 7 Pro review.
Originally published earlier this week.