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.