4 Powerful Smartphones That Aren't Overpriced
Smartphones have just about become a necessity in our daily lives. With the big manufacturers releasing a better, faster, more powerful handset nearly every year, consumers shell out a fortune to keep up with the Joneses. The marketing strategists behind tech giants like Apple and Samsung invest heavily to ensure their latest devices are ogled for their sexy design and performance prowess. But in an age where innovation is king, handsets rarely retain their initial appeal. There is good news, however. You don't have to commit to a soul-crushing contract or pay a fortune to enjoy a fantastic mobile experience. Here are five affordable alternatives to those pricey smartphones. (See also: 5 Great Smartphones)
1. Nokia Lumia 520
The fact that the Lumia 520 is the best selling Windows device in the world right now should be reason enough for its mention on this list. At only $100 and unlocked, the Lumia 520 saves consumers from the nightmarish hellscape of carrier contracts.
The sturdy build is comfortable to hold and the colorful Windows 8 OS makes it pretty to look at. The hardware may seem lacking, but it performs beautifully and provides a smooth and enjoyable experience. Nokia apps like Drive and Music are highlights, offering data-free navigation and Pandora-esque music discovery. (See also: New Ways to Listen to Music for Free)
The one caveat is that the Windows ecosystem is not as robust as iOS or Android, resulting in considerably fewer available apps. A fantastic value, the Lumia 520 deserves your consideration and, with its big brother on the way, the Lumia series is likely to find even more converts.
2. Motorola Moto G
A sub-$200 phone running Android 4.4 KitKat? The correct answer is a resounding "Yes, please!" After Motorola was acquired by Google there was little question of quality, but at what cost? Apparently very little. (See also: How to Save Money With Google Wallet)
The Moto G features a quad-core Snapdragon processor and the closest thing to stock Android you'll see outside of the Nexus. This means that there is no bloatware or awkward user-interface hogging space or slowing performance.
Despite the low internal storage and 5MP camera there is a lot to love about the Moto G, in particular Google Now. (See also: The Best Productivity Apps for Busy People)
3. ZTE Blade V
Chinese manufacturer ZTE has struggled to make a name for itself, probably because its previous offerings in the western market have been downright atrocious. However, ZTE is slowly turning the tide with their promise of attractive, budget-minded handsets that don't sacrifice performance. With some respectable hardware, ZTE's Blade V is a phone that that deserves a look.
As a budget smartphone, the Blade V does suffer from subpar screen resolution, low internal storage, and a near-useless camera. However, its saving grace is the 1.2 GHz quad-core processor, which makes the Blade V surprisingly breezy and responsive for a handset well under $200. Heavy users might notice a bit of lag, but most won't have any problem navigating the Android 4.1 OS. This phone, like many of the budget smartphones, has limited availability in North America. Similar ZTE models to consider are the ZTE v956 and the slightly pricier ZTE v967.
4. Google Nexus 5
Priced around $350, some would say that the flagship Google handset is far removed from the budget-minded crowd. While certainly more expensive than the other phones on this list, the Nexus 5 is a steal when compared to devices from Samsung and Apple. Off contract prices for the iPhone 5s start at $649.99, whereas the Samsung Galaxy S5 can be found for $825 and up.
The Nexus 5 delivers everything that Google promised from Android and then some. With a fantastic screen and seriously powerful hardware, you'll be hard pressed to find another handset delivering a comparable experience at such a low price. With the Nexus 6 rumored to be unveiled soon, you can expect to snag this phone at an even steeper discount.
5. Various Overseas Manufacturers
There are a number of smaller tech firms and startups that have been making waves in the smartphone market. Some of the most exciting manufacturers are based in China and their handsets are not only feature rich but technically impressive at incredible price points. However, when buying a phone from overseas there are a number of things to consider, so make sure you do your homework.
Do you know of any bargain basement smartphone deals? Are there any dirt cheap handsets that should be on our budget radar? Let us know in the comments!