The Best “Free” (or under $100) Android Phones

The Best “Free” (or under $100) Android Devices Offered By Your Carrier!

Verizon Wireless

While Verizon Wireless offers the most incredible line of higher end Android devices, their under $100 selections are very limited. Even with the limited selection of lower end devices, Verizon offers up the refurbished LG Ally for nothing with a two year contract.

The Ally comes out of the box running Android 2.1 on a 3.2” screen. The TFT display packs 800×480 pixels at an amazing 262,000 colors. The hardware is completed with a slide out, full QWERTY keyboard.

The Ally isn’t the strongest Droid in Big Red’s lineup, but when you factor the basic performance of the Ally against the price of the Droid X or 2, the Ally defends its low-end, highly entertaining user experience very well.

In the under $100 range, the Ally still holds strong at its new two year price of $49.99 after online discounts. The Motorola Devour receives an honorable mention with its $79.99 price tag, but feature wise, it just doesn’t stack up to the LG Ally.

Total Cost: Refurbished Ally – $0.00 + Talk/Text $59.99 +Data $29.99 x 24 months = $2159.52

Sprint

While  Sprint has nothing to contribute to the “freebie” market without having to use either a renewal or a premiere member bonus, the Samsung Intercept makes a great case for the under $100 crowd. The updated offering from Samsung builds on the Moment’s success and runs Android 2.1 out of the box.

The Intercept also runs a beautiful 3.2” display, but at a lower 400×240 resolution. This hinders the overall recommendation of the Intercept for many users as the WQVGA resolution limits the number of applications that will run on the device. With more devices going to the WVGA (800×480)  resolution, it’s doubtful that many developers will continue to support these lower resolution devices.

In the mean time, the Intercept markets itself as one of 2 Sprint Android devices that doesn’t need to the ‘premium data’ feature that is being added to the Epic 4G and the Evo 4G. This is also the last hurrah for the amazingly popular HTC Hero. The Hero is still selling online at $149.99, but the supplies will be running out soon and there will not be a replacement for this device in the near future. Look for a smaller screen, 4G device from HTC once the Evo sales have cooled.

Total Cost: Samsung Intercept – $99.99 + Any Mobile/Any Time/Data $69.99 x24 = $1779.75

AT&T Wireless

In the world of Torches and iPhones, AT&T’s Android offerings are often overlooked. While AT&T doesn’t have much to offer, their free, refurbished HTC Aria, makes an excellent choice for the beginning Android user.

It’s 3.2” HVGA display comes in with a sharp 480×320 screen. Its 5MP camera delivers a very good image quality.

Overall, the Aria is an excellent jump in to Android on a network that is often forgotten among Droid users because of the iPhone and BlackBerry. While it won’t win most specification shootouts, if you are an AT&T customer, the Aria is by far the best choice of their two devices.

Total Cost: Refurbished HTC Aria $49.99 + 450 Minutes $39.99  + 2GB  Data/Text  $45.00 x 24 = $2089.75

T-Mobile

T-Mobile was the first Android carrier in the US with the launch of the G1. Since, T-Mobile, has brought forth an amazing lineup of Android powered devices. The Motorola Cliq XT may not be as glamorous as the new Samsung Vibrant or as amazing as the new G2,  the Cliq XT does fill that need for lower end Android users.

For users looking for a bit simpler phone, the Cliq fills the need quite nicely. While the Motorola interface has received extremely mixed reviews, it can be a very simple way for Tweeters and Facebookers to keep in touch. While standard apps from the market can easily replace all the features that Moto Blur offers, Blur does make it simple for the Android newbie to find their friends and post their tweets.

Again, the Cliq XT isn’t the biggest or brightest in the T-Mobile line up, the free price tag makes this device an amazing deal.

Total Cost: Motorola Cliq XT – $0.00 + Talk/Text/Web (500 Min) $79.99 x 24 = $1919.76

For the first time smartphone buyer:

The under $100 Android market will continue to grow, especially as tiered data becomes a reality in cellular land. Unless carriers are willing to subsidize phones a bit more heavily, their higher priced unlimited plans will become very unpopular quickly.

While Sprint and the Intercept lead the way on 2 year contract pricing at a full cost of $1779.75, it also offers the lowest screen resolution and oldest device technology. Sprint users do have a few options, but they will quickly bring you back in line with Verizon’s pricing as the as you add the Evo 4G ($199.99 + $79.99 x 24 months = $2119.75).

Verizon offers the highest pricing, but also has the best selection of devices – especially in the under $200 range. Their 2 year contract pricing of $2159.52 was nearly $400 more than Sprint,  but for a $150 more, you have a multitude of device choices that will fit anyone’s needs.

AT&T still has very little to offer for Android users. Their extremely limited Android  offerings  make them the least appealing choice of the four major carriers. Also, by raising their rates before the competition, they are no longer a great choice for any data hungry device.

T-Mobile falls in nicely between Sprint’s lower cost rates and Verizon’s higher cost service. There are some amazing devices available on T-Mobile and the expansion of the HSPDA+ network is bringing ‘4G’ speeds to many major cities across the US.

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