5 Best Cheap Smartphones [March, 2014]

Buyers looking for the best cheap smartphone in March aren’t in search of the latest and greatest smartphone, but don’t want to lock in to a contract with a budget smartphone that doesn’t deliver a good user experience. While we routinely talk about the best smartphones overall, there are a small collection of cheap smartphones that are also quite good.

Users looking for the newest technology will need to look somewhere else. This guide to the best cheap smartphones is aimed at users on a budget that need to get a new phone today, and want to spend less than $100 on contract or around $300 off contract. Our list of cheap smartphones includes on and off contract options and even the best free smartphone available today, if you are willing to sign a contract.

The iPhone 5s and Samsung Galaxy S5 aren’t going to show up on our list, even though T-Mobile often sells them with a $0 down option. If you can get in on an iPhone 5s deal like the $1 after trade at Best Buy, that’s perfect. But that assumes you have an old iPhone to trade in and are eligible to sign a new contract.

You won’t be scrapping the bottom of the barrel, the best cheap smartphone for March include an iPhone, the Samsung Galaxy S4, HTC One, a Windows Phone and more.

If you are shopping for a smartphone on a budget, here are the best cheap smartphones you can buy today, with or without a contract. You may be surprised to see that there some crossover with the best smartphones we shared earlier this year. For users that can spend a little more, the Nexus 5 is $349 off contract, and arguably one of the best off contract smartphones that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.

You won’t get the best deals on cheap smartphones by going into a local carrier store. Instead you’ll need to go to a retailer like Best Buy or Target or shop on Amazon. This works very similar to buying in store, but you will need to call to activate it or install the SIM card from your old phone. You can still get help from the carrier if you have problems.

When we are asked by friends and family what cheap smartphones are OK to buy, this is the list we share. You will undoubtedly see other cheap phones and even some free smartphones that aren’t on this list, but in most cases you’ll want to avoid them.

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iPhone 5c

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iPhone 5c

The iPhone 5c is essentially an iPhone 5 in a colorful plastic shell. While the iPhone 5s is a better phone, there are many users that want a cheap iPhone that offers a 4-inch display, decent camera and promise of longer update support than the iPhone 4s.

The iPhone 5c is a good option that users can buy for about $50 on a two year contract through a third-party like Target. There is also a way to buy the iPhone 5c for about $299 off contract on Virgin Mobile, if you are good at following steps and willing to wait for some of the discount.

As one of the best cheap smartphones for the month this device features a 4-inch Retina Display, 8MP camera, runs iOS 7.1, comes in a variety of color options and works on all major U.S. carriers as well as pre-paid carriers like Virgin Mobile.

Read: iPhone 5c vs iPhone 5s

The 16GB model will be slim on storage for power users, but switching to a 32GB iPhone 5s makes the price go up almost $150, which skyrockets into a new territory of smartphone prices.

The best iPhone 5c prices are going to come from retailers like Target, Best Buy and Radio Shack, not your carriers. You can upgrade at these locations just like you would in a Verizon or AT&T store. T-Mobile is often excluded from these iPhone 5c deals because the carrier offers a payment plan for the device.

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Comments

  1. brad says

    you must be very rich to consider the iphone 5c, gs4 and htc one cheap! c’mon! the only best CHEAP smartphone is the moto g!

  2. longebane says

    Bro, 2 out of the 5 phones are flagship phones, that are even more expensive than a Nexus 5 (which is considered budget). How much research did you even do, to include flagship phones in a article about cheap smartphones? Oh, everything’s “cheap” when it’s subsidized, woohoo.

  3. Liam Werndly says

    These phones aren’t even cheap! Do some research before publishing articles. Don’t know how you got your job…

  4. amy says

    Josh,
    I am a low income senior eligible for a California PUC “free” phone. PUC now allows users to use their minutes on a “smartphone.” I will need data only rarely but would like to know what would be the best least-expensive smartphones available to us “welfare phone” users?
    Many thanks.
    Amy

  5. Samuail says

    I loved Nokia 8210 it was a very good phone, and reliable too.
    all smart phones are really social sh*t. no more talking even to the wife / kids,
    where these phones brain wash all the humans generations.
    what is the use….. watzup, bbm, and all this crap…. where is the life with this technology…

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