With the rising price of high end smartphones like the iPhone X and Samsung Galaxy S9+, it made me think. What’s the cheapest price you can get a working Android phone for?
Whether you’re buying used or new, there must be some lower limit. But what is it, and what kind of performance can we expect at that price?
In this article, I find the answers to this question and provide some useful information on what you can expect if you ever need a smartphone at a very low price.
Buying New - What’s The Cheapest Smartphone Available?
After doing some searching, I found the cheapest new smartphone available to cost just £29. And that smartphone is the Alcatel Pixi 4 4”.
Obviously, at that price, you can’t expect much. As the name suggests, you get a 4 inch display. It’s absolutely dwarfed by the crowds of large screened phones out there today, but it works.
The display isn’t particularly pretty, either. At a resolution of 480x800, you won’t want to be doing anything on this device besides calling, texting, and basic browsing.
The limited 1GB of RAM and the low end 1.3GHz quad core processor from MediaTek is also somewhat restrictive. You’ll get by fine with basic tasks, but running just a few apps simultaneously isn’t going to be a nice experience.
Surprisingly, The Alcatel Pixi 4 4” is running Android Marshmallow, which proves to be fairly optimized, even on this device.
You get 4GB of internal storage, as well as a slot for 32GB of microSD storage, so there’s room for music if you aren’t a fan of streaming. The battery capacity is just 1,500mAh - from what I can tell you’ll get about half the battery life of a high end device like the Galaxy S9.
So, at £29 is the Alcatel Pixi 4 4” usable? Absolutely. This phone will work out as a cheap option for when you need a device that can keep you connected via text, call, email, and instant messaging.
Anything other than that and the Alcatel Pixi 4 4” will struggle massively, but if you go in knowing what you’re getting out of it, you’ll be happy with the experience.
Buying Used - What Can You Get?
I think that £29 is a very impressive price, but can we go lower? Well, firstly, if you get the model above, but used on eBay, you’ll be able to find prices as low as £15 if you’re lucky.
Pretty impressive if you’re just in the market for a cheap throwaway smartphone, but how far does the bar go?
At £10 I found a good deal on the HTC Wildfire S on eBay. When this first released, it was heralded as a champion. It was sturdy, had specs to back it up, and was super customizable through custom ROMs.
But how does the HTC Wildfire S hold up today? Well, not very good. This thing has 512MB of RAM and a retro 600MHz single core processor. Good for almost 10 years ago, but unthinkably bad for today.
The HTC Wildfire S cannot run on today’s software, so you’ll be stuck with an outdated Android version. Not necessarily a bad thing and I’d go as far as to say that if you could find a new, unused HTC Wildfire S today, it may be able to run well enough to be an acceptable device for calls and texts.
However, mobile hardware degrades quickly and with the HTC Wildfire S being a device that launched in 2011, I would be very surprised if this could pass off as a usable device today.
So, perhaps that’s our limit. If you’re really stuck for money but need a device, you should try your hardest to reach for a device that’s brand new. The main reason for this is that’d be hard to find a low end smartphone that still has hardware that hasn’t dropped in performance.
Going used is possible, but you’ll need to find a newer device that’s been put up on eBay for a lower price point.
Even still, a price range of £15-30, depending on whether you’re going used or new will get you a device that can essentially stand up to basic everyday tasks.
In my opinion, that’s very impressive. What are your thoughts? Do you agree? How low would you ever consider going if you were in the market for a cheaper smartphone?
Ollie (zerodudex333) is a big mobile/tech fan. He posts blogs on Monday and Tuesday Mornings.