The 8 Best Places to Buy Phones in 2018

Stores making this list excel at price, selection, quality and customer service

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Smartphones and basic cell phones aren’t going anywhere. And as millions of people around the world pick up new handsets every year, they’re constantly looking for the best deals — and the best retailers — to find the phones they want.

But as anyone who shops for today’s tech can attest, not all retailers deliver the outstanding phone-buying experience they’d expect. And for every solid buying experience with people who are knowledgeable about cell phones and smartphones, there are countless others that fall short.

Of course, some of the biggest names in tech are among the best options. Amazon, Best Buy, and Apple all offer distinct but appealing options for buying smartphones. And just in case you’re in the market for a cheaper device, going with something like Gazelle or even a prepaid wireless carrier store could be a fine solution.

Ultimately, companies both online and offline offer something for anyone hoping to buy a basic cell phone or smartphone. And unless you know where to look — and why — you might not know for sure what’s really the best retailer for you.

So, read on through our following roundup to identify outstanding phone retailers. They all offer something appealing and unique and will go a long way in helping you to decide which marketplace is right for you.

Amazon

Amazon

Courtesy of 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 its devices come with free shipping on Amazon Prime, among other perks, 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.

Best Buy

Best Buy

Courtesy of Best Buy

Best Buy is a great option if you want to either buy a new smartphone online or in stores. Better yet, 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 U.S. 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.

Walmart

Walmart

Courtesy of 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.

Target

Target

Courtesy of Getty Images

Target is another popular retailer when it comes to buying phones. The company has a slew of stores across the U.S. to find phones and it sells a variety of higher-end options that people are most likely to want. That said, Target doesn’t necessarily have the same selection as you’d find on Amazon or at Walmart. It does, however, have the phones you’ll be most interested in.

You can go to Target and buy new phones that would work on a variety of major U.S. carriers. There are also some options for prepaid carriers. Generally speaking, Target offers all the prices you’d expect on smartphones. It does, however, run some weekly deals and Black Friday specials that bring prices down considerably and make for a far more appealing buying experience.

Apple

Apple

Courtesy of 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 choice if you’re team iPhone.

Gazelle

Gazelle

Courtesy of Gazelle

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 Store

Cell phones

Getty Images

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 Store

Cell phones

Courtesy of Getty Images

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.