Mobile World Congress is the CES of the cell phone industry. The annual event, which takes place next week in Barcelona, Spain, drew over 67,000 attendants in 2012. And while not all of the smartphones shown at MWC make a stateside debut, many of them do get picked up by local carriers. This means smartphone fans can expect an influx of new phones in the coming months.
But just as we saw with CES releases, there are plenty of bargains to be had if you know when to look for them. Using the dealnews archives and previous price trends, we tracked the phone deals on last year's hottest non-Apple handsets in order to estimate how long you'll have to wait for this year's crop of MWC models to go on sale. (Note that in all cases, the below examples require a 2-year contract.)
Major Android Smartphones See Deals Weeks After DebutSamsung is the reigning champ of the Android market. To date, the company has shipped over 40 million units of its popular Galaxy S III smartphone. The phone, which made its U.S. debut in June, initially sold for $200. However, we listed the S3 days before its release with a preorder price of $150. Two months later (and at the height of its popularity), we listed the phone again for $99 — a 50% price drop. By November 2012, the phone was being offered for free, and we now consistently see it for a penny with Sprint or essentially free with Verizon, if you factor in a gift card at Dell.
Like the S3, the HTC One X (which was unveiled at 2012's MWC) dropped 60% in price just three months after its debut. While we saw no preorder deals for the One X, the phone's price gradually decreased until mid-November when we listed it for a mere penny. We saw a similar scenario play out with Motorola's DROID RAZR MAXX. A month after its release, the phone made its dealnews debut at 33% off its full retail price. Four months later the DROID RAZR MAXX sank to 50% of its original price, and by November it was being offered for free.
While there's no magic formula that accurately predicts when you'll see price drops, in the case of the HTC One X and Galaxy S III, both smartphones saw 50% price drops just three months after their debuts. (The DROID RAZR MAXX took an additional month to hit the magic 50% off mark). And if you can wait until November, you'll likely find many of the year's most popular smartphones offered for free.
Smartphone Deals Aren't Exclusive to AndroidProving that smartphone deals aren't just for Android phones, the Nokia Lumia 900 (which Engadget dubbed Nokia's Windows Phone messiah) saw the quickest and steepest price cut of any phone in 2012. Days before its release, we listed the phone for free from AT&T. In the following months, the phone was even offered with a $100 credit, giving consumers a $100 profit when "purchasing" this free phone.
Other popular Windows phones that experienced similarly steep discounts include the HTC Windows Phone 8X, which hit the $0 mark a month after its release in November (and is now available for a $50 profit at Dell), and the Nokia Lumia 920, which was discounted by 50% the day after its release (also in November).
All three Windows phones debuted with a $100 price tag, and in the case of the HTC Windows Phone 8X and Lumia 900, each hit $0 not long after release. The Lumia 920 has yet to be free, but its price was slashed by 50% the day after its release, and a month later it fell to 80% off.