Best Smartphones: A "Cheaper Than Black Friday" Samsung & Free iPhone 5C


While there are some advantages to sticking with your old phone, the new year should start off with a new mobile. So whether you're knee-deep in the Apple ecosystem or have a preference for Androids, we've gathered above-average smartphone deals from a free iPhone 5C (with contract renewal) to a palm-sized Galaxy Note 3.

  1. Samsung Galaxy NoteSamsung Galaxy Note 3 32GB Android Phone for Verizon or Sprint
    Store: Amazon
    Price: $149.99 with free shipping
    Lowest By: $22

    Is It Worth It?: With its dominating 5.7" display, the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is "a device that could ostensibly take the place of both a smartphone and a tablet," says The Verge. But this phone isn't a marketing gimmick, as it provides speedy performance and better-than-average battery life. With a new 2-year contract, this Editors' Choice phone is at an all-time low. It features a 5.7" AMOLED touchscreen display, 3GB RAM, 32GB internal storage, 802.11n wireless, S Pen, 13-megapixel rear-facing camera with LED flash, 2-megapixel front facing camera, Bluetooth 4.0, and Android 4.3 (Jelly Bean). It's also available in White for both Verizon and Sprint.

  2. iphone 5cApple iPhone 5C 16GB Smartphone for AT&T
    Store: Best Buy
    Price: Free with in-store pickup
    Lowest By: $99

    Is It Worth It?: Though it's easy to dismiss as the "budget iPhone," Engadget says the iPhone 5C is "a gorgeous handset that brings a breath of fresh air to the iPhone lineup." And if you think it's just a gussied iPhone 5, CNET reminds us that it's got more widely compatible global LTE coverage, an upgraded front-facing camera, and slightly better battery life. Currently at its lowest price ever, this Editors' Choice phone (which requires a 2-year contract renewal) features an Apple A6 processor, 4" 1136x640 Retina display, 8-megapixel iSight camera, 1.2-megapixel FaceTime HD camera, 1080p video capture, 802.11n wireless, Bluetooth 4.0, and dual microphones.

  3. Samsung Illusion 3GSamsung Illusion 3G Prepaid Android Smartphone for Verizon Wireless
    Store: Best Buy
    Price: $39.99 with free shipping
    Lowest By: $50

    Is It Worth It?: If you're looking for a reliable mid-range phone that also happens to be prepaid, the Samsung Illusion is your device. It lacks 4G connectivity and it packs a small 3.5" display, but CNET says the form factor is "classic Samsung" that "mostly delivers." The Editors' Choice handheld features a 3.5" 320x480 touchscreen LCD, 1GHz Cortex A8 Hummingbird Application Processor, 512MB RAM, 2GB internal storage, 3-megapixel rear camera, 802.11g wireless, Bluetooth, microSD card slot, and Android OS 2.3 (Gingerbread).

  4. Nokia Lumia 521Nokia Lumia 521 Windows Phone 8 for T-Mobile
    Store: Microsoft Store
    Price: $69 with free shipping
    Lowest By: $29

    Is It Worth It?: CNET calls the Nokia Lumia 521 "one of the best bargain smartphones on any platform," but there's a caveat — it lacks 4G connectivity. However, if LTE support is not an issue, the smartphone features a Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 1GHz dual-core processor, 4" 800x480 IPS LCD, 512MB RAM, 8GB internal memory, 5-megapixel camera, microSD slot, WiFi, Bluetooth, and Microsoft Windows Phone 8 OS.

  5. Samsung Galaxy VictorySamsung Galaxy Victory 4G LTE Smartphone for Virgin Mobile
    Store: QVC
    Price: $99.96 free shipping EXPIRED
    Lowest By: $100
    Expires: December 31 at 3 am ET

    Is It Worth It?: "The Samsung Galaxy Victory 4G LTE packs quite a few features into a basic but usable package," says CNET. Sure, it's heavier and bulkier than most modern smartphones, but the Victory holds up thanks to a "reliable Android experience and some sturdy mid-range hardware." At $25 under our Black Friday week mention, this Editors' Choice handheld features a 1.2GHz dual-core processor, 4" touchscreen LCD, 5-megapixel camera, 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera, Google Wallet, wireless and 4G connectivity, Bluetooth 4.0, up to 7 hours of talk time, up to 9 days of standby, and Android 4.1 OS (Jelly Bean).

DealNews Contributing Writer

With over a decade of experience covering technology, Louis Ramirez has written for CNET, Laptop, Gizmodo, and various other publications. Follow him on Twitter at @louisramirez.
DealNews may be compensated by companies mentioned in this article. Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).
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Target offers the Lumia 521 through Brightspot for 64.99 in store. The phone will work with a T-mobile micro SIM card. Got one yesterday and it works great. The Lumia does not lack 4G exactly, it lacks LTE.