22
Jul
Android-Money

I know, I know. The last one was under $50, and preferably free. But in our attempt to keep you updated with the latest and greatest deals on the latest and greatest devices, we had to make sacrifices. Fortunately, that means there are also no repeat appearances from last month's post, though you should still check it out - a lot of those handsets (aside from the DROID 2) are still viable choices.

So, you get a fresh batch of deals, on a fresh set of phones. Oh, 4 of the 5 are for Verizon - and AT&T and T-Mobile are left out of this month's roundup (though the $50 Infuse deal at Target gets an honorable mention). Also, these prices are all for new customers only - upgrades and additional lines will be more expensive.

Oh, and for your convenience - we've added information to each phone, including links to our full reviews, as well as specific information about root and custom ROM status. Enjoy.

1. Motorola DROID 3 (Verizon): $60 [Wirefly]

Solana_FrontHorOpen_1, 3/9/11, 9:48 AM,  8C, 3900x3300 (1147+2393), 100%, bent 6 adjuste,  1/15 s, R63.9, G48.0, B75.7

Well look who it is. Our review of the DROID 3 just dropped today, so you might want to check it out. Our conclusion? It's a great phone - as long as you don't mind the qHD display (most people seem OK, not thrilled, with it) and lack of 4G. It's the best QWERTY keyboard phone on the market, and our own Jaroslav Stekl, who is not normally a fan of physical keyboards, fell in love with the speed he was able to type on the pint-sized keys.

Our Review: DROID 3 Review: It's The Best DROID To Date - Pentile And No 4G Be Damned

Rooted/Booted? No and no - no custom ROMs or root on the DROID 3 at the time of this writing.

Good
  • MotoBLUR is no longer as annoying and buggy as it used to be - this phone whizzes along with its dual-core processor and Android 2.3.4.
  • Battery life is very reasonable - you'll get a full day's work out of this thing.
  • The 5-row keyboard is awesome.
  • Motorola phones are known for their durability.
  • Global GSM phone.

Bad
  • MotoBLUR is still MotoBLUR, and you can't escape all of it - even with custom launchers and alternative apps.
  • No 4G - you will be moving along at Verizon CDMA speeds
  • qHD Pentile display pales in comparison to comparative QVGA techs.
  • If you're a new Verizon customer, data doesn't come cheap ($30/month for 2GB).
  • Locked bootloader, and no rooting (yet).

If you're looking for a QWERTY keyboard phone, can live without 4G (or don't have coverage), and can stomach Verizon's data rates - the DROID 3 is the phone for you. It's the best physical keyboard phone on the market, the fastest, with the largest display, and the most modern operating system. It's a hard phone to bring down with such relatively lesser concerns like qHD and BLUR.

Where To Get It: Wirefly

2. HTC Thunderbolt 4G (Verizon): $60 [Wirefly]

htc_thunderbolt

Ah, the Thunderbolt. Probably one of the biggest love-hate relationships to ever grace the smartphone world, this phone has been through hell and back with angry and agitated customers. Here's our review of the Thunderbolt. The battery life sucks. The display viewing angles aren't great. It sometimes randomly reboots (though the newest update should fix that). And still, it remains a hugely popular device. Who can argue with the absurd speeds of Verizon's 4G? Plus, it's also a pretty solid phone with some pretty decent kit inside (thought it is only a single core). In my judgment, it's the best Verizon 4G LTE handset available, and for $60, it sure sounds better than it did at the original $250 price tag.

Our Review: HTC ThunderBolt Review: When 'Tried And True' Meets 'New And Blazing Fast'

Rooted/Booted? Yes- the HTC Thunderbolt is 100% custom ROM ready. [See XDA]

Good
  • Next-gen single-core Snapdragon processor is decently quick.
  • Verizon 4G LTE is crazy-fast if you have coverage.
  • HTC Sense is the best manufacturer UI overlay out there.
  • HTC build quality is generally good.

Bad
  • Battery life sucks (keep spares and chargers with you).
  • It's getting to be a little old (the Desire HD, the platform it's based on, came out in October 2010).
  • Still stuck with Android 2.2 Froyo.

So, if you want that 4G LTE-goodness, the Thunderbolt is probably your best bet. Unless you really don't want an HTC phone, in which case...

Where To Get It: Wirefly

3. LG Revolution 4G (Verizon): $50 [AmazonWireless]

lgrevo

In the words of our own ever-articulate Brad Ganley: "Don't let the name fool you; it's just alright" (catch the review here). The Revolution's battery life, as seems to be the case with all the LTE phones out there, isn't great. But, LG's UI overlay beats Samsung's TouchWiz, and performs better. Though most people still find it annoying to some extent. Additionally, the phone isn't the quickest handset in the world (same processor as the Thunderbolt), and it's still running Froyo - with no news on when users can expect a Gingerbread update. But it does run Netflix, so that's fun.

Our Review: [Review] The LG Revolution: Don't Let The Name Fool You; It's Just Alright

Rooted/Booted? Yes - the LG Revolution is 100% custom ROM ready, for root: see XDA here, for ClockworkMod, see here.

Good
  • Solid build quality and heft - no Samsung plastic, here.
  • Verizon 4G LTE. 'Nuff said.
  • Less intrusive UI overlay than Sense, TouchWiz, or BLUR.
  • Easily rooted.

Bad
  • Android 2.2 - with no update in sight.
  • Comes with Bing and Verizon bloat.
  • Custom ROM support is there - but it isn't a big community.
  • The rear-camera placement is really awkward for taking photos.

Overall, the revolution isn't bad. And, CyanogenMod 7 for the Revolution is a recent work-in-progress, but there's all sorts of cleaned up ROMs available on the same XDA forum, too. You certainly could pick a much worse smartphone for $50 - that much is certain.

Where To Get It: AmazonWireless

4. Motorola DROID X2 (Verizon): $60 [AmazonWireless]

Shadow_R3Qtr_1, 4/27/10, 2:37 PM,  8C, 4168x3720 (896+2184), 100%, bent 6 adjuste,  1/25 s, R78.9, G63.0, B90.7

The DROID X2 isn't a terrible phone - but it does have a terrible screen. And it's not that fast for a phone running a dual-core Tegra 2 processor. Our own Aaron Gingrich wasn't a big fan (see the review here) - but the X2 isn't without its redeeming qualities. Namely, a big display (though it is Pentile), Tegra 2 gaming capabilities, and an update to Gingerbread in the works. When that update will land, we aren't sure. But, the X2 is a solid phone that will likely come into its own with the Gingerbread software update - at least, we hope so.

Our Review: [Review] Motorola DROID X2: Even Raw Horsepower Can't Save This Phone From Mediocrity

Rooted/Booted? Yes - the DROID X2 has a "bootstrapped" custom recovery and root - allowing the flashing of some custom ROMs. See here for root, and here for recovery. And CyanogenMod might be in the works soon thanks to a recent breakthrough.

Good
  • If you liked the OG DROID X, the follow-up looks identical - in fact, it's the same chassis, pretty much.
  • Tegra 2 dual-core processor for high-end games.
  • Big 4.3" display.
  • A Gingerbread update should speed this thing up substantially.
  • If the DROID X is any indicator, this thing should be pretty durable.

Bad
  • The Pentile display makes some (*cough*Aaron*cough*) people's eyes bleed.
  • Right now, it doesn't run too quickly.
  • No 4G - pretty lame.
  • MotoBLUR, the UI overlay, is pretty bad on this phone.

The DX2 is actually pretty future proof, with its next-gen display resolution, dual-core processor, and renowned Motorola build quality. What it doesn't have is a very nice screen or up-to-date version of Android - or 4G. So, there are sacrifices being made. And if you can wait a few weeks for the launch of the BIONIC, you can buy that instead, or, you could still buy this - because I guarantee it'll be free with a new contract by the time the bigger, better, 4G-touting BIONIC lands.

Where To Get It: AmazonWireless

5. Nexus S / Nexus S 4G (Sprint): $50 [AmazonWireless]

ns4g

Our final contender is an older device, technically speaking. But it's new for Sprint - and Sprint customers. So, the Nexus S 4G. What's there to say that wasn't said when the Nexus S came out way back in December? Not much. This Sprint-ified version of the handset boasts access to Sprint's WiMAX "4G" network, and should be getting the bump to Android 2.3.5 next week.

Rooted/Booted? The Nexus S 4G ships unlocked, and can be set to S-OFF using Android Device Bridge - allowing you to flash CyanogenMod 7 (nightly builds only, for now) - which you'll probably want to do.

Good
  • Pure Android. No UI overlay, no locked bootloader - the most open Android device currently available.
  • The SAMOLED display is bright and vivid.
  • You'll be among the first to get Android updates.
  • NFC support could be useful down the road.

Bad
  • The hardware isn't as fresh as it was back in December 2010 (older Hummingbird processor).
  • It's plasticky, and will get scratched up pretty easily.
  • Sprint is planning on rolling out an LTE network  for 4G as well - which the NS4G will not be compatible with.

Overall, the Nexus S 4G is a great, open Android handset. Unfortunately, it's a bit old, and it won't ever have a chance to experience what will likely be Sprint's much faster 4G LTE service. Still, it's not a bad option, and at $50, it's a compact and good-looking device for a reasonable price.

Where To Get It: AmazonWireless

David Ruddock
David's phone is an HTC One. He is an avid writer, and enjoys playing devil's advocate in editorials, imparting a legal perspective on tech news, and reviewing the latest phones and gadgets. He also doesn't usually write such boring sentences.

  • http://www.promoteseo.com/android/ Ori

    also the nexus s has NFC. could be a major plus for 1-2 years from now.

    • David Ruddock

      Good point. Added.

  • http://spamload lamdroid

    Im assuming these prices are for primary lines w new acct signup, which leaves many of us upgraders out of luck. Just wanted to share a deal here, Iv sortof been copying and pasting it around so pardon me if you've seen it before:

    over @ vzw website. They just launched a Back2School Promo.

    Buy 1 Get 1 for the Droid3 and the DroidX2. (u must renew contract for each device, but not necessarily activate the phone on those lines from what I understood.)
    Public listing is $199.99 w 2yr contract for both. Many are logging in and adding to cart to see the D3 show as $149.99. (as I have for renewing contract on my 2ndary family lines)

    so that's $75$ each off the bat. great price for a top tier smartphone that just released a wk ago.~! (or $100 each if you can only see the $199 price.

    THEN...instead of placing the order online, I called in to Sales and asked if i would be able to get any additional offers of free accessories if I place the order over the phone instead (you kno, since they get commission for the sale). He looks into it and tells me he cant give me any accessories, but he can throw in a free month of service credit to my primary line.

    After the Credit discount, my total cost for TWO D3s came out to $71.70.
    btw, i spoke w 'James' this morning if u could find the same guy.

    If you dont have two lines to upgrade, then chk out LetsTalk, Wirefly or Amazon, they have 70$ deals on individual lines

  • Paul

    4 Verizon's and One Sprint phone? What about Top Android phone(s) under $100 by carrier? T-Mobile and AT&T and maybe a handful of others. But at least the big 4.

    It's a nice list though and thanks for it.

  • http://www.mobistealthreviews.net mobistealth

    Look at the Motorola DROID 3 introduction, as if still pretty powerful, function of appearance also still pretty beautiful, be don't know long standby time is not long? Now I'll want a standby time is long

  • Zigmar

    Hello?! Not a single smartphone costs $60, the phone is heavily subsidized and the price is just meaningless and misleading, they could have chosen any price instead, it won't affect real phone price, nor how much would you _really_ pay. Where I live, for example, cell companies usually sell subsidized phones with zero (0) starting price, you just pay the price in your monthly bills, just like you guys in US.