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When's the Best Time to Buy the Most Popular Smartphones?

New Android phones can see discounts relatively soon after they're released, but iPhone prices tend to stay high.
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New smartphone models are released throughout the year, which can make it difficult to know the best time to buy the latest handset. With prices nearing $1,000 for some phones, no one wants to overpay just to have a new cellphone.

We're here to help you keep it all straight! Read on for our complete guide to all the flagship smartphones for 2018. We've broken down when to expect the phone's release, when to buy, and what to look for if you'd rather go for a slightly older model.

When to Buy the Best Smartphones of 2018

New Apple iPhone

Release Date: Around September 2018
When to Buy: Summer 2019

As usual, the Apple rumor mill has been working overtime to tell us what to expect from the next iPhone. Despite reportedly lackluster sales for the iPhone X, Forbes is predicting Apple will double down on this year's model. One article notes that OLED and increased size should both be part of the handset, which means this year's iPhone could be even more expensive. And since the iPhone X started at a staggering $999, that's not good news for anyone's wallet. Some have reported that if we do see another generation of the iPhone X, it could start at around $1,400 or $1,500.

The next generation of the iPhone X could start at around $1,400 or $1,500.

There are talks of three potential new iPhones this year. Two would feature OLED screens, and one would be a more affordable LCD model. It's also been rumored that all three will have Face ID and edge-to-edge displays. The two higher-end models could be additions to the iPhone 8 line, or the introduction of an iPhone X Plus. The LCD model might be the iPhone SE2.

Apple deals can be scarce, and we expect to see these iPhones at full price, even during the holidays. However, they could be bundled with hefty gift cards in the range of $100 to $200, which would make that full price tag a little more appealing. The first discounts will be very small, around 3% to 5%, but if you can wait longer, there should be a marked increase in savings.

About nine months or so after its release, the iPhone 7 finally saw a discount of around 45%. After 10 months, we saw a deal for the iPhone 7 at 54% off. If the new handsets follow the same trend, we expect to see the best discounts the summer after they're released.

Samsung Galaxy S9

Release Date: March 16, 2018
When to Buy: May 2018

Samsung had a bit of a tumultuous year when it came to the seventh generation of its flagship Galaxy series. While the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge were both fine, the Note 7 had that notorious problem of catching fire. Since then, Samsung appears to have turned things around, and the S9 is already getting positive reviews. Announced on the Sunday that began Mobile World Congress (MWC), it was released just a couple weeks later.

With 2017's Galaxy S8, we saw price drops on eBay fairly early. In fact, the first noticeable discount we saw was about 4% off and came five days after the phone was released, dropping it to $685. However, the best deals we saw were from Samsung in July, when the S8 fell to $479, and then in November, when we saw the S8+ for $500 at Best Buy.

If the S9 follows the same trends, we expect to see significant deals on the S9 by May, although summer in general could bring decent discounts. Waiting until Black Friday will likely provide further savings.

Google Pixel 3

Release Date: October 2018
When to Buy: April 2019

Google released the Pixel and Pixel 2 models in October, which suggests we'll see the same for the Pixel 3 this year. We're expecting it to be released around October 18, 2018.

Speculation includes the possibility of an iris scanner rather than a face scanner, along with three new Pixel models this year. Additionally, two of the handsets are rumored to be "premium" devices, while the third will be "high-end." However, there are no details about what these designations could mean for features at this time. If Google does go this way, it could be similar to the rumors of what Apple is planning for 2018 with its own three tiers of iPhone models.

SEE ALSO: 10 Weird Ways Living With a Virtual Assistant Changes Your Life

However many new Pixels we see, odds are they'll all have Android P as their operating system. We also wouldn't be surprised to see an edge-to-edge display, the Snapdragon 845 chip, and maybe even a notch.

Around six months after it was released, we started seeing discounts of around 10% on the Pixel. Overwhelmingly, though, the best deals we've seen on Pixel phones often involve paying full price, but getting excellent extras. For instance, we saw the full-price Pixel XL bundled with a free Google Home about eight months after it was released. In August 2017, we did see discounted Pixels bundled with a Daydream View VR headset for as little as $524.

The longer you wait, the more likely you are to see an outright discount on the handsets. In November and December 2017 — just over a year after the Pixel was released — we saw a 38% discount on the first-generation models. Obviously, opting for refurbished models can also save you serious cash.

As for the Pixel 2, it was released last October — just five months ago. Already we've seen a couple of deals. The best one was in January for a Pixel 2 with Verizon for $450 — but it required you to sign up for a 2-year contract. Otherwise, the best deal we saw came last November, when you could snag the Pixel 2 plus a Google Home Mini (which was retailing for around $29 at the time) and a $100 Google gift card for list price.

LG V30S

Release Date: Not announced yet
When to Buy: Five months after release

The LG V30S was announced at MWC in February, but unfortunately, we still aren't sure what price to expect or even when it will be released. The V30S is the follow-up to the V30, which came out in September 2017. According to TechRadar, the tweaks and improvements are few and result in a phone that is basically "a souped-up LG V30." The review notes that it has the same screen and camera tricks, but it has more RAM and storage than the V30.

If it follows trends of the LG V20 and V30, we expect to see deals about five months after it's released. Around that time, we'd expect to see discounts of up to 40% off.

LG G7

Release Date: June 2018
When to Buy: Two to four months after release

The LG G7 still hasn't officially been announced yet, but industry speculation points to a release in June 2018. It's expected to be equipped with Android Oreo and the Snapdragon 845 chip. Additionally, it's likely to have IP68 waterproofing and a fingerprint scanner.

SEE ALSO: When Will the Samsung Galaxy S9 Go on Sale?

The LG G6 was released in late March and early April 2017, depending on the carrier. We saw deals as soon as May, but the $360 price tag required a monthly payment plan. However, that deal also offered a free Google Home when you registered your phone. We saw an unlocked model fall to $400, which was about 38% off and came three months after it was released.

Sony Xperia XZ2

Release Date: March 24 2018
When to Buy: May to September 2018

The XZ2 was announced at MWC in February. It will have 3D curved glass, with Gorilla Glass 5 on both the front and back of the phone. The fingerprint scanner has been designed to be always-on, which should mean a faster response time. Sony also kept the IP68 waterproofing — a nice feature that's become common on many smartphones. Much like Apple and Google, though, Sony has ditched the headphone jack. Earphones will need to be USB-C or have an adapter to work with the handset. Like other flagship phones this year, it's expected to have the Snapdragon 845 chip.

The XZ was $700 when it was released in September 2016. By November, we had already seen it drop to $500, which was about a 29% drop. The next price drop came in March 2017, when the phone was discounted 39% to $430. If the trend continues for the XZ2, we expect the first deals to appear in May, but better deals should pop up around September.

When's the Best Time to Buy a Phone?

The best time of year to upgrade your phone is easy to figure out — if you're loyal to one brand. Manufacturers stick to their own timetables, as well as their own deals, as detailed above. By now, it's safe to say Samsung will release its newest Galaxy between February and April, and Apple will drop a new iPhone (or three) every September.

It's safe to say Samsung will release its newest Galaxy between February and April, and Apple will drop a new iPhone (or three) every September.

But what if you aren't married to a particular lineup? If you're interested in the latest models, it's a good idea to hold off on upgrading until you know what the year will bring. Both the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January and MWC in February tend to highlight at least some of the popular models for the upcoming year. Additionally, November and December can be a great time to snag excellent deals on new handsets. Even if a new model isn't released until the fourth quarter, manufacturers don't want to miss out on the Black Friday hype.

What Deals Can You Get on Older Handsets?

What if you don't want to buy a 2018 smartphone, but still want a big-name handset released within the past year or two? Here's the lowdown on deals for those models.

  • Apple iPhone X: Sales have been lower than anticipated for this phone, and we haven't seen any deals on it yet this year. With any luck, we might see a modest discount — no higher than 10% — this summer.

  • Apple iPhone 8: The best deals we've seen have included discounts around payment plans, or bundled with gift cards. We've seen the phone drop to $670 recently, but we're expecting closer to a 40% discount by the summer. That would put the iPhone 8 around a $420 starting price.

  • Apple iPhone 7: Refurbished models are most common now. Lately, they've fallen as low as $276, which might be the lowest we see them go.

  • Samsung Galaxy S8: The best deal we've seen was from Samsung in July, when the handset dropped to $479. We also saw the S8+ drop to $500 in November. Similar deals could pop up in the next few months. However, refurbished models are also likely to become more prevalent now.

  • Google Pixel 2: It's still relatively new, so we haven't seen any serious price drops yet. However, we did see a deal this year with a 31% drop, which is still significant. Look for deeper discounts — or at least better bundles at full price — around April or the beginning of summer, and also around Black Friday.

  • Google Pixel: Unlocked models are still pricey, and are only discounted by about 27% to around $560 for the Pixel XL. Still, we've seen the Pixel for as little as $400. What's more, we recently saw refurbished models go for as little as $218.

Readers, what phone models are you looking forward to this year? When do you plan to upgrade your current handset? Let us know in the comments below.


Staff Writer

Julie joined DealNews in 2015, after many years of becoming well-versed in technology issues as a communications professional for a software company. She first entered journalism in college, reporting on issues facing frugal students for CollegeCandy.com. Julie lives in DealNews' hometown of Huntsville, AL.
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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1 comment
Twig
My wife got an iPhone X the day it came out, then spent the time since then running back and forth between the Apple store and Verizon stores trying to correct poor call quality. Apple and Verizon were very cooperative and displayed great customer service and patience. 3 iPhone X replacements, 4 SIM cards and hours on the phone and at the Apple Store couldn't correct the issue.

We found a deal on a new Galaxy 9 at Costco. It solved everything and she is comfortable configuring the Android to her taste.

Now when she makes a call friends take note and comment that she's coming through like gangbusters.

She maintains the X was a great hand-held device but not a good phone.

So wait for a deal.