The best free phone deals of 2021

Joe Supan

Jan 14, 2021 — 7 min read

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As smartphones evolve into more powerful devices, they are also becoming more expensive. The good news is that although some smartphones are nearing $2,000 price tags, there are deals around that let you get your hands on a top-of-the-line cellphone for free.

So, how can you get a free phone?

All the leading mobile carriers offer deals on free cell phones on a regular basis. But these deals usually come with some strings attached, like the requirement to trade-in an older phone, switch from a competitor’s service or sign up for a specific unlimited data plan.

And while carriers have pretty much done away with the contracts they used to get you to sign to grab one of their free phone deals, they still have ways to keep you tied to them for the next year or two. In most cases, the free phones aren’t simply given to you. Instead the carriers give you a bill credit that’s spread out over 24 to 30 months. If you cancel service before the end date, you are responsible for paying off the remaining balance.

Below you can find some of the best deals currently out there and learn how to get a free phone. If you need something more specific, we’ve also researched phone deals from the following carriers:

Note that we’ve only included the deals for one free phone. Carriers also frequently offer buy one, get one free offers on the newest and most expensive models like the iPhone 12 or the Samsung Galaxy S20.

The best free phone deals of 2021

U.S. Cellular: Apple iPhone 12

  • Retail price: $800
  • Requires a new postpaid line, port-in and credit approval
  • No trade-in required
  • $830 promo credit applied over 30 months

Surprisingly, the very best free phone deal isn’t from one of the “big three” carriers. U.S. Cellular is currently offering a free iPhone 12 with almost no strings attached. You’ll just have to open a new postpaid line with U.S. Cellular. These start at $60/mo. for unlimited data. But unlike many of the free phone deals on this page, you won’t have to worry about trading in your old device. 

So far, the iPhone 12 has earned rave reviews from users. CNET called it “one of our highest rated phones of all time,” commending it for its impressive camera, sleek design and lightning-fast processor. Best of all, it’s the first iPhone that is compatible with 5G, so you can connect to the fastest wireless network available wherever you go.

Learn more about U.S. Cellular’s iPhone 12 deal

T-Mobile: Apple iPhone 12

  • Retail price: $800
  • Must activate a new line of service on an eligible unlimited plan
  • Trade-in required
  • $830 promo credit applied over 24 months

If you want one of the hottest smartphones on the market, this deal from T-Mobile is one of the best ways to get a free iPhone 12. Like most free phone deals, you’ll have to open up a new line on an unlimited data plan. That means it’s only available to new customers who switch to T-Mobile. Additionally, you’ll have to trade in a newer phone to get it entirely free. 

There are different tiers for T-Mobile trade-ins. For the full $830 off, you’ll need to trade in an iPhone 11 Pro, iPhone 11 Pro Max, iPhone 11, iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, iPhone X or iPhone XR. You can still get $600 off if you have an iPhone 8 or iPhone 8 Plus, or $450 off for an iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 6S or iPhone 6S Plus.

Learn more about T-Mobile’s iPhone 12 deal

AT&T: Apple iPhone 12 mini

  • Retail price: $700
  • Must add a new line of service or upgrade an existing line
  • Requires trade-in of eligible phone
  • Free deal only applies to 64GB model

Right now, AT&T is offering $700 off all of the latest iPhone 12 models. That means the iPhone 12 mini is the only phone you can get completely free of charge, but you can also apply the $700 discount to the iPhone 12 ($800), iPhone 12 Pro ($1,000) or iPhone 12 Pro Max ($1,100). That said, you will need to trade in an eligible smartphone to take advantage of the full discount. If you have an older phone that’s not listed below, you may still qualify for a $350 credit. 

Here are the phones AT&T is accepting:

  • Apple: 8, 8 Plus, X, XR, XS, XS Max, 11, 11 Pro, 11 Pro Max, 12, 12 mini, 12 Pro, 12 Pro Max
  • Samsung: A71, A71 5G, Fold, Z Fold2 5G, Galaxy S9, Galaxy S9+, Galaxy S9+ Duos, Galaxy S10, Galaxy S10+, Galaxy S10 5G, Galaxy S10e, Galaxy S10 Lite, Galaxy S20, Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G, Galaxy S20+ 5G, Note9, Note10, Note10+, Note10+ 5G, Note20 5G, Note20 Ultra 5G, Z Flip 5G
  • Google: Pixel 4, Pixel 4 XL
  • LG: V50 ThinQ, V60 ThinQ 5G
  • OTHER: Asus Rog Phone2, moto razr, OnePlus 7 Pro 5G, OnePlus 7T, OnePlus 7T Pro 5G McLaren, OnePlus 8 5G, OnePlus 8 Pro

Unlike many free phone deals, this one is open to both new and existing AT&T customers. If you’re already with AT&T, you’ll have to upgrade your current phone plan to access this promotion. 

Learn more about AT&T’s iPhone 12 mini deal

AT&T: Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G

  • Retail price: $700
  • Must add a new line of service or upgrade an existing line
  • Requires trade-in of eligible phone
  • Free deal only applies to 128GB model

If you prefer the Android operating system to Apple’s, AT&T is offering the same $700 off discount on many of its most popular Samsung Galaxy phones, including the latest S20 FE 5G. All you need to do is open a new unlimited data line with AT&T, or upgrade an existing one if you’re already a customer. Additionally, you’ll have to trade-in an eligible smartphone to get the full $700 discount. (See the deal above for a complete list of phones that AT&T is accepting for trade-in.)

Learn more about AT&T’s Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G deal

U.S. Cellular: Google Pixel 5

  • Retail price: $700
  • Requires a new postpaid line, port-in and credit approval
  • No trade-in required
  • $830 promo credit applied over 30 months

The iPhone 12 isn’t the only new phone that debuted recently. In October 2020, Google also released the latest version of its Pixel phones, and they’re also the first ones that can connect to 5G. Reviewers have lauded the Pixel 5 for its terrific camera and 90Hz display, which means the screen refreshes 90 frames per second, resulting in an ultra-smooth scrolling experience.

To take advantage of this deal through U.S. Cellular, you’ll just need to open a new unlimited data line. Unlike many top-end free phone deals, there’s no trade-in required. 

Learn more about U.S. Cellular’s Google Pixel 5 deal

Verizon: Apple iPhone SE (2020)

  • Retail price: $400
  • New unlimited line required
  • Free deal only applies to 64GB model
  • Online only
  • $400 promo credit applied over 24 months ($16.67/mo.)

If you’ve always wanted an iPhone, Verizon has one of the simplest ways to get one for free.  All you’ll need to do is open a new line and order the iPhone SE (2020) online. Have it delivered to your home or the closest Verizon store. Enjoy and never pay a dime as long as you keep a Verizon plan for 24 months.

The iPhone SE features a crystal clear Retina HD display and 3D Touch that has your phone respond to your touches with its own subtle taps. And let’s not forget the iPhone camera. It’s the favorite camera of cellphone enthusiasts for a reason. Put it all together with a waterproof case, a super-fast processor and a battery with 13 hours of usage time and you’ll wonder why you waited to get your free iPhone.

Learn more about Verizon’s iPhone SE deal

AT&T: Apple iPhone SE (2020)

  • Retail price: $400
  • Available to new and existing customers with unlimited lines (min. $75/mo.) 
  • Trade-in required
  • $400 promo credit applied over 30 months
  • Taxes and $30 activation fee due at purchase
  • Promo ends if eligibility requirements are no longer met

If you’ve been wanting a new iPhone, this is the deal for you. A free iPhone SE awaits when you move from another carrier to AT&T, bring your number with you and sign up for an unlimited data plan. But unlike the Verizon iPhone SE deal above, you’ll also need to trade in your old phone with AT&T to get it for free. Here are the models AT&T is accepting for trade-in on this free phone deal:

  • Apple: iPhone 6S, 6S Plus, iPhone 7, 7 Plus, 8, 8 Plus, X, XR, XS, XS Max, 11, 11 Pro, 11 Pro Max, SE (2nd Gen) 
  • Samsung: A11, A20, A20s, A30, A50, A50s, A51, A70, A8+, A9, Galaxy S7, Galaxy S7 Edge, Galaxy S8, Galaxy S8 Active, Galaxy S8 Duos, Galaxy S8+, Note5, Note8, A71, A71 5G, Galaxy Fold, Galaxy Fold 5G, Galaxy S9, Galaxy S9+, Galaxy S9+ Duos, Galaxy S10, Galaxy S10+, Galaxy S10 5G, Galaxy S10e, Galaxy S10 Lite, Galaxy S20 5G, Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G, Galaxy S20+ 5G, Note9, Note10, Note10+, Note10+ 5G, Note20 5G, Note20 Ultra 5G, Galaxy Z Flip, Galaxy Z Fold2 5G
  • Google: Pixel 2, 2XL, 3, 3 XL, 3a, 3a XL, Pixel 4, Pixel 4 XL
  • LG: G7 ThinQ, G7+ ThinQ, G8 ThinQ, G8X ThinQ, K51, Stylo6, V35 ThinQ, V40 ThinQ, V50 ThinQ, V60 ThinQ 5G
  • Motorola: moto Z4 , moto razr 
  • Other: RED Hydrogen One, ASUS ROG Phone2, Razer Phone, Razer 2, Huawei P20 Lite, Kyocera DuraForce Pro 2, OnePlus 5, OnePlus 5T, OnePlus 6, OnePlus 6T, OnePlus 7 Pro, OnePlus 7 Pro 5G, OnePlus 7T, OnePlus 7T Pro 5G McLaren, OnePlus 8 5G, OnePlus 8 Pro

The iPhone SE is one of the most stylish smartphones available today. Plus, it shoots amazing photos. Even at night. The 4-inch Retina LED display is one of the brightest, clearest iPhone displays yet. Performance has been taken up a notch and there’s all-day battery life, as well as a new level of water resistance.

Learn more about AT&T’s iPhone SE deal

Cricket Wireless: Samsung Galaxy A11

  • Retail price: $150
  • New line required (min. $60/mo.)
  • Must bring over phone number

This is a great deal on the Galaxy A11 because it’s free. Just sign up for an eligible Cricket Wireless unlimited plan with a new line, bring over your old number and enjoy your new free phone. The only thing we can say is that unlike the other three major carriers, AT&T requires 30 months to pay off the phone, but that’s hardly a deal-breaker.

The Samsung Galaxy A11 is a pretty phone, with a large 6.4-inch HD+ Infinity display that shows off video and photos to their best advantage. There’s a triple-lens rear camera with a 13- megapixel main lens, as well as a front-facing 8-megapixel selfie camera. The camera also features a 4,000 mAh battery for long-lasting power and an octa-core processor so your apps won’t slow you down.

Learn more about Cricket’s Samsung Galaxy A11 deal

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Joe Supan

Written by:

Joe Supan

Senior Writer, Wireless & Streaming Content

Joe oversees all things wireless and streaming for Allconnect. His work has been referenced by McAfee, Fox network and more. He has utilized thousands of data points to build a library of metrics to help users n… Read more

Shannon Ullman

Edited by:

Shannon Ullman

Editor, Broadband & Wireless Content

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