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HolidayBuyer's Guide
Phones

Get a Straight Talk iPhone 6 (32GB) for $199

Originally $649, Apple's former flagship still has a lot to offer -- like a headphone jack! It's not unlocked, but you don't have to sign up for service if you'd rather rely on Wi-Fi. Plus: a great sale on Samsung's Gear VR Controller.

CNET's Cheapskate scours the web for great deals on PCs, phones, gadgets and much more. Questions about the Cheapskate blog? Find the answers on our FAQ page. Find more great buys on the CNET Deals page and follow the Cheapskate on Twitter!


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As a cheapskate (and The Cheapskate), it's always been challenging to be an iPhone owner. I know full well I'm paying a crazy premium for Apple's handsets, but I've sucked it up because, well, I don't care for Android. [Ducks, runs for cover.]

Tolerance, people! Some folks are just wired differently. Like, did you know there are humans who prefer vanilla ice cream to chocolate? Can't wrap my brain around that, yet it's true.

iphone-6-space-gray

Apple

Getting back to phones, last year's flagships often turn out to be this year's deals. Case in point: Walmart has the Straight Talk iPhone 6 (32GB) in space gray for $199 shipped (plus tax) -- by far the lowest price I've seen for that model. (Ebates users can score a 4 percent rebate, or around $8.) Upon its debut in late 2014, it sold for $649, and that was for a 16GB model.

Late 2014? So this phone is more than two and a half years old? That's positively ancient in phone years. It must have a hand-crank and pop-up antenna, am I right?

Ha. No. Remember, in 2014 this was Apple's flagship, "the best iPhone we've ever made," as Tim Cook probably said at the time. Subsequent iPhones may have slightly faster processors and slightly better cameras, but I think there's plenty of value left in the iPhone 6 -- which, incidentally, was a CNET Editors' Choice recipient that "set the smartphone bar." 

In fact, the iPhone 6 has one feature you can no longer get from Apple: a headphone jack. (As I've mentioned before, my 6s Plus is probably going to be my last iPhone, because I want that jack, dammit.)

There is, however, one caveat: This iPhone isn't unlocked; it's tied to Walmart's Straight Talk service, and based on what I've learned on the interwebs, unlocking may not be an option. However, if you look in the Q&A section on Walmart's product page, you'll see that you can activate the phone without actually signing up for service -- meaning you could use it as a glorified iPod Touch, relying on Wi-Fi for calls, messages and so on.

If you do want service, Straight Talk offers a pretty competitive no-contract plan: $45 a month for unlimited everything and 8GB of LTE data. (Laughably, you save only $1 a month by signing up for auto-refill.)

Make no mistake, friends: There are better phone deals to be had. But if you insist on an iPhone, this is one of the best deals I've seen to date.

samsung-gear-vr-control-precio

Juan Garzon/CNET

Your thoughts? [Ducks and runs for cover again.]

Bonus deal: If you've ever taken advantage of one of the Samsung Gear VR deals I've shared here, consider adding the new wireless controller to the mix -- especially now that it's on sale. 

For a limited time, Amazon has the Samsung Gear VR Controller for $27.98 (shipped free with Prime). Regular price: $40.

I consider this a must-have accessory for Gear VR owners. Not only does it free you from having to keep a hand near your head to use the often-finicky touchpad, it also opens the door to new and better games and experiences. 

Best of all, it's compatible with all Gear VR headsets, not just the newest one.