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Better than Black Friday: The unlocked iPhone XS for $650

That's $250 off the regular price and $350 off the original price for this still-great phone. Or get a renewed one for even less.

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The iPhone XS: Hard to swallow at $1,000, much easier at $650.

Robin Battle/CNET

I can't say it often enough: Cheap phones come to those who wait. Well, in this case, cheap-er phones, but still. On countless occasions I've pointed to Samsung Galaxy models that see significant price drops six to 12 months after release. iPhone prices are slower to lower; the best deals tend to be on refurbished models. But not today.

For a limited time, and while supplies last, Best Buy has the unlocked iPhone XS (64GB) in space gray for $649.99. That's the price whether you activate today or choose the activate-later option, which is what I recommend. This model originally sold for $1,000 a year ago and now regularly runs $900.

In case you weren't aware, a new iPhone also qualifies for a free year of Apple TV Plus, a $60 value. (Here are all the other ways you can get Apple TV Plus for free.) You also get four months of Apple Music, though that's for new subscribers only.

I mention that because there is a refurb option that's worth considering as well: Amazon is currently offering the renewed unlocked iPhone XS (64GB) in space gray for $547.99. No Apple Music or Apple TV Plus freebies with that one, but I suspect that's not a deal-breaker for most buyers. (Amazon's 90-day warranty might be, though. A new iPhone is protected for one year.)

The iPhone XS arrived in 2018 as an upgrade to the previous year's iPhone X. It's the same size, with a handful of modest but worthwhile improvements. Read CNET's iPhone XS review for all the details.

Meanwhile, the reason I always champion choosing an unlocked phone is so you can take it to whatever carrier you want. Mint Mobile, for example, continues to offer a great introductory deal on prepaid service: 40% off any of its three-month plans. Red Pocket Mobile has plans starting at $229 for a full year. And US Mobile just unveiled a new unlimited plan for $40 a month.

Bottom line: Before you sign up with any of the Big Four carriers (AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon), see what some of the smaller providers have to offer. You're already saving money on the phone; you should definitely save money on service as well.

Your thoughts?

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