small, cheap, fairly smart phone?
August 8, 2012 11:42 PM   Subscribe

Can you recommend a small, cheap, fairly smart phone?

I normally buy unlocked dumb phones. I break them a lot, therefore I don’t want to spend a lot. I don’t really need a smart phone but just thought it might be fun. I can’t justify carrying around anything as big as an iphone and want the smallest usable phone I can get. I don’t use Facebook or Twitter. I don’t even want a data plan, but wi-fi would be cool. I’m on ATT, but unlocked would be better.

I saw this Motorola Flipout which goes for fairly cheap. Any other options?
posted by bongo_x to Technology (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The iPhone is one of the smallest smartphones around. It is 62 cubic centimeters (the Flipout is 76 cc - it is wider and nearly twice as thick, though much shorter).

What do you actually want to do with a smartphone? This seems like it should influence what would be a good recommendation. But honestly if you're not interested in a data plan, any smartphone will be sort of crippled. You might do better with a dumbphone and an ipod touch or something for apps or mail or pocket wifi web browsing or whatever it is you plan to do.
posted by aubilenon at 12:00 AM on August 9, 2012

The experience you get from a smartphone is tied to the software it runs (and the apps you install on it).

As far as "normal" smartphones, if I'm not mistaken, the iPhone has one of the smaller screens (@3.5").

I don't find it bulky. Used, unlocked iPhones can be had for a relatively low price. If you wait until, say, October, you will start to see a glut of iPhone 4s (not the 4S) hit the market as people upgrade to the upcoming "new" iPhone. As far as being unlocked, expect to pay based on what you're able to invest in as far as time and know-how.

For example, a stock, run-of-the-mill iPhone 4 can be had pretty cheaply, but a lot of people use "jailbroken!", and "unlocked!" as a selling point (and an excuse to charge you more)... when both can be done with just a little bit of time investment on your end.

Again, you experience with a smart phone isn't going to be dictated by the physical size of the phone, but the operating system it runs on and the custom functionality that "apps" provide.

If you have (or if a friend has) an iPod touch, the form factor is similar (iPhone is a little thicker), so carrying it around for a day or two can give you an idea of what you can expect based on the physical aspects of the device. Same goes for the software.
posted by Master Gunner at 12:08 AM on August 9, 2012

Small, cheap and good? Pick two or compromise.

The HTC Wildfire S is small, quite cheap for a smartphone, and quite well powered for its size.

What's your budget?
posted by devnull at 3:15 AM on August 9, 2012

The Reg has a roundup of cheap android phones.

It might be worth reading for you.
posted by sien at 3:51 AM on August 9, 2012

gsmarena phone finder
posted by Akeem at 4:36 AM on August 9, 2012

Sony's Xperia Ray is very small, and reasonably affordable.
posted by TrinsicWS at 5:10 AM on August 9, 2012

I've just bought the HTC Explorer. It's pretty small and cute and I got pay-as-you-go for £130. I recommend it!
posted by low_horrible_immoral at 5:16 AM on August 9, 2012

Have you actually tried carrying around an iPhone? I thought it would seem big, but it doesn't, maybe because it's so thin.
posted by J. Wilson at 6:22 AM on August 9, 2012

Thanks for the suggestions. I just wanted to make sure I wasn’t missing anything.

I have (wife has) an ipod touch. The length and thinness makes me think there’s no way I wouldn’t break it if I carried it around. I have to carry a phone all the time for work, but I actually use it very little. A couple of phone calls a week, a couple of texts a month, a couple of pictures a year. I’ve just run my current phone through the washing machine (had it for less than 2 weeks) and need a new phone since my current backup has lines running through the screen from dropping it so much.

I’m only thinking about this since my wife just got an unlocked Pantech Crossover for $60 which is in the same ballpark as generic phones I’ve been getting. I’d get one of those except for the size, which is about the same as an iphone only a little thicker because of the keyboard. I like the physical keyboard.
posted by bongo_x at 9:45 AM on August 9, 2012

The ground floor of smart phones is still Nokia's Symbian line. A Nokia 600 has a lot of smart functions and can be had for peanuts.
posted by 1adam12 at 9:47 AM on August 9, 2012

What carrier? Have you tried Virgin Mobile? They have a few $50 smartphones that appear to be unlocked.
posted by en forme de poire at 2:01 PM on August 9, 2012

The iPhone is a lot thicker than the iPod Touch and you can get a nice sturdy case that bounces when you drop it. Won't do much about the washing machine though.

I haven't yet seen an Android device that feels as durable as an iPhone. Most Androids are surrounded by flimsy plastic.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 3:53 PM on August 9, 2012

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