Determining the best time of year to buy a new phone used to be easy: It was the spring and summer, with a burst of deals over Black Friday too. Since all major new models were unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January or the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in February, this was the point by which phones started to get discounted. But these days, it's each to his own, with all the big players following their own schedules and launching their handsets largely via their own events.
As such, it's hard to know when to expect to see new phones, and subsequently, when prices on those phones will drop. To keep it all straight, we've put together a guide to 2017's big smartphone releases, and when you will see the best prices on these flagship phones. (Of course, you could always opt to buy the older versions, which see dramatic price drops when the new versions are released.)
Samsung Galaxy S8
After suffering a blow to its reputation with the Note 7 fiasco and, even more recently, corruption charges for its executives, Samsung isn't rushing the release of the latest version of its flagship phone. The company will unveil the Samsung Galaxy S8 at the end of March, but it won't become available until April 21. (The S7 was released March 16 last year.)
That said, there have been plenty of leaked details on the form the S8 will take. It's biggest selling point will be that it features a larger screen while retaining the same dimensions of its predecessor. This will mean a 5.8" display on the standard model and a 6.2" screen on the Plus version. It will also feature a Snapdragon 835 chipset and be water and dust resistant.
Samsung is reportedly also eliminating the home button and placing a fingerprint sensor on the back near the camera.
When to Buy
The S8's price is also supposed to be upgraded — to $850 for the standard model. That's a $170 increase from the S7's list price, so you'll definitely want to wait at least a month or two for the price to come down; we saw the S7 drop in price by more than 35% by the beginning of May — less than two months after its release.
Sony Xperia X2
Despite its name recognition, Sony has had difficulties making its mark in the smartphone arena. Perhaps that will change with the second edition of its Xperia X2. Sony surprised watchers by not unveiling the X2 at MWC, and instead launching several other phones. But when it does come out, the X2 is expected to have a 5.5" 4K display.
When to Buy
After being released in June last year, the first edition of the Xperia dropped by almost half by December, so you'll definitely want to wait for the X2 to come down from its expected $550 list price. In fact, the timing seems right for there to be some great Black Friday deals on this one.
This year promises to be a big one for the iPhone; 2017 marks the 10th anniversary of Apple's signature handset. While there is still some speculation about what Apple might call the new phone (some think it may be named iPhone 10 or X to mark the anniversary), it's a safe bet that the company will honor the occasion with major innovations to the phone itself.
When the new iPhone is unveiled in September, most expect to see an edge-to-edge OLED display. With the home button deleted, the Touch ID sensor and front camera will be integrated into this display. Further contributing to the phone's seamless design will be a glass body.
When to Buy
While some experts have suggested that Apple will release as many as five new models with different feature sets and price points, it is believed that the flagship phone could have a list price approaching the $1,000 mark. In the 5 months since its release, the iPhone 7 has dropped $29, while we saw the 6S drop by almost $100 in the same amount of time.
LG unveiled the latest in its line of cult-favorite phones at MWC last week. Its got an impressive 5.7" screen with an unusual 18:9 aspect ratio and 564ppi resolution. The phone is also waterproof for up to 30 minutes and boasts a Snapdragon 821 processor.
When to Buy
As much as you may want to rush out and buy this phone in April, if our experience with the G5 is any indication, we will see its price drop on an almost monthly basis. Also released in April, the G5 had decreased in price by more than 50% by the end of last year.
Though this Chinese company is the third largest cell phone manufacturer in the world, it lacks the brand name cache of some of its competitors in the U.S. What that means when it comes to its flagship phones is a lower price tag. The company unveiled the new P10 at MWC on February 26, and its got a 5.1" display, a front fingerprint scanner, dual 20MP + 12MP rear cameras and an 8MP front-facing camera, and its own Kirin 960 chipset. You can expect the phone to hit stores not long after next month.
When to Buy
The P10 saw a surprising price increase this year, starting at $675. Its predecessor, the P9, was originally priced at $530 and is currently selling for $470 — only a $60 drop in 10 months. It will be disappointing if the P10 sees similarly slow and minor discounts, but maybe the higher price tag will force retailers to discount it more aggressively.
Google Pixel 2
As the first version of Google's lauded Pixel phone just came out in October, there aren't too many details available about the follow-up version and speculation is varying wildly. Most agree, however, that the new version will be waterproof when it comes out in the fall. We'll undoubtedly learn more when Google unveils the phone in May or June.
When to Buy
Again, with the Pixel having only been released in October, we don't have a lot of data on when to buy this phone. It has dropped slightly in price from its $649 introduction, but we haven't seen a deal since December. However, if you can't wait for the Pixel 2, now is a good time to buy the first edition if you are or want to be a T-Mobile customer. The company is currently offering a $325 credit if you sign your Pixel up for T-Mobile service.
Readers, when do you find the best phone deals? What models do you look for? Let us know in the comments below.