Help a Tracfone user out - phone/minutes recommendations wanted
February 20, 2017 3:43 PM   Subscribe

My tracfone year card is about to die and I'm thinking about upgrading.

The phone I have now is an LG840. It's a semi-smart phone that has super slow web browsing that's aggravating enough that I never use it. I don't talk or text much. I usually use my phone to call people when I can't find them in a store or venue and I've gotten tired of searching.

What I'm looking for is a smart(ish) phone that has GPS/mapping program that I can use if I'm traveling, the ability to browse or download store/restaurant coupons or apps and a halfway decent camera with a flash would be nice.

I've been looking on HSN because they have phone/year card bundles w/1200 (400)triple minutes bundles and that's where I got my current phone after seeing a post on I'm open to other sites but tracfone doesn't seem to bundle their phones with minutes much. I'm trying to stay around $100.

Any help from anyone who knows enough about cheap smart phones to be able to help me figure out which one would do what I want and stay in my budget would be really appreciated.
posted by stray thoughts to Shopping (3 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
As a former Tracfone user myself, here's what I did when I wanted to jump into the smartphone game:

1. I bought an unlocked iPhone outright. Not the latest version, but one or two versions old at the time. This was a large, one-time expense.

2. I went to Tracfone's sister company StraightTalk, where I was able to get on their Bring Your Own Phone plan, and pay a flat monthly fee. I was able to port (transfer) my number with no hassle. I didn't have to worry about running low on minutes anymore.

I know this doesn't answer your question specifically, but it could be one avenue for you.
posted by Wild_Eep at 9:06 AM on February 21, 2017

HSN and QVC are pretty much the only places to get TracFone-branded phone bundles. These two sites (especially HSN) also tend to raise and lower prices a lot, so if you see something you like, make sure you watch the price for a while (or search for the model on a deal site like FatWallet or Slickdeals to see previous sale prices).

With TracFones, the main thing you want is the newest possible Android OS. For the current crop of phones, that's Android 6.0 Marshmallow (Android Nougat 7.0 is out now, but not on any TracFone I've seen). These phones almost never get OS updates, so you'll be stuck with that OS forever and you want your apps to be supported as long as possible.

Max internal storage will be 8GB at that price range. You should be okay with that and an external SD card if you just need it for light app usage. I had all kinds of stuff on my old 8GB Android TF and just tried to move as many things as possible to the SD card. I used Google Maps, Waze and HereMaps (now HERE WeGO) on my old phone, so it definitely can be done.

Regarding the camera, most lower-end TracFones won't have great cameras, it's just the nature of the beast.

Based on your requirements, you might consider the LG X Style or Samsung Galaxy Grand Prime (even though it only has Android Lollipop 5.0 on it). Caveat: I don't own either phone so definitely read/watch reviews. TracFone does do BYOP if you'd like to go that route, but of course you miss out on the minutes/airtime bundle.
posted by i feel possessed at 4:58 PM on February 21, 2017

You might also look at the Samsung Galaxy On5 for $150 on HSN or the Samsung Galaxy Sky for $109 on QVC. Both have better specs than the Grand Prime and the Sky has 16GB internal memory. Both phones have better screen resolution, more RAM, slightly faster processor on the On5 and they have Marshmallow. If you can wait a little while, you can probably get the On5 for around $100. I think, though, that if the reviews are good for the Sky it might be the best combination of specs and price for you right now.
posted by i feel possessed at 6:19 AM on February 22, 2017

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