Cheap Smartphones: 7 Phones You Should Not Buy

There are plenty of affordable smartphones that you can buy for under $100. But for each of those great phones, there are at least as many cheap smartphones that you shouldn’t buy. From smartphones that are slow and laggy to ones that are bogged down with excessive bloatware to those that have very poor-quality displays or awful cameras, the seven devices that follow are some of the cheap smartphones that you shouldn’t buy.

1. HTC First

HTC First - cheap smartphones you shouldn't buy

No matter how much you love social media, the HTC First isn’t a good smartphone to buy | Source: ATT.com

The HTC First was a notable release because it marked the debut of Facebook’s Android skin. But even if you’re a big Facebook fan, this isn’t one of the cheap smartphones that you should consider. Jessica Dolcourt reports for CNET that the HTC First is a “humdrum phone” that’s “forgettable” without Facebook Home. Its design is only utilitarian, its camera just midrange, and it lacks a removable battery or microSD card slot. If you’re looking for a stock Android experience, you can disable Facebook Home and get it. And at $439 full price or $14.67 per month at AT&T, there are plenty of other cheap (or even cheaper) smartphones with better specs and more exciting features.

2. Kyocera DuraForce

Kyocera DuraForce - cheap smartphones you shouldn't buy

The Kyocera DuraForce isn’t a good purchase, even if you need a rugged device | Source: ATT.com

If you’re looking for a cheap smartphone that can stand up to some abuse, then the Kyocera DuraForce might sound like a good choice, thanks to the fact that it’s IP68 dustproof and waterproof and meets Military Standard 810G guidelines. But Lynn La reports for CNET that though the DuraForce is both strong and cheap, at $418 full price or as little as $13.97 per month, the device stumbles when it comes to performance. The phone is also packed full of bloatware that you can’t uninstall, its camera takes poor-quality photos, its processor is slow, and its battery drains quickly — which are not drawbacks you have to tolerate with some other cheap smartphones.

3. LG Escape2

LG Escape 2 - cheap smartphones you shouldn't buy

The LG Escape2 doesn’t have the specifications to live up to its promises | Source: ATT.com

The low price tag of the LG Escape2 — $179.99 at full retail or as low as $6 per month at AT&T — might sound attractive. But Bailey Stein reports for Android Authority that the device suffers from slow performance, a low amount of RAM, a low amount of storage, a heavily distorted speaker, and battery life that leaves a lot to be desired, even when you know what you’re getting yourself into with cheap smartphones. The device performs slowly and has just 1GB of RAM and only 2.8GB of storage that’s actually available to the user, and those negatives outweigh the positives.

4. LG G Vista 2

LG G Vista 2 - cheap smartphones you shouldn't buy

If you don’t like slow performance and extensive bloatware, don’t buy the LG G Vista 2 | Source: ATT.com

The LG G Vista 2 is another LG smartphone that sounds like a better deal than it really is. AT&T offers the device for $298.99 or as little as $9.97 per month. Ajay Kumar reports for PC Mag that the device is a “perfectly average phablet for AT&T users, but there are more compelling options available in the price range.” The LG G Vista 2 has a good camera, a removable battery, expandable memory, and good call quality. But it offers only mixed performance, and is packed with more than 20 non-Google preinstalled apps. The bottom line? There are much better options among cheap smartphones, ones that are just as affordable if you look elsewhere.

5. Motorola Droid Maxx 2

Motorola Droid Maxx 2 - cheap smartphones you shouldn't buy

The Motorola Droid Maxx 2 is too slow, and runs much more outdated software than what you really want | Source: Verizonwireless.com

The Motorola Droid Maxx 2 costs $384 full-price or as little as $16 per month at Verizon. The device promises to last up to 48 hours on a single charge. But Cherlynn Low reports for Tom’s Guide that despite a water-resistant design, a long-lasting battery, and a bright display, the Droid Maxx 2 suffers from below-average performance, an overabundance of bloatware, and a relatively outdated operating system (Android 5.1.1 Lollipop). You also can’t customize the Droid Maxx 2 as you can with other Motorola phones, and the device’s performance is much slower than that of other cheap smartphones at similar price points.

6. Samsung Galaxy Core Prime

Samsung Galaxy Core Prime - cheap smartphones you should not buy

Samsung’s Galaxy Core Prime offers poor screen resolution and camera quality | Source: T-Mobile.com

Samsung makes some great smartphones, but the Galaxy Core Prime isn’t one of them. It costs just $99 full retail or $4.17 per month at T-Mobile, but Jon Mundy reports for TechRadar that “you can do better for the money,” highlighting the fact that it’s important to do your research when you’re looking at cheap smartphones. Mundy reports that aside from its price tag, the device fails to stand out in any way. Even though it has a solid build, a low price, and is easy to use one-handed, its screen is noticeably low-resolution and its camera quality leaves a lot to be desired.

7. ZTE Avid Plus

ZTE Avid Plus - cheap smartphones you should not buy

The ZTE Avid Plus has a washed-out display and obviously low-end build quality | Source: T-Mobile.com

The ZTE Avid Plus is part of a growing category of ultra-cheap smartphones, and costs just $114.99 full-retail at T-Mobile. Ajay Kumar reports for PC Mag that the device offers good battery life, plus expandable storage and a removable battery, but features a poor-quality, washed-out display that’s “hard on the eyes.” Additionally, the device features a chunky plastic build which makes it very obvious that this is a low-end device.

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