3 Great High-End Smartphones with Cheap, No-Contract Wireless Service

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Apple / Google / Samsung

Not long ago, if you wanted a high-end smartphone, you had to sign a contract with a major wireless carrier and play by their rules. That meant multi-year service agreements, expensive monthly bills and new fees. Now, Verizon is forcing even more expensive shared data plans on new subscribers, and AT&T is preparing to tout similar plans.

Fortunately, these days you can avoid the big guys and still get some of the best smartphones, with no contract, and save money in the long run by paying a lower monthly bill.

(MORE: 50 Best iPhone Apps 2012)

Here are three of the best phones you can get without a traditional $70-and-up monthly bill. They’re not the only low-cost options, but all three are also currently available on major wireless carriers at a higher monthly price. Consider these alternatives if you’re on an individual plan and want to save some cash by paying a little more up-front:

Unlocked Samsung Galaxy Nexus with T-Mobile Value Plan

Specs: 4.65-inch display (1280-by-720 resolution), dual-core processor, 5-megapixel camera, 16 GB storage; runs Android 4.1

Phone Price: $349

Service Cost: $45 per month for unlimited data (slowed down after 2 GB), 500 minutes, pay-per-text

Total Two-Year Cost: $1429 (Compare to $1830 on Verizon with 2GB of data and 450 minutes)

The unlocked Galaxy Nexus is still one of the best Android phones around, for one simple reason: It runs the latest version of Google’s software (Android 4.1, or Jelly Bean), and will likely be one of the first phones in line for future updates. That’s not always the case for carrier-specific versions of Nexus phones. Jelly Bean is smooth and fast, and includes Google Now, a virtual assistant to rival Apple’s Siri. With T-Mobile, you get a big discount on the cost of service by bringing your own phone, and you’re not bound by a contract, either. Grab the Galaxy Nexus from the Google Play Store, and throw in a T-Mobile Value Plan SIM card.

Samsung Galaxy S II with Ting

Specs: 4.5-inch display (800-by-480 resolution), dual-core processor, 8-megapixel camera, 16 GB storage; runs Android 2.3

Phone Price: $435 (white model)

Service Cost: $57 per month for 2 GB of data, 500 minutes, pay-per-text (estimated)

Total Two-Year Cost: $1,803 (Compare to $2,020 on Sprint with 450 minutes, unlimited data and text)

The interesting thing about Ting is that you only pay for the minutes, text and data that you actually use. Consume less than the amount you signed up for, and your bill drops. Use more, and it goes up. There are no crazy overage charges, nothing gets wasted, and mobile hotspot use is included for free. (I picked the $57 combination of data and minutes above because it compares well to other carriers’ plans, but conservative users will pay much less.) As for the Galaxy S II, it’s an excellent Android phone with a slim design and a top-notch camera. Ting uses Sprint’s network, so it’s a similar experience for less money.

Apple iPhone 4S (16 GB) with Virgin Mobile

Specs: 3.5-inch display (960-by-640 resolution), dual-core processor, 8-megapixel camera, 16 GB storage; runs iOS 5

Phone Price: $650

Service Cost: $35 per month for unlimited data (slowed down after 2.5 GB), 300 minutes and unlimited text

Total Two-Year Cost: $1,490 (Compare to $2,020 on Sprint with 450 minutes, unlimited data and text)

Don’t be scared of the astronomical sticker price. Virgin Mobile’s service is so cheap that it pays off big-time in the long run. The carrier is owned by Sprint, so it’s the same network without the fully-unlimited data. (There are no data overage charges on Virgin, but you’ll get 2G speeds of 256 kbps or less after using 2.5 GB in a month.) If you need more minutes, $10 more per month gets you 1,200 minutes total, or $20 more gets you unlimited talk time.

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12 comments
RaziHassan
RaziHassan

iScanner (Scan, Fax, Print and Create Multi-page PDF Documents)

Description

Scan, Print, Fax, Download and Store Microsoft Office, PDF and Text Documents and images. 

This app turns your iPhone or iPad into a Handy Scanner, Fax, File Storage or an Air Printer in your pocket. It lets you scan high quality multi-page documents, print it to any AirPrint capable printer in your wifi network, email it or save it to a document folder on your device, post it to Google Docs or fax it to any fax number, directly from your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch. 

A highly useful app designed for individual or businesses use. 

Download Link : http://itunes.apple.com/us/app...

RaziHassan
RaziHassan

SoundNote - Notepad, Voice Recorder and Drawing Pad

Description

*** With this amazing app you can take notes by recording sound, handwriting or typing text, drawing sketches or taking camera pictures. You can convert your notes to PDF or image format, store your notes on your iPhone/iPad or share it with others through email or Facebook.**** 

By combining notes and voice, SoundNote easily captures your meetings, lectures, or study sessions.Need to review the discussion about your next project or conversation with a client ? Trying to remember what the teacher said about a key point during lecture ? 

With the convenience of the iPad or iPhone, you can use SoundNote anywhere: class lectures, meetings, interviews, conferences, study sessions. Even use it to record memos to yourself as you think new ideas! 

Download Link : http://itunes.apple.com/us/app...

Califa Berks
Califa Berks

Still wanting to earn from those inventories.. Why the hell T-Mobile wants to sell it in a very low Price, nexus is one of the best performing Smartphones. They should chosen another variant... sell old electronics or sell cell phone and buy this . Best way not to feel bad in you buy something new.

Sam Trutna
Sam Trutna

Virgin really seems the way to go. My contract with verizon is up in a year, and I would love to just switch my current phone over to virgin mobile, but I wouldn't be surprised if there was some silly reason I can't. Right now I pay close to $180 for two phones with unlimited text, 2gb data, and something like 700 minutes. It's obscene, but honestly one of the best deals I found at the time. Hopefully this section of the market (buy the phone yourself, save on the monthly bill) won't die in the next year or so.

FrillArtist
FrillArtist

My two year cost for my Galaxy Nexus is around $700. Yes. $700. I use my Galaxy Nexus with T-Mobile's $30 plan. I get unlimited data (5GB at 4G speeds), unlimited texts and 100 mins. Yes, 100 mins isn't a lot but you can download VOIP apps like Talkatone, Groove IP etc and use your Google Voice number instead giving you practically unlimited minutes. I love this phone. Amazing hardware at an amazing price.

AWM1983
AWM1983

This is  a great article. A lot of people are getting fed up with over priced and overly limited services from the big four. I would love information or an article that covers taking your existing phone to another carrier. I know there are limits depending on what kind of device you have and where you can take it.  I have an o.g. EVO and I would like to take it to Boost or Cricket but I don't know if I can do so  without some reprogramming or flashing done by some shady guy in a strip mall.

Jared Newman
Jared Newman

Thanks for the compliment and the suggestion. I'll definitely consider doing something like that. (Off-hand, I don't think it's possible to take CDMA phones--those from Sprint and Verizon, that is--to other carriers, even other CDMA ones, but I haven't looked into whether there might be any workarounds, so don't quote me on that yet.)

oblio9090
oblio9090

Huh?  What are "2G speeds" ?

FrillArtist
FrillArtist

Seriously?? If you don't know what 2G speeds are, you really shouldn't be on a tech blog.

Jared Newman
Jared Newman

Sorry, should have been clearer there. Speeds would be equivalent to connection speeds on a 2G network (Most wireless carriers are now rolling out their fourth generation of wireless networks, or 4G, though in many places you'll still fall back to 3G.)

More to the point: Speeds will get slowed down to 256 kbps or lower if you hit your bandwidth limit on Virgin Mobile.