Best iPhone Deals (2023): Carrier Deals, Unlocked iPhones

Finding a deal on an iPhone can be tricky. Apple rarely slashes prices on its hardware like other brands. But that doesn’t mean they’re non-existent. With Black Friday around the corner, carriers are offering some steep discounts on iPhones, though you have to jump through some hoops to nab them. We’ve listed them here in case you’re on the hunt for an upgrade.

Be sure to check out our Best iPhone guide to see which model is right for you, and if you’re shopping the new iPhone 15 range, we’ve got a breakdown of all the models here. (Remember to snag a case!)

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Unlocked vs. Locked

Before we jump into the deals, it’s crucial to understand the differences between unlocked and locked iPhones before making a purchase.

An unlocked iPhone is not tied to any specific telecom carrier. This gives you the freedom to choose any service provider and the flexibility to switch as you please, often without extra charges. A locked iPhone, by contrast, is typically bound to a carrier through the term of the contract or until paid off, restricting the device to one network. This is why we recommend you buy your phone unlocked, but it’s harder to find price cuts on those models. You can ask your carrier to unlock your iPhone but it’s not the most seamless process.

Deals on Unlocked iPhones

If you’re looking for an unlocked iPhone, your best bet is usually to purchase it directly from Apple. However, these are rarely on sale. Apple has dropped prices on older models by $100 (the iPhone 14 now starts at $699, for example, and the iPhone 14 Plus at $799), but they’re not exactly deals. You can thankfully find some sales at big box retailers such as Best Buy.

If you want, you can activate your AT&T, T-Mobile, or Verizon service directly through Apple when purchasing your new phone. Apple says it will come unlocked, except “when you buy an iPhone with an AT&T Installment Plan. It will be locked to AT&T and will only work on the AT&T network for the term of your Installment Plan agreement.”

Here are a few unlocked iPhone deals we’ve found:

This deal lets you activate the device in your own time for a $50 discount. If you have Verizon, Google Fi, or AT&T, you can activate it immediately through Best Buy for a deeper discount of $730 ($70 off). This iPhone has a big screen and excellent battery life. We have more details about it in our guide on choosing an iPhone 14 model.

This is the same deal as the iPhone 14 Plus above, so you can activate it later on the network of your choosing. You can also get an unlocked model if you activate it at Best Buy for even less ($630), but only if you have Verizon, Google Fi, or AT&T. Our iPhone 14 review has more information, and be sure to read our Best iPhone 14 Cases guide for accessories.

Deals on Unlocked Pre-Owned iPhones

If you’re open to buying a used iPhone (it’s better for the environment!), here are a few sales from Amazon’s Renewed Store. These are discounted, but make sure you check other sites like Swappa and Gazelle to see if you’re getting the best bang for your buck.

Deals on Network-Locked iPhones

Despite our recommendation to opt for an unlocked phone, you may still want to purchase through a network carrier due to the various promotions and payment plans they offer. Note that these usually require you to opt-in to a contract and any discount usually comes in the form of monthly bill credits. You usually have to open a new line.

Many carriers also require the trade-in of an eligible device—the definition of which varies depending on the phone you’re looking to get and the carrier of choice and is subject to change at any time. For AT&T, for example, the trade-in phone must be “in good working condition” and sent within 30 days of activating your plan to get an iPhone 15. This trade-in can include everything from iPhone models 12 or newer to various Samsung Galaxy models, the Google Pixel 6 Pro, Google Pixel 7, and Google Pixel 7 Pro, as well as the OnePlus 10 Pro. Check the offer details or additional terms on each carrier’s iPhone product page for the full list of eligible trade-in devices.

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