Sony Xperia L1 for $180 [Unlocked, USA warranty]

There’s an insane number of smartphone options these days, and at a wild range of prices. Many of the phones out there are available unlocked, which typically give you the most flexibility and better resale value (other things equal as many other factors determine resale value of a smartphone ~ not that we are buying these things as investments).

Which brings us to the Sony Xperia L1 getting its first discount, now going for $180 with free shipping in the three official color schemes at amazon.com. This is new condition, with USA warranty, and sold by Amazon actual. No contract, and you don’t even have to use it with a cellular plan.

It comes with Nougat out of the box, which is a step ahead of most Android phones out there (sadly!). It has 2GB RAM, 16GB on-board storage, microSD slot (Sony sells microSD cards, so of course they’ll support microSD storage), and GSM compatibility.

It has a 5.5-inch display with 720p resolution (it’s under $200 after all), with a MediaTek processor, a Nano SIM, USB-C connector, etc.

As you can see from the pictures, one semi-distinguishing characteristic of this is that there are almost no side bezels, but plenty of them at the top and bottom.

Motorola Moto E (Tracfone) for $20 w/free S&H

If you need a budget Android phone that is actually usable considering the price, the new condition Tracfone edition of the Motorola Moto E is on sale for $20 with free shipping by ShopCellDeals on eBay. They have a 99.5% feedback score and they ship from Virginia. Over 3650 phones got sold so far from this listing.

Tracfone is a prepaid seller, so you are under no obligation to start or transfer or continue service with them. It’s all up to you. Note however that the Tracfone is the only wireless carrier that you can use this phone with.

The specs are basic on the phone, but the Moto E was part of the earlier budget wave started by the Illinois pre-Google pre-Lenovo version of Motorola, along with the Moto G and the Moto X. It has a 4.3″ qHD screen, “q” in this case is “quarter HD”, not “quad HD”, which translates to 960 x 540 pixels. It runs on a dual core 1.2GHz processor and Android 4.4.

If you need more power, there are many great choices out there, but you won’t find them for $20 delivered and in new condition 🙂

Virgin Mobile Sale returns: Motorola Moto G (latest model 1GB/8GB) for $100, iPhone 5S for $150, etc

After the holidays ended, the prices jumped up at Virgin Mobile, but of course in the fast-paced world of smartphones, that wouldn’t last long. And indeed, there is a new sale now, headlined by the iPhone 5S (16GB) going for $150, and the 3rd-generation Motorola Moto G for $100. This is the latest model, however, this is the entry-level model with 1GB RAM and 8GB on-board storage. There’s also a model with 2GB RAM and 16GB on-board but unfortunately Virgin Mobile does not carry that one.

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Also on sale is the Huawei Union for $30, while Windows Phone fans have their Lumia 635 down to $50 (it had gone as low as $40 at some point in the year).

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These are no-contract phones, you own them, however, they are locked to the Virgin Mobile network, which is part of the Sprint 4G LTE infrastructure. Check the various phone forums to see which one of these phones can be hacked away to work on other Sprint MVNOs.

[DEAD] Motorola Moto G (3rd gen) drops to $120 (VM)

The new year came (2016) and with it, all the Virgin Mobile USA phone discounts got washed away… But I’m sure they’ll have more sales in the next few days… CES is already underway and more phones are getting announced, so it’s natural for the existing models to eventually go through the discounting and clearance cycle…

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LG Stylo (Boost Mobile) for $100 [no contract]

We have yet another discount on the big screen LG Stylo. You can get in the Boost Mobile (part of the Sprint family) version for $100 with a limit of three per customer at Amazon by Amazon actual. You don’t have to sign up for a plan or contract, just add to cart and checkout. You can use it as a Wifi-only (perhaps as a note-taking?) device. It comes with a stylus, but please note this is not as advanced of a stylus technology like the Galaxy S-Pen or the ones used by MSFT’s Surface tablets. Despite its size and features, this is a mid-tier phone, it only has 1GB RAM and 8GB on-board storage.

Amazon also offers the Virgin Mobile version for $110, with no commitment and no contract. Or you can get that for $100 from VM’s own website as part of their holiday sales.

HTC Desire 626S (Virgin Mobile) for $90

Phone discounts left and right! If you are using Virgin Mobile or if you simply need another Wifi-only device as an in-home remote control or media player, the no-contract HTC Desire 626s (the “s” is part of the name, it is newer than the 626) is currently on sale for around $90 at Amazon.com. This price is a by a marketplace seller fulfilled by Amazon (eligible for 2-day Prime), while Amazon’s own price is around $93. You own the phone immediately and you are under no obligation to sign up for a Virgin Mobile plan.

But keep in mind, this runs on the Sprint network (which is what Virgin uses), so you can’t use it with other providers as a cellphone. You can of course use it as a Wifi device anywhere.

LG G Stylo (Virgin Mobile) for $100

IF you are suffering from smartphone hoarding, this is a very good/bad time, because there are so many specials and so many phones to have and try and compare and such 🙂 One more temptation is in right now, Virgin Mobile’s Cyber Monday offering is the new condition LG G Stylo for $100. No contract. You can only use it on Virgin Mobile (or any other compatible sister MVNO carriers) if you want a cellular plan. But if you only plan to use it as a Wifi device or mooch off your hotspot or other phones, then you can’t go wrong, especially if you like having a stylus.

Granted, the stylus is not at the level of the Samsung S-Pen or the Surface Pen, so you don’t have advanced features. But you can still scribble on that big 5.7-inch screen.

NVIDIA SHIELD Android TV with bonus Remote for $200

UPDATE (11/25/15): this is going to drop another $50 for Black Friday, so don’t buy it just yet!

ORIGINAL: To encourage more people to jump on the bandwagon during the holiday shopping season, Nvidia is bundling their Shield Android TV device with their own Remote Control for free. So you pay $200 for both. This is the 16GB ShieldTV, not the one with the 500GB hard drive. You can get this offer, with a limit of three per customer, at Amazon. It also has a microSD slot that takes up to 128GB memory cards. The standard Shield kit includes a game controller. The remote is the bonus item here, which goes for $50 on its own. The promotion expires 12/31/15 or earlier if they sell out of them.

Huawei Union 4G LTE (Virgin Mobile) for $30

If you are part of the Virgin Mobile network or if you are looking for a cheap Android phone, the Huawei Union 4G LTE phone, with no contract requirement, is on sale for just $30, in new condition at the Virgin Mobile USA store. This is part of Huawei’s attempt to make progress in the USA market, hot on the heels of their Nexus high-profile selection.

It comes with Android 5.1 out of the box, 4.5-inch screen, 1.1 GHz quad-core processor, 1GB RAM, 8GB on-board storage, Bluetooth, and things like that. Check the internets for more specs and reviews on this. No contract, but this is locked to Virgin Mobile, which is part of the Spring 4G LTE network.

PS: remember, do not buy any Sprint WiMax phones, sometimes called “Spring 4G” without the LTE part of their name. WiMax is going down.

32GB HTC One M7 (AT&T Unlocked) for $150

Things move fast in the world of smartphones, which means you can get previous flagships for less a couple of years later. But they also rarely run the latest version of Android, so you have a tug-of-war of trade-offs to make. Be that as it may, among the latest offers on eBay you can get the new condition unlocked 32GB HTC One M7 for $150 with free shipping, in either the black or silver color schemes. The seller of record is QualityCellz (99.2%).

This is the last HTC flagship before they re-embraced microSD cards with the M8. So if 32GB is enough for you, and you don’t care for a microSD slot, keep on reading. The listing describes it as “factory unlocked” but it says multiples times this is “AT&T unlocked”. So if you are planning to use it with other GSM carriers that do not operate in the AT&T universe, you may want to check the bands or your favorite Android phones first.

As a quick refresher, this is powered by Snapdragon 600 processor with 2GB RAM, a 1920 x 1080 Gorilla Glass 2 screen, and such. It originally came out during the reign of Android 4.1.2 (Jelly Bean).

Refurbished 16GB Nexus 5 (unlocked) for $170 [was $150]

The 16GB Nexus 5 (made by LG) Android phone that is part of the Marshmallow wave is available in “certified refurbished” condition for $170 [was $150] with free shipping by two different sellers “BuySPRY” and “Magic Mobile Partners” with the order fulfilled by Amazon, so you get free Prime shipping (if a member) and you get to deal with the Amazon customer service in case of problems. This “certified refurbished” comes with a minimum 90-day warranty and testing/inspection according to the product listing over there… UPDATE 11/19/15: the price jumped from $150 to $170 🙁

From the same seller with similar terms you can get the 32GB version for $180. This does not have a microSD slot, so it’s a trade-off to consider. On the other hand, this is a 4G LTE phone, so if you have a fast connection and access to reliable Wifi, you may not need more than 16GB – at least for media purposes.

I haven’t yet bought any items that are part of Amazon’s Certified Refurbished category, so I can’t tell you what to expect. I am tempted by this Nexus 5 price though because I don’t currently have an officially sanctioned Marshmallow phone.

There are no customer reviews of either one of these listings, so perhaps this is for the more brave shoppers who don’t mind taking a risk.

Seller-refurbished Samsung Galaxy S5 (T-Mobile, Unlocked) for $210

If today’s Uncarrier X announcements got you excited about T-Mobile, but you don’t want to pay the big bucks for a new phone and you don’t want to sign up for those monthly plans, among the latest offers on eBay you can get the seller-refurbished Samsung Galaxy S5 (T-Mobile, but unlocked now) for $210 with free shipping by eBay seller “chubbiestech” (98.7%). This is available in either black or white, with a limit of 50 per customer. The gold color is sold-out.

The description over there states “phone in fair to good condition, Unit will have scuffs or scratches on body and screen. Comes packaged in after market box with compatible charger & battery”. If you are comfortable with the higher risk of seller-refurbished items, and you are not a perfectionist in terms of the cosmetic product condition, you may get a great deal out of this.

Since this is a T-Mobile unlocked phone, it should work great with T-Mobile. For other GSM carriers, check the bands to make sure it’s a good match. Of particular interest if you are a fan of microSD cards and removable batteries since Samsung yanked both of those features out of the Galaxy S6 🙁

No contract, you own the phone right away. You can always use it as a Wifi-only media device, or use it for development purposes or other experiments, or have it “eat” data from your mobile hotspot or other phones.

Seller-Refurbished HTC One M8 (model 6525) for $170 [Verizon with Unlocked GSM]

If you are comfortable with beat-up smartphones (an anti-euphemism for seller-refurbished), all it takes is $170 (was $150) to get the seller refurbished 32GB HTC One M8 (model 6525) from eBay seller BidAllies (98.7%). The description over there calls it “This is a B+ Stock item, meaning unit is in good cosmetic condition and may have minor scrapes or scratches since it’s been handled.”… Price updated in this post on 11/10/15…

Now if you only want to use it as a Wifi-only device, you don’t have to worry about the cellular part. But if you do, keep in mind, this is a Verizon Wireless model, with the GSM part unlocked. Some recent Verizon phones have GSM so you can use it while traveling abroad. So if you are planning to use it on GSM, make sure you check the bands, and check various forums, to make sure it will work to your satisfaction on your chosen GSM network.

Over 4900 units got sold from this offer so far. Only the Gray color scheme remains in-stock. The rest are sold-out. Some prefer the M8 to the newer M9 flagship, but that depends on preferences. The M8 was the first HTC modern-era flagship to bring back the microSD slot (the M7 does not have it).

No contract, you own it right away. You don’t have to use it wirelessly, you just have it as a Wifi-only device, such as a media player, or remote control, or have it feed off your hotspot or your other phone’s mobile hotspot.

The price is very tempting, but make sure you understand the risks of a “seller refurbished” item, and the potential band issues if you are planning to use it on a GSM network.

LG G Stylo (Boost Mobile) for $130

The new condition LG G Stylo, in the Boost Mobile configuration, is currently on sale for $130 with free shipping and no-contract at Amazon by Amazon actual. This is the CDMA version of the phone, that doesn’t have as good of a spec-sheet as the TMobile/MetroPCS version. The phone has a giant 5.7-inch IPS screen with Gorilla Glass 3. The processor is the Snapdragon 410, which ranks #797 at notebookcheck (this ranks all processors, not just smartphones).

However, it only has 1GB RAM and 8GB on-board storage and microSD (up to 32GB). It has a built-in stylus, but keep in mind, this is a basic stylus, it’s not at the level of the Samsung S-Pen. On the plus side, it has a 3000mah removable battery. It comes with Android 5.1 out of the box. It averages 4.2 out of 5 based on 120 customer reviews, and it has 90 questions answered by customers over there. This is a prepaid phone, no contract, you own it as long as the payment clears.

[DEAD] Mon only: unlocked Motorola Moto X (2nd gen) for $200

As of 12:05am ET, all three of the colors sold-out, ahead of the 24-hour expiration window…

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