We’re now in Memorial Day sales season, which means it’s one of the best times of the year to pick up a new smartphone. But while the latest top-tier handsets – like the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, iPhone 14 Pro, and Google Pixel Fold – might have caught your eye, it’s worth considering something a little older.
Often, when we can’t afford or justify the top model in a series, we look for a cheaper but similarly-new alternative – for example, the Google Pixel 7a instead of the Google Pixel 7 or Pixel 7 Pro. But while there’s logic to that, you can sometimes get much more for your money by choosing an older model that used to be a flagship – such as the Pixel 6.
These older models often have equal or better specs to the latest mid-range handsets – and can be similarly priced. These are also likely to get better deals over Memorial Day when compared to the latest models, as they don’t have that shiny newness factor in their favor.
Below, then, we’ve selected a number of older flagship phones that are still great, still getting software updates, and have a good shot at being discounted over the Memorial Day sales period.
Apple’s phones tend to hold their value well, so you often have to go back a few years to get significant price drops. But that’s okay, because Apple’s phones are also the most powerful on the planet, so even older versions of the A-series chipset inside them can compete with relatively recent Android phones.
Not only that, but Apple supports its phones for a long time, so you don’t need to worry about them no longer getting software updates unless you’re looking at something five or six years old.
The iPhone 12 is two and a half years old, so it’s in the sweet spot. It launched with iOS 14, currently runs iOS 16, and based on past form will likely get at least the next few major iOS releases. So this phone still has more life in it than a lot of newly-launched Android phones do.
In fact, Apple itself still sells the iPhone 12, which does mean it’s not quite as cheap as it might otherwise be (starting at $599 unlocked), but that also means the company isn’t likely to stop supporting it anytime soon.
Plus, it’s increasingly hard to find new iPhones that are any older than this, so this is as far back as you can comfortably go if you don’t want a renewed model.
At its standard price, the iPhone 12 is a solid buy, for all the reasons above. But with this being a couple of generations old there’s a good chance we’ll see some reductions over the Memorial Day sales period, and those could turn it into one of the smartest smartphone choices you’ll find.
You can follow our Apple Memorial Day sales hub to keep up with the latest deals on this handset and even more tech from the manufacturer over the holiday weekend.
Google Pixel 6
Google's latest mid-ranger is the Pixel 7a – a phone that starts at $499. But for around $100 less you can pick up a Google Pixel 6, which, yes, is over a year older, but it was also positioned as a fairly high-end phone at launch.
As a result, despite being substantially cheaper, it has a larger 6.4-inch screen, better cameras (with the same rear camera hardware as the standard Pixel 7), the same 90Hz refresh rate and 1080 x 2400 resolution as the Pixel 7a, and the same amount of RAM.
The Pixel 6 also has a more premium build, with a glass rather than plastic back, better Gorilla Glass on the screen, and slightly better water resistance.
Not everything is a win for the older Pixel 6 – you’ll be stuck with the original Tensor chipset rather than the newer Tensor G2, and the Pixel 7a will probably get one more Android OS update than the Pixel 6. But the latter is still being supported, too, and they’re the only things you really need to be aware of if picking up this older phone.
Even at the roughly $400 it can often be found at, we’d say the Pixel 6 is a bit of a bargain, but if it drops further then it’s really worth considering.
OnePlus 10 Pro
The OnePlus 10 Pro achieved a four-star review from us when it launched in early 2022, and just over a year on it remains a great smartphone.
We praised its fantastic 6.7-inch QHD+ screen, its speedy charging (65W in the US and 80W elsewhere), and the fact that it undercuts rivals. All of those aspects are still highlights, and a year on from launch it's even more affordable.
OnePlus itself still sells this phone at a price of $549, but you can also find it for $465 at the time of writing on Amazon, and that price might drop even lower over this sales period.
This isn’t a phone you’ll need to swap out too soon either, as the OnePlus 10 Pro will get three years of operating system updates and five years of security patches. That’s from launch, but there are still around two years and four years respectively to go.
Samsung Galaxy S22
The Samsung Galaxy S22 is an extremely similar phone to the Samsung Galaxy S23. Arguably the only major difference is the superior chipset in the newer model. Otherwise, you’re getting a similar screen, similar cameras, the same amount of RAM, and – other than the camera block – a similar design.
But being a year older the Galaxy S22 is quite a lot cheaper, and it’s still widely available. You can pick it up for $699.99 from the official Samsung store, which is only $100 less than what the Galaxy S23 goes for, but it’s gone lower than that before at other stores and it’s a prime candidate to do so again during the Memorial Day sales. There's also the possibility of applying a Samsung promo code to save even more on the handset.
As with our other suggestions, this is also a phone that’s still being supported – Samsung is promising a total of four years of Android software updates and five years of security updates for the Galaxy S22.