Best/Cheapest Android for Entry User?

My sister just financed herself a Galaxy S4 for $150 down and around $45 a month for two years. No doubt, this was at the urging of a salesman from the outlet she bought it from. Her immediate impression though was that it was way more than she needed. I honestly feel like she’s getting ripped off. She doesn’t really have the money for it to begin with, so I'm hoping to recommend something better/cheaper so she can return the S4.

So my question, do you guys have any suggestions for a good GSM Android phone she could buy at retail price for $150 - $250? She had a Galaxy S, which likely had a virus, and it was decidedly bleh. I’m sure there are plenty of phones that would suite her needs without being overkill in performance and the wallet like the S4. Unfortunately I don’t know enough about what’s out there right now. Any suggestions?

I'm betting you could find a used Nexus 4 in that price range.  It lacks LTE but assuming that isn't a deal breaker it is in my opinion the best deal on the market.  It isn't a serious performance drop from the S4 either.

First you said she paid $150 and that's too expensive, then you said you want a phone that's $150-$250? Are you asking for a phone without a contract? If so, I would go the used route for sure, just beware of good deals because some phones on the used market are marked as stolen and can't be activated with a carrier.

Secondly, if you want informed suggestions you should at least tell us what carrier she's using since only unlocked GSM devices will work with all GSM carriers.

Based on the payment plan he mentioned I'm assuming she's on T-Mobile.  Is there another provider that will finance a phone in that way?

As Rballen suggests, it is T-Mobile. And yes, I'm looking for a phone that she can buy without a contract or payment plan for what she has already spent. When I mentioned she can't afford it, I was reffering to the monthly payment that would eventually exceed $1,000 in total.

I'd really like to suggest something that she can, if needed, take to another carrier. So an unlocked GSM device would be preferable. Also, to keep the suggestion appealing, I need it to be new. Even if it's in perfect condition, I can't imagine her considering a used phone over what she has already.

I really like the idea of a Nexus device, and the Nexus 4 seems like a great choice. Any other suggestions though? Cause I honestly feel like the S4 and even the Nexus 4 are more than she needs.

I did a brief search and I'm not seeing a lot.  Personally I'd want at least Android 4.0 and preferably 4.1 for Project Butter but with that in mind everything I'm finding is within 50 bucks of a new Nexus 4 and the difference in specs is so great that I'd make that jump.

Maybe give it a month and see the pricing model for Motorola X?  The leaked specs are of a mid range phone and I keep hearing that they're aiming for an ultra competitive price.

150 USD gets you a Huawei Ascend Y300, which is alright. A few bucks more get you a Samsung Galaxy S Advance (I9070), which is a great solid but thin phone with a form factor inspired by the Galaxy Nexus and the iPhone, with a curved amoled display, and there is an official samsung jellybean update that works really well, and it has great battery life and a decent camera and all the sensors. Or you could go for one of those new firefox os phones, those are below 150 USD and have all the modern functionality.

In my opinion, the Samsung S Advance is the phone with the best value for money for the moment though. In smartphones, the internal build quality of samsung phones is generally better than other manufacturers, with impact zones on PCB's, accessible parts, less glue, good shielding, etc... and the screen is a nice quality smooth gorilla glass that is sensitive even on the edges of the screen, which is not a given with cheaper phones, but it adds a lot to the user experience.

Most smartphones are sold on specifications of the SoC, so many cores, so many megahertz, but in the end, the thing that counts most is what applications it can run and how it is built. The quality of the capacitative screen is much more important than a few extra cores that aren't even used except when playing the most demanding games. If you start a browser on the S3 or S4, it's probably going to take longer than on the S Advance for the browser to fully show the first page if it's a basic page, because the S3/S4 will not go out of power saving mode to start a browser and have a lot more pixels to render, even if you don't need those for most things, while the S Advance will just ramp up the CPU speed, but all cores will be active all the time, and the graphics processor is about as powerful with less pixels to render. Plus the S3/S4 and alike have a really big screen, which is nice, but also very clumsy, and it eats battery power, and it's not necessary to fully use the phone. A Galaxy S3/S4 mini has about the same specs as the S Advance, except for a bit more RAM, and most business people prefer the mini over the regular S3/S4 because those are too big and clumsy, and those don't feel as good in the hand as the S Advance.

Well... good news and bad. I was a little misinformed on the amount she's paying. The $150 down was right but it comes out to $20 for 24 months and she'll be paying $40 instead which will save her around $100 at the end of the year. This brings the phone to under $600, which is not bad considering its a little less than the full price. By my math she was going to spend over $450 extra on something she didn't need.

The bad news is that to return it, there will be a restocking fee along with several other charges that would pretty much cancel out the money she's already spent. As disappointing as this is, there really isn't much to complain about as the S4 is a fantastic phone that should last for years to come.

I recommended the Nexus 4 just in case, though. I'll be keeping an eye out for the Motorola X too. I remember MKBHD recently and it seemed perfect for a lot of the people I know that are looking for an affordable but quality android device.


Wow... lots of great info and suggestion. Ty Ty

Why not wipe the Galaxy S and install Jelly Bean on it? Thats what I'm still using and it is an order of magnitude faster than the older Android ROM's and does everything I could ever want a phone to do.