is there any way to buy a phone for a reasonable price sans plan?
November 14, 2004 2:32 PM   Subscribe

Pardon me if this is supremely obvious, but I've been googling all weekend since my cell phone died, and I can't find an answer: is there any way to buy a phone for a reasonable price sans plan?

I want a very basic phone until my plan (under Cingular) expires next August. I don’t want to use ebay. The best deal I could get from the local Cingular store is a $50 -- $60 phone WITH signing up for a year’s plan. I was really looking forward to getting out from under the contract, so I don’t want to do that. I’m looking to spend $50 or less. Any ideas?
posted by melissa may to Shopping (9 answers total)
Use eBay. Get over it. Your only other option would be pawn shops and the like around town. At least with eBay you know if the phones will work with your carrier.

posted by pwb503 at 3:28 PM on November 14, 2004

If you don't use ebay, still check it out. Some companies that buy phones use ebay to sell phones on. They might have websites external to ebay where they'll also liquidate phones. and you can purchase the phones there.
posted by Stynxno at 3:40 PM on November 14, 2004

I used Ebay, and got my phone for $30. Or Craigslist.

I think you're stuck, otherwise. Sometimes you can call them when you're about to be done with your contract and tell them you want to cancel your account completely, and they'll give you good deals.
posted by gramcracker at 3:44 PM on November 14, 2004

Best answer: Phones are actually more expensive than you think they are. That crappy $50 phone is probably a $200 piece of hardware. It turns out that the reason the telco will try to push a contract on you is because the real cost of the phone is subsidized by the profit on the contract. Since the telco tends to "lock" your phone -- with varying degrees of success -- so that it can't be used with other telcos, they aren't taking much of a risk by offering the hardware at such a huge discount.

In any case, if you just want any old phone that works, try throwing a post up on Craigslist. People are usually pretty happy to part with their old phones for little or nothing, especially if they've escaped a contract in disgust, or upgraded from the crappy free phone to something nicer.
posted by majick at 5:00 PM on November 14, 2004

Response by poster: Thanks for your suggestions, here and via e-mail. I felt Shockingly Ignorant for not being able to puzzle this out myself, so thanks for the minimal snark. I will try Craigslist, and eBay for research purposes only, or perhaps Circuit City, as a kind lurker suggested.

True story: I once had to edit direct mail from a major wireless carrier. If there is a hell and I wind up there, this will be my occupation. Really, I've read the conditions, disclaimers, and idiot advertorial language so much that it is a true pisser that I don't know what to do in this situation. I do, however, know all the house punctuation rules for at least some of the crap mailings you get. (None of them limit the number of exclamation points you are permitted to use when describing Very Special Offers, in case you were wondering!!!!!!)
posted by melissa may at 5:17 PM on November 14, 2004

If your usage is light enough for pay-per-minute to make sense, here's a $49 phone from Virgin Mobile.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 6:25 PM on November 14, 2004

I say use ebay. I got a replacement phone for 30 bucks when I lost my other one.
posted by angry modem at 8:14 PM on November 14, 2004

Have you called Cingular? I've been with Voicestream for several years, and every time my phone dies, they practically fall over themselves to send me a new one free of charge. I theorize that it's because they don't want to lose me as a customer.
posted by ikkyu2 at 1:53 AM on November 15, 2004

I have a Nokia 5165 that I would sell you for $20 with a charger. I used it until about 5 months ago when I decided it wasn't worth renewing my plan. You'll have to decide if it will work with your plan. Email me.
posted by jacobsee at 11:32 AM on November 15, 2004

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