U.S. Cellular to offer free iPhone 8 during 6-day promo starting Wednesday

U.S. Cellular's promotion comes amid an unusually tranquil holiday season in wireless.

U.S. Cellular announced a six-day promotion offering one of three phones free to users who trade in a qualifying handset and sign up for the carrier’s unlimited plan.

From Wednesday through next Monday, customers who trade in an iPhone 6 or Samsung Galaxy S6 or newer or an undamaged LG G6, V20 or V30 can pick up an iPhone 8, LG G6 or Moto Z Force with an unlimited data plan. Those customers must also sign up for U.S. Cellular’s handset-insurance plan.

Customers who don’t trade in a phone can get one of the three U.S. Cellular devices for $10 a month when they sign up for an unlimited plan. The discount is provided via a monthly bill credit on a 30-month installment plan plus a $100 U.S. Cellular promo card.

“We know that the noise and anticipation surrounding Black Friday can be overwhelming, so we are making it easy by having amazing deals on all of the hottest items in one place,” said Grant Leech, U.S. Cellular’s vice president of brand marketing, in a press release. “Plus, when you have a smartphone from U.S. Cellular, you can feel confident that you have a network that keeps up with your lifestyle and works whenever you need it—in the middle of anywhere.”

U.S. Cellular joined the unlimited bandwagon in February, launching a single line of all-you-can-eat data for $60 a month. Accounts with four lines pay $160 a month, or $40 per line.

The carrier’s upcoming promotion also includes $50 off Google Home and discounts on some accessories.

The campaign comes as carriers have reined in their promotional efforts during what is typically a roiling holiday shopping season. Operators have largely shifted their focus to maximizing profits rather than growing their market share through aggressive price cuts.

“With a lack of actual price cuts and the maturation of the accounting impact of phone payment plans, wireless operators are likely to focus investors’ attention on a possible return to wireless service revenue growth in 2018 on Q3 conference calls,” Walter Piecyk of BTIG Research said last month in a blog post. “That would be a notable and bullish milestone for the industry given the last three years of decline.”