There’s just one problem though, and that’s contracts. The phones are great. The two year contracts with outrageous pricing? Not so much. There are, however, a handful of no contract smartphones that are available. They’re not as powerful as the cutting-edge phones sold by major carriers, but they’ll get the job done, and they all have (at least) 3G support.
While Samsung’s Galaxy is indeed the company smartphone flagship, there’s a number of Galaxy branded phones that trickle down the lineup. One of these is the Samsung Galaxy Prevail, a 3.2” touchscreen no contract smartphone for $179.99 on Boost Mobile.
This is arguably the most stylish of all the phones on this list. I wouldn’t be surprised if many people have trouble telling the difference between it and its larger siblings at a glance.
The Prevail includes a 2 MP camera, Bluetooth, GPS, and comes with Android 2.2. The 800 MHz processor provides smooth performance, and while the 124MB of available storage is limiting, Boost Mobile does ship the Prevail with a 2GB microSD card.
The workhorse Blackberry Curve is far from the sexiest phone around, but it remains popular. The reasons why aren’t hard to discover upon using the phone. It fits well in your hand and the keyboard makes navigation and typing quick. The Curve’s lack of a sliding keyboard forces the use of a tiny display, but improves durability.
When it comes to features, the Curve can slug it out with other no- contract phones. It has a 2 MP camera, Bluetooth, and GPS as well as 256MB of on-board memory. While the hardware isn’t the quickest, Blackberry’s OS rendered on the low-resolution display is plenty smooth.
You’ll find the Curve on Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile for $179.99
A clear competitor to the Samsung Galaxy Prevail, the LG Optimus V is – much like the Prevail – a downscaled Android phone that pays homage to its larger siblings. It has a 3.2” touchscreen and is smaller than many Android phones as a result, but it still offers Android 2.2.
The features are virtually identical to the Prevail, but the Optimus V does offer a better 3.2 MP camera. On the downside, the Optimus V has a slower 600 MHz processor, which is quite anemic for a modern Android phone. There’s 150MB of built-in storage, and unfortunately Virgin Mobile doesn’t seem to be shipping the phone with an SD card to increase storage. This phone can be had for as little as $149.99.
The Optimus V has some siblings with different letters attached to their names, like S and M. Although given their own title, the changes are generally minor. Look for those as potential no-contract options as well.
If you’re looking for an Android phone with a lot of features on a tight budget, the Huawei Ascend may be your best bet. This 3.5” touchscreen smartphone has a nice selection of goodies including a 3.2 MP camera, Bluetooth and GPS. Inside you’ll find 512MB of flash storage, which isn’t bad, and a 600 MHz processor.
The slow processor is forgivable considering the price tag, which is just $99.99 on Cricket Wireless. What some users may have difficulty tolerating however, is the Android 2.1 operating system that ships with the phone. The Ascend does have a 2.2 update on Metro PCS, but the phone goes for $169.99 on that carrier.
Most no-contract smartphones offered by service providers at reasonable prices are based on older technology. The Samsung Galaxy Indulge, however, is an example. This Android 2.2 smartphone has a 3.5” touchscreen and offers all of the standard features including a 3.2 MP camera. The Indulge offers a sliding keyboard, and there’s something else that sets it apart – support for Metro PCS 4G LTE service.
Another nice bonus is the 1 GHz processor, which makes the Indulge a speed demon among no-contract options. In addition to this, the Samsung Galaxy Indulge comes with 2GB of on board storage, which puts most of the competition to shame.
You’ll have to pay for these features, however. Currently Metro PCS offers the Indulge on sale for $299, and its normal price is $399. That’s well in excess of the other phones here.
All of these phones are available without a contract. Before you go, however, there’s something you should know – any of the phones that you see advertised with major carriers can technically be no-contract smartphones.
Yes, you can obtain an iPhone 4 or an Evo 4G without a contract. How? You pay full price for the phone. You also need to sweet-talk the customer service reps, because they generally don’t like selling smartphones without stringing a contract along with them.