Best mobile phone deals
Deals updated: 25 August 2020
Savvy shoppers know that buying a Sim-free phone outright will often save you money in the long term, compared with a mobile phone contract.
With new smartphones launching every week, and stiff competition between the biggest manufacturers, there are often great deals to be had on the most expensive handsets.
Flash sales may look like they're worth spending your money on, but with a few tricks such as choosing the right time of year and the right place to buy, you can save hundreds of pounds on your next phone.
We've done the heavy lifting for you – read on to see our expert picks, and tips on finding your own.
Best mobile phone deals this month
This month's bargain hunt has turned up a range of options, from flagship devices that have dropped in price, to lower-priced models that we think are a bit of a bargain. Read on for our pick of the best.
1. Apple iPhone 11 Pro & Pro Max
- £125 off original launch price of both devices
- Features Apple's new rear camera design
- Apple products are rarely discounted
- Some significant upgrades compared with the iPhone XS range
Apple smartphones are far from cheap, but with a discount of £125 off its original launch price, the 11 Pro is worth a second look. Its specs look good, and the similarly impressive-looking 6.5-inch 11 Pro Max (the supersized alternative to the 5.8-inch 11 Pro) is also discounted by the same amount. Read our full , and our .
2. Samsung Galaxy S10
- Large 6.1-inch Quad HD+ display
- Three rear cameras
- Price drop of 19% since launch in March 2019
Remember the S10? It fell into the shadow of the S20 after its launch earlier this year, but with a shiny new Galaxy smartphone taking the spotlight, there's now an opportunity to grab a deal on Samsung's 2019 flagship. It has a range of premium features including waterproofing, reverse wireless charging and a capacity of up to 1TB of external storage. Read our full for our expert verdict.
3. Google Pixel 4
- One of Google's flagship devices
- £200 off the original price
- Google if you don't want a smartphone with a massive display
Not long before the Google Pixel 5 is set to hit the shelves, last year’s flagship, the Pixel 4 is starting to come down in price. If you’ve been waiting to get your hands on Google’s handcrafted Android device, now is a good time. It’s doesn't pack as wide an array of lenses as other flagships, with two rear and two front cameras, but has a pretty big 5.7-inch Full HD+ display. Read our full to see how it scored.
4. Samsung Galaxy A21s
- 'Infinity-O' display gives you a full screen
- Large 5,000mAh battery
- Quad rear camera array
- Price drop of 17% since launch in June 2020
Although it only launched in June, the Samsung Galaxy A21s is already up for grabs at a discount. This model is an attractive choice for those looking to spend less than £200 on their next smartphone: it has a massive 6.5-inch display, four rear cameras and a 5,000mAh battery. Read our to see if it performs.
Where are the best sales on mobile phones?
Generally, you'll find the best deals on mobile phones at retailers such as Amazon, Currys PC World and John Lewis, rather than on the manufacturer's website.
When manufacturers do have offers on their devices, the discounts are usually reflected on retailer sites anyway. So you'll either get the same discount or better by shopping around rather than going direct.
Amazon mobile phone deals
Amazon has quickly become a great place to find mobile phone deals, and the Amazon Prime service means you can get faster delivery than you would with other retailers (available with a paid Amazon Prime subscription).
Be careful when shopping around, though. The Amazon marketplace often includes models from third-party sellers that may not come with the same after-sales support you might expect from Amazon. Check carefully to make sure the phone is brand new (unless you're open to refurbished or second-hand devices) and that it's a UK model – international variations of phones often make their way on to marketplaces, which could mean you'll have issues with support from the manufacturer in the UK.
Best practice is to buy mobile phones that are sold and dispatched by Amazon, as you benefit from Amazon's guarantee.
Argos mobile phone deals
As with most tech items, Argos is a good place to look for deals. Watch out for items marked as 'WOW' or 'Our lowest price ever' – these may sound promising, but aren't always the best price you can find.
Deals on Argos' website are available while stocks last, so be sure to double check if the phone is in fact available for collection or delivery when you choose to buy from there.
It's also worth checking the Argos eBay store, as you might be able to find stock there that isn't available on the official website, and the deals might be the same.
John Lewis mobile phone deals
As with Argos, deals at John Lewis are available while stocks last. So while you may see a discounted price in Google's search results, the mobile phone you're after might not be available once you're on the website.
The good news is that discounted mobile phones in major retailers such as John Lewis are easy to find in other stores, so if the one you want has sold out, check similar stockists such as Argos or Currys PC World to see if it's available.
John Lewis often has deals on its clearance sale page, so a few minutes of browsing there could save you money.
Currys PC World mobile phone deals
Currys PC World usually has mobile phones on sale, and is another important site to check if you're looking for the best deal. As well as checking its clearance sales, also browse through the full mobile phone listings, as we've seen good deals that don't appear in its curated round-up.
The website has a handy sort option where you can order the listing by the percentage discount, too.
Although retailers typically have the best deals on offer, there are exceptions to the rule.
Some brands will shave pounds off their devices exclusively on their sites, or offer bundles with free gifts (eg phone cases or smart watches) for direct purchase, so it doesn't hurt to check on the manufacturer site before hitting 'buy'.
The best time to find mobile phone deals
Although deals and discounts can vary year-round, generally you'll find the best time to buy a handset at a great price is a month or so after its successor has been released. The model you're after will almost always come down in price, despite being scarcely a year old.
Release dates are, of course, subject to change, and you should always do your research before buying, but you can expect new flagship handsets to be released at the following times of year:
- Apple iPhone September
- Google Pixel October
- OnePlus June
- Samsung Galaxy S April
Other popular handsets are less predictable than the ones listed above, so may need a little extra vigilance. If you're interested in further savings, you could consider avoiding new phones altogether and look at refurbished models instead. Buying refurbished can save you money on a phone that's in great condition, but always ensure the use mobile phone you're buying is still receiving security updates.
How to choose the best mobile phone deal
While Sim-free phones can often save you money in the long run, there's no getting away from the fact that they can be an expensive purchase, especially if you want a flagship model from one of the big brands.
If you're looking for an affordable option, it's worth considering a mid-range model. These phones have come on leaps and bounds over the past few years as technology has advanced, and many are more than capable of handling just about any task you throw at them.
Spending around £300-400 on a new phone, or less if you can find a good deal, can get you a slim, stylish and powerful model that may not look too different from a high-end cousin, especially if you're using a case to protect your phone.
We put every phone, budget or premium, through our rigorous tests to make sure you're getting the best for your money. We test everything from camera and battery performance to call quality.
Mobile phone brands worth paying for
Another way to save is to consider different brands. Despite an ocean of options, two players clearly dominate the smartphone market at the moment: Apple and Samsung. But a growing list of worthy competitors, including the likes of Oppo, Realme and Xiaomi, have joined more familiar brands such as Google, Huawei and OnePlus to challenge the duopoly.
And challenge they have. Every one of these brands has had at least one Best Buy in our tough mobile phone tests.
The numbers from rival brands are promising, if unpredictable. Motorola, a favourite with our members, has averaged a very respectable score of 66% in that timeframe – but it's also had a mixture of both Best Buys and Don't Buys. We could say the same of Sony, with its highest scorer an impressive 73%, but its lowest scorer mustering only 51% - not far from a Don't Buy. Take a look at the graphic below to learn more about how some of the most popular brands score in our tests:
Highest and lowest mobile phone brand test scores
It goes to show that there are plenty of excellent phones out there. But with such variation between different models, and price no indicator of quality, it's vital to do your research before you buy.
Read more about how smartphone brands fared in our mobile phone reliability survey.