Ask LH: What Are The Best Sites For Cheap Android Phones?

Ask LH: What Are The Best Sites For Cheap Android Phones?
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Hi Lifehacker, Where are the best places to buy a second-hand or refurbished Android smartphone? And what are the best sites for buying cheap new models? Thanks, Android On A Budget

Image: Rob Bulmahn

Dear AOOB,

In the new market, your best bet for a bargain handset would be any of the direct importers. These are firms that import models from countries such as Hong Kong where handset prices are generally a little lower than in Australia, driving something of a bargain in the process. Within that framework, check sites like Kogan, Expansys and Yatango, bearing in mind that on-the-spot specials can sometimes make one provider cheaper than another, so there’s no real one “best” solution to speak of.

The one large scale caveat here is that you should carefully check the specifications of the device you’re buying against the Australian specifications for the same handset. Not all international devices support the exact same bands for 3G or 4G operation, which may mean that your “bargain” handset doesn’t run as fast on Australian networks as it might. You can check our guide to Australian band frequencies here. You’ll also need to check whether an Australian plug charger is included with the deal, although if you’ve got an existing Android charger, there should be no dramas using that on an international model smartphone.

On the second hand front, the obvious frontrunners would be either eBay or Gumtree, but there’s a significant amount of caution that should be taken here. While you’re still covered by the same basic Australian consumer law whether you’re dealing with a business or an individual, getting recompense from an eBay or Gumtree sale could be considerably more difficult than with a registered firm, especially one with Australian offices. Our guide to buying a second-hand smartphone should be your first port of call because there are some significant issues that you should carefully check for with a second-hand smartphone.


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  • Keep an eye out on

    Also note cheap phones = poor-medium quality. Don’t expect greatness for <$100 phones.

    • cheap phones = poor-medium quality. Don’t expect greatness for <$100 phones

      We humbly disagree. While it’s true you might not get the top specs or the absolute latest Android version, you CAN get a very decent quality Android phone for less than $100.

      In this post, we give not just one but two examples for quality phones costing $99 and two other options costing slightly over that, one of them with the absolute latest technology and outstanding reviews from some of the biggest Android experts in the world.

  • I never use the data on my phone. I just want a PHONE – preferably with a larger, easier to use screen (bigger buttons) and good volume (ringtone and speaker during calls).
    Any suggestions on a good, basic model?

  • Also, check on the reputation for customer service and delivery times from the Chinese sites (geekbuying, gearbest, dhgate, pandawill etc). You don’t want to buy a phone and have major hassles trying to get it repaired/replaced. Whirlpool forum (australia, and nothing to do with the washing machine company) is a brilliant research resource, as well as productreview.

    A great site to see if the phone will work in Aus is:

    Personally I’ve found THL to be a good brand. Elephone is good but don’t believe the battery capacity. I am expecting an Umi Emax today, which has great reviews.

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