Navigating the Budget Cell Phone Jungle

29 May 2012 | Hardware | 0 comments


So you've decided to buy a new cell phone or upgrade your existing one. Like most of us, you don't have thousands of dollars to spend, but you don't want to sacrifice features. What phone do you buy?

Check Deals

Manufacturers run many different cell phone deals and the "budget" cell phone no longer means a basic phone with few features. Even smartphones are available for free with the purchase of a contract from dealers such as T-Mobile. For a few dollars more you can get a phone with many upgrades.

Decide Which Features are Important

The difference is that the budget phones may be older models or may not have the advanced features of the more expensive phones. So one important step is to make a list of what you really want in a cell phone. How important is checking your email or browsing the web? Do you want to listen to music or watch streaming videos?

Many of these budget cell phones come with a music player, perhaps a video player, too. Some have Internet browsing capabilities. Having a good list of features that you want in a phone helps you to make your selection. Indicate which things on your list are "must haves" versus the "like to have" items. That will help you sort out the cell phone deals to look at, too.

Try an Older Model

Cell phone manufacturers that have many models available are a good bet because they often have older models (that may only be 1-2 years old) for sale. LG and Samsung are two companies that have a number of phones to choose from. Currently the top budget phones on this list include the LG Neon II, LG Optimus T and the Samsung Solstice II.


What design fits your lifestyle best? A small compact phone or a flip phone? One with a standard QWERTY keyboard or a virtual keyboard? As they say, looks can be deceiving, so before you make your decision when browsing phones online or in the magazine and newspaper ads, find someplace that sells the actual model you want and try it out.

If you do a lot of email or texting, the keyboard should be easy to work for you. Large hands may have difficulty managing the small buttons on a QWERTY keyboard phone. A compact phone may be uncomfortable to hold while talking. The best way to find out what phone feels right is to hold it, make a call and try out the features.

Nokia is another popular phone with many models to choose from. The Nokia 6350 and 5230 are a highly rated flip phone and touch screen phone. Each has many features and can be found on cell phone deals from different vendors.

Research Battery Life

Battery life is another consideration. How often are you near a place where you can recharge your phone? Are you on the road a lot? Will you be listening to music or watching videos frequently? Make sure that the battery life on the phone you choose matches your use of the phone. Listening to music all afternoon on your phone just to have the battery die during an important call is frustrating and can be avoided by being aware of the battery life.

Research the Camera and Bluetooth

A digital camera and Bluetooth capabilities are two more features to look for. The phones mentioned in this article all have these features, making them good values for budget cell phones. When researching cell phones, make sure that the phones have at least your minimum required features, then begin considering these "like to haves".

Buying a budget cell phone doesn't mean giving up features. It just shows that you are a wise consumer who knows how to spend their money to get the best possible benefits from their cell phone.