The Best Places to Buy Phones in 2023

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

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The best places to buy a phone should make the process easy and 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.

Best For In-Person Pickup: Best Buy

Best Buy
Best Buy

Best Buy is an excellent option for buying 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 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 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.

Best For Budget Shoppers: Amazon

Amazon
Amazon

Amazon focuses on cheaper handsets that appeal to a mass audience of people on a budget who don’t like 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.

Interestingly, Amazon doesn’t have an exhaustive smartphone collection under the sun. Granted, the site allows you to find a slew of phones from companies like LG, Asus, and even several Chinese vendors, but if you’re looking for a brand-new iPhone or Samsung Galaxy device, Amazon is sometimes a little late to the game.

But if you’re looking for affordable smartphones, Amazon is well worth a look.

Best For Variety: Walmart

Walmart
Walmart

Walmart bridges the gap between Best Buy and Amazon.

Like Amazon, Walmart is a go-to spot to find affordable, budget-friendly smartphones and basic cell phones. But it also sells brand new devices 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 brick-and-mortar locations. And since its stores are in so many places, it shouldn’t be difficult to find what you want, when you want.

Best For iPhones: Apple

Apple
Apple

The Apple Store is the place to be if you’re an iPhone fan.

Apple has one of the best retail experiences in this roundup. Its stores are well-designed, its staff is highly knowledgeable, and if you want to get your iPhone fixed, going to the Apple Store is your best bet.

If you 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.

Best For Used Models: Gazelle

Gazelle
Gazelle

If you don’t want to spend much on a new smartphone but realize 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, you can go to Gazelle and get a smartphone turned in by someone else. Gazelle ensures that the smartphone works well and assigns a price 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.

Best For Trade-Ins: Major Wireless Carriers

Cell phones
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Although not all major wireless carriers—AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile—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 paying upfront or via monthly installments. And if you’re a new customer, you can ask the salespeople if there’s an opportunity 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 major carriers offer outstanding online marketplaces that help you quickly buy your latest and greatest smartphone.

Best For Prepaid: Prepaid Wireless Stores

Cell phones
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J.D. Power ranks shopping experiences yearly among major carriers and smaller, prepaid wireless carriers. And each year, some, 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 far more flexibility in how you structure your deals than major carriers. And although prepaid carriers typically have a more extensive 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 depend on to see if you have good coverage in your area.

FAQ
  • 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.

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