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Obligatory Phone-Shopping Question
November 21, 2012 10:13 PM   Subscribe

I need advice on finding an Android smartphone, not quite so upmarket as this question. Thanks, Metafilter!

Out of frustration with Verizon's crappy coverage and large bills, I'm going prepaid.

I see lots of phones on Amazon but I want to get something fitting my specs that will actually work with Straight Talk.
I couldn buy a phone directly from them but they seem to be cheaply made (And they're in bubble pack so it's hard to get a hands-on feel for build quality).

Wishlist:
Android
$150ish
Compatible with Straight Talk's unlimited GSM plan (AT&T network)
Good build quality (on par with Droid 1 or 2. no flimsy plastic Huawei/Samsung deals).
Does not need to have the latest tech.
Major plus if it plays well with Cyanogenmod.
Especially good if it's available on Amazon! (I have a gift card.)
posted by dunkadunc to Computers & Internet (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
I bet you can find a Galaxy Nexus for that price now that the Nexus 4 has been released.
posted by twblalock at 10:22 PM on November 21, 2012


The Galaxy Nexus, used, still seems to be hovering around $290 on Amazon.
posted by dunkadunc at 10:29 PM on November 21, 2012


The new Nexus 4 is the phone to get beyond a doubt. Best phone on the market and only $300, buy it outright.

They're sold out at the moment though.
posted by neversummer at 10:54 PM on November 21, 2012


I'm not shopping for a $300 phone, though. I'm shopping for a $150 phone, maybe $170 at a pinch. All I need is something to make calls and browse the Internet with, which works with a certain provider and is durable.
posted by dunkadunc at 10:56 PM on November 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


When Nexus 4 stock has replenished, prices on all higher end phones will drop a lot. I'd recommend the Galaxy S2.
posted by wongcorgi at 11:00 PM on November 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


Hey dunkadunc, I'm in the same boat, AT&T crapped all over me saying I downloaded seventy gigs of data when I obviously couldn't and I'm looking for some alternative.

If you posted where you are on the planet that would help. I'm looking mightily at selling my iPhone and moving to Ting.
posted by Sphinx at 11:01 PM on November 21, 2012


I live in Maine. We have US Cellular signal (AKA Verizon extended network) as well as AT&T signal.

In the early days of the iPhone people weren't getting reception in my town, but since then a mysterious tower went up and the AT&T map says my area now has fabulous service. I'm looking for a GSM phone because Straight Talk can use either the Verizon or the AT&T network, depending on which kind of device one has.

If anyone knows of other unlimited data prepaid SIM providers, I'd like to find out. Apparently Straight Talk has some funny ideas about what 'unlimited' means.
posted by dunkadunc at 11:11 PM on November 21, 2012


The original Nexus One looks like it's available through (not directly from) Amazon around your price range, and its (almost identical) twin, the HTC Desire is around your price used. They're virtually the same phone, and my Desire felt very solid. The Desire is easily rooted, both will take Cyanogenmod and up to a 32GB SD card. I don't think either will go beyond Gingerbread, and the small amount of internal memory is a bit of a drag. A memory card of some size will be essential.

Are you considering used, or just new? Does it need to be direct from Amazon, or are third-party sellers through Amazon an option? Are there any other minimum requirements for you (like running ICS)?
posted by K.P. at 1:43 AM on November 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


FYI Portland, ME has LTE on AT&T, Verizon, and US Cellular nowadays. That doesn't help you find a phone but may help inform your decision.
posted by monkeymadness at 5:03 AM on November 22, 2012


I just got a Samsung galaxy 551 about a month ago. It's my first smart phone and I love it. It has a slide-out keyboard as well as the touch screen, which is nice if you do a lot of texting. The link gives a pretty comprehensive review.

It should be in your rough price range (mine was 180$ without a contract). Not sure if it plays well with AT&T, since I'm in Canada. Also not sure about the Cyanogenmod thing, or what you mean by "on par with Droid 1 or 2. no flimsy plastic Huawei/Samsung deals" but it's been dropped from waist-level already (no case) and survived that with no problems.
posted by randomnity at 6:49 AM on November 22, 2012


randomnity: "Also not sure about the Cyanogenmod thing, or what you mean by "on par with Droid 1 or 2. no flimsy plastic Huawei/Samsung deals" but it's been dropped from waist-level already (no case) and survived that with no problems."

Cyanogenmod is a custom Android firmware, which often means you can have newer, better firmware than what your phone's provider would otherwise provide. This was nice on my Droid 3, since I could use Android 4 when Verizon never updated it past 2.3. Unhappily, the Droid 3 is suffering the same fate as my Droid 1- the screen would shut off with the slide open, after a few months of that the screen would shut off when the phone was so much as nudged, and after that not turn on at all.

The Droid 1 and 2 had metal bodies, and I'm looking for a GSM phone with similar build quality. I was a 2-day owner of a Samsung Stratosphere, which felt so plastic and flimsy that I was afraid it would split in two every time I slid it open- so I returned it.

I'd go with the Motorola Milestone (GSM Droid) but I get the impression it doesn't work with US networks due to an issue with frequencies.
posted by dunkadunc at 11:34 AM on November 22, 2012


I just went over this with my GF and she bought the HTC One V from Virgin. A decent, inexpensive android phone and a cheap monthly plan.
posted by empath at 1:50 PM on November 22, 2012


The Canadian version of the Motorola Milestone works on AT&T.
posted by Harpocrates at 8:00 PM on November 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


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