Best smartphone deals in December 2022: Top iPhone and Android sales

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 Black Friday and Cyber Monday are done and dusted, there are still plenty of 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 holiday smartphone deals

Below, you’ll find my top picks for holiday smartphone deals, including that of Google, Apple, Samsung, and more.

  • Current Price: $750
  • Original Price: $900

It’s year two of Google’s redesigned Pixel line and things have never looked better. From ZDNET’s testing, the flagship Pixel 7 Pro exceeded our expectations with a new and improved Tensor G2 processor, a camera configuration that bests Samsung’s, and a generous suite of practical, user-first software features.

The Pixel 7 Pro was always undercutting industry flagships at $900, but for a very limited time, you can still snag the latest Google phone for just $750 ($150 off). 

If you typically buy your smartphones from the local carrier, it may be in your best interest to stick to it over the holiday season. 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: $714
  • 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 this 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 Gen 1 processor. Right now, Amazon has the phone discounted by $286, no strings attached. 

  • Current price: $735
  • Original price: $1,000

The iPhone 14 Pro was reviewed by ZDNET back in September, and 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 from the year before. That said, if you were hoping to buy an iPhone for less going into the holidays, this $265 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: $600
  • Original Price: $700

Google’s Pixel 7 is not as flashy as its Pro sibling but, in many ways, the smaller Pixel is actually superior to the more-premium counterpart. Aspects like the flat-edged display, the similarly-sized battery capacity, and the fact that you’re getting all the software perks of the Pro variant for a cheaper price make the standard Pixel 7 one of the best great-value pickups still available during the holiday season.

The Pixel 7 right now is on sale for $600, a $100 mark-down from the retail cost of the 256GB model. 

  • Current Price: $1089
  • Original Price: $1400

In the running for best smartphone of the year, 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 $311, putting the Galaxy right beside the latest iPhone 14 Pro with four times the storage capacity.

  • Current price: $230 (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, released earlier this year, 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 $230 right now.

Amazon holiday smartphone deals

Here are some other holiday smartphone deals still available at Amazon:

Best Buy holiday smartphone deals

Here are some other holiday smartphone deals still available at Best Buy:

Walmart holiday smartphone deals

Here are some other holiday smartphone deals still available at Walmart:

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. 

You can call and send SMS text messages on traditional cellphones 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. 

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.

ZDNET scoured holiday sales to find the best deals this year:

Our experts split out the best deals by retailer, brand, and category, which you can see below.

Holiday deals by retailer

Holiday deals by brand

Holiday deals by category

Here are some of the cheapest deals we found:

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