With the recent announcement of a bevy of new apple products, including a new ipad reaching close to $1000, people want to know if there are cheaper alternatives out there for iphones, ipods and ipads. Recently, I took a plunge on a very cheap device that worked really well for me as formidable ipod replacement.
I stumbled upon a forum thread about a prepaid smartphone that Best Buy was selling that week. Several of the users commented that they had bypassed activating the phone’s cell service and rooted the phone (which involves installing a simple program that bypasses the phone’s security checks), which allowed them to use the phone as a wifi-only smart device without paying for a contract or even inputting any payment info whatsoever. This was not some off-brand phone but an Android phone by LG, called the Optimus Exceed 2. And it was only 15 dollars! So I bought the phone and brought it home, eager to see just how much I could do with such a cheap device.
I was able to bypass activating the phone by simply holding down the buttons for a few seconds. No credit card or any payment required. Apparently it can be used with Verizon’s service if desired, but it was easy enough to bypass this. While this was the first android device I had used, it was straightforward to navigate the menus and will be familiar to anyone who has used a smartphone in the last 8 years as not much has changed. Apple users will feel right at home as the interface is basically lifted wholesale from ios.
I was able to quickly log into the Google Play store and start downloading all of the standard apps right away. I was impressed with how snappy the interface felt and how quickly everything loaded. By no means as fast as the newest iphone, but also less than 5% of the price! You can even add additional storage through a micro-sd card, which is significantly cheaper than what phone companies charge. Where an extra 16 GB of storage on an iphone is another hundred dollars, adding a micro-sd card is literally less than 10 bucks. I was able to load up a bunch of my music as well without using a separate program–just drag and drop. After using the phone for several weeks, it ran everything I threw at it, including Netflix, Youtube, Hulu, and even some games like Hearthstone and Minecraft. It was also a great remote for the chromecast for about the same price as a regular remote.
All in all, I am really impressed with how much I could do with such a cheap device. So the next time you or your kids are thinking of buying a new tablet or smart device, check out your prepaid phone section and see if something there can work just as well for a fraction of the cost.