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Black Friday 2016 smartphone predictions: Flagship Androids are finally affordable

If you're in the market for a new smartphone this holiday season, then Black Friday and the weeks after can be a boon.

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Maybe your screen is cracked, maybe your apps are running slow, or maybe you just need more battery life to level up in Pokemon Go. Whatever the reason, if you're in the market for a new smartphone this holiday season, then Black Friday and the weeks after can be a boon.

This year for our Black Friday predictions, we've created a "cheatsheet" with the top tips you need to know when shopping this season. For savvy consumers who want more information, scroll down for our in-depth analysis.

So what can you expect from Black Friday smartphone deals? Read on below! Then, consider signing up for the DealNews Select newsletter to keep track of the latest deals in your inbox, ordownload our app to have them at your fingertips.

The Cheat Sheet: Black Friday Phone Predictions

Prices to Expect

  • Motorola Moto G4 for $100; other budget Androids for $75
  • Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge or HTC One M10 for $300
  • LG G5 for $480
  • Fall releases — like the Motorola Moto G4 Play — see minimal discounts
  • iPhone 6s for $1

5 Quick Tips You Need to Know

  • The best deals happen on Black Friday or after. Don't buy in early November!
  • Don't wait for Cyber Monday — Black Friday has more deals.
  • Windows and Android phones have better budget options.
  • Best Buy is the place for iPhones, but be prepared to sign a 2-year contract.
  • Walmart is where it's at for cheap prepaid phones.

Want more details on how, what, where, and when to buy smartphones this Black Friday? Then check out our full analysis below.

When to Shop

Wait Until Black Friday Week (or Later)

The most important tip smartphone shoppers need this year is to practice patience! Phone prices will decline gradually in the weeks leading up to Black Friday, but many phones will drop in price sharply during the Black Friday rush. Last year we saw some models discounted by as much as 50% during Black Friday week, although 20% to 30% cuts were more typical.

Last year, Cyber Monday didn't really live up to its name where smartphones were concerned. Black Friday had a greater quantity of Editors' Choice phone deals.

There will be great deals throughout the season — a whopping 92% of the deals we listed on smartphones during last year's rush were Editors' Choice — but Cyber Monday didn't really live up to its name where smartphones were concerned. Although we saw some high-quality options on Cyber Monday, we saw a greater quantity of deals on Black Friday.

What's more, although some phones increased in price after Black Friday, others saw prices fall even further during December. Waiting to buy is a gamble, but it's one that might pay off.

What to Buy

Android Still Has the Price Advantage

If your budget is tight, you'll probably get more bang for your buck by looking at budget Android or Windows options. For example, the Motorola Moto G4 has been widely praised as an excellent budget phone, and we saw the 16GB version for $150 in July. We could see it close to $100 on Black Friday, which is a crazy price for a phone that smoothly runs Android Marshmallow.

Your options don't end with the Moto G4. The Huawei Honor 5X is another Android phone of similar quality and price. There's even the ZTE ZMax Pro, another Android Marshmallow handset that launched this summer at $100 to mostly positive reviews. As far as Windows phones go, we saw the well-reviewed Nokia Lumia 920 for $90 in June.

While these phones may not be perfect (you'll probably get better performance and battery life from a flagship smartphone), they're solid budget options for those who don't need a top-tier handset. Look for these phones to drop to $75 or lower.

Flagship Android Phones Could Get Cheaper This Year

Last year, we predicted that top-of-the-line Android phones would drop in price by 26%, from $650 to around $480. While we expect similar discounts this year, many of the flagship phones were released a little earlier in 2015 and will have received steeper discounts by the time the holiday season starts.

We wouldn't be surprised to see some flagship Android phones like the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge drop to $300 this Black Friday.

We already saw the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge for $570 in July, for example. By the time Black Friday hits, a $300 deal doesn't seem out of the question. The HTC One M10 was released in May and should also see strong discounts. More recent releases, like the LG G5, will likely ring up with deals more like last year's; expect to pay around $480 for this flagship model.

A few phones due out this fall will likely see only modest discounts for Black Friday. These releases include the Motorola Moto G4 Play and the iPhone 7.

Like iPhones? Choose a Carrier

Speaking of iPhones, fans should be ready to choose a carrier and stick with them. The best iPhone deals last year (all from Best Buy) required 2-year contracts with Sprint or Verizon. The most recent iPhones — the 6S and 6S Plus — were discounted by $100 with contract, while the older iPhone 6 16GB model was offered for $1 on contract. No-contract deals saw only modest discounts, in the range of 5% to 14% off. It's fair to expect the same this year, which puts the iPhone 7 at $99 with contract, and the iPhone 6s at $1.

Keep in mind that Apple recently updated the iPhone 6 and 6s to include 32GB of memory. So if you're buying, make sure to pay attention to what storage you're receiving; it's possible that these prices might only be available on older stock, which would have 16GB of memory.

If you're an Apple fan, but not happy with being tied down, your best bet is to keep an eye out for deals on refurbished phones. If last year's trends hold, the holiday season will likely see deals on the refurbished iPhone 6s for as low as $325.

For more info on Apple, check out our full Apple Black Friday predictions.

Where to Shop

It Depends on Phone Brand, Carrier, and Payment Plan

Apple fans should keep their eyes glued to Best Buy — they had all the best iPhone deals on new units last year. (Though, as mentioned earlier, you'll need to start up a contract with Sprint or Verizon to snag the best deals.) You'll want to pay particular attention during Black Friday week and continuing on until Christmas.

If you're looking for an unlocked Android, you're most likely to find it through Amazon or eBay. No particular timing tips here — these sorts of deals were found throughout the shopping season.

Walmart, meanwhile, was the place to go for prepaid and budget phones. Although they had deals on pricier handsets as well, they had a plethora of deals on smartphones priced under $50 during November and the first week of December.

This article first appeared in DealNews.

The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best personal finance bloggers out there. Our guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. To contact us about a blogger, click here. To add or view a comment on a guest blog, please go to the blogger's own site by clicking on the link in the blog description box above.

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