August 14, 2022

13 Great Deals on Smartphones, Laptops, and Smart Speakers

We’re approaching the end of summer, which means it’s time for back-to-school deals. This includes everything from laptops and phones to dorm furniture and desk accessories. These discounts are great for students of all ages, but they’re also perfect for adults looking to upgrade their work-from-home setup

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Smartphone and Laptop Deals

Check out our Best Android Phones and Best Cheap Phones guides for more recommendations.

Front and back view of Google Pixel 6A smartphones

Google Pixel 6A

Photograph: Google

Google just released the Pixel 6A (8/10, WIRED Recommends), and it quickly became our favorite phone for most people. It’s powerful, has a great camera, and is on the smaller end of the size spectrum, compared to most smartphones today. This isn’t exactly a discount on the phone, but you get a $50 Amazon gift card. (It comes in an envelope with no expiration date.) Use it to buy a case and screen protector for your device. (We have recommendations here.) 

Note: You must activate the device to get in on this deal. Samsung is just about to unveil new folding phones, which means last year’s models are seeing staggering discounts. This is one of the best discounts we’ve ever seen on Samsung’s folding Galaxy Z Flip 3 (7/10, WIRED Review). It’s basically a smartphone that you can fold in half, and who doesn’t love that? If you want a tablet experience in a phone design, you’ll be happy to know that the Galaxy Z Fold 3 is also on sale for $800 (nearly $1,000 off) for the 256-GB version. These deals are valid for AT&T and Verizon customers.

The Motorola Edge+ (6/10, WIRED Review) would be fine if it didn’t usually cost $1,000. That inflated sticker price was the biggest reason we didn’t recommend it. At $500, however, it’s a pretty good deal, and this is by far the best discount we’ve seen on it. That said, unless you’re dead-set on having wireless charging or more than 128 GB of storage space, the Pixel 6A for $449 is still a better bang for your buck.

Coming in at $20 less than previous deals we’ve seen, this is a decent pick if you’re looking for the absolute cheapest unlocked phone. There’s support for NFC, so you can make contactless payments, and you get two-day battery life and sub-6 5G, so you won’t be limited to slower 4G LTE. Keep in mind that this phone is no longer receiving Android version upgrades, so you’ll be stuck with the already dated Android 11.

Smart Home and Gaming Deals

Find additional discounted computers in our dedicated Best Laptop Deals roundup.

MacBook Air with M2 with lid open on blue geometric backdrop

Apple MacBook Pro (2022)

Photograph: Apple

In her review, WIRED reviewer Brenda Stolyar says this laptop is “lackluster but perfectly fine.” It’s largely the same as the models of yesteryear—which is both a good and a bad thing. It’s reliable and portable, but the only real upgrade is the new M2 processor. The cheaper new MacBook Air is the better option, but if your heart is set on a Pro, this is the first significant discount we’ve seen on it. Read more about the lineup in our MacBook buying guide

This is the very best Chromebook, and the price is even lower than it was last week. It’s perfect for students, thanks to its reliable performance and low price. There are a few bells and whistles, the most prominent being the 2-in-1 display. Once homework is done, students can flip the screen around and watch some Netflix—no TV required. 

Alexa speakers can be useful for more than just playing music. If you’re outfitting a dorm room, this might make a good accessory. Amazon’s voice assistant can relay weather forecasts or answer pressing college student questions like “How can you tell when milk is expired?” or “Who’s that one guy from that one movie?” This deal has been around since Prime Day. It’s still a good one. Just keep in mind that we’ve seen the discount before, and we will definitely see it again. The price is matched at Best Buy. Check our Amazon Echo and Alexa Speaker buying guide for more advice. 

This latest version of the Echo Show 10 is our favorite Alexa smart display. We still prefer Google Assistant, but this is the natural pick for folks entrenched in Amazon’s ecosystem. The 15-inch version is also on sale for the same price and can be mounted to a wall. You can look up music lyrics, watch Prime Video content, and even partake in Zoom meetings. The price is $10 lower than what we’ve tracked before, and this deal is also available at Best Buy and Kohl’s (with $30 back in Kohl’s Cash).

Amazon Fire Stick 4K Max

Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max

Photograph: Best Buy

This is the best 4K streaming device for Amazon enthusiasts, and the price matches the lowest we’ve seen. The interface is super snappy and easy to use, though it prominently features Amazon Prime Video content. A different streaming dongle might be a better option if you aren’t committed to Amazon’s product ecosystem. Our Best Streaming Sticks guide has additional picks. 

We fell for Spiritfarer during quarantine back in 2020, but it’s still one of the very best Nintendo Switch games. It’s a cozy game for one player. It deals with some dark themes—er, death—but in a gentle and reassuring way. The soundtrack and design are lovely, but the story is what makes the title stand out. I’ve found it to be soothing and meditative while navigating a loved one’s terminal illness. Spiritfarer isn’t like most games, and that’s a good thing. This version includes all of the downloadable content. The price is much lower than usual.

Target is offering a free one-year Nintendo Switch Online membership to customers who purchase a select full-price game. The membership itself is valued at $20, so if you’re in the market for one of the eligible titles and another year of online service, this is a good chance to save some cash. Options include a variety of Mario titles as well as Animal Crossing: New Horizons. 

Deals on Everything Else 

Apple gift cards

Apple Gift Card

Photograph: Apple

Apple gift cards can be used at the Apple Store as well as on the App Store. They can also be applied to various subscriptions if you’re signed up through an iOS device. This deal essentially gets you $10 for free, but you should only snag it if you were already planning on spending $100 through Apple. The free $10 Target gift card will be added to your cart automatically. 

This makes for a great dorm-warming present—nothing says “college” like ordering food delivery. A few denominations are discounted, and all of them are worthwhile if you (or the recipient) order Doordash delivery on a regular basis. 

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