Smartphones have always been a high-end branch of the mobile family. While entry level and basic phones (those that place calls, text, take photos, and maybe allow basic email or limited web access) and feature phones (those that offer broader email, instant messaging, and social networking without a wide range of apps) tend to be offered free when signing a new contract.
Smartphones like Apple's iPhone, most Android phones, BlackBerries, iterations of the Palm Pre and Pixi, and the forthcoming Windows Phone 7 devices tend to come with a significant price tag (usually ranging from $50 to as much as $500) even when purchased with a new or renewed contract. That's not unexpected given the broader range of capabilities, better computing power, storage, and access to apps and almost all the content the Internet has to offer.
Recently, however, smartphones have gotten a lot more affordable and mainstream. Perhaps the biggest example is the upcoming November 3rd launch of the LG Optimus T (an decent, if somewhat low-end Android handset) for $30 with contract on T-Mobile.
However, for this Friday, Best Buy has an even better option (consider an early Black Friday gift).
Throughout October, the big box retailer has been running promotion called Free Phone Fridays. As you might guess, the promotion allows you to receive a new phone at now cost when you sign up for a new two year contract with a carrier. As the weeks have gone by, Best Buy has upped the selection of phones to include some serious smartphones.
While this isn't ideal for everyone (it generally requires a new activation, so you may not be able to upgrade an existing account with a carrier – though if you're already considering switching carriers anyway and your current contract is up, it could be ideal), Best Buy offers phones and plans with all four major U.S. carriers and each week has a somewhat different selection of phones included in the promotion.
What's particularly attractive is that the mix of phones includes basic, feature, and smartphone options. While the absolute latest and greatest like the iPhone aren't included there are a number of mid-top range phones in the mix including the Android-powered HTC Incredible (the most impressive option in the lineup), BlackBerry Curve, and first-generation webOS Palm Pixi.
If you've been debating a smartphone for yourself, considering a smartphone or feature phone for you family, or even just want to upgrade a basic phone, this is a great opportunity. Unfortunately, this is the last Friday for the promotion, so you'll have to get to a Best Buy store or the company's website within a short time frame – but some of the options could very easily be worth the effort.