Updated for May 2019: The Apple iPhone XS starts at $1,000, the iPhone XS Max at $1,099, the Samsung S10 Plus at $1,000, and the Google Pixel 3 XL at $899. These manufacturers and wireless carriers tend to offer monthly payment plans to help people accept these high prices, but no matter how you slice it the price of flagships is still a deterrent for many folks.
Thankfully, there are some outstanding low-cost alternatives and these alternatives have significantly improved over the past few years. Various manufacturers, including many from China and Korea, have compelling products and these products are finding their way into the mainstream market. Amazon has its Prime Exclusive Phones program that offers reasonable prices on current models and those that might be a year or two old, but are still a valuable option.
While many of these low cost phones are GSM phones that work on T-Mobile, AT&T, Metro by T-Mobile, and others, technology is adapting and many also work on Sprint and Verizon.
It’s tough to justify a $1,100 iPhone XS Max as your first phone, but any of these following phones may be great to get started with mobile technology, to get work done without forking over serious cash, for your elderly parent who needs an easy form of communication, or to have a second phone in case of an emergency. These phones are in order from lowest to highest price.
1. Coolpad Legacy for $129.99
The new Coolpad Legacy, see my first take, is designed with a large display, huge capacity battery with Quick Charge 3.0, high-quality plastic and glass materials, a microSD expansion card, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and even launches with Android 9 Pie out of the box. There has to be trade-offs made at the $130 price, but it’s hard to see where these compromises were made on the Coolpad Legacy.
The Coolpad Legacy is being offered for $129.99 at Metro by T-Mobile. This means you get service with no annual contracts on a pre-paid basis. This is a great first phone, one for someone who needs a phone to last a couple days, or someone who wants a big display that is easy to read.
It has modern features and solid design aspects while performing reliably to help you get things done. I am still stunned by the low price of this phone and did not expect it to be this good.
2. LG K30 for $139.99
The LG K30 has a full retail price of $179.99 (or higher), but it is currently priced at just $139.99 on Amazon.
The LG K30 has a 5.3-inch display with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 425 processor, an 8-megapixel rear camera, 5-megapixel front-facing camera, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage with a microSD expansion card slot, rear fingerprint scanner, and a rather large 3,000mAh battery.
The K30 is priced at less than most insurance policies for flagship phones, so if you need a low cost phone or a backup, then this may be the one to consider.
3. Apple iPhone SE (64GB) for $160
You probably didn’t expect to ever see an Apple iPhone in this sub-$400 list, but the 64GB Apple iPhone SE is available now from Amazon in a couple of colors at various prices. You can also find 128GB models on Amazon. These are renewed phones that come with a 90-day Amazon guarantee.
Many people keep buying this iPhone because its the last of the small devices with a 4-inch display, but it still has all of the great iOS functionality. Other specs include a rear 12-megapixel camera, a front 1.2-megapixel FaceTime HD camera, a fingerprint scanner integrated into the front home button, and 64GB of internal storage.
The Apple iPhone SE is powered by the Apple A9 chip and M9 motion coprocessor for a fast experiences with a standard 3.5mm headset jack still present on the phone.
4. Alcatel 7 for $179
Alcatel has been releasing some compelling, low-cost phones over the past year, and one of the premium devices in its lineup is the Alcatel 7. It is available from Metro by T-Mobile for $179 with special offers dropping it to as low as free with specific plan.
The Alcatel 7 and launches with Android 8.1 Oreo, has a massive 4,000mAh battery, 2GB of RAM, 32GB of internal storage and a microSD card slot, 6 -nch display, dual rear cameras, an IR blaster, and FM radio. The second 2-megapixel rear camera is designed to provide depth data for bokeh (portrait) mode photography.
The large display has an 18:9 aspect ratio, so you can enjoy video content on the phone. There is an Alcatel-exclusive CloserTV app that consolidates all of your online streaming services and cable TV service provider so you have one central location for enjoying your media.
5. Honor 7X for $200.99
The Honor 7X has been available for a year now, but is still a solid phone at the $200 price point. I wrote a full review last year where I awarded it an 8.4/10 rating, and I know a couple of people that have been very pleased with my recommendation.
If you are looking to spend $200 or less, I highly recommend this phone as a first choice. You can find it in various colors, including a cool red. Like most of these low cost devices, storage can be inexpensively expanded via a microSD card too
The Honor 7X looks and feels like a device priced at least twice this cost. It’s all metal body has an excellent fit and finish with minimal bezels, dual rear cameras, a fast Kirin 659 processor, 3.340mAh battery, 3GB of RAM, FM radio, and more.
6. Moto G6 for $239.99
The Moto G6 is available as an Amazon Prime Exclusive phone and may be one of the best available for just over $200.
ZDNet’s Ross Rubin stated that the Moto G6 was the way forward for Motorola, and then Sandra Vogel posted her full review of the G6 Plus. For just $239.99 you can purchase the Moto G6 in black or oyster blush from Amazon. An indigo blue one with 64GB of internal storage is available for $299.99.
The Moto G6 has a 5.7-inch display, dual rear cameras, an 8-megapixel front-facing camera, 3GB of RAM, 32GB of internal storage with a microSD card slot, and 3,000mAh battery. It is a mid-level phone available at an entry level price.
7. LG Stylo for $249.99
The Samsung Galaxy Note standout feature is the S Pen, but the Note line starts at $1,000 and goes up from there. If you are a fan of using a stylus with your phone, then you are in luck, as you can find a much more affordable option on Amazon with the LG Stylo 4. This LG phone comes with a large 6.2-inch 1080p display and a stylus pen that even supports screen off memos, which is one of my favorite features on the Note 9.
The LG Stylo 4 has 3GB of RAM, 32GB of internal storage with a microSD card slot, Android 8.1, and is powered by a Snapdragon 450 processor. It has a 13-megapixel rear camera and 5-megapixel front camera with a 3,300mAh battery and USB-C port for charging.
Facial recognition is used for convenient unlocking while a rear fingerprint scanner is present for secure situations.
8. Nokia 7.1 for $349
The Nokia brand is back with compelling mid-range phones from HMD Global. The Nokia 7.1 can be purchased from Amazon, WalMart, and Best Buy for $349. Available colors include Gloss Midnight Blue and Gloss Steel.
A large 5.84-inch 19:9 ratio display made with Gorilla Glass 3 is powered by a Snapdragon 636 running Android 9 Pie. You will still find a standard 3.5mm headset jack on this phone with dual rear cameras with Zeiss optics. USB-C is available for charging and a 3,060mAh battery keeps you going for hours.
The phone incorporates a rear fingerprint sensor. This is an Android One device so you can count on timely updates too.
9. Moto Z3 Play for $349.90
The Moto Z3 Play also uses the Snapdragon 636 processor to power its 6-inch Super AMOLED display, 4GB of RAM, and 64GB internal storage. This is one of the most powerful phones under $400 and supports the use of Moto Mods.
Dual rear cameras are present, along with a 3,000mAh battery in a slim and sleek form factor. It’s a bit of an upgrade to the Moto G6 with support for the Moto Mods platform.
The Moto Z3 Play runs a stock Android experience with useful utilities from Motorola, such as the gesture to launch the camera or toggle the flashlight.
10. Google Pixel 3a for $399
Google’s Pixel line of phones has been competing with flagships from Apple, Samsung, and Huawei. Just last week at Google I/O, Google revealed the Pixel 3a at just $399. It’s a mid-level phone, but the standout camera from the Pixel 3 is included so if you want the absolute best phone for under $400 that will be updated for years, then you can’t go wrong with a Pixel 3a in Just Black, Purple-ish, or Clearly White.
Even better for the masses, Google will be selling these in T-Mobile, Verizon, and Sprint stores. US carrier stores often have launch specials and special pricing offers too so look around and even visit your store to test one out.
The Pixel 3a is running Android 9 Pie and is assured of getting updated to Android Q on a timely basis. It has a 5.6-inch display with a rear 12.2-megapixel camera and front 8-megapixel camera with Google’s fantastic image processing software.
A Snapdragon 670 powers the Pixel 3a with 4GB of RAM, 64GB of storage, a 3,000mAh battery, and stereo speakers. A fast rear fingerprint scanner unlocks the phone while it also still retains a 3.5mm headphone jack.
Disclosure: ZDNet earns commissions from some of the products featured on this page.
Twitter rolls out the ability for creators to host Super Follows-only Spaces – TechCrunch
Twitter has announced that it’s rolling out Super Follows-only Spaces. Creators who offer Super Follows subscriptions can now host Spaces exclusively for their subscribers. The social media giant says this new option will give creators a way to “offer an extra layer of conversation to their biggest supporters.”
Subscribers globally on iOS and Android will be able to join and request to speak in Super Follows-only Spaces, whereas subscribers on Twitter’s web platform can join and listen, but won’t have the option to request to speak. Creators can start a Super Follows-only Space by selecting the “Only Super Followers can join” button when starting a new Space. Users who aren’t Super Following a creator will still see the Space, but won’t be able to access it unless they subscribe.
It’s worth noting that the new Super Follow-only option for Spaces isn’t the only way for creators to hold exclusive Spaces. For example, Twitter launched its Ticketed Spaces feature last year to allow creators to set a price for users to listen in on a Space. Creators can set their ticket price anywhere between $1 and $999 and can also limit how many tickets are sold.
Super Follows, which was first revealed in February 2021, allows users to subscribe to accounts they like for a monthly subscription fee in exchange for exclusive content. Super Follows is currently in testing with select creators in the United States on iOS. Eligible accounts can set the price for Super Follow subscriptions, with the option of charging $2.99, $4.99 or $9.99 per month.
The launch of Super Follows-only Spaces adds another layer of exclusivity to Super Follows subscriptions. Twitter says it plans to launch more Super Follows features to allow creators to grow their audiences and get closer to their most engaged followers.
Twitter says its research shows that hosting consistent Spaces leads to more follower growth and also gives creators more ways to engage with their followers. The company found that consistently hosting Spaces, around two times per week, leads to a 17% follower growth over a quarter. In addition, the company says creators who host consistent Spaces for a month see a 6-7% growth in followers, and creators who do so for two months see a 10% growth in followers.
TikTok launches its first creator crediting tool to help video creators cite their inspiration – TechCrunch
After years of stolen memes and uncredited dance trends, TikTok today is introducing a new feature that it says will be the first iteration of its creator crediting tools that allow creators to directly tag and credit others using a new button during the publishing process. This button lets creators credit all sorts of inspiration for their content, including dances, jokes, viral sounds, and more — and will help TikTok viewers discover the original creators behind the latest trend by tapping on the credit from the video’s caption.
Larger creators lifting ideas from smaller ones is an issue that’s not limited to TikTok. But as one of the largest social apps on the market, particularly among a younger Gen Z to Millennial demographic, how it approaches the issue of creator recognition matters.
To that end, TikTok says it’s now rolling out a new feature that will allow users to add a credit as part of the publishing process on the app.
To access the feature, users will tap on a new “video” icon on the posting page after creating or editing their own video. Once on the video page, users will be able to select a video they have liked, favorited, posted, or that had used the same sound.
After this video is selected, the video tag will be added as a mention in the caption.
Those whose videos were tagged by another creator will then be alerted to this via an alert in their TikTok app Inbox.
The feature’s launch follows years of controversy over creator credits and attribution on TikTok.
In particular, TikTok had struggled with some of its top stars sourcing new choreography to perform in their dance videos from creators on other, smaller platforms — like the rival short-form video app Dubsmash, later acquired by Reddit. Many of these unknown creators had helped kick off TikTok’s biggest dance trends in years past, like the Renegade, Backpack Kid, or Shiggy. And many were creators of color, who saw their dances go viral after more famous TikTokers would perform their moves without tagging them as the inspiration. This issue came to a head when The New York Times in 2020 reported on the original creator of the Renegade, then a 14-year-old Atlanta teen, Jalaiah Harmon, who hadn’t received credit for her work after TikTok’s largest creator, Charli D’Amelio, performed her dance for her millions of fans, helping her to further grow her already outsized celebrity status.
The following year, a similar controversy made headlines after TikTok star Addison Rae went on “The Tonight Show” where she taught host Jimmy Fallon a number of popular TikTok dances. Meanwhile, the dances’ original creators, many of whom are Black, remained uncredited in the segment. Later, a number of Black creators went on strike as part of a viral campaign to call attention to the issue of creator credits by refusing to choreograph a dance to Megan Thee Stallion’s latest single.
D’Amelio and some other creators have since begun to handwrite dance credits in their video descriptions, often using the shorthand “dc” for dance credit followed by a tag pointing to the username of the creator. A famous Hollywood choreographer, JaQuel Knight, who made history as the first to copyright his work, has also begun helping other dancers on TikTok get credit for their work too, Vice reported in December.
But dances aren’t the only things being stolen on TikTok. Creators have fielded accusations of stealing everything from cheerleading routines to comedy bits to challenge ideas to music or sounds and much more.
A TikTok spokesperson acknowledged the problem with credits on the platform, noting that the culture of credit was “critical” for the community and for TikTok’s future. “Equitable creator amplification is important for creators, especially the BIPOC creator community,” they added.
In an announcement, Director of the Creator Community at TikTok, Kudzi Chikumbu introduced the feature and highlighted other efforts the company has made to help better highlight original creator work on its platform.
Chikumbu pointed to TikTok’s Originators series, launched last October, which showcases trend originators through the app’s Discover List feature. TikTok also recently debuted a TikTok Originators monthly social series highlighting Originators on the platform. In addition, the TikTok Creator Portal includes a “Crediting Creators” section that highlights the importance of attributing trend originators for their work. Here, the company lays out best practices for crediting originators and explains how to find the originators if you aren’t sure who had started a trend.
The use of the new crediting tag could help make it easier for creators to cite their inspiration. However, it still relies on user adoption to work. If a creator wants to lift ideas without credit, they could simply not use the feature.
“It’s important to see a culture of credit take shape across the digital landscape and to support underrepresented creators in being properly credited and celebrated for their work,” said Chikumbu. “We’re eager to see how these new creator crediting tools inspire more creativity and encourage trend attribution across the global TikTok community.”
TikTok’s new ad product gives creators a chance to partner with marketers on branded content – TechCrunch
TikTok announced today that it’s launching a new ad product called “Branded Mission” that will allow creators to connect with brands and possibly receive rewards for videos. With the new ad product, advertisers can crowdsource content from creators and turn top-performing videos into ads. Advertisers can launch branded campaigns and encourage creators to take part in them. Brands can develop a brief and release it to the creator community encouraging them to participate in Branded Missions.
Creators can then decide what Branded Missions they want to participate in. All creators who are at least 18 years old and have at least 1,000 followers are eligible to participate in a Branded Mission. TikTok says eligible creators whose videos are selected by brands will “benefit from a cash payment and boosted traffic.” On each Branded Mission page, creators will be able to view how much money they have the potential to earn if their video is selected.
Branded Mission is now in beta testing and available to brands in more than a dozen markets. TikTok says the new ad product will be available in additional markets later this year.
The company says this new form of two-way engagement between brands and creators allows the TikTok community to have a creative hand in the ads that are part of a brand campaign. TikTok notes that it’s always looking for creative ways to support creators and help brands reach users on its platforms with relevant content.
“Creators are at the center of creativity, culture and entertainment on TikTok,” the company said in a blog post. “With Branded Mission, we’re excited to bring even more creators into the branded content ecosystem and explore ways to reward emerging and established creators.”
TikTok and brands already leverage creators for ads on the platform, but the new Branded Mission ad product will give creators, especially newer ones, a new way to partner with brands and grow their audiences.
Today’s announcement comes as TikTok recently introduced a new way to lure advertisers to its platform by giving them the ability to showcase their brands’ content next to the best videos on TikTok. TikTok launched TikTok Pulse, which is a new contextual advertising solution that ensures brands’ ads are placed next to the top 4% of all videos on TikTok. Notably, the solution is also the first ad product that involves a revenue share with creators. Creators and publishers with at least 100,000 followers on TikTok will be eligible for the revenue share program during the initial stage of the TikTok Pulse program.
TikTok has also been looking for ways to help brands better reach users on its platform. Last month, the company launched a new Creative Agency Partnerships (CAP) University program that is designed to help creative agencies become “TikTok experts.” The five-week program teaches enrollees what they need to know about getting started on TikTok and how to use the platform to up their marketing game.
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