Cheapest bulk smart phones for social science research project.
July 25, 2012 11:35 AM   Subscribe

I am looking for suggestions on the cheapest way to get bulk (25-100) smart phones (android preferred, but iOS could also work) for an academic research experiment.

For a social sciences experiment, we need to make sure that all of the participants (small businesses) in our experiment have access to a smart phone for a several month period so that they can use a custom app that we have built. The phones don't need to be particularly advanced, so phones that are several generations old would work fine.

The phones must not come with an annual contract, but we are flexible about which service provider is used.
posted by vegetableagony to Technology (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Contact the cell carriers directly and tell them what you're up to. Heck, get in touch with the engineering department at your institution. Odds are decent someone's got a contact at the cell carriers or knows someone who does.
posted by valkyryn at 11:39 AM on July 25, 2012

Best answer: Unlocked GSM phones in bulk from eBay
Walmart PAYG sim cards with cheap plans (one is $20/mo unlimited data plus 100 min/mo)
posted by zippy at 11:39 AM on July 25, 2012

What sort of network access do you need?
  1. Cellular network (i.e. phone service)
  2. Wifi but no cellular
  3. No network access needed
This will make a difference in your overall cost and will affect what devices you can use, e.g. if you don't need cellular network access you could get used iPod Touches.
posted by alms at 11:43 AM on July 25, 2012

Best answer: You could acquire a boatload of cheap handsets from DealExtreme, or a similar east-Asian vendor. They sell fairly reliable off-brand Android handsets at reasonable prices.
posted by BrandonW at 12:08 PM on July 25, 2012 [2 favorites]

Also contact the companies that do insurance/warranty replacements for the major carriers (assurion, etc). They may have stock of old phones (2-3 generations) they'd be willing to let go of cheaply, now that they aren't under warranty and thus are under low demand for replacement.
posted by trivia genius at 1:10 PM on July 25, 2012

Response by poster: Cellular data service would be ideal since we'll need to be authenticating/recording transactions using the phone. No phone calls or texting necessary.
posted by vegetableagony at 8:40 AM on July 26, 2012

I was also going to suggest getting in touch with the refurbishers that handle replacement contracts. You might want to try and make official contact through your academic institution?
posted by snuffleupagus at 10:32 AM on July 30, 2012

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