If you've been thinking about upgrading your smartphone this year, you may well be waiting for Black Friday to pick up a bargain. And you'd be right to do so - but you still need to be savvy about your purchase. In this article, we take a look at all the elements of Black Friday sales and show you how to make sure you genuinely get the best deal on a new phone.
When is Black Friday?
Black Friday will take place on 26 November, followed by Cyber Monday on Monday 29 November.
When do Black Friday phone deals begin?
While some deals will be reserved for the big day itself, many deals will be available throughout November.
Are Black Friday phone offers worth it?
Over the past few years, people have become a bit wary of Black Friday deals. It's understandable considering it used to be a small number of crazy deals and is now often thousands of products that are reduced in varying amounts.
Naturally, products that have been around for a few months or more will be reduced anyway. However, a trick that some retailers do is to bump phones back up to the original price before Black Friday to then make it appear that a price cut is bigger. For example, a phone with an original price of GBP999/£999 that's typically being sold at GBP899/£899 would be a discount of 10% but a Black Friday deal at GBP799/£799 might be touted as 20% off - even though that's compared to the original price.
It's still a lower price, but doesn't factor in the typical selling price. Some retailers may even quote a higher RRP than the official store so be careful.
How to shop for Black Friday phone savings
One of the top things we recommend you do is you try and choose a phone before looking at deals - we have a selection in our best phone chart. This means you can simply go around the retailers and see who has the best price for that make and model.
If you're not sure, then try to filter the results down so there are fewer devices to choose between. For starters, you might want to decide your rough budget, so you'll know if you're looking to spend less on a mid-range or budget phone. There's also the obvious question of whether you want an iPhone or an Android handset.
Beyond that, you might want to start about the features you care about the most. Do you prioritise battery life, or a powerful processor? Camera specs, or lightning-fast charging?
Or is a smooth software experience your number one? Think about those factors ahead of time, and do a bit of research to draw up a shortlist of phones that might suit your needs. Another method can be to simply look for the ones with the biggest discounts - either in GBP or % - to see what are the biggest deals.
Some retailers even allow you to order results by the amount of discount. Regardless of what phone you're looking at, always check prices elsewhere for the same model. You might find it for less at a rival or there might be a freebie thrown in, or a longer warranty.
You should also decide if you're hoping to buy your new phone outright and SIM-free, or if you'd rather pick it up on contract from a network/carrier. If nothing else, that will change which stores you should be looking at for deals. There are tools you can use to check whether a deal is 'real' or not such as CamelCamelCamel, which works for Amazon listings.
You can also install the Honey plug-in to your browser which will not only attempt to find discount codes but can also show the price trend over time to see if it's a good deal or not. Better yet, we are always searching for the best phone deals throughout the year and especially in November, with more focussed guides on the best mid-range phone deals and best budget phone deals. Our expert team knows what the best deals are and we're often notified by manufacturers and retailers so you know you're not looking at any rubbish offers.
If you do find a deal that looks perfect then snap it up. The best ones will sell out quickly so you might miss out if you're not fast.
Where will you find the best smartphone deals?
In the UK you'll find some of the best phone deals from major retailers such as John Lewis, Currys, AO, Very, and, of course, Amazon. If you want a contract, then in addition to the obvious options like EE, O2, Vodafone, and Three, make sure to look at the likes of Smarty, Giffgaff, and Voxi.
If you're in the US, check Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy, Newegg and Target. There are also deals to be had on eBay. Then remember the usual networks: AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon, plus smaller options like Mint or Metro.
Don't forget to check the official manufacturer store, where they might even price match rivals. Look to the likes of Samsung, Sony, OnePlus, and Xiaomi. Apple might do a Black Friday coupon, but don't expect any direct discounts.
What kind of phone discounts can you expect?
Phones have always been a big part of Black Friday. They are often the main tech purchase consumers are looking to buy in the sales.
In previous years we've seen a wide range of deals on smartphones, some unbelievable and some the same but for the wrong reasons. Bear in mind that some of the biggest discounts will be on the most expensive models, meaning they might still cost more than a thousand. However, you should still expect to save hundreds on the majority of handsets and Black Friday deals are not limited to the flagship phones.
You will see deals on budget phones as well, but they are likely to be tens of pounds considering their already cheap price. It might still be a good deal, but the saving won't be a similar value to premium models. Some of the best deals may be saved for 26 November, but if you've seen a great price on a model you like then our advice is to get it and avoid disappointment.
As we get closer to the date, we'll be bringing together the best Black Friday tech deals in our handy guide, which is a good resource to bookmark.
Best early Black Friday phone deals
3. Samsung Galaxy S21+ (8GB RAM, 128GB)
Now: GBP759.21 (GBP189.79 off)
The middle entry in Samsung's S21 flagship phone line is available with a sizeable discount on Amazon.
This deal is for the 6.7in display-toting Galaxy S21+, with 128GB of storage.
Discount various by colour, check before purchase.
9. Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra (12GB, 256GB - Refurbished)
Now: GBP694 (GBP485 off)
The productivity beast that is the Exynos 990-powered Galaxy Note 20 Ultra boasts the lowest-latency S Pen experience to date, along with a 108Mp-led triple camera and enjoys a tidy Amazon price reduction if you're happy to buy a refurbished model.