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Cheap Smartphones & Prepaid Wireless Plans
Smartphones are a new breed of mobile phones that combine many great features in one small handheld device. Users of smartphones can combine a wireless phone with the extras of a PDA (contacts, calendar, notes, etc.) and the most useful features of a laptop or netbook (web browsing, email, and applications).
In this smartphone comparison, we point out many cheap smartphones that are often overlooked by consumers who are bombarded with ads about the iPhone, the Blackberry, or Google's new Android OS. We also mention some prepaid wireless plans that go great with these cheap smartphones. Although a smartphone doesn't have the processing power or storage space you get from Cheap Computers, for many consumers, the convenience of having phone, text messaging, mp3 player, email and web browser all in the palm of your hand makes smartphones the superior choice.
Places To Buy Cheap Smartphones
If you buy the latest, greatest smartphone that just came out, you can expect to pay somewhere around $300 to $500. Some unlocked smartphones (which allow you to choose a different wireless carrier) can cost from $500 to $900 -- yeouch! Luckily, there are some good cheap smartphones that cost under $100.
Refurbished iPhone 3G - Yes, you can actually get a refurbished iPhone 3G with 8GB of memory. This will be the older version of the iPhone, not the current 3GS, and it has the smallest amount of memory available. Online retailers, like TechBargains, will offer this price from time to time. The brand new, non-refurbished model costs $99.
Verizon Smartphones - If you like Verizon as your wireless carrier, then you should know there are several smartphones available through Verizon that cost under $99 -- some are free. Of course, you have to sign up for a long-term commitment (usually two years), so make sure you pick a smartphone that has monthly costs you can afford.
T-Mobile Smartphones - They have a lot of Samsung phones that you can get at a good price. Many of the phones you can get on the T-Mobile network are free with a 2-year agreement, but it the depends on the brand and the specific phone.
Free AT&T Phones - If you prefer AT&T as your carrier, then you can get one of their smartphones for free. Again, there is a 2-year contract with AT&T, the data plan is required, and you might have an activation fee. They have the Blackberry Curve, the HTC Pure, the Nokia E71, and many other good phones.
Smartphones From Wirefly - There is a company called Wirefly that provides phones for all of the major wireless carriers at very nice discounts. In many cases, the phone itself, the activation, and the shipping are all free. As with all such deals, there are long-term contracts required to qualify for the low initial cost of the phone and fees if you break that contract, so make sure you pick a wireless carrier and smartphone that you will be happy with for at least the next couple of years.
Understanding Prepaid Wireless Plans
OK, so you've bought a smartphone at a bargain price -- that's when you find out using a smartphone isn't all that cheap. The wireless data plans you need in order to get the full use out of your smartphone come with high monthly fees that are added onto the monthly fees of your wireless voice plan. That's where prepaid wireless plans can help.
AT&T and Verizon - Both of the big carriers now provide prepaid wireless plans for data, not just voice. You can pay for a day, a week, or a month of data. This allows you to pay for only the times when you actually need the data services, rather than paying month after month on a long wireless data contract which you might rarely use.
AT&T's prepaid wireless data plan is called DataConnect Pass.
Verizon's prepaid wireless data plan is called Prepaid Mobile Broadband.
Since most users only need the mobile data feature of smartphones when they are outside the range of Wi-Fi networks, choosing the prepaid plans offered by either AT&T or Verizon makes a lot of sense.
Cricket Wireless - You can use their Cricket PAYGo plans for just voice, voice and text, or voice, text and mobile web data -- and you can pay daily. With this service, you have a choice of Cricket smartphones or a couple Samsung smartphones.
MetroPCS Smartphones - With a MetroPCS prepaid wireless plan, you only have a choice between just a couple of Samsung smartphones. The smartphones they have sell at a discounted price, usually under $200. However, the prepaid plan that includes voice, text, and wireless data is only $50/mo., and there is no long-term contract.
No matter how low of a price you initially pay to get a smartphone, the cost for mobile data plans are simply not going to be cheap. At least with prepaid plans, you can pay only for the time periods where you are actually using mobile data rather than paying for it 12 months out of the year whether you need it or not.
Aside from cheap smartphones, our site also provides shopping guides for netbooks, laptops, digital cameras, and Cheap Computers.
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