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Phones

Cricket starts holiday smartphone discounts early

The deals run for the Android and Windows Phone handsets run through the end of the year.

The LG G Stylo is one of numerous smartphones discounted at Cricket Wireless this season.

CNET

AT&T-owned prepaid carrier Cricket Wireless has slashed the prices of a number of its smartphones for the holiday shopping season. Starting Friday and running through January 7, 2016, customers can walk away with phones that are effectively free.

The end of the year typically sees smartphone vendors and carriers competing aggressively for new customers. Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the gift-giving season are particularly important for year-end sales.

Among Cricket's deeply discounted phones are the Motorola Moto E , LG Risio, ZTE Overture 2 , and the Nokia Lumia 635 . Each of these models end up "free" after a mail-in rebate that you get in the form of a Visa gift card. Prior to the rebate, however customers will still only have to fork over $20 to 50 at the time of purchase. The Samsung Galaxy Grand Prime and LG G Stylo aren't free, but they end up as $30 and $50, respectively.

As attractive as these prices are, there's a catch. In order to qualify for the promotions, customers must port their phone number to Cricket and activate the new number on a rate plan of $40 per month or higher. Subscribers must also make their second payment within 45 days of signing up.