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The best smartphone deals right now

Look to these new years promotions on the latest iPhones, Androids, and more across major retailers.

For how essential smartphones are to our daily lives, when it's finally time to buy a new one, it's important to find a device that is both capable and reliable enough to last you for years down the road. 

While the holidays are done and dusted, the new year means there are plenty of new deals on the latest handsets, including that of Apple, Samsung, Google, and more that are worth your consideration. If you missed out on the initial wave of promotions, look to these remaining offers to save hundreds on some of the best smartphones. 

Best smartphone deals

Below, you'll find ZDNET's top picks for smartphone deals, including that of Google, Apple, Samsung, and more.

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Jason Hiner/ZDNET
  • Current price: $0
  • Original price: $800

If you typically buy your smartphones from the local carrier, it may be in your best interest to stick to the practice at the start of 2023. Right now, providers like AT&T are running promotions that will get you the latest iPhone 14 for free. There are some loopholes, of course, but they're less of a chore than you think. 

To get an iPhone 14 that's fully discounted, you'll need to trade in a suitable device and you'll also have to be under a qualifying Unlimited plan, which includes Premium, Extra, and Starter. The discount is applied in 36 monthly bill credits. 

  • Current price: $740
  • Original price: $1,060

You can currently save $320 on the new Samsung Galaxy Z Flip4. Available from Samsung, this smartphone comes in many flavors: locked to carriers including AT&T, Verizon, and US Cellular, or unlocked. Trading in an eligible device will net you the discount, or alternatively, you can go with a carrier for up to $800 in bill credits, substantially reducing the cost of the device. 

  • Current Price: $750
  • Original Price: $1,000

Ever since Samsung made the push for "Ultra" smartphones, the Plus model has been left in the dust but not entirely forgotten. That's because it mostly retains the big-phone features that come with the Ultra but in a more affordable, less polarizing form factor. I'd go as far as to say that the Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus is the sleeper pick for the best all-around smartphone last year. 

It has a generous 6.8-inch flat display that refreshes at 120Hz, a 50-megapixel main shooter that can capture videos as sharp as 8K, and is powered by Qualcomm's tried and tested Snapdragon 8 processor. Right now, Amazon has the phone discounted by $250, no strings attached. 

  • Current price: $709
  • Original price: $859

The iPhone 14 Pro was reviewed by ZDNET back in September. While Apple's latest handset dazzled with improved camera features and its most ambitious display feature yet: Dynamic Island, it didn't feel like a revelation compared to the iPhone 13 Pro. That said, if you were hoping to buy an iPhone for less, this $150 discount on the excellent iPhone 13 Pro is certainly worth the look. 

The phone is certified "refurbished" by Walmart, meaning it has been fully inspected and will look as good as new. Barring that, you can expect the same iOS 16 experience that one would get on the more-expensive iPhone 14 Pro and a more traditional notched display.

  • Current Price: $1,085
  • Original Price: $1,400

In the running for best smartphone of 2022, the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra, with its gorgeous 6.8-inch OLED display, up to 8K video recording, S Pen support, and a generous 5,000mAh battery, has proven to be the Korean giant's most complete handset yet. Amazon has the 512GB variant discounted by $315, putting the Galaxy right beside the latest iPhone 14 Pro with four times the storage capacity.

  • Current price: $200 (with activation)
  • Original price: $300

Over the last two years, OnePlus has carved up a new segment of smartphones that focuses on bringing value to cheaper price points -- and it's gotten really good at it. The Nord N20 5G is among the few nominees for best cheap 5G phone in 2022. The reasoning is actually pretty simple. For one, it has a sharp-looking 6.43-inch AMOLED display -- a rarity in this sub-$300 market. Then there's the 128GB of base storage, 4,500mAh battery, and 33W fast charging that laps that of Motorola and Samsung's low-mid range offerings. 

You can snag the OnePlus Nord N20 5G for as low as $200 right now.

Amazon smartphone deals

Here are some other smartphone deals available at Amazon:

Best Buy smartphone deals

Here are some other smartphone deals available at Best Buy:

Walmart smartphone deals

Here are some other smartphone deals available at Walmart:

How did we choose these smartphone deals?

When it comes to finding the best deal, part of the equation is looking for smartphones that users will actually enjoy using. By testing most of the handsets that hit the open market all year long, ZDNET's team of subject experts can offer the best advice on what to buy and what to avoid. 

The second part of the equation is determining whether or not a deal is real or not. In some cases, retailers will mark down a product knowing full well that it has been discounted for weeks and months before. In other cases, like the ones mentioned above, you're saving money on the products like never before. 

What is the difference between a cell phone and a smartphone?

You can call and send SMS text messages on traditional cell phones and smartphones. However, while the former is a portable, radio-based phone, the latter is more akin to a portable computer and provides the user access to the internet, mobile apps and software. In recent years, smartphones have evolved as smart home managers, personal health trackers, and devices able to access social media as well as financial services. 

Are smartphone cameras as good as a DSLR?

Smartphone cameras are improving every year. They are excellent for casual photography on the go and while traveling, but do they measure up to DSLRs?

The short answer is no. DSLRs have larger sensors and can capture more information. They also tend to do better in low-light or difficult conditions, whereas smartphones perform best in well-lit environments. 

However, one of the differences that should be noted is the use of AI algorithms and smart technologies to optimize images. Older DSLRs lack these functions. When it comes to imagery, smartphones are convenient, but DSLRs offer far more in terms of capture and editing, and so are better suited to professional photography.

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