Affordable smartphone, no contract. Pick one, right? Unsubsidized, off-contract phones come at a high price—high enough to make the confines of a two-year contract preferable by comparison, which is really saying something. But, that’s only true for the flagship phones that get most of the publicity. The market is awash in low- and mid-tier smartphones that come in at decent prices. And, in the year 2014, it turns out that a lot of those budget phones aren’t too big of a downgrade. These phones give you the flexibility of ditching contracts, but still provide a solid enough user experience to not make you pine for the iPhones and Galaxies of the world too much.
Motorola Moto G
The Moto X was considered a bargain flagship phone when it hit stores, so it’s no surprise that its budget cousins are even lighter on the wallet. The Moto G features a 1.2 GHz quad-core processor, a 4.5″ 720p display, a 5 MP rear camera, and a 1.3 MP front camera. It comes installed with Android 4.3 Jelly Bean, but can be upgraded to KitKat. To go cheap, you’ll have to pass on all the customization fun that usually gets advertised with the Moto, but if you can manage just having a plain old black phone, you’ll probably be happy with the performance. The black 8 GB Moto G is on Amazon for $174.