Best Cell Phone Deals of July 2021

We compared the best cell phone deals this month to create a list of the best trade-in, upgrade, and other carrier deals for mobile phones.
  • Best AT&T Deal

    Up to $800 off select flagship devices with trade-in

  • Best T-Mobile Deal

    Up to $830 off select smartphones with trade-in

  • Best Verizon Deal

    Up to $700 off select phones + $300 Mastercard with trade-in

  • Best Visible Wireless Deal

    Free Nimble charger + $50 Mastercard for new customers

  • Best Mint Mobile Deal

    $50 off Google Pixel 5 when bought with new 12-month contract

We’ve scoured the internet and looked at all the major carriers to find the very best cell phone deals for July 2021.

It wasn’t easy, but we narrowed it down to just five great cell phone deals: three deals from the big three carriers and two deals from smaller companies.

This month we see awesome deals on flagship devices from Samsung and Apple, as well as some discounts on the Google Pixel. We’re especially excited about T-Mobile’s free iPhone deal. (In fact, we’ve been pretty impressed with T-Mobile overall recently.)

Best cell phone deals of July 2021

Best AT&T cell phone deal: Up to $800 off Samsung Galaxy S21 5G with trade-in

Get a top-shelf phone for a bottom-shelf price, plus great AT&T service

Pros

  • Save a boatload of money on flagship devices
  • Get great AT&T service

Cons

  • Have to trade-in your old phone
  • Must add or upgrade a line

It’s time to turn that outdated phone of yours into some cold, hard cash. Or at least some cold, hard credit towards a new phone. You can get up to $800 in bill credits for an iPhone 12, Samsung Galaxy S21, or other new device when you add a line and trade-in with AT&T.

Best T-Mobile cell phone deal: Free iPhone 12 with trade-in

Why pay for a phone when you can get one for free?

Pros

  • Trade-in can cover full iPhone 12 price
  • Amazing data speeds from T-Mobile

Cons

  • Must trade-in old device

T-Mobile gives you slightly more trade-in value than AT&T. In fact, you can get up $830, or enough to cover the entire cost of an iPhone 12! And you’ll want to upgrade to a 5G device like the iPhone 12 to take advantage of T-Mobile’s incredible 5G network.

Best Verizon cell phone deal: Up to $700 off + $300 Mastercard with trade-in

You can get up to $1,000 worth of deals if you switch to Verizon right now

Pros

  • Save money and get money at the same time
  • Get incredible coverage from Verizon

Cons

  • Must trade-in old device
  • Requires new line or plan upgrade

When you buy any iPhone 12 (standard, mini, Pro, Pro Max) and activate it on a qualifying Verizon unlimited data plan you can get up to $700 in trade-in credit. If you’re switching from another carrier, you can also score a $300 prepaid Mastercard and a Verizon Stream TV Device. That’s a lot of perks for switching to the best nationwide network.

Best Visible Wireless cell phone deal: $50 prepaid Mastercard + free Nimble fast-charging kit

Visible sweetens an already sweet deal with $50 off your next phone

Pros

  • Get some cash
  • Charge your phone quickly from anywhere
  • Enjoy cheap unlimited data

Cons

  • Must be new customer

If you’re switching to Visible Wireless to take advantage of the company’s $40 unlimited data plan, then you might need a Nimble portable charger to keep you going while you game, stream, scroll, and post all day long. You’ll get that charger, plus $50 off a new device, like the iPhone SE (2020).

Best Mint Mobile phone deal: Get $50 off new Pixel 5

Mint’s prices are already cheap, but now you can save an extra $50 on a new phone

Pros

  • Get $50 off a Pixel 5 or other device
  • Score a cheap data plan from Mint Mobile

Cons

  • Must purchase 12-month plan

Mint Mobile is one of our favorite MVNOs because it offers cheap, simple plans with a good amount of data. While $50 may not sound like much, you don’t have to trade in an old phone to get this deal, and you can save even more if you take advantage of the company’s refer-a-friend program!

Tips and tricks for finding the best cell phone deals

This is how to find cell phone deals like a pro

Here’s the golden rule of buying a new phone: never pay full price. There’s almost always a way to get the device you want with a discount, a BOGO deal, or some other promotional offer. Here’s what to look for when you’re shopping.

See if your carrier offers the latest phones for existing customers

Last year AT&T announced that it would start giving its existing customers some of the very same phone deals that it offers to new customers. Since then the other two major carriers—T-Mobile and Verizon—have followed suit.

Be sure to check your current carrier’s deals before running to a new company. It can help to actually call (so old fashioned) and tell a representative what you’re looking for (especially if you say you’re thinking of changing carriers!).

Look for refer-a-friend programs

You like your friends (most of the time) and you like saving money (all of the time), so why not put the two together? Many carriers—like Mint, Visible, and AT&T—will give you an account credit when you refer a friend.

While these account credits aren’t exactly phone deals, they do cut your monthly bill. Since many phones are bought on installments that you pay with your monthly bill, it’s basically the same thing.

Look for trade-in programs

Verizon is usually running some kind of incredible trade-in deal that will give you $800+ off your new device when you give up your old one. While not every carrier offers that kind of cash, most do have some sort of trade-in policy.

Remember, if you’re trading in an iPhone 6 with a busted screen, it’s going to be worth a lot less than a Samsung Galaxy S20+ that’s just a year old.

Consider switching carriers to get the new customer treatment

We talked about how some carriers are beginning to offer deals to existing customers. But this is the exception to the rule. In most cases, switching to a new carrier opens up a whole new world of phone deals.

Companies often save their best deals—like iPhone BOGO offers—for those who sign up for an unlimited data plan. Besides, switching to the right company can save you money and give you more data (depending on what plan you’re on now).

Factor free streaming subscriptions and other perks into the total savings

Cell phone companies like to throw in perks to get you to sign up for their plans. Some perks are boring, like 500 MB free data when you travel south of the border. But there are other perks that are, to be honest, freakin’ awesome.

AT&T will give you a free HBO Max subscription on certain plans. T-Mobile will hook you up with a Netflix plan. And Verizon plans often give you Disney+, Hulu, and other subscriptions! These may not be directly related to your phone purchase, but they sweeten the deal for sure.

Frequently asked questions about cell phone deals

Welcome to the FAQ section, where we answer all of your burning questions about love, life, and cell phones … well, mostly about cell phones actually.

When is the best time to look for cell phone deals?

It depends on what you want. It’s well known in the industry that Apple tends to unveil its new devices in September of each year, while Samsung usually sticks to a January release date. So, if you want a new iPhone or Galaxy phone, then those will be the times you’ll see a flurry of deals on new models.

You’ll also see a good amount of deals landing around Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and other holidays.

If you’re not interested in waiting for the right deal to land in your lap, then you can take the initiative by switching to a new carrier or adding a new line to your plan (to make it a family plan). Since pretty much every company has done away with restrictive contracts, it doesn’t really matter when you switch.

Should I switch to a different cell phone carrier to get a good deal on a cell phone?

The short answer is yes, unless you’re really happy with your current carrier.

Not only are the best deals usually saved for new customers, but many companies will also give you other incentives to “break up” with your current cell phone company. For example, T-Mobile will pay up to $650 for you to pay off your phone or phone bill with your old carrier when you switch over.

What are the best upgrade cell phone deals?

There is some incentive for folks to stay with their existing carrier. Most companies will offer upgrade deals every year or two. These deals can help you keep up with the latest models from Apple, Samsung, or Google, but they might not be as substantial as the deals for brand new customers.

If you think you should be eligible for an upgrade, give your carrier a call.

What are the best refer-a-friend cell phone deals?

Mint Mobile has one of the best referral deals around. You can get up to $240 of credit when you refer up to five friends. That’s enough credit to get you a full year on Mint’s 10 GB plan! Plus, each friend that you refer will get a $15 credit for themselves. Everyone wins.

Most companies have a referral program. So, if you’ve got friends looking for a new phone plan, be sure to ask your current carrier about their referral deals. You may be able to score some credit for a new phone or to help pay your bill.

What are the best cell phone trade-in deals?

That old iPhone 8 may seem totally worthless to you. But it could be worth a couple hundred bucks in the right context. Verizon Wireless probably has the most robust trade-in program, offering up to $800 (!) off a new iPhone 12.

Of course, trading in your old phone might not fetch as much as selling on your own using Facebook Marketplace.

What are the best smartphones?

There are several contenders for the best smartphone on the market. But after a lot of research and analysis, we’ve come up with three devices that clearly beat out the competition.

  • Best overall performance: The Samsung Galaxy S21+ quite simply has everything. The best camera, a lightning-fast processor, an insanely beautiful display, 5G capability, and pretty much everything else you could want.
  • Best overall value: If you want a phone that balances incredible performance with reasonable price, the iPhone 12 is the way to go. You’ll get the beautiful design and solid reliability of an Apple product for less than $1,000 factory price.
  • Best for budget: Google has snuck into the cell phone market in recent years with some phones that rival the performance of Apple and Samsung but cost half as much. The Pixel 4A is no different. You can get this surprisingly powerful phone for under $400.