Black Friday 2015: Expect Sticker Shock When Shopping for Smartphones

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Say goodbye to most subsidies and offers of free devices. Merchants are selling with a whole new set of rules.

A whole new world of smartphone pricing awaits Black Friday shoppers, predicts Look for discounts on wireless service plans while you face sticker shock over the cost of devices.

The days of subsidized smartphones are pretty much over, says the bargain-scouring site and Money Talks News partner.

Shoppers are expected to pay the full price of smartphones upfront or in installments over a year or two, DealNews says. Gone are high-end phones for free or just $99.

“The smartphone landscape hasn’t just changed; we’re on a whole new planet!” it says.

One possible exception: AT&T is the only carrier DealNews says still offers subsidies to new and existing customers. It might offer free phones to fend off competition from fast-rising T-Mobile.

Otherwise, be prepared to pay $650 for an entry-level Apple 6s with 16 GB memory.

Look for discounts on Android flagship phones, DealNews says. A $650 Samsung Galaxy could come down 26 percent, the expected average Android discount, to $480. A wireless carrier may offer to let you spread payments out for two years by locking you into a service contract.

To save money, you don’t have to buy the top-of-the-line smartphone. Cheaper Android phones have been getting great reviews recently, DealNews says. The well-reviewed Moto G Smartphone, for example, starts at only $179.99.

Each wireless carrier is looking for ways to keep you on its service longer, because you can take an unlocked smartphone to any competitor, DealNews says. So look for rebates, offers that waive payments for up to six months or freebies such as Google Play Store credits or six-month subscriptions to Hulu, Netflix, or Google Play Music. However, these may not apply to your account until after you’ve been with your mobile network for six months.

If you don’t like what you see as a Black Friday bargain, DealNews says, don’t worry. It expects merchants to follow last year’s trends and step in with more deals throughout the holiday season.

As Black Friday approaches, follow these tips to save top dollar:

  • We’ll offer more information on specific stores for the best deals. So if you’re not already getting our updates, subscribe now.
  • Remember when shopping online to always start with a rebate site. They can automatically earn you 3 to 15 percent. Our favorite is Ebates. Click the link, create a free account, get money back whenever you buy online.
  • Meanwhile, Amazon is already rolling out its Black Friday deals on a daily basis. Click here to explore.

What’s your plan for shopping on and around Black Friday? Share with us in comments or on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson

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