There’s a movement afoot: Smartphones that cost much less than you’d think but that can do much more than you might expect.
Whether browsing the web, using your favorite apps, sharing snaps or video chatting with friends, you don’t need to shell out hundreds of dollars to get your hands on a quality smartphone that does exactly what you need it to.
Following are five inexpensive smartphones across both our CDMA and GSM network offerings that offer a great smartphone experience and, that you can actually afford to buy without signing onto an onerous mobile contract.
1. Hydro Vibe [On sale for $159] – CDMA
If durability is your primary concern, the Hydro Vibe where it’s at. No need to shell out $500+ for a waterproof Galaxy S5 – the Hydro Vibe is IP57 certified, meaning you’re fully protected in up to 3.28 feet of water for 30 minutes.
Equipped with impact-resistant glass, it’s built to take a few tumbles. If you’re a clumsy character, look no further than Kyocera’s Hydro Vibe.
2. Moto E (2nd Gen) [$147] – GSM or CDMA
At $150, the LTE Motorola Moto E is pretty exciting. More than a sub $200 Android device though, it’s the vanguard of a movement for inexpensive but very usable smartphones… with a recognizable name brand attached.
Fit and finish-wise, the Moto E is on point. Its screen, while maybe a little small by recent standards, is protected with Corning Gorilla Glass 3. The back shell can be switched out for one of a number of more colorful options to customize the device.
Some inexpensive devices can make you feel the sacrifices you’re making to save a couple of hundred bucks painfully apparent. The Moto E doesn’t fall into that trap and offers a phone you’ll be happy to have as opposed to one you’ll tolerate.
3. HTC Desire 510 [$155] – CDMA
At $155, the Desire 510 is an impressive device. It runs HTC’s popular Sense user interface that’s inside the HTC One M8 and M9 and has tech specs enough to run the most powerful apps and games.
With Tri-Band LTE support, you get blazing fast data speeds at an awesome price.
We’d be remiss not to mention the 4GB of internal storage space. With expandable storage via SD card, though, that may not be a deal breaker.
4. Alcatel OneTouch Idol 3 [$249] – GSM
Alcatel describes the OneTouch Idol 3 as, “A superphone for the price of a smartphone.” While “superphone” might be a bit of a stretch when put up against the latests and greatest such as the Samsung Galaxy S6, the Idol 3 certainly looks to be a solid smartphone at a price that’s hard to argue.
From the build quality to internal specs, it keeps up with last generation’s flagship devices at just half the price. It’s fully unlocked too, meaning no contract (naturally) and easy travel.
Rocking a 5.5″ HD display, dual front-facing speakers and a 13 megapixel camera, the OneTouch Idol 3 is a excellent choice for use with Ting on a GSM network.
The cheapest smartphone is the one you already own! Some carriers, like Ting, offer an ESN checker where you can enter your phone’s serial number and instantly find out whether your current device can activate.
Around 80% of phones bought in the past two years can come to Ting through our Bring your own Device program. If you’re interested in purchasing a GSM device, whether brand new or used, our handy compatibility guide will tell you everything you need to know.