Major technology companies like Apple have helped to make smartphones more prevalent than almost any other piece of technology. Oftentimes, it’s harder to get by without a smartphone than without your wallet.
With a smartphone, you can take a picture, read your emails, and check your bank balance. You can keep up with social media, get directions to your job interview, and – increasingly – pay for what you’re buying. Once you’ve made the switch from a “dumb phone,” they’re hard to live without. According to DigitalTrends.com, more than 1 billion smartphones sold worldwide in 2015.
However, some of the best smartphones come with a high price tag, making them hard to afford for many people, especially those with multiple family members. In an attempt to reach more potential users, Google is rumored to be getting ready to launch a new affordable smartphone option for the U.S. Originally launched in India, Google’s Android One has two different versions, which cost $100 and $200 respectively.
How to Find an Affordable Smartphone
For consumers seeking a quality operating system that syncs with other products they use – i.e. iTunes, Google play, Gmail, etc. – it can be tough to find a quality phone that costs less than $400. However, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Here are some of the ways companies and consumers are finding ways to make owning a smartphone more affordable:
Monthly Payment Plans
Cell phone providers now offer the option to buy a smartphone on a monthly payment plan. In the short term, this can make it more affordable for buyers who don’t have the cash to for the full price up front. However, it can mean that they’re ultimately paying more for the phone over the long term.
For many years, phone service providers like Verizon and Sprint have offered discounted smartphones as an incentive for signing up for a two-year contract. Prices for these contracts vary, but can often cost users more than $100 a month for data, texting and phone services. When compared to prepaid plans that offer the same services without the contract, it’s apparent that the cost for the smartphone is built in.
One of the newest ways companies are seeking to lower the price of smartphones is via advertising. For example, you can buy a Motorola Moto G4 on Amazon for $149 in exchange for seeing ads on the lock screen.
The lowest priced smartphones come with less features than their more expensive counterparts. The biggest difference is the amount of memory on the smartphone, which ranges from 8 GB to 128GB. The amount of memory affects how many apps the smartphone can run and how quickly, and how much storage is available for media, such as pictures, videos and voice recordings.
Many users save money by buying their smartphones used on Ebay or Craiglist. Apple also has a certified refurbished program. The program offers refurbished smartphones, laptops and other Apple technology at a reduced price with a limited warranty.
The Other End of the Spectrum: The LEAST Affordable Smartphone
Alternatively, the most expensive smartphones cost many thousands of dollars.
Solarin, a smartphone with an Android operating system designed by an Israeli startup, costs a whopping $14,000. Solarin is currently the most expensive smartphone on the market. The biggest selling point, says the company, is the phone’s security technology and privacy. It’s also water and dust resistant, and can operate for up to 31 hours before it needs to be charged.
Although finding a quality affordable smartphone takes more research, there many options available for those who are willing to look.