Dear Lifehacker, I've had a smartphone for about four years now, and for quite a while it's stopped being fun. I don't care about apps, beyond the few I regularly use for things like email, basic internet access and Facebook. Any big announcements of new features for smartphones never excite me, because I'm completely satisfied with what they already can do.
When my current contract is up in a couple of months, I plan on buying a new phone outright, then finding a suitable plan. However, I'm not sure what phone to buy. All I want is something affordable that can achieve these basic functions without too much trouble. Any suggestions?
Thanks, Smartphone Fatigued
With high-end smartphones hogging all the limelight, it can often feel like there are no other options on the market. However, there are actually plenty of mid-tier smartphones skulking in the wings which are perfectly functional and won't break the bank.
Like most other technologies, smartphones tend to depreciate in value quite quickly. If you don't mind owning a slightly older model, you should be able to pick up a big brand Android for a couple of hundred dollars. Some of these phones can even be upgraded to newer versions of Android, which can translate to a smoother, faster experience.
If you'd prefer a brand new smartphone, we'd recommend taking a look at Huawei's latest offerings. Huawei is basically the 'yum cha' of Android manufacturers: it produces an ever-changing smorgasbord of cheap phones that are nevertheless pretty satisfying. It also has slightly unnerving ties to China’s People’s Liberation Army, but this shouldn't really concern you (unless you work for the military or government).
The Kogan Agora is another value-packed option: it costs just $149 and comes with a 5-inch screen and a dual-core Cortex A9 processor running Android 4.0.4.
The main thing to be mindful of when buying a budget smartphone is the touch screen: some are sluggish and unresponsive, which can make everyday use a nightmare. In other words, it's definitely wise to try before you buy. If readers have specific models they'd like to recommend, tell us in the comments.
One other warning: aim for an unlocked phone rather than one tied to a specific carrier. That makes it easier to switch plans, and is also useful if you travel.
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