Forget TVs, laptops and Blu-ray players, this year's go-to Black Friday doorbusters are smartphones. And as tantalizing as the deals might look, do yourself a favor. Pretend you never saw them.
It's a reliable rule of thumb for the rest of the year, made invaluable by the Black Friday hype: Unless you are planning on buying a smartphone anyway—a specific smartphone, on a specific carrier—upfront price deals are a trap. And even though this may seem obvious to a lot of people, some advice is worth repeating, especially with National Irresponsible Impulse Buy Day bearing down on us like some kind of perfectly prophesied minipocalypse. A friendly reminder, about math and the human psyche, from your Gizmodo!
Take the $80 Motorola Cliq at Radio Shack. It's advertised as a huge cut; implicit in the deal is that you're getting 60% off of your new Android phone, which feels great. But what you're really getting is a 6% discount off your total cumulative cost of owning the phone, which, if you get a data plan, is originally at least $1880.
Granted, $120 is still $120, and if you were planning on entering a multi-thousand-dollar two-year contract with T-Mobile anyway, the deal is worth a look. Just don't decide to start a new contract because of one of these deals. You're going to be living with this phone, this carrier, and this contract for two whole years—hen you're standing in line at Best Buy, with a misleadingly-priced cellphone in hand and four months left on your current contract, make sure that the five bucks you're going to be saving each month is really worth it to you.
Because chances are, it's not. [Deal via PC Mag (not PCW, as previously written)]
While you're busy not buying a new smartphone, make sure to check out Sean's definitive master list of other crappy deals to avoid.