How to Find a Good Phone for Less Than $200.00

I’ve written about saving money by switching to Project Fi, Cricket Mobile, and Metro PCS, but never about how to find the best budget phone. Let’s face it, not everybody wants to break the bank just to buy a new phone. And if you read most of the tech blogs, you’d think you had to spend $500.00 or more to get something decent. That is not the case. With a little thought and guidance, you can easily find a good phone for under $200.00.

Hear me out before rolling your eyes. I know it can be done because I’ve helped people find phones in this price range and they’re very happy with them. All you need to do is take some time, find out what makes a good budget phone and don’t let the salesperson steer you away from your goal.

Do Not Get the Free Phone

All carriers have a few free phones, which I suggest you stay away from. The free phones usually have 8 GB to 16 GB of storage, which is a nightmare. The operating system (OS) will take up to 7 GB of space, which leaves you 1 GB to 9 GB of storage for apps, pictures, music, etc… The minimum amount of storage you need is 32 GB. DO NOT buy a phone with less than 32 GB of storage.

RAM is not storage. RAM will be between 2 GB and 4 GB. For a budget phone all you need is 2 GB of RAM. 3 GB is even better, but not a necessity.

Again, 32 GB of storage is the sweet spot for a budget phone, anything less is unusable.

A Micro SD Chip Will Not Solve Your Storage Problems

A micro SD chip will give you extra storage for photos, but not apps. Apps use space on your phone and most will not run on your micro SD chip. Even if you don’t think you’ll use a lot of apps, you’ll soon discover a few must-haves. Don’t fool yourself into thinking you won’t use apps just to get a free phone that will last six months.

Also, use Google Photos to backup your pictures and keep your phone free of clutter. Pictures can take up a large amount of space, and Google Photos makes backing them up easy and allows you constant access to them via the cloud. You can find out more about Google Photos from my post Five Things I Love About Google Photos.

Don’t Worry About Camera Specs

Just because you’re getting a budget phone doesn’t mean you have to get a horrendous camera. There are budget phones with decent cameras, but none will have the best camera on the market. Luckily you can fix any pictures you might want to share with friends or upload to social media with Snapseed or Google Photos. All you need to do is make sure the camera takes a clear picture.

To find out about the camera, either read a few reviews–they usually post photos taken with the camera–or go to a store and take a picture with the phone. Once you have the picture, zoom in and see to see how clear it is. You’ll be amazed how good a budget phone camera can be. Most cameras are decent enough that all you’ll need to do is make simple adjustments to get it to pop.

Remember, you are not a professional photographer and this is just a phone camera. Actual photographers use professional equipment. Even the best phone cameras do not match the quality of a professional camera. If somebody tells you their phone does, smile, nod, and walk away.

You Don’t Need the Latest Processor

Last year’s processor will work fine, and even one that’s a couple years old isn’t going to be bad. What matters more than the processor is the lag. Does it stutter or pause when scrolling through a web site or an app? Go into the app drawer and scroll through the selection. Is it smooth? Go into an app or two and make sure it doesn’t lag. If it does, move on to the next one.

What About the Screen

A budget phone may not have the latest and greatest screen, but you can find one that’s vibrant and has a good display. Take a look at the screen. Do you like what you see? Use the phone to go to a web site and read it. Is the typeface crisp? Can you read it? If the answers to these questions are yes, then the screen should be fine.

Shop Around

You can buy an unlocked phone on Ebay or Amazon that fits your budget. Do not feel as if you have to get one from your carrier. Make sure it will work with your carrier, it’s usually in the description (CDMA or GSM). If you’re not sure if your carrier uses CDMA or GSM, ask them or Google it.

There are a lot of good phone makers out there, don’t get hung up on just one. Remember, the only person you have to please is yourself. Now get a good phone that fits your budget.

Let me know if you have any questions in the comments below.

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