Every year around this time, the urge to get a new phone is amazing. Of course, if you aren’t due for an upgrade, that new device could come with a $700 price tag. How can you beat the system? Try our top 5 recommendations for the best non-contract handsets that you can snag for not much more than a new one with that two year extension.
#5 – Blu Studio 5.5
This Android powered phone offers a mix of higher end performance with lower end specs to deliver a sub $200 price point phone that performs much better than it should. The 5.5” display is driven by a Quad-Core 1.2GHz processor and 1GB of RAM. The 5MP rear facing camera does a great job of capturing those memories and the HSPA+21 radio will give you great network speeds on either AT&T or T-Mobile’s networks. The Blu Studio 5.5 is powered by Android 4.2 and features a MicroSD slot to expand the memory up to 32 additional GB.
#4 – Samsung Galaxy S III
Truth be told, this device should rank much higher on the list, but at $394.60 for the unlocked GSM version, the price just keeps it from going much higher. The Specs on the GS3 are just as good today as they were last year and the device still performs flawlessly. You can snag a GS3 for under $400 and have a two year total cost of under $1400. This saves as much as $2000 over the new two year agreement prices.
The Nokia Lumia 520 series phones are probably the best bang for the buck in non-contract devices. For $69.99 or $79.99 respectively, you can land a great AT&T or T-Mobile compatible device. Unfortunately, neither comes unlocked at these prices, so choose carefully as getting the devices unlocked may present a bit of a challenge. The 4” displays are very sharp. The 5MP camera takes great outdoor shots while suffering from the lack of flash for those lower light images. The 8GB of internal memory will take care of the average user’s App needs while the MicroSD slot allows the more media prone user to have a great music and video library loaded on to the device. Overall, the price vs. performance ratio brings the Lumia to the top of the class, or at least to a solid #3 in our Top 5 non-contract handsets.
#2 – Google Nexus 5
The Google Nexus 5 has carried on the great tradition of Google’s pure handsets that began with the G-1 from HTC. Pure, beautiful and fast, the Nexus 5 is about the best handset that can be found on the market today. The nearly 5” display, 8MP camera and LTE speeds make the Nexus 5 a holiday dream. The $349-399 price ta make the Nexus 5 #3 on our Top 5 list.
#1 – Motorola Moto G
We’ll catch some flack on this one for sure, but we rated the Moto G #1 in our ratings for one reason only – price. There isn’t another 4.5” phone on the planet that delivers the performance of the Moto G for a sticker price under $200. Sure, the $179 price tag only gets you 8GB of internal storage, but with 50GB of Google Drive storage and Wi-Fi photo uploading to your Picasa account, you should be just fine to use that Wi-Fi connection to keep your phone fresh. It features HSPA+21 friendly radios for T-Mo and AT&T. The 5MP camera does a fantastic job of capturing those memories.
The measly $20 upgrade to the 16GB version offers an even better value, but for the extreme budget conscious, having that Moto G delivered for under $200 with taxes included is quite the steal. For this reason, plus the sheer performance of the device itself, the Motorola Moto G wins our best non-contract device of the holiday season.
Motorola passed along the holiday cheer to a few lucky followers today, but left many more in the dark with their $150 off any non-contract Moto X giveaway. The deal, which appeared on their Facebook page this morning was gone before most people even had their page refreshed to see it. Hopefully, this is a sign of deals to come from Motorola this holiday season and not a one off shot that only allowed a few people to grab the non-contract deal on the X. On a side note, the offer only applied to Sprint, Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile versions of the X, so those waiting for a Republic Wireless version wouldn’t have gotten the additional $150 off anyways.
The Moto X is currently in stock and available for purchase as is the lower end Moto G handset. You can snag either one at http://www.motorola.com/us/home for $549.99 or $179.99 respectively.
Right on the heels of the devastating Solavei announcement last night, we find that Simple Mobile has done the same style of “increased pricing by cutting services” price change as well. Gone is the $40 unlimited plan with 1GB of 4G data as well as the $60 5GB plan. The new offerings fall in with the Solavei offerings of $40 for 500MB of 4G and 4 GB of 4G respectively. Users will still find that these plans end up costing 10-15% cheaper than their Solavei counterparts, but they are definitely a higher priced option than Spot Mobile, who is still offering the 1GB plan for $39.99. Of course, at the high end of the spectrum, a 4GB plan for $60 is still far cheaper than the $83.49 you will spend for that Solavei 4GB plan or the $84 you will spend for the unlimited T-Mobile Simple Choice option, but at least you will snag the LTE speeds with the T-Mo plan.
Overall, this change won’t affect too many users as many of the Simple Mobile users were already running the unchanged $50 plan, but for those bargain hunters that want another month of the $40 1GB plan, head on over to www.4gfastdata.com and snag a Spot Mobile SIM for free. No telling how long they can hold the line with the 1GB offering, but for now, they are the last one doing it at the $40 mark.
It was only a matter of time before the bottom line caught up with Solavei and their users. The draw of Solavei was the word ‘unlimited’. Of course, it wasn’t long before users found that there was a different meaning to that word if you were in the top 5% of the data users on the service. The other shocker to most users was the $60 bill that many users encountered when they completely expected to see one for $49. Now, life is going to get worse for those people and the trios underneath them.
Tonight, Solavei introduced a completely new pricing structure that doesn’t even measure up to services that are already out there. The new plans start with a $20 increase in price to the 4GB plan. This plan is the original $49 offering that gives a user unlimited talk, text and data. The first 4GB of which are 4G HSPA+42 speeds. The $49 mark now drops to 2GB of 4G speeds before throttling happens. The other new additions to their program is the $39 500MB plan and the $25 voice and text only plan.
While this may seem like a great marketing ploy, many users will not like the fact that their $60 plan just got cut to 2GB of data. Especially when Spot Mobile offers that same plan for $49.99 without any taxes or surcharges added on to it. The Spot Mobile plan also includes unlimited international long distance to select countries and a $20 credit to call additional countries or mobile lines.
If you are one that needed that 4GB of data and don’t want to see your bill approach $85 a month, you can opt to take up Simple Mobile on their $60 a month offering that matches Solavei’s, but it doesn’t have the added charges of additional taxes and fees. This is the exact same plan that Solavei is currently selling for $69. Now do you see where that “$20 commission” is coming from. You recruit 3 people and get $20 – by making them pay $10 more for the same service every month. Yes, Solavei has officially become a pyramid scheme. Overcharging for services so people at the top of the chain make more money.
Anyone that is sick of getting taken advantage of and paying for Ryan Wuerch’s trips to Guatemala to see his support staff (way to keep the jobs in the US man!) or to Oklahoma to visit his first tier investors needs to voice their opinions by leaving fast. Spot Mobile and Simple Mobile offer better deals and cheaper rates for everyone. Sure, there’s not a commission structure, but why rip off your friends and family? Stop the madness and visit www.4gfastdata.com today and get a FREE SIM card for any of their services.
Ever found yourself inside your home and that brand new cell plan you just got started with has a perfect signal in the living room, but nothing in the bedroom, bathroom or office? It’s one of the biggest issues affecting the user that has dropped their landline in favor of a cellphone only life. Some people have been creative and use Wi-Fi calling services or maybe a VoIP service, but usually those involve a second number or another bill. Where can one turn to get the best coverage indoors? Try starting with the zBoost YX545 Range Extender.
The zBoost YX545 works with both the 800MHz and 1900MHz bands, meaning AT&T and T-Mobile in the US, and will quickly take your signal from zero bars to full bars in no time at all. In fact, the zBoost YX545 set up in about 10 minutes and had me covered about 45 seconds after I fired it up.
The box includes the main unit, which is about the size of a small network router. It also has a 50 foot co-ax cable to stretch from the antenna to the main unit. The power supply antenna and mounting bracket make up the rest of the primary supplies in the package.
After laying out the parts, it only took a few seconds to place the box inside my dead house and attach the indoor antenna to it. I then ran the co-ax cable down the wall to a window and used a ‘flat’ adapter to run the wire out the window to the location where I wanted to put the antenna itself. The mounting bracket for the antenna quickly installed near the window where I ran the flat adapter for the co-ax cable to and attached a shorter outdoor co-ax cable to the adapter and the antenna. All in all, about 10 minutes total and my zBoost YX545 was up and running.
The three mounting options that the zBoost YX545 offers will work in apartments, homes, offices and just about anywhere else you can find a space to put them. Running the inside setup is the easiest – and before you ask, yes if your home is wired with co-ax cabling, you can use it to carry the signal through to another outlet – as you just mount the antenna next to a window and make sure the box is at least 15 feet away from it. For stronger performance, you can put the antenna outside the window like I did for my demonstration purposes. For strongest possible signal boost, mount the zBoost YX545 antenna on the roof or in an attic. The best way to find out where to mount it in your location is to find a place where your phone has the strongest reception without it and place it there.
Finding a nice zero to one bar zone in the house was pretty easy as the kitchen, bathroom and hallways always provided me with challenging coverage. I kicked the phone into field test mode and selected GSM. The image on the left is the signal of the device before the box was fired up. The image on the right is the device in the same spot with the device turned on.
To further prove this, I reversed the theory and went to my one bar kitchen with the device 10 minutes later. Once again, the zBoost YX545 completely proved itself in the toughest room of my house. From 4 full bars of service to barely pulling a signal with one simple unplugging of the power supply.
It was simple to see that the zBoost YX545 not only performed well, but was so easy to setup that even a technical novice could have it up and working in no time at all. There is a very important notice in the instructions – make sure to set the unit up at least 15 feet from the antenna. You can grab the zBoost YX545 Range Extender for under $200 from GetSmartphones.Info. You can also take a look at the zBoost website for more information.
- Extends cellular coverage for single or multiple users in homes or offices–provides up to 2500 square feet of coverage
- Dual-band device works with 800/1900 MHz frequencies from all major carriers–AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon, Alltel, Cricket, and more (not compatible with Nextel)
- Omni-directional signal antenna receives signals from multiple cell towers
- Antenna can be installed outdoors above the roofline or indoors in the attic or near a window
- Extends phone battery life–uses less power when signal is stronger
- Frequency: Uplink: 1850 to 1910 MHz | Downlink: 1930 to 1990 MHz
- System Gain: 60dB
- PCS band supported: A, D, B, E, F, C
- Networks: CDMA, GSM, GPRS, EDGE, EVDO, 1xRTT, UMTS, HSPA, 3G
- Frequency: Uplink: 824 to 849 MHz | Downlink: 869 to 894 MHz
- System Gain: 60dB
- PCS band supported: A, B, A’, B’
- Networks: CDMA, GSM, GPRS, EDGE, EVDO, 1xRTT, UMTS, HSPA, 3G
- Coverage (open areas): Up to 3,000 square feet
- Dimensions: 5 x 7 x 1.25 inches
- Weight: 9 ounces
- Power consumption: 3W standby; 7W max signal; 2.0A Max
For those users that live on prepaid cellular or just hate contracts, buying a state of the art phone has always been a bit painful. Google first changed the market with the Nexus series and it’s low, off-contract pricing. Today, Google is trying to do it again with it’s ultra-low priced Moto G handset. The device will be available in two flavors, both of which are shooting straight at the pocketbooks of the emerging markets and those contract-phobes.
The first offering comes in at $179 a gorgeous device with 8GB of internal memory. The second ups the memory to 16GB for $199. Now, for those concerned about storage, Google includes an additional 50GB of Google Drive space for free with the device. This means you would have 16GB on board and another 65GB of cloud storage for the rest of your needs. There is no expandable memory slot on the Moto G itself.
Taking much of the experience of the Moto X and downsizing it slightly, the Moto G is quite an impressive handset. The 4.5” display has a pixel density (329 ppi) better than the iPhone 5s and the Moto X. It’s powered by a 1.2 GHz quad-core Snapdragon 400 processor and 1GB of RAM. There is also no LTE radio in the new G series, though that may have much more to do with the target markets than the price. Many of the markets where the G is bound to be successful will be countries where HSPA+14.4 is still considered to be high speed cellular.
The 5MP shooter on the back should take adequate shots for posting to social networks and the 1.3 MP camera on the front will be perfect for video chatting and a few self shots here and there.
Overall, the Moto G looks to be a great mid-range handset for an amazing price. With devices like this coming to market in 2014, many more people will discover savings with MVNO’s like Red Pocket Mobile and Spot Mobile. A full review of the Moto G will be coming as soon as the US model makes its way to market.
If there is one thing more fun that grabbing a device on presale, it would have to be getting one on presale and getting stuff with it. That’s exactly what you can expect from your local Microsoft Store or microsoftstore.com when you preorder your Lumia 1520 from them. The new 6” monster device can be had for a lowly $199.99 with a new 2 year agreement from AT&T or for $549.99 without contract. The pricing at the Microsoft Store includes a flip cover and $50 App Card as well.
The draw back to snagging the early model will be that there is only a 16GB version available, so if you are needing more internal space than that, you may have to hold out a while longer. To make this move a bit less frustrating, you can grab a SanDisk Ultra 32GB card to put in the device for under $30.
We’ve covered the specs on the 1520 at our Windows Phone partner site before, but if you need the rehash, click here. Probably the most recognizable spec is the Zeiss lensed 20MP PureView camera and the new Nokia Storyteller Software. This should be a welcomed addition to the most seasoned Windows Phone user, and the quad-core Snapdragon should provide the fastest Windows Phone experience yet.
Grab yourself a reservation Nokia Lumia 1520 online at microsoftstore.com or at your local Microsoft Store. The question isn’t whether or not to grab one of these, it’s if you want to spend $200 upfront and $130 a month or $550 upfront and $60 a month?