Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about ourreview process here.We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.Our Top Picks
"Amazon focuses its efforts on cheaper handsets that appeal to a mass audience of people that are on a budget."
"An authorized reseller for major US carriers."
"A go-to spot to find affordable and budget-friendly smartphones and basic cell phones."
"It sells a variety of higher-end options that people are most likely to want."
"If you're an iPhone fan, it's the place to be."
"An online marketplace that resells used devices."
"Ask the salespeople if there's an opportunity for you to take advantage of cheaper pricing."
"Ranks shopping experiences among both major carriers and smaller, prepaid wireless carriers."
The best places to buy a phone from should make the process easy, offer good deals and upgrades. You know you are shopping in a marketplace you can trust when you find affordable phones matched with great customer experiences.
First, go into the retailer (in-person or online) with an idea of what you are looking for in your new device. If you prefer a previously used model, check out an online store like Gazelle at buy.gazelle.com. In need of a new iPhone? Try purchasing directly from Apple at apple.com! You have many options to choose between when it comes to good quality products and customer service.
Research the smartphone model you want, then go to one of the best places to buy phones to make your purchase!
AmazonAmazonBuy on Amazon
Interestingly, Amazon doesn't have an exhaustive collection of any smartphone under the sun. Granted, the site does allow for you to find a slew of phones from companies like LG, Asus, and even several Chinese vendors, but if you're on the lookout for a brand-new iPhone or Samsung Galaxy device, Amazon is sometimes a little late to the game.
Instead, Amazon focuses its efforts on cheaper handsets that appeal to a mass audience of people that are on a budget and don't like the idea of spending $1,000 on a new smartphone. And since most devices come with free shipping, you can quickly get your hands on a new phone from the company when you order online.
But if you're looking for nice and affordable smartphones, Amazon is well worth a look.The 9 Best Budget Smartphones for Under $300 in 2021
Best BuyBest BuyBuy on Best Buy
Best Buy is a great option if you want to either buy a new smartphone online or in stores. You can even request a new smartphone from the online store, have it set aside in your local Best Buy brick-and-mortar and pick it up the same day.
Best Buy has an outstanding selection of smartphones and cell phones, including both budget phones and today's highest-end handsets. Better yet, it's an authorized reseller for major US carriers, so if you want to sign up for a new Verizon or AT&T account, for instance, you can do it at Best Buy without ever needing to go head to a carrier location.
Best Buy's on-site staff is knowledgeable, the company gets new smartphones on the days they launch, and it often offers sales.The 9 Best Verizon Phones of 2021
WalmartWalmartBuy on Walmart
Walmart bridges the gap between Best Buy and Amazon.
Similar to Amazon, Walmart is a go-to spot to find affordable and budget-friendly smartphones and basic cell phones. But it also sells devices that are brand new and at the higher end of the spectrum, like Apple's iPhones and Samsung's Galaxy smartphones. And since Walmart has some leverage in its negotiations with smartphone makers, you'll often find that its devices are available at a slight discount compared to some of the competition.
Aside from that, Walmart is a top choice for convenience, since the company has both an online presence and the ability to buy its phones at brick-and-mortar locations. And since its stores are in so many locations, it shouldn't be difficult to find what you want, when you want.
AppleAppleBuy on Apple
To be clear, Apple's online and brick-and-mortar stores aren't right for everyone. If you're someone who wants to buy an Android phone, for instance, going to the Apple Store will prove to be an entire waste of time. But if you're an iPhone fan, it's the place to be.
Apple has one of the best retail experiences in this roundup. Its stores are well-designed, its staff is extremely knowledgeable, and if you want to get your iPhone fixed, going to the Apple Store is your best bet.
If you decide to buy a new iPhone on launch day, Apple's stores have the most inventory and are the most likely to have the unit you want. Add that to an outstanding online store that ships quickly and cheaply, and Apple is to choose if you're team iPhone.
GazelleGazelleBuy on Gazelle.com
If you really don't want to spend much on a new smartphone but realize that it's time to get something new, take a look at Gazelle.
Gazelle is an online marketplace that resells used devices. So, let's say you want to buy a new iPhone. Instead of buying it new at full price, you can go to Gazelle and get a smartphone that was turned in by someone else. Gazelle ensures that the smartphone is working well and assigns a price to it based on its condition and overall value. Best of all, you can use Gazelle to get the latest and greatest smartphones, including iPhones and Android devices, without ever needing to wait weeks or months for new launches to come down in price.
Gazelle is one of many similar used phone sales companies. But it's a worthwhile option for anyone seeking a good deal on ever-expensive smartphones.
Any Major Wireless Carrier StoreGetty ImagesBuy on Att.comBuy on T-mobile.comBuy on Verizonwireless.com
Although not all major wireless carriers — AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint — offer the same slate of devices or have the same plans, they generally deliver a standard shopping experience.
When you walk into a carrier store, you can, in most cases, toss out any chance of getting a great deal on a new smartphone. But you can expect the carriers to offer you a variety of ways to buy the handset, including full price or via monthly installments. And if you're a new customer, you can ask the salespeople if there's an opportunity for you to take advantage of cheaper pricing by signing up for a new line.
Carriers are increasingly expanding their product lines, so you could also go to the location to buy accessories. And just in case you don't want to go to a store, all four of the major carriers offer outstanding online marketplaces that help you quickly buy your latest and greatest smartphone.
Any Prepaid Wireless Carrier StoreGetty ImagesBuy on Boost MobileBuy on Cricketwireless.com
In an interesting twist, each year, J.D. Power ranks shopping experiences among both major carriers and smaller, prepaid wireless carriers. And each year, at least some of those carriers, like Boost Mobile, Cricket Wireless, and others, outrank their larger counterparts.
Considering that, going to a prepaid wireless carrier to buy a new phone might be the way to go.
Prepaid carriers generally offer solid prices on their plans and offer far more flexibility in how you want to structure your deals than major carriers. And although prepaid carriers generally have a larger stock of cheap smartphones, if you want a new iPhone or top-notch Android device, you can go to a prepaid carrier and get what you want.
Be aware, however, that prepaid carriers rely on major carrier networks to deliver their service. So be sure to check which major carriers prepaid companies are relying on to see if you have good coverage in your area.
B&H Photo VideoB&H.Buy on B&H Photo Video
While you might not assume a retailer with a name like B&H Photo Video would have phones, they actually have a significant mobile section. The retailer focuses on unlocked cell phones along with cell phone accessories, and it includes many top devices like the Google Pixel 4 XL, Sony Xperia 1, ZTE Axon 10 Pro, and others. The focus on unlocked devices, means you can rest assured that if you buy a phone from B&H, it'll work on your GSM carrier.
The deals are nothing to scoff at either. B&H offers significant discounts on many midrange devices, letting you save quite a bit of cash compared to the prices of top-tier flagships. That said, their selection for higher-end phones isn't the biggest, so if you're only keen on the latest flagships, you may want to look elsewhere.
What is the best place to buy unlocked cell phones? Amazon is one of the best sources if you're looking for unlocked cell phones. Most major manufacturers have unlocked models of their devices, meaning you can use the phone on all major U.S. carriers like AT&T, T-Mobile/Sprint, and Verizon. Amazon has a wide range of flagship devices, mid-range, and budget devices which are available unlocked. Buying them allows you to use your own SIM card and service of your choice.
What is the best place to buy used cell phones? eBay is a good source for buying used phones. If you're on a tight budget and don't need the latest and greatest, a used phone is a good way to save some money. On eBay you can find many used phones being sold. Sellers have to upload photos and should also list the condition the device is in. Other options for used phones include Swappa, Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, and pawn shops.
What is the best place to buy cell phone insurance? If you want to keep your phone protected from drops, damage, and theft, a cell phone insurance plan can give you some peace of mind. Our roundup of the best cell phone insurance providers has a good list of options for people with multiple devices, people on a budget, families, and more. Some credit cards also offer phone insurance, so that's something you may want to check with your provider.