Ask Maggie: The place can I discover a price range smartphone?

There’s nothing I like higher than getting a very good deal.

And fortunately for wi-fi clients there are tons of nice offers available not solely on wi-fi plans however telephones, too. Whereas Apple and Samsung nonetheless cost prime greenback for his or her flagship handsets, there are a number of producers making price range telephones that price lower than $200.

How do these bargain-basement units stack up? Little question there are trade-offs in the case of these cheap telephones. However annually producers appear to pack extra high-end options into these low-cost units, giving customers plenty of nice choices. On this version of Ask Maggie, I provide my recommendation on the place to discover a price range cellphone.

Expensive Maggie,

I simply cannot deliver myself to spend one other $600 or $700 on a brand new smartphone. However my outdated cellphone is dying. So I am available in the market for an affordable unlocked smartphone. I might love to search out one thing for lower than $150. Are you able to even get an honest cellphone for lower than that? Additionally, I am on the lookout for one thing that is unlocked that will not pressure me to stay with any specific provider.


Cut price Looking Barry

Expensive Barry,

I hear you. With out machine subsidies from the foremost US wi-fi carriers, shopping for a brand new smartphone is a significant funding. And such as you, I am not keen to spend $600 to $700 each couple of years for a brand new machine. It is also good to purchase an unlocked machine so you have got some flexibility if you wish to change carriers.


Motorola has a number of price range smartphones it sells unlocked that can function on any main US wi-fi provider.

Josh Miller/CNET

Since you’re particularly on the lookout for an unlocked cellphone. The most effective place to begin is with Amazon’s Prime Unique Telephones. The net retailer now provides 9 telephones that vary in worth from $100 to $280. And should you’re keen to have adverts seem in your lock-screen, the costs fall to between $70 to $200. (NOTE: Amazon had 10 telephones on this program, however earlier this week it halted the sale of its most cost-effective cellphone the Blu R1 HD on account of privateness considerations.)

The plain catch is that if you’d like the most cost effective worth on these telephones, you must subscribe to Amazon Prime, and you should conform to the promoting to get the very best deal on the telephones. However should you’re already a Prime subscriber and also you’re used to an Amazon Kindle or Hearth pill that show related adverts, then it in all probability will not hassle you.

The road-up of units contains, 4 fashions from Alcatel, 4 from Motorola and one from Nokia. You may take a look at the specs for the completely different fashions to see which cellphone you want higher. However a lot of the telephones at this worth level are related in capabilities in addition to efficiency.

Telephones just like the Moto E4, which is Motorola’s most cost-effective possibility, include numerous bells and whistles that pricier telephones have. It makes use of the newest Android software program Android Nougat 7.1 and has a fingerprint sensor, a removeable battery and a selfie flash all inside a physique the dimensions of a chubby iPhone 7. But it surely’s tremendous low-cost, solely $130 with none promoting. (You may get it for $100 should you take the Amazon adverts, and $70 should you get it on Verizon’s pay as you go plan.)

However Patrick Holland famous in his evaluation of the product that there are occasions when the low price exhibits. For example, the processor is gradual, the show is tough to view in daylight and the digicam is sluggish to course of pictures.

These are points you may seemingly discover with any price range cellphone, notably at this worth. All of them have a tendency to make use of cheaper elements, comparable to slower processors, much less refined show know-how, and decrease high quality cameras.

As I famous above, all of the units in Amazon’s Prime program are offered unlocked. However solely the Motorola telephones can be utilized on all 4 US carriers. The remaining are GSM telephones, which can be utilized on AT&T, T-Cellular or any pay as you go manufacturers that use their networks. Needless to say these different units will not work on Dash and Verizon or the pay as you go manufacturers that use their networks.

Different choices

These aren’t the one low-cost telephones in the marketplace. There are many cheap smartphones you should purchase by way of a provider, such because the Samsung J30, which is on the market on AT&T, Verizon, Dash, Enhance Cellular and Virgin Cellular. However these telephones will probably be locked to that provider for a time period, and relying on the specs they could not work on different networks, so do your homework.

Want extra options? Take a look at CNET’s picture gallery of 11 Low-cost Telephones We Love.

Rick Broida, who writes the Cheapskate weblog for CNET lately spent per week with the $180 Nokia 6 that’s offered by Amazon to see if he may quit his iPhone 6 Plus for a price range cellphone. The decision? Broida was impressed with the Nokia 6.

Personally, I actually just like the low-cost Motorola telephones.

Should you’re keen to pay somewhat greater than your said $150 restrict, I might recommend the Moto G5. It sells for $230 with out the promoting and $185 with the Amazon adverts. For just some bucks extra, you’ll get a significantly better cellphone.

Holland notes that Lenovo, which makes the Motorola telephones, has packed plenty of premium options and design into this cheap cellphone, making it a transparent stand out by way of worth.

But when the Moto G5 is just too expensive, final yr’s Moto G4, which is $170 with out Amazon adverts or $120 with the adverts, is a stable cellphone. And naturally, the low price Moto E4 is the least costly.   

The underside line

All price range telephones include a commerce off. And on the sub-$150 worth level, you’ll have to sacrifice a bit extra. None of those telephones will probably be nearly as good as an iPhone or high-end Samsung Galaxy cellphone. However what do you anticipate whenever you’re paying a fraction of the fee? In different phrases, you’ll be able to’t purchase a Hyundai and anticipate it to carry out like a Mercedes.

Ask Maggie is an recommendation column that solutions readers’ wi-fi and broadband questions. In case you have a query, I might love to listen to from you. Please ship me an e-mail at maggie dot reardon at cbs dot com. And please put “Ask Maggie” within the topic header. You can even comply with me on Fb on my Ask Maggie web page.

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