Pocophone F1 international giveaway!

It’s time for the Sunday giveaway! Like every week, we’re giving away another a brand new Android phone to one lucky Android Authority reader.

A big congratulations to the winner of last week’s Honor View 20 giveaway, Ali B. from Netherlands.

This week we’re giving away a brand new Pocophone F1, brought to you by the Android Authority app!

If you’re looking for the best way to stay up to date with AndroidAuthority.com, look no further than the AA app for Android. Available for free in the Google Play Store, the official AA app is the fastest way to get all the latest news, rumors, tips and tricks, and device reviews on your mobile device.

It’s fast, looks good, and gives you breaking Android news at your fingertips — what more could you want?

Nowadays, you can spend upwards of $1,000 on a smartphone. Or you can pay about a third of that and get the Pocophone F1.

We’re not going to tell you this is the best phone on the market — it’s not. But for just $300, it offers many of the same specs that you’d normally only get with the highest-end phones. The Pocophone F1 comes with a Snapdragon 845 chipset, 6 or 8GB of RAM, up to 256GB of storage, and a big 4,000mAh battery.

Right now you shouldn’t care about the price, because we’re giving one away! For free! To learn more about the Pocophone F1, head to our related coverage below:

Enter the giveaway here

Pocophone F1 international giveaway!

Don’t miss: Jaybird Tarah giveaway

Winners gallery

Terms & conditions

  • This is an international giveaway (except when we can not ship to your country).
  • If we can not ship to your country, you will be compensated with an online gift card of equal MSRP value to the prize.
  • We are not responsible for lost shipments.
  • We are not responsible if your giveaway prize malfunctions.
  • You must be age of majority in your country of residence.
  • We are not responsible for any duties or import fees that you may incur.
  • Only one entry per person; please do not enter multiple email addresses. We will verify all winners and if we detect multiple email addresses by the same person you will not be eligible to win.
  • We reserve all rights to make any changes to this giveaway.
  • This giveaway is operated by Android Authority.
  • The prize will ship when it is available to purchase.

More: Android Authority international giveaway FAQs

Sony in 2019: Playing catch-up

Sony Xperia logo - Sony review 2019

It shouldn’t come as any surprise that Sony unleashed a metric ton of phones onto the market last year, as it isn’t exactly known for its restraint when expanding its mobile portfolio.

Unfortunately for Sony, those same phones also once again failed to capture a wide audience, with the Xperia brand still languishing among the doldrums of the global market share charts.

With a new year comes new opportunities, however. Let’s take a look at Sony’s 2018 in review and see how the Japanese giant can get itself back on track in 2019.

A year to forget

Sony logo - Sony review 2019

In our Sony in 2018 article we called for change, and 2018 certainly started with a huge adjustment for the storied firm. In February, former PlayStation boss and Ridge Racer fan Kazuo Hirai stepped down as CEO, replaced by the then finance chief Kenichiro Yoshida.

Yoshida, known internally as someone always keen on “imposing discipline and getting the job done,” quietly stuck to Hirai’s promise made just a month earlier that Sony would not be leaving the smartphone business.

The new CEO also delivered on his reputation as a numbers guy, slashing hardware targets across all divisions, citing a move towards digital services as a more reliable revenue stream. Sales of Sony’s TVs, cameras, games consoles, and, of course, smartphones were all predicted to slow down, and slow down they did — and then some.

After losing almost $100 million in Q1 2018, Sony’s mobile division then dropped over $480 million in Q2. In terms of actual handsets, Sony managed to sell just 2 million smartphones in Q2, down 1.4 million year-on-year. A further loss of just over $140 million followed in Q3 2018.

Sony Xperia XZ2 - Sony review 2019

The Sony Xperia XZ2

The results prompted Sony to further revise its overall smartphone sales target for the year from 10 million to 9 million.

Reflecting on Sony’s eye-watering decline in the mobile sector, Android Authority’s own Jimmy Westenberg contextualized the company’s new yearly target in a way that perfectly showcased the division’s relative struggles:

“For comparison’s sake, leaked sales numbers point to Samsung “only” selling around 9 million Galaxy S9 units in Q2 2018. That’s just for one quarter, not the whole year, and that’s just one phone.”

Like so many OEMs staring into the sales abyss in the face of growing consumer fatigue towards the smartphone industry as a whole, Sony blamed its slump on a lack of innovation. This was evident in the phones being released too, with Sony failing to jump on the elongated display bandwagon until the launch of the Xperia XZ2 and XZ2 Compact at Mobile World Congress 2018 — a full year after 18:9-style displays hit primetime.

Read more: Sony’s failing smartphone business should come as no surprise

The same company report that cited slow innovation also highlighted its regional issues, with sales in Europe reportedly well behind rival firms. Sony also failed once again to make any headway in emergent markets where Chinese OEMs reign supreme, the U.S. (where the lack of carrier partnerships is still a key concern), or in MEA regions where Sony has hinted it is considering downsizing its operations.

Yet, while the numbers clearly were not on Sony’s side, there were still some bright spots from a product and technological standpoint that could serve the company well in 2019 and beyond.

Glimmers of promise

While it wasn’t exactly the most original or inspiring redesign Sony’s designers are surely capable of producing, the Xperia XZ2 finally saw the brand take steps to at least evolve its tired OmniBalance smartphone template.

Gone were the dumb side-mounted fingerprint sensors and sharp square edges, replaced by a more modern, ergonomic look with a circular rear fingerprint reader, curved corners, and an 18:9 display.

The Xperia XZ3, launched in August, rectified even more long-lasting issues by finally switching display panels from LCD to OLED and stripping back the XZ2’s obscenely chunky top and bottom bezels (though still not enough for my liking).

After a years of outdated designs and crucial feature omissions, Sony has a blueprint to build on for its 2019 phones.

It even added a splash of AI by virtue of being the first phone from any company to hit the market running Android Pie out-of-the-box. It also got bonus points for not adopting any kind of notch, but immediately had them taken away again for not featuring a headphone jack.

The XZ2 Premium even jumped on the multi-camera trend, sporting a dual-lens rear shooter — a first for a Sony flagship.

It was all too little too late for any meaningful success in 2018, though, as consumers had seen it all before. But, after a year or so’s worth of flagships with outdated designs and crucial omissions, Sony at least has a blueprint to build on for its 2019 phones.

Editor’s Pick

At a more granular level, Sony also has wider technology innovations to fall back on that will continue to find their way into phones that don’t just bear the Xperia name.

This is true none more so than on the camera front. Sony’s 48 megapixel IMX586 sensor is expected to make its way to a bunch of phones throughout 2019, while the company’s recently revealed DepthSense 3D Time of Flight sensor seems to have arrived just in time to jump on a growing trend that will bring improved augmented reality and faster facial recognition to mobile devices.

As noted by Bloomberg, the cooling demand for smartphones across the board will inevitably have a knock-on effect on the sales of mobile-camera chips. Nevertheless, Sony’s components remain a strong backbone for many popular Android phones and, unlike other struggling OEMs like HTC, will continue to keep the company relevant in the sector even if/when its handsets fall flat.

Sony Xperia XZ2 Android Pie - Sony review 2019

Speaking of Android, Sony has also managed to claw back a fair amount of goodwill with its handling of Android Pie updates. As previously mentioned, the XZ3 was the first phone to launch running Pie and its predecessor, the Xperia XZ2, was among the select group of phones involved in the Android P developer preview. Sony has also been refreshingly upfront about its update roadmap.

Sony is also one of few remaining champions of the Android TV platform, pushing through new features to its Android TV-powered Bravia sets in 2018 and promising further updates in 2019. With Sony-made Google Assistant smart speakers also on store shelves, it’s clear Sony has a strong relationship with the search giant. Perhaps that’s a relationship we could see manifest in a more overt way in Sony’s phones in 2019? We could certainly do with more Android One phones that aren’t just Nokias.

Shifting the paradigm

Sony Xperia XZ3 in hand (front)

The Sony Xperia XZ3.

Despite all of the changes, Sony’s Xperia line is still lagging far behind the likes of Samsung, Huawei, and even LG in terms of sales, brand recognition, and product innovation.

The “why” behind those issues is manifold, but there are obvious problems that Sony needs to address immediately to stem the bleeding.

Pricing is a clear concern, with the head honchos at Sony HQ making some downright baffling decisions when picking out a price point for its phones. Not only did we get the XZ2 Premium launching with a totally unjustified $999 asking price, Sony also saddled the latest in its Compact family — the XZ2 Compact — with a $599 price that, when compared to similarly priced, but far more premium offerings from OnePlus and Honor, looked laughable.

Related: OnePlus in 2019: A force to be reckoned with

Criticism and bewilderment also summarized Sony’s absolutely astonishing choice to slap an outrageous 72,990 rupees. (~$1,062) price tag on the Xperia XZ2 in India — a lucrative region dominated by modestly-priced phones, mostly from Chinese brands.

It’s those same Chinese brands that are outmuscling traditional Android OEMs like Sony in an increasing number of global markets. Put simply, Sony’s choice to sit back and rely on its company’s historically strong brand name to carry it through just can’t compete against China’s ambitious, cash-flush firms.

It doesn’t help that Sony’s mobile brand — Xperia — has been rendered almost meaningless as a result of Sony’s own scattershot product family succession and naming conventions. Can you remember the difference between the Xperia XA2 Ultra and the Xperia XA2 Plus, two phones released in a single calendar year, without looking it up? I couldn’t.

Sony Xperia XA2 Ultra - Sony review 2019

The Sony Xperia XA2 Ultra. Not the Xperia XA2 Plus.

This “alphabet spaghetti” approach to naming phones pales in comparison to the fact that Sony managed to cannibalize interest in its XZ2 Premium flagship by announcing the Xperia XZ3 just a month after the former finally went on sale.

These naming and pricing faux pas, alongside Sony’s general refusal to do marketing for its phones and its tendency to lag behind in design and feature innovation, are all deep seated issues that Sony needs to address to remain relevant in 2019 and beyond.

While some (read: me) would much rather see Sony go for a full-blown rebrand with moonshot concepts like a PlayStation Phone, the more plausible options for Sony are gradual changes to its line-up, including potentially axing its Xperia Compact line.

Sony needs to show intent this year to avoid drifting further into market obscurity.

We’ll get our first taste of Sony’s strategy for 2019 at MWC 2019, where the Xperia XZ4 and Xperia XA3 series’ are expected to debut. The good news is that latter range looks like it’s getting a rebrand to the far simpler, more catchy Xperia 10 moniker, which would be a massive step in the right direction even if the phone(s) so far sounds a little underwhelming.

The real question, however, is if Sony can use these and any other strategy changes to springboard itself back into relevancy.

Sony’s execs have been justifying the firm’s continued presence in the smartphone market on the premise that it’s waiting for the industry’s next “paradigm shift.” The closest we’ve got to that admittedly nebulous scenario are foldable phones and 5G.

Editor’s Pick

Yet, despite big promises in business review strategy, Sony has so far remained relatively quiet on 5G in public (aside from a social media snafu) and completely silent on the prospect of a foldable Xperia phone.

Sony expects its previously discussed attack on Europe, 5G ambitions, and wider technology investments all to pan out by 2020. Unfortunately for Sony, its rivals won’t stand still while it plays catch-up, and with so many other OEMs all pushing hard on 5G and foldable phones with consumer-ready products just around the corner, Sony needs to show intent this year to avoid drifting further into market obscurity.


Do you think Sony has what it takes to make a comeback in 2019? Let us know in the comments and be sure to check out our 2019 preview posts for other manufacturers via the links below.

Want an Apple laptop? Here are the best and cheapest you can buy

If you’re looking for the best Apple laptop, the company currently offers three kinds: MacBook, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro. For now, the cheapest one is the older 2017 MacBook Air, which starts at $999. The newer overhauled version packs an integrated Touch ID sensor and a starting price of $1,199.

If you need additional meat in an Apple laptop, the 15-inch MacBook Pro includes discrete AMD graphics and options for six-core Intel Core i7 and Core i9 processors. The smaller 13-inch model doesn’t have discrete graphics, but you’ll find Apple’s innovative Touch Bar on both. If you’re feeling cash-strapped, Apple sells a 13-inch MacBook Pro without the Touch Bar too for an even happier wallet.

Okay, let’s jump in and look at the best Apple laptops you can buy right now. 

MacBook Pro with Touch Bar (15-inch)

Apple laptop

Apple’s largest MacBook Pro to date features a 15.4-inch IPS screen with a 2,880 x 1,800 resolution. From here the configurations are somewhat tricky to read, since Apple throws three different processors, four separate discrete graphics chips, and two starting points into the MacBook Pro menu.

The first configuration starts at $2,399 with the eighth-generation Core i7-8750H six-core processor, which is upgradable to the Core i9-8950HK for a higher price. The base configuration also includes AMD’s Radeon Pro 555X discrete graphics processor you can swap for the pricier Radeon Pro 560X. It ships with 256GB of storage but can be configured with larger a 512GB, 1TB, 2TB, or 4TB SSD. Memory starts at 16GB (DDR4 at 2,400MHz) with an option for 32GB.

The maximum price you can pay for this model, just in hardware alone (no extra software) is $6,299.

The second configuration has a $2,799 starting price. It includes the Core i7-8850H six-core chip with the same Core i9-8950HK upgrade option. For graphics, the base configuration includes the Radeon Pro 560X discrete chip with upgrade options for the meatier Radeon Pro Vega 16 or Radeon Pro Vega GPUs at a higher cost. You have the same memory and storage options as the $2,399 version, though this configuration doesn’t offer the 256GB SSD.

The maximum price you can pay for this model, just in hardware alone is $7,049.

Outside those four major differences, the overall design is the same. Both include Wireless AC and Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity, the coveted Touch Bar with Touch ID, four Thunderbolt 3 ports, a 3.5mm audio jack, and a 720p camera. Powering this MacBook Pro is an 83.6WHr battery promising up to 10 hours of video playback or web surfing.

Finally, Apple’s 15-inch MacBook Pro measures 0.61 inches thick and weighs 4.02 pounds. You can configure this Apple laptop in the typical silver or Space Gray.

MacBook Pro with Touch Bar (13-inch)

Apple laptop

Here we jump down to Apple’s MacBook Pro sporting a 13.3-inch IPS screen and a 2,560 x 1,800 resolution. It’s powered by Intel’s Core i5-8259U four-core processor and integrated graphics with an upgrade option for the Core i7-8559U at a higher price. The base model also includes 8GB of system memory (LPDDR3 at 2,133MHz) and a 256GB SSD for a starting price of $1,799. You can upgrade the memory to 16GB while storage options include 512GB, 1TB, or 2TB.

In addition to the Touch Bar, you’ll find four Thunderbolt 3 ports, a 3.5mm audio jack, a 720p webcam, Wireless AC and Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity, and a 58WHr battery promising up to 10 hours of video playback or web browsing. It measures 0.59 inches thick, weighs 3.02 pounds, and ships in silver or Space Gray.

Unlike the 15-inch version, this model does not provide options for discrete Radeon graphics or Intel’s six-core processors. Note that the $1,999 price point starts you off with a 512GB SSD.

MacBook Pro without Touch Bar (13-inch)

Apple laptop

The hardware is slightly different inside the 13-inch model without Apple’s Touch Bar. This version has the same IPS screen with the 2,560 x 1,600 resolution. By default it is powered by an older seventh-generation Core i5-7360U two-core processor, with a Core i7-7660U upgrade option. The storage options are also slightly different: the base configuration relies on a 128GB SSD and removes the 2TB model, providing only the 256GB, 512GB, or 1TB SSD.

This model only has two Thunderbolt 3 ports, one 3.5mm audio jack, Wireless AC and Bluetooth 4.2 connectivity, 8GB of system memory upgradable to 16GB before checkout, a 720p webcam, and a 54.5WHr battery promising up to 10 hours of video playback or web browsing. It measures 0.59 inches thick, weighs 3.02 pounds, and ships in silver or Space Gray.

Prices start at $1,299 for 128GB of storage and $1,499 with 256GB of storage.

MacBook Air “Retina” 2018 (13-inch)

Apple laptop

This is Apple’s latest MacBook Air refreshed with a newer processor. Currently it relies on a single eighth-generation Core i5-8210Y two-core CPU option and integrated graphics powering a 13.3-inch IPS screen with a 2,560 x 1,600 resolution. The starting configuration includes 128GB of storage and 8GB of system memory (LPDDR3 at 1,866MHz) for $1,199 while the second starting point includes a 256GB SSD and 8GB of memory for $1,399.

In both cases, you can upgrade to 16GB of memory before checkout and ramp up the storage to 512GB or 1.5TB. Meanwhile, the set specifications include two Thunderbolt 3 ports, one 3.5mm audio jack, a 720p webcam, Wireless AC and Bluetooth 4.2 connectivity, and a 50.3WHr battery promising up to 13 hours of video playback and up to 12 hours of web surfing.

This updated model comes in gold, silver, and Space Gray, along with an integrated Touch ID sensor. It measures 0.61 inches thin and weighs 2.75 pounds.

MacBook Air 2017 (13-inch)

Apple laptop

This Apple laptop arrived in mid-2017 packing fifth-generation Intel CPUs. The $999 default configuration relies on an Intel Core i5-5350U two-core processor with an upgrade option for Intel’s Core i7-5650U chip. This unit remains locked in memory at 8GB (LPDDR3 at 1,600MHz) while storage includes 128GB by default with 256GB and 512GB SSD upgrade options.

This model pack a 13.3-inch TN display with a 1,440 x 900 resolution. It’s complemented by two USB-A ports at 5Gbps each, one Thunderbolt 2 port, a 3.5mm audio jack, and an SD card reader. Other ingredients include Wireless AC and Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity, a 720p camera, a 54WHr battery promising up to 12 hours of video playback or web browsing, and a silver exterior. It measures 0.68 inches thick and weighs 2.96 pounds.

MacBook (12-inch)

Apple laptop

Finally, we have Apple’s 12-inch MacBook, which sports an IPS screen with a 2,304 x 1,440 resolution. You can get this notebook with Intel’s seventh-generation Core m3-7Y32 two-core processor, 8GB of system memory, and 256GB of storage for a starting price of $1,299. You can also start with the $1,599 price point offering Intel’s Core i5-7Y54 two-core chip, 8GB of memory and 512GB of storage. In both cases, you can upgrade to the Core i7-7Y75 two-core processor and 16GB of system memory prior to shipping.

The latest 12-inch MacBook includes a 480p webcam, Wireless AC and Bluetooth 4.2 connectivity, one USB-C port at 5Gbps, one 3.5mm audio jack, and a 41.1WHr battery promising up to 12 hours of video playback and up to 10 hours of web browsing, It measures 0.52 inches thin, weighs 2.03 pounds, and ships in gold, silver, and Space Gray.

 
So that’s it for our look at the best Apple laptops. While the Pro may technically be the very best Apple laptop, really all comes down to your needs. 

OnePlus 7: Here’s what it needs to take on the best

OnePlus 7

The OnePlus 7 has to be more than just a minor upgrade over the OnePlus 6T to take on the best phones of 2019.

The upcoming flagship has to improve on the weaknesses of its predecessor and come with features OnePlus fans really want. Can the company do it, and still undercut competing flagships by a big margin?

The obvious fixes

The first thing the OnePlus 7 needs is a faster in-display fingerprint scanner. The one on the OnePlus 6T isn’t the best — it’s both slower and less accurate than traditional fingerprint readers typically located on the back of smartphones.

Sure, the OnePlus 6T arguably offered the best technology available at the time, but that excuse won’t work for the 7. Fingerprint sensing tech has advanced. Qualcomm announced the world’s first 3D ultrasonic in-display fingerprint sensor back in December, which can read fingerprints through contaminants like oil and water. Oppo also announced an improved in-display fingerprint scanner said to be 15 times larger than current solutions, and it can read two fingerprints at the same time for improved security. Xiaomi revealed something similar, and we can expect more companies to do the same in the near future.

A better in-display fingerprint reader would improve the overall user experience.

Using one of these solutions on the OnePlus 7 is essential, especially since most 2019 flagships are expected to feature an in-display fingerprint scanner, including the Galaxy S10 series.

The next thing the OnePlus 7 needs to take on the best of them is an IP rating (IP67 or IP68) for protection against water and dust. OnePlus fans have long requested this feature, which is present on most high-end phones released last year. The majority of 2019 flagships that will compete with the OnePlus 7 are expected to be waterproof as well, including the Galaxy S10, Huawei P30 Pro, and LG G8 ThinQ.

Having an IP rating gives you peace of mind that your expensive phone won’t stop working when you get caught in the rain or accidentally spill a glass of water on it. It’s a popular feature and it’s why many decided to skip the OnePlus 6T. Not including it on the OnePlus 7 would be a mistake.

The OnePlus 7 needs a better camera than its predecessor.

Top-tier phones stand out through the camera experience they provide, an area where OnePlus has never really shined. The cameras on the 6 and 6T aren’t bad and can take great-looking shots in well-lit conditions, but they struggle in low-light. OnePlus’ Nightscape tech helps a little in increasing sharpness and dynamic range, but the difference is hardly noticeable.

The company doesn’t have to equip the OnePlus 7 with three or four rear cameras to improve image quality. The Pixel 3, for example, is one of the best phones for photography on the market despite its single camera.

This is where OnePlus should focus, potentially improving Nightscape to make it competitive with Google’s Night Sight and Huawei’s Night Mode. A lot of phones — even budget ones — can capture decent images when there’s plenty of light, but only great ones can handle low-light photography. The OnePlus 7 should be one of them.

Another no-brainer is wireless charging. It’s in high demand, mainly because of the convenience it offers.

OnePlus 6T camera

Stand up on your own

This one’s subjective, but OnePlus fans might also appreciate a new and original design for the upcoming flagship. OnePlus tends to borrow designs from its sister-company Oppo — both brands are part of BBK Electronics. This copy-paste strategy should end with the OnePlus 7. It doesn’t sit well with many fans and gives the products a sense of cheapness OnePlus should definitely avoid.

Editor’s Pick

The OnePlus 7 needs to be a little bolder. A simple design element can make a big difference in the overall look of a device. Good examples of this are the Pixel 3 with its two-tone glass back and the older Huawei Mate 10 Pro‘s reflective stripe running horizontally across the cameras.

A photo from the OnePlus 6T pop-up event in New York City.

Thinking beyond the product itself, more carrier deals could bring the OnePlus 7 in front of more users, which could have a big impact on sales. Most phones in Western markets are sold through carriers, mainly because they are subsidized and can be paid off monthly. Better distribution would also improve OnePlus’ overall brand awareness. Since the company sells most of its phones online, a lot of consumers have never heard of it. Even those who have heard of OnePlus may not be comfortable buying a phone online before seeing it in person.

One of the drawbacks of this strategy is that it could reduce OnePlus’ margins, as the carriers would take a cut from each phone sold. However, OnePlus would likely still make more money overall due to the increase in sales.

What about pricing?

Oxygen OS

There’s a good chance the OnePlus 7 will be more expensive than its predecessors. I think most OnePlus fans will be able to live with a price hike, but only if the OnePlus 7 delivers some of the features mentioned in this post — and possibly a few additional ones. However, the company has to be careful not to jack up the price too high.

From day one, OnePlus has sold competitive devices for far less than handsets from Samsung, Huawei, and LG. This must not change with the OnePlus 7. Despite its popularity, the company’s brand is still not strong enough to charge $800 for the entry-level version of its flagship. At that price, most people will pick the latest Galaxy S or Pixel phone.

OnePlus could get away with raising pricing by up to $40.

The OnePlus 6T starts at $550, $20 more than its predecessor. The company could get away with charging up to around $40 more for the OnePlus 7 if it delivers in all the areas we’ve discussed. This would still make it considerably cheaper than Samsung’s latest Galaxy S series and high-end phones from LG, Huawei, and other brands.

People are willing to pay more for a device if it offers more value. OnePlus shouldn’t be scared to raise prices for adding extra features in high demand. Gimmicks are another matter. Things like adding 10GB of RAM — which is expected to happen on the OP7 — only increase the price without adding any true value.


Which features do you think the OnePlus 7 needs in order to grab more attention and outsell its predecessor? Let me know in the comments!

Everything you need to know about the upcoming Disney streaming service, Disney+

disney+ streaming service logo Disney

Disney announced well over a year ago that the company plans to launch its own streaming service for its many movie and TV properties. It would compete directly with services like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video and upcoming ventures like Apple’s streaming TV launch. Now we know what the Disney streaming service will be called: Disney+. As you can see with its official logo, the company is trying to show that Disney+ will link up organically with the rest of its properties.

Editor’s Pick

Disney is wasting no time in creating new content for the streaming service. Disney+ will be the home for lots of exclusive movies and TV series, and that includes new Pixar, Marvel Studios and Star Wars content. We will go over everything we know about the Disney streaming service, and will update this post with new information as it is revealed.

What is Disney+?

disney plus includes pixar marvel star wars national geographic

As mentioned, Disney+ is the official name for the Disney streaming service that was first announced in August 2017. It will be the home for people of all ages to watch movies and TV shows across all of Disney’s brands. That includes its main Disney brand, its Pixar animated movies, and its Marvel Studios and Star Wars properties.

At the service’s placeholder website, it also shows it will have content from National Geographic when it launches. That’s a bit interesting since 21st Century Fox currently owns the majority of the National Geographic cable TV channel. In December 2017, Disney announced its plan to acquire most of Fox’s content, including its majority control of the NatGeo TV channel. When Disney+ actually launches, it will have content from that channel as well, since the deal to acquire Fox is expected to close sometime in the first half of 2019.

Disney+ launch date, price, and availability

walt disney studios logo

At the moment, Disney is not revealing exactly when Disney+ will launch, other than a vague “late 2019” timeframe. No specific monthly price has been mentioned for the service. However, Disney CEO Bob Iger did tell Variety in August 2018 that he expects the cost to be lower than Netflix, as the Disney streaming service won’t have as much content as its biggest competitor at launch. Currently, Netflix charges $7.99 a month for its SD streaming content and $10.99 a month for its HD content.

Disney has also confirmed that Disney+ will launch first in the United States, although presumably, it would expand to other territories around the world if it has a successful U.S. launch. Disney does plan to reveal a lot more about its Disney+ launch plans during an investor event on April 11, 2019. That includes a first look at the interface for Disney+ plus previews of the first original shows and movies on the service.

What older movies and TV shows will Disney+ have?

mickey mouse first cartoon

When it does launch in late 2019, Disney will have access to hundreds of movies and TV shows from its 90 years of content. As we mentioned, that will include all those great animated films and live action movies from the Disney brand, from Mickey Mouse to Snow White to Beauty and the Beast to Frozen and everything in between. It will also include content that it has acquired over the years, such as the Pixar animated movies like Toy Story and The Incredibles. It will also include all of the Marvel Studios superhero movies and some of its Star Wars content. Finally, it will include TV shows from the National Geographic Channel.

See also: The best movies available now on Netflix

Because of a current contract with Netflix, the most recent films from the studio, such as Black Panther and A Wrinkle in Time, have made their streaming debuts on that service. Disney’s contract with Netflix ends in 2019. The New York Times reports that the first upcoming Disney movie that will make its streaming debut on Disney+ will be Captain Marvel. The Marvel Studios superhero film is currently scheduled to make its debut in movie theaters in March 2019., which means that it’s likely that it will be available on Disney+ as soon as it launches.

One big and important chunk of library content that may not show up on Disney+ anytime soon are the highly popular Star Wars live-action feature films. In 2016, Disney made a deal with WarnerMedia’s Turner cable TV networks to run all of the classic and current Star Wars films on its TBS, TNT, and TCM channels until 2024. This deal was made well before the idea of a Disney streaming service was given a green light. Bloomberg reports Disney has quietly tried to buy back those rights from Turner so it can show those Star Wars films on its service, but it appears that Turner has no interest in giving back those rights until the contract expires in six years.

What original movies and TV shows will Disney+ have?

anna kendrick cosplay disney Variety

In addition to its tons of library content, Disney seems to be going all out to develop original and exclusive TV shows and films for Disney+. Indeed, Deadline reports that the budgets for the exclusive movies could be as high as $35 million and that budgets for a 10-hour TV show could be as high as $100 million. Disney decided to pull a few of its upcoming films that were supposed to launch in theaters first, and now they will make their worldwide debut on the Disney streaming service.

Here’s a quick look at the original films and TV shows that are either in production now or have been completed ahead of the Disney+ launch

Disney+ original films

  • Noelle – a Christmas movie starring Anna Kendrick as the daughter of Santa Claus
  • Magic Camp – a family comedy centering on a summer camp for magicians
  • Timmy Failure – a movie based on the popular children’s book series of the same name
  • Lady and the Tramp – a live action-CGI remake of the classic Disney animated film
  • Stargirl – a movie based on the young adult novel of the same name
  • Togo – a movie based on the real-life story of a sled dog, Togo, and his master who have to transport a diphtheria serum to Nome, Alaska in 1925

In addition, Disney is in early development for a ton of other movies for the streaming service, including remakes of many of its live-action comedies, such as Three Men and a Baby, Father of the Bride, Honey I Shrunk The Kids, and The Parent Trap. Also, live-action remakes of other classic Disney animated films are in development for Disney+, including The Sword in the Stone and Peter Pan.

Disney+ original TV shows

star wards disney tv show

Here’s a look at the TV shows that have been confirmed as being in development for Disney+:

  • The Mandalorian – A 10-episode live-action TV series based in the Star Wars universe and centering on an unnamed Mandalorian
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars – A continuation and conclusion to the cult-favorite animated TV series set in between Star Wars: Attack of the Clones and Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith
  • Untitled Star Wars: Rogue One prequel series – a TV show that centers on rebel spy Cassian Andor, played by Diego Luna, before the events of Rogue One
  • Untitled Loki series – A TV show based on Loki, the popular Marvel Studios supervillain. Actor Tom Hiddleston will reprise that role for the series.
  • High School Musical – A reboot of the popular Disney Channel movie series
  • Monsters Inc – A TV show based on the universe of Pixar’s Monsters Inc and Monsters University animated films
  • Ink & Paint – A documentary TV series that will tell the story of the women who worked on Disney’s classic animated films
  • Diary of a Female President – A show about a 12-year old Cuban-American girl who is destined to become the President of the United States. This show will actually be made by CBS Studios, rather than by Disney.

In addition, unconfirmed reports claim that many more TV shows are in the early stages of development for Disney+, including two more Marvel Studios-based shows; one based on The Scarlet Witch and the other centering on The Winter Soldier and The Falcon. Other shows rumored to be in development include a female-centric remake of High Fidelity, a reboot of The Mighty Ducks, and a new Muppets TV show.

What about all of that Fox content and Hulu?

disney+ fox combination availability

As mentioned, Disney is planning to acquire much of the content of 21st Century Fox, with the deal to close sometime in the first half of 2019. That means Disney will have the movie and TV rights to franchises like Aliens, Predator, Avatar, Planet of the Apes, and the X-Men-Deadpool Marvel Comics characters. However, Disney+ will launch for a family audience, which means that much of Fox’s franchises, which are made for an older audience, won’t show up on the Disney streaming service.

hulu

The good news for Disney is that after the Fox deal is completed, it will also own 60 percent of Hulu, the streaming service that currently has about 20 million subscribers. Disney has indicated that it could offer content of the properties that it will acquire in the Fox deal on Hulu, rather than on Disney+.

That’s all we currently know about Disney+. What do you think of the Disney streaming service as it now stands, and do you plan to sign up for it when it launches?

Read more: The best streaming media devices

What is portrait mode and which phones have it?

A side-by-side comparison of two photos, one using a smartphone's Portrait Mode, and another using a basic mode.

There’s a good chance you use your smartphone to take pictures and capture video. There’s a relatively new feature a lot of smartphones have called portrait mode, and it can up your photography game big time if used properly. However, you might not know what portrait mode is or how it’s used. So what is portrait mode exactly? Good question.

Let’s examine portrait mode in an effort to separate the marketing jargon from the facts. We’ll also give you a list of current smartphones with portrait mode so you can make informed buying decisions.

Let’s get started!

What is portrait mode?

Portrait mode is a term used to describe the artificial bokeh (BOH-kay) effect produced by smartphones. Bokeh is a photography effect where the subject of a picture is kept in focus while the background falls out of focus. By using portrait mode to create a bokeh effect, you can take dynamic photographs which look more professional.

Years ago, if you wanted to take pro-quality photographs, you’d need a DSLR or analog camera. Nowadays, even mid-range smartphones can deliver exceptional results.

Editor’s Pick

However, one of the biggest historical limitations of smartphone photography had been the ability to simulate depth using bokeh. Without high focal lengths, large sensors, and control over focus, even high-end phones couldn’t create the blurred background effect.

Recently, though, advancements in computational photography — as well as the introduction of dual-lens smartphone cameras — have brought artificial bokeh to phones. Most smartphone manufacturers refer to this effect in marketing material as portrait mode. Additionally, the setting in most camera apps that creates bokeh is usually called “Portrait Mode” or simply “Portrait.”

Portrait mode examples

You know what they say: a picture is worth a thousand words. With that in mind, let’s check out some examples of photographs using portrait mode to create a bokeh effect. Below you’ll find a gallery of pictures captured with a variety of smartphones, all using the portrait mode setting.

As you scroll through the photos, pay attention to the backgrounds:

Google Pixel 2 camera

oneplus 6 portrait mode camera review


Portrait mode makes the subject of your photo really pop. Since the background is blurry, your eyes naturally gravitate towards the non-blurry section of the picture. It can be a powerful technique when used properly.

Editor’s Pick

However,  the images above are not “real.” The bokeh effect is not produced using just the smartphone’s lens (or lenses). Instead, the smartphone’s processor, software, and camera hardware work together to apply the bokeh effect to a non-bokeh image.

Because you’re relying on a computational algorithm to create portrait mode effects, results can vary. Check out the photo below where the phone’s portrait mode filter gets confused and can’t get the effect right:

An example how portrait mode can go wrong, with the subject's glasses being blurred out as if they were part of the background.

For some reason, the algorithm determined the edge of Lanh’s glasses was part of the background and thus blurred it out. If you were using a DSLR to take this photo and produced the bokeh effect using the lens itself rather than software, this problem wouldn’t happen.

However, when you’re using a smartphone to create a bokeh image, you don’t have to lug around a large DSLR, which is certainly advantageous. With that in mind, don’t let a few faulty images deter you. The algorithms responsible for portrait mode are only getting better, so problems will become less and less of an issue going forward.

Which phones support portrait mode?

Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of portrait mode and how bokeh effects can make your photos better. However, how do you know if your smartphone supports the feature?

In general, most phones with at least two lenses paired together can produce portrait mode pictures. Some phones can produce the bokeh effect with just one rear lens (the Google Pixel 2 and Google Pixel 3 being the most notable examples), and some dual-lens phones can’t do portrait mode (like the LG V30). However, if a new phone has two lenses on the back, it’s a safe bet it does portrait mode shooting.

Editor’s Pick

Some smartphones are now shipping with two lenses on the front, too. This allows for portrait mode pics in selfie mode. However, there are phones with a single selfie lens that can also do portrait mode.

Below, we’ve compiled a list of recent smartphones that have portrait mode abilities with the rear camera at least. This list is not completely comprehensive in that there are likely other phones out there with portrait mode not included here, but we did include all the most popular releases.

There are also numerous ways to “hack” your phone to get portrait mode when it is not offered by the original OEM. However, we are not going to cover that here.


Samsung

Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus Samsung Galaxy A9 (2018)
Samsung Galaxy Note 9 Samsung Galaxy A8 (2018)
Samsung Galaxy Note 8 Samsung Galaxy J7 Pro

LG

LG V40 ThinQ LG G7 ThinQ
LG V35 ThinQ LG Q8

HTC

HTC U12 Plus HTC U12 Life

Sony

Sony Xperia XZ3 Sony Xperia XZ2

OnePlus

OnePlus 6T OnePlus 5T
OnePlus 6 OnePlus 5

Google

Google Pixel 3 & 3 XL Google Pixel 2 & 2 XL

Huawei

Huawei Mate 20 & Mate 20 Pro Huawei P20 & P20 Pro
Huawei Mate 10 & Mate 10 Pro Huawei P10 & P10 Plus

Honor

Honor View 20 Honor 8X
Honor View 10 Honor 7X

Xiaomi

Xiaomi Redmi Note 7 Xiaomi Mi Mix 3
Xiaomi Redmi Note 6 Pro Xiaomi Pocophone F1
Xiaomi Mi 8 Pro Xiaomi Redmi 6 Pro
Xiaomi Mi A2 Xiaomi Mi A1

Vivo

Vivo Nex Vivo V11
Vivo X21 Vivo V9 Pro

Oppo

Oppo Find X Oppo R17 & R17 Pro
Oppo F9 Oppo R15 Pro

Motorola

Motorola Moto X4 Motorola Moto G6
Motorola Moto Z3 Motorola Moto Z2 Force

So now you know the answer to “what is portrait mode” as well as what phones currently offer it.

The best mid-range smartphone processors of 2019

The Snapdragon 845 chipset.

Every year there’s a heated battle for the title of the best flagship smartphone processor, but few pay much attention to the equally important cost-effective smartphone market. Let’s put that right by breaking down what’s available from chip manufacturers in the sub $500 and sub $250 price brackets.

The introduction of cost-effective phones packing flagship-grade SoCs, like Xiaomi’s Pocophone F1, have upset how we traditionally look at the performance potential of inexpensive smartphones. I’m not going to talk about the Snapdragon 845. We’ve covered it elsewhere and it certainly doesn’t appear in many mid-range smartphones. Instead, we’re looking at chips that already pop up more commonly in these price segments.

Best chips in sub $500 phones

Most upper mid-range smartphones on the market feature 2017’s Qualcomm Snapdragon 660. Handsets like the Nokia 7 Plus, Samsung Galaxy A9, Oppo R11 all use it, as do cheaper phones like the Xiaomi Mi A2. The newer Snapdragon 675 will likely end up replacing the 660 in mid-tier products throughout 2019 like the HiSense U30.

The closest competitor in this space is Huawei’s Kirin 970. The chip launched in as a flagship in 2017 but quickly trickled down into more cost-effective Honor handsets like the Honor 10 and the Honor View 10. However, these models don’t usually compete quite as well as Huawei’s flagship phones in benchmark tests, but still offer decent performance for cheaper handsets. Samsung also makes processors that fit neatly into this category. The Exynos 7885 powers its Galaxy A8 series of phones and the Exynos 9610 will replace it soon.

  Snapdragon 660 Kirin 970 Exynos 7885
CPU 4x Kryo 260 @ 2.2GHz (Cortex-A73)
4x Kryo 260 @ 1.8GHz (Cortex-A53)
4x Cortex-A73 @ 2.4GHz
4x Cortex A53 @ 1.8GHz
4x Cortex-A73 @ 2.2GHz
4x Cortex-A53 @ 1.6GHz
GPU Adreno 512 Mali-G72 MP12 Mali-G71 MP2
RAM LPDDR4X LPDDR4X LPDDR4X
AI Hexagon 680 with HVX NPU No
Modem 600Mbps download
150 Mbps upload
1200Mbps download
150Mbps upload
600Mbps download
150Mbps upload
Cameras 24MP single, 16+16MP dual 40MP single 21.7MP single, 16+16MP dual
Process 14nm FinFET 10nm FinFET 14nm FinFET

All of these current generation processors feature a combination of powerful Cortex-A73 or similar high-performance processors, paired with four lower power Cortex-A53 cores. The only letdown is in the graphics department, especially with Samsung’s Exynos chip. The two core Mali-G71 design is not going to cut it for 3D games.

Qualcomm, MediaTek, and Huawei chips in this category already pack in AI processing capabilities, something absent from Samsung’s mid-tier Exynos products. Huawei’s flagship chip leads the field with a better modem, but the others are essentially comparable in this regard. Most likely, you’re probably looking at a Qualcomm or Huawei chip in this segment for the best all-rounders.

Upcoming chips

Next generation products, with the exception of Samsung’s mid-range Exynos 9610, switch over to Arm core designs compatible with DynamIQ cluster configurations. This technology has previously been reserved for high-end SoCs and will make them more efficient multi-taskers.

Editor’s Pick

The Qualcomm Snapdragon 675 and MediaTek Helio P90 move to 2+6 core configurations, but we shouldn’t expect any major performance drops. Two Cortex-A75 or A76 cores is plenty of power for most heavy lifting tasks a smartphone can expect. Their enhanced cache and close cluster design means the chips can handle the burst nature of these task types more efficiently than before.

Another notable improvement to some of these chips is in the AI/machine learning hardware. Qualcomm continues to beef up its DSP capabilities slightly over the previous generation. However, the MediaTek Helio P90 introduces a dedicated Inference Engine developed in house, in conjunction with its existing DSP from Tensilica. On paper, this looks to make the P90 a real powerhouse in the machine learning department.

  Snapdragon 675 Helio P90 Exynos 9610
CPU 2x 2.0GHz Kryo 460 (Cortex-A76)
6x 1.7GHz Kryo 460 (Cortex-A55)
2x Cortex-A75 @ 2.2 Ghz
6x Cortex-A55 @ 2.0 Ghz
4x Cortex-A73 @ 2.3GHz
4x Cortex-A53 @ 1.6GHz
GPU Adreno 612 IMG 9XM-HP8 Mali-G72 MP3
RAM LPDDR4X LPDDR4X LPDDR4X
AI Hexagon 685 with HVX Tensilica DSP and in-house Inference Engine No
Modem 600Mbps download
150Mbps upload
600Mbps download
150Mbps upload
600Mbps download
150Mbps upload
Cameras 25MP single, 16+16MP dual 48MP single, 25MP + 16MP dual 24MP single, 16+16MP dual
Process 11nm LPP FinFET 12nm FinFET 10nm FinFET

Again, Samsung’s Exynos chip lacks the GPU horsepower of its competition. There’s a small performance improvement with the move to a Mali-G72 MP3 in the Exynos 9610, but that’s won’t make up the gap. Overall, it won’t have much more to offer than a mild GPU advantage over the budget-oriented Exynos 7904 (more of that chip later).

While a smaller 10nm FinFET process is a small win, Samsung’s mid-tier chips fall behind in the key metrics. The Exynos 9610 uses older CPU cores, a much weaker GPU configuration, and misses out on the AI technologies becoming increasingly common in other platforms.

Overall, Qualcomm is continuing to provide very well rounded packages for the mid-tier smartphone market. MediaTek’s latest Helio P products continue to be interesting and powerful alternatives, but devices with them are often a little harder to come by. As for Samsung’s Exynos, I’d look for alternative chips in my next ~$400 smartphone.

The MediaTek Helio P90 chipset.

Best SoCs in sub $250 handsets

Questionable, low-performance SoCs have plagued the sub-$250 segment for awhile. Many used eight low power Cortex-A53 CPU cores, which don’t possess quite enough grunt for heavier tasks like gaming. Popular chipsets in this category include Huawei’s Kirin 650, Qualcomm Snapdragon 450, Exynos 7870, and a huge range of MediaTek octa-core chips.

Phones sporting these chipsets are still on the market, but we suggest you avoid them these days where possible. The most recent low-cost processor announcements promise notable boosts to performance, owing to the adoption of bigger powerful Cortex-A73 cores into the latest SoCs.

Features are still cut down in this price segment, but the recent Exynos 7904 and Snapdragon 636 offer most of what you’ll need — though don’t expect any nifty AI features. Modem specifications can also be on the slow side and LPDDR3 RAM is still sticking around in some products, so keep an eye on those spec sheets.

  Exynos 7904 Snapdragon 636 Kirin 710
CPU 2x Cortex-A73 @ 1.8GHz
4x Cortex-A53 @ 1.6GHz
4x Kryo 260 (Cortex-A73)
@ 1.8GHz
4x Kryo 260 (Cortex-A53)
@ 1.8GHz
4x Cortex-A73 @ 2.2GHz
4x Cortex-A53 @ 1.7GHz
GPU Mali-G71 MP2 Adreno 509 Mali-G51 MP4
RAM LPDDR4X LPDDR4 LPDDR4X
Ai No Hexagon 680 DSP No
Modem 600Mbps download,
150Mbps upload
600Mbps download,
150Mbps upload
600Mbps download,
150Mbps upload
Cameras 32MP single or 16+16MP dual 24MP single / 16+16MP dual
Process 14nm FinFet 14nm FinFet 12nm FinFET

The Exynos 7904 upgrade to its RAM, GPU, and LTE modem over the last-gen 7872, doubling the Mali-G72 core count to two. This should make it much more competitive, capable of handling some games reasonably smoothly. As you can see from the first table, the 7904 shares a lot of similarities to the old Exynos 7885, which has been found above the $250 price bracket. The Exynos 7904 made its debut inside the sub-$200 Samsung Galaxy M20, but we’ll have to see if the chip makes an appearance outside of India.

Editor’s Pick

The Kirin 710 powers a number of budget-friendly Honor handsets, and bridges the gap with mid-range SoCs like the Snapdragon 636, much like the Exynos 7904. The chip’s LPDD4X memory options gives its weak appearing Mali-G52 MP4 GPU component a boost to bandwidth, which helps it punch slightly above its weight with gaming, but it’s hardly a high-end performer. The superior 4G LTE modem also bests a lot of other products in this range. There’s a reason Honor handsets are pretty compelling at low price points.

The Snapdragon 632 is Qualcomm’s latest product aimed at the budget market, replacing the Snapdragon 450. However, the older Snapdragon 636 actually has better LPDDR4 RAM, a more powerful Adreno 509 GPU, and a 600Mbps compliant LTE modem. It looks like a better rival to new products from Samsung and Huawei, and already common in low-cost phones. I’d recommend the 636 over the 632.

A lot of competing chipsets fall into this price range, some newer and some older. On the whole, aiming for a Snapdragon 600 series, Kirin 710, Exynos 7904, or even stretching to a MediaTek Helio P60 should ensure decent performance on a budget.


Overall, there are some good SoC choices if you’re on a budget, even in phones under $250. However, you have to be increasingly careful which chip you pick as the price gets lower.

It’s essential to take the entire package into account, not just looking at big CPU cores and high clock speeds. Samsung’s budget Exynos chips are prime examples of this. They offer decent CPU specs, but not much else. Gaming, AI, and camera demands have become more prominent lately, and they’re things to keep in mind, especially at these price points.

Why you should (and why you shouldn’t) buy a used smartphone

To buy a used smartphone, or not to buy a used smartphone? For the frugal folks among us, the question seems fairly self-explanatory: used phones are cheaper, therefore the better bargain.

However, that might not always be the case. Over the past few years, the budget and mid-range categories of smartphones have exploded, with brand new models sometimes performing as well — or even better — than other devices which cost twice as much. There are even newer companies that specialize only in phones that deliver a high-end experience for as little cash as possible.

Granted, sometimes you need something specific — something you can only get from one particular brand or style of device. In that case, if you were to buy a used smartphone you might be making the best move.

Let’s get more in-depth on this topic. First, let’s start with the reasons to buy a used phone.

Why you should buy a used phone

In general, the only real reason to buy a used phone is if you absolutely need a certain feature, design style, or brand. The best way to decide whether or not to buy used is to think about your smartphone deal-breakers.

For example, one of the most important smartphone features for many consumers is the camera. If you are a shutterbug and use your smartphone to take tons of photos, you’re going to need something that gives you the best output possible. However, if you’re also on a budget you might not be able to afford the best-in-class Huawei Mate 20 Pro or the Google Pixel 3 XL.

Editor’s Pick

This would be the perfect reason to buy a used phone. If you could find those devices for a good price on eBay, Swappa, or another second-hand site, that would make sense. You could even go a generation back to save more — the Google Pixel 2 XL, for example, has almost as good a camera as the 3 XL and has many of the same features.

On the other hand, the latest-and-greatest features may not be what you’re looking for, and in that case you might actually want to take a step back. For example, almost every flagship device from 2018 features a rear-mounted fingerprint scanner or an in-display fingerprint scanner. If you really want a device with a physical scanner on the front, buying an older flagship used could be your best bet. In this case, something like the Huawei P20 Pro would be a great choice, which is much cheaper now than it was when it launched and is still getting software support from Huawei.

There are plenty of great reasons to buy a used phone, but ‘they are always cheaper’ isn’t exactly the best one.

Maybe you have small hands and thus need a phone with a smaller design factor, or maybe you love the Galaxy Note line’s included stylus and want the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 at a cheaper price. These are also good reasons to buy a specific device used.

It should be noted that used phones come with limitations. Some of them have no warranty, some will come with knicks or other cosmetic blemishes, some will be missing accessories, etc. However, if you desperately need a particular feature and the best (or only) way to get it at a decent price is to buy used, then that’s absolutely what you should do.

If you do decide to buy used, be sure to read our article here on the do’s and don’ts of buying a used smartphone. But don’t go there quite yet! You should read the next section first.

Why you shouldn’t buy a used smartphone

The back of the OnePlus 6T

The smartphone industry has changed quite a bit in the past few years. Previously, if you wanted the newest, coolest features, you had no other choice but to buy the latest-and-greatest smartphone. There was no way around it.

However, innovation within the industry as a whole has slowed down a lot. Nowadays, you could pick any Android flagship at random and chances would be good that it would have the same core features as any other. Yes, there will always be one or two things a flagship from Company A will have that Company B doesn’t, but it’s not likely to be a deal-breaker for the general consumer.

Editor’s Pick

With that in mind, the features of the high-end flagship Android devices and the features of the mid-range are quickly becoming very similar. As such, you can buy a brand new smartphone with all the core features you need for a similar price as buying a used flagship.

If you can get everything you want from a brand new phone at the same price as a used one, why would you buy used?

Take the Xiaomi Pocophone F1, for example. The device has a huge battery (4,000mAh), the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor (still the latest and best), and either 6GB or 8GB of RAM. Depending on where you live, you can get this phone for between $300-$400, brand new.

If you don’t have many specific deal-breakers when it comes to smartphones, a brand new mid-ranger is the better decision.

The OnePlus 6 and OnePlus 6T have similar specs to the Pocophone F1, but more premium build materials and better availability by country. The starting price for the OnePlus 6 is $530, brand new.

The mid-range market is only growing, too. The 2019 Honor View 20, for example, is getting stellar reviews — including from here at Android Authority — and features a nearly all-screen display, a headphone jack, an IR blaster, and terrific specs and build quality. Although it’s only available in China at the moment, we anticipate its global price to start at less than $500.

Another thing that these newer smartphones will have over their older, used counterparts, is software updates. Every device given as an example in this section will get Android security updates for at least another year, probably two. They also will all likely receive an update to Android Q, which something not every older used phone is going to offer you.

With that in mind though, don’t forget that there are still plenty of new units of older generations of flagships out there. A quick perusal of eBay shows plenty of brand new units of the Google Pixel 2, the Samsung Galaxy Note 8, the LG G7 ThinQ, the Huawei Mate 10 Pro, etc. Even though these devices are unused and still in the box, they’re selling for much less than their newer counterparts. Yes, they might not get updates for much longer, but they are still viable options.

What should you do?

Buying used phones is a great way to save money.. but not always

If you’re in the market for a new phone, you should think about what you absolutely can’t live without. If one of those deal-breakers is a feature you can only get from a specific brand or specific model of a device, then buying used will be the best way to save money.

If you don’t have too many deal-breakers or the deal-breakers you do have are relatively common (such as needing a headphone jack or a great camera), just buy a mid-ranger brand new. You’ll get a warranty, you’ll probably be more likely to get software updates, and you won’t have to worry about cosmetic blemishes, missing accessories, etc.

Either way, check out our guide here on buying a used smartphone or check out our other guide here on the best mid-range devices around right now.

Portless phones: Dumb gimmick or inevitable future?

Meizu

Meizu and Vivo, both of which recently announced phones with no ports, are seeking the answer to an age-old question: do people prefer function or form? The answer, as always, is “it depends,” but in this case Meizu and Vivo are asking consumers to vote with their wallets. Should they?

In September 2016, Apple removed the headphone jack from the iPhone and the internet lost its mind. A number of scathing editorials burned red hot across the web, with the move called “user-hostile and stupid.”

The trusty headphone jack has been a staple in consumer electronics since it was designed in the 1950s. The standard 3.5mm jack got its start with transistor radios, and it later showed up in nearly every type of media device over a six-decade span, including WalkMan radios, cassette and CD players, laptops and PCs, mobile phones and tablets, gaming consoles, and much more. The jack is functional across devices and form factors, making it a must-have. Apple disagrees.

“Maintaining an ancient, single-purpose, analog, big connector doesn’t make sense because that space is at a premium,” said Phil Schiller, Apple COO, at the iPhone 7’s launch. Schiller claimed Apple needed to lose the headphone jack in order to waterproof the iPhone 7, and even said it took “courage” to be among the first phone makers to take this step. The company continues to sell lots of iPhones.

USB-C, headphone jack: Samsung S9 lilac and Google Pixel 3 with bases showing to reveal headphone jack and lack thereof.

Any port in a storm

Like it or not, Apple set a precedent and other phone makers followed. Google ditched the headphone jack in favor of USB-C audio, as did Motorola, Huawei, and OnePlus, among others. In each case, the phone maker provided a pair of USB-C headphones or a 3.5mm-to-USB-C adapter. The trend is slowly catching on, but that doesn’t mean people are happy about it.

What Meizu and Vivo are doing is next-level user hostility.

The front and back of the Meizu Zero. Meizu

The Meizu Zero has absolutely no ports. None. It drops the headphone jack, the USB-C port, the SIM card slot, the memory card slot. Need to power up your phone? The Zero sports wireless charging. Want to listen to music? Bluetooth, my friend. What about transferring files? Use the cloud! Need wireless service? An eSIM is inside. While Meizu has an answer to all these nagging everyday needs, you shouldn’t be convinced of Meizu’s logic. At least, not yet.

“Designers dream of clean, port-free lines, but smartphones need to live in the real world, where consumers cannot always expect wireless connections,” quipped Avi Greengart, research director, consumer platforms & devices at GlobalData, to Android Authority. “The loss of the headphone jack at least can be countered by dongles, but until wireless charging spots are ubiquitous, asking consumers to go without a charging cable — which is also used for data transfer and other purposes — simply is not practical.”

Mainstream, here we come?

Charging pads may be available at some Starbucks locations and in some cars, but wireless power is still a niche technology that has yet to be widely adopted. Until every phone ships with a wireless charger by default, consumers will continue to expect to plug their phones in for charging purposes. Moreover, wired charging is still faster than wireless charging.

The idea of phones without physical SIM cards is also problematic. The promise of eSIM, wherein an electronic SIM card can be programmed for network access, has yet to be fully realized. It should be easy, but apparently it’s not.

Apple’s rollout of eSIM in the iPhone Xs and Xs Max, for example, was slow to be adopted by carriers in the U.S. AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless added support for the tech months after the phones reached store shelves. Sprint still doesn’t support Apple’s eSIM. Multiply this by hundreds of carriers around the world and you see where this is going.

Then there’s the Meizu Zero’s lack of physical buttons. The Zero features pressure-sensitive edges that are used to manage functions such as adjusting the volume. HTC’s U12 flagship phone was largely panned by reviewers due to its incredibly frustrating pressure-sensitive buttons. Can Meizu succeed where HTC failed? Hard to say.

Like it or not, phone makers are headed in this direction.

“Apple designers eventually hope to remove most of the external ports and buttons on the iPhone, including the charger,” reported Bloomberg last year. Apple weighed making this radical move while developing the 2017 iPhone X. It later scaled back those ambitions due to the cost of wireless charging. That means we’ll see an iPhone with no ports or buttons at some point, and we can expect the same from Apple’s competitors.

Meizu and Vivo are clearly way ahead of the curve, dancing on the bleeding edge for the spectacle alone. Will people buy these portless phones? Sure. Should they? Probably not yet, but we all will at some point down the road.

Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post’s poll.

The best prepaid and no contract plans in the US (January 2019)

When we first started this prepaid carrier list in 2012, things were starting to get truly exciting. We were seeing processors with more cores, screens in true HD, and things were starting to get really interesting for Android. It’s now 2019 and the mobile industry has undergone a striking revolution. Carriers are becoming less aggressive, off-contract phones are getting better and cheaper, and things don’t look anything like they did in 2012.

Read Next: Best unlimited data plans in the US

The one thing that hasn’t changed is the value of a good no contract or pre-paid plan, so let’s take a look at the best ones right now.


US Mobile

Promoted


US Mobile might not be a household name, but its growing number of choices makes this MVNO worthy of your attention. Operating on Verizon and T-Mobile’s networks, US Mobile’s exceptional coverage easily competes with the “big boys.” Even better, US Mobile is giving Android Authority readers the chance to save $15 upon initial sign up.

To save $15, you’ll want to pick your plan and order a SIM card. Upon checkout, enter ANDAUSM into the promo code box for a $15 credit towards the SIM card ($4) and your first month of coverage.

Okay, so you can save extra when signing up for US Mobile, but why give them a chance? US Mobile stands out because the carrier doesn’t just give a few basic plans and then calls it a day. Instead it gives consumers the option to customize call, text, and data with more than 800 possible combinations.

Here’s a break down of its latest pricing tiers and options:


Plan details:

  • Plans begin at as low as $4 a month, but go up depending on your combination of data, text, and talk.
  • Super LTE Unlimited plans with prices ranging from $40 to $65 a month. Super LTE Unlimited plans are on offer with three tiers: Standard (1Mbps), Fast (5Mbps), Ludicrous (up to 150Mbps)
  • You choose between the biggest LTE network coverage or the network with the broadest device compatibility.
  • Unlike most carriers, if you need to shut down the line for a while, you can hold your number for just $2 a month, effectively snoozing the plan.
  • Head here for more details on plan combinations or to choose an unlimited option.

US Mobile prepaid plans & phones


T-Mobile best prepaid plans in the US

T-Mobile

T-Mobile still has pre-paid plans, despite having its own prepaid no-contract carrier, Metro by T-Mobile. You can bring your own phone, assuming it can use T-Mobile’s service.

See: Best Android T-Mobile prepaid phones

Plan details:

  • Pay as you go – Starting at $3 a month, plus taxes and fees. Includes up to 30 minutes of talk with more for 10 cents a minute, and up to 30 messages, with more at 10 cents a message. LTE and hotspot data available with the purchase of a data pass.
  • Simply Prepaid  – Unlimited talk, unlimited text, 10GB of LTE data. First line costs $40 a month, Two lines cost $70 a month, Three lines costs $100 a month, Four lines cost $130, Five lines costs $160 a month. All of these prices don’t include taxes or fees. Mobile hotspot available at full speeds up to data amount. Unlimited calls to and from Mexico and Canada, plus data roaming while in those countries, for $5 a month extra. Unlimited calls to and from Mexico, Canada, and 30+ countries, with unlimited international texting, for $15 a month extra.
  • T-Mobile One PrePaid – Unlimited talk, unlimited text, unlimited LTE data. First line costs $50 a month, Two lines cost $80 a month, Three lines costs $110 a month, Four lines cost $140, Five lines costs $170 a month. All of these prices don’t include taxes or fees. Mobile hotspot available at unlimited 3G speeds. Unlimited calls to and from Mexico and Canada, plus data roaming while in those countries, for $5 a month extra. Unlimited calls to and from Mexico, Canada, and more than 30 countries, with unlimited international texting, for $15 a month extra.

AT&T best prepaid plans in the US

AT&T

AT&T’s prepaid plans are pretty simple to understand. You can bring your own device to AT&T’s pre-paid plans as long as it supports AT&T’s network.

Plan Details:

  • $30/month – Unlimited talk, unlimited text. Data can be added to this plan at 250MB portions for $5 each.
  • $35/month – Unlimited talk, unlimited text, 1GB of LTE data. Data speeds go down to 128Kbps after the data limits are reached.
  • $50/month – Unlimited talk, unlimited text, 8GB of data. Data speeds go down to 128Kbps after the data limits are reached.
  • $65/month – Unlimited talk, unlimited text, unlimited LTE data. You may experience data throttling if there is congestion in your area. Video streaming is cut down to 480p.
  • $85/month – Unlimited talk, unlimited text, unlimited LTE data. You may see speeds go down if there is congestion in your area if you go over 22GB a month of data. Plan also offers 10Gb of high-speed mobile hotspot data. Video streaming resolution can be set to 1080p.

Boost Mobile best prepaid plans in the US

Boost Mobile

Boost Mobile is an MVNO using Sprint’s network. It’s one of the more popular MVNOs out there and most people have probably heard the name somewhere before. It has a decent selection of phones and, like T-Mobile, doesn’t use contracts at all. You can bring your own Sprint device assuming it’s somewhere on this list. You may need to call customer service as it appears as though that list doesn’t get frequently updated. Boost Mobile currently has four total pre-paid plans.

Plan details:

  • $35/month – Unlimited calls and texts with 3GB of LTE data.
  • $50/month – Unlimited calls and texts and unlimited LTE data. Video streaming is cut down to 480p. You also get 12GB of mobile hotspot LTE data per month.
  • $60/month – Unlimited calls and text and unlimited LTE data. Video streaming goes up to 1080p. You also get 30GB of mobile hotspot LTE data per month.
  • $80/month – Unlimited talk and text with unlimited LTE data. Video streaming goes up to 1080p. You also get 50GB of mobile hotspot LTE data per month. This plans also has unlimited text and talk to landlines and mobile phones in Mexico and Canada (except in the country’s Northern Territories/area code 867). You also get unlimited talk to landlines in over 70 other countries. Finally, it offers free access to the TIDAL Premium music streaming service.
  • Add-ons – Boost Mobile offers a ton of add-ons including data packs, International phone services, phone insurance, and mobile hotspot services.

Boost mobile Prepaid plans & phones | Best Boost Mobile deals


Cricket Wireless best prepaid plans in the US

Cricket Wireless

Cricket Wireless used to be called AIO. It’s an AT&T-owned MVNO running on the carrier’s network. You can bring your own device, assuming it’s compatible. If it’s a GSM phone designed with support for all the necessary US bands, it’ll work without a hitch. Additionally, every plan comes with support for roaming in Mexico or Canada as long as your usage doesn’t exceed 50 percent of your total usage for the month.

Plan details:

  • $25/month – unlimited talk and text, but no data.
  • $30/month – Unlimited talk, unlimited text, 2GB of LTE data, but speeds are capped at 8Mbps. You get unlimited 2G after the data cap.
  • $40/month – Unlimited talk, unlimited text, 5GB of data, but speeds are capped at 8Mbps You get unlimited 2G after the data cap.
  • $55/month – Unlimited talk, unlimited text, unlimited LTE data, but speeds are capped at 3Mbps.  This plan also includes unlimited Int’l texting to 37 countries and free talk, text and data roaming in Canada and Mexico. You also get 10GB of mobile hotspot high-speed data a month.
  • $60/month – Unlimited talk, unlimited text, unlimited LTE data, although you may see slowdowns in speeds after 22GB. This plan also includes unlimited Int’l texting to 37 countries and free data roaming in Canada and Mexico.
  • Auto-pay discount – Cricket Wireless offers a deal where you can get $5 off any plan if you use their auto-pay system. This is applicable for any prepaid plan.

Cricket Wireless Prepaid plans & Phones


H2O Wireless best prepaid plans in the US

H2O Wireless

H2O Wireless pre-paid is another prepaid service using AT&T’s towers. That means pretty much any GSM smartphone should work with the service.

Plan details:

  • $20/month – Unlimited talk, unlimited text, 1GB of data for three months, and 500MB of data a month after that time period. After the data cap, you’ll have unlimited 2G speeds.
  • $30/month – Unlimited talk, unlimited text, 6GB of data for three months, and 3GB of data a month after that time period. After the data cap, you’ll have unlimited 2G speeds.
  • $35/month – Unlimited talk, unlimited text, 5GB of data for three months, and 4GB of data a month after that time period. After the data cap, you’ll have unlimited 2G speeds.
  • $40/month – Unlimited talk, unlimited text, 8GB of data for three months, and 7GB of data a month after that time period. After the data cap, you’ll have unlimited 2G speeds.
  • $50/month – Unlimited talk, unlimited text, 8GB of data. After the data cap, you’ll have unlimited 2G speeds.
  • $60/month – Unlimited talk, unlimited text, 10GB of data. After the data cap, you’ll have unlimited 2G speeds.

H20 Wireless Prepaid plans & phones


 

An image of T-Mobile CEO John Legere announcing the new Metro by T-Mobile brand. YouTube

Metro by T-Mobile

T-Mobile acquired MetroPCS a few years ago and recently changed its name to Metro by T-Mobile. Most GSM devices and T-Mobile-compatible devices should work, but you should double check before committing.

Plan details:

  • $30/month – Unlimited talk, unlimited text, 2GB of data. You get unlimited 2G speeds after the data cap.
  • $40/month – Unlimited talk, unlimited text, 10GB of data. You get unlimited 2G speeds after the data cap.
  • $50/month – Unlimited talk, unlimited text, unlimited LTE data. Speeds may slow down if you go over 35GB a month. You also get 5GB of high-speed hotspot data a month, plus access to the Google One cloud storage plan that normal costs $1.99 a month.
  • $60/month – Unlimited talk, unlimited text, unlimited LTE data, plus 10GB of LTE mobile hotspot data. Speeds may slow down if you go over 35GB a month. You also get 15GB of high-speed hotspot data a month, plus access to the Google One cloud storage plan that normally costs $1.99 a month, plus a free Amazon Prime subscription that costs $12.99 a month.
  • Add-ons – You’ll get $5 off per line if you have multiple lines on your account.

Metro by T-Mobile Prepaid Plans & phones | Best Metro by T-Mobile phones


Net10 Wireless best prepaid plans in the US

Net10 Wireless

Net10 is a subsidiary of TracFone, and for most users, a considerably better option. It’s an MVNO that piggybacks off of all four major U.S. carriers. It lets you bring your own phone as well, so you can use virtually any device on this network (as long as it has a SIM card slot), which is actually pretty awesome.

Net10 recently revamped its offerings quite a bit, offering two different routes. Starting with the regular route below.

Plan details:

  • $20/month – Unlimited talk, unlimited text, 1GB of 4G data. After the data cap, you get unlimited 2G data.
  • $35/month – Unlimited talk, unlimited text, 4GB of 4G data. After the data cap, you get unlimited 2G data.
  • $40/month – Unlimited talk, unlimited text, 8GB of 4G data. After the cap, you get unlimited 2G data.
  • $50/month – Unlimited talk, unlimited text, 10GB of 4G data. After the cap, you get unlimited 2G data.
  • $60/month – Unlimited talk, unlimited text, 12GB of 4G data. After the cap, you get unlimited 2G data.
  • $65/month – Unlimited talk, unlimited text, 10GB of 4G data. After the cap, you get unlimited 2G data. It also comes with features for making international texts and calls.

Net10 also offers data-only plans, which cost $5 for 500MB, or $10 for 1GB.

Net 10 prepaid plans & phones


Page Plus best prepaid plans in the US

Page Plus

Page Plus is an MVNO powered by the Verizon network. To date, it is literally the only way to get unlimited data on Verizon’s network, which is pretty special. You can bring your own Verizon device to the network if you so choose or buy one directly from Page Plus.

Plan details:

  • $12/month – 500 minutes, 500 texts, 100MB of data.
  • $29.95/month – Unlimited, unlimited text, 3GB of LTE data. After high-speed data, you get unlimited 2G.
  • $39.95/month – Unlimited talk, unlimited text, 8GB of LTE data. After high-speed data, you get unlimited 2G.
  • $55/month – Unlimited talk, unlimited text, unlimited LTE data.
  • $10 – This pay-as-you-go price includes 166 minutes with each additional minute at $0.06. Minutes last for 120 days.
  • $25 – This pay-as-you-go price includes 416 minutes (?) with each additional minute at $0.06. Minutes last for 120 days.
  • $50 – This pay-as-you-go price includes 833 minutes with each additional minute at $0.06. Minutes last for 120 days.
  • $80 – This pay-as-you-go price includes 1,333 minutes with each additional minute at $0.06. Minutes last for a year.

Simply put, if Verizon offered these services at these prices on its own network, it would probably put everyone else out of business. This is a great deal for Verizon customers looking for more flexibility with data (which is virtually every Verizon customer). Its pay-as-you-go options aren’t great, though. We recommend avoiding those unless absolutely necessary.

Page Plus prepaid plans & phones


Project Fi best prepaid plans in the US

Google Fi

Google Fi, previously known as Project Fi, is Google’s attempt at being a mobile carrier. It uses T-Mobile, Sprint, and US Cellular to provide a pretty decent coverage map. The service is compatible with most Android phones, and even Apple’s iPhones, but only a few handsets, including Google’s own Pixel phones, support all of Google Fi’s features. All plans include access to cell coverage in more than 170 countries, Wi-Fi tethering, and more.

Plan details:

  • $20/month – Unlimited talk, unlimited text, no data. You can add more lines for $15 a month for each line, up to 5 additional lines
  • $30/month – Unlimited talk, unlimited text, 1GB of data. Additional data is calculated at $1 per 100MB. After you use up 6GB of data before your billing period ends, the rest of your data is free under bill protection. That ceiling goes up to 10GB if you add another line, 12GB if you add 2 lines, 14GB for 3 lines, 16GB for 4 lines, and 18 GB for 5 lines.

 

Red Pocket Mobile best prepaid plans in the US

Red Pocket Mobile

Next on our list is Red Pocket Mobile. This MVNO uses all four top service providers — Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile, and AT&T. You can bring virtually any device to the service as long as it has a SIM card slot and supports those networks. In fact, even if it doesn’t support sim, older legacy CDMA devices will typically work as well.

Monthly plan details:

  • $10/mo – 500 Minutes, 500 Texts, 500MB LTE
  • $15/mo – 1,000 Minutes, 1,000 Texts, 1GB LTE
  • $19/mo – Unlimited Talk  and Text, 1GB LTE
  • $30/mo – Unlimited Talk  and Text, 5GB LTE (3GB on the GSMA network!)
  • $40/mo – Unlimited Everything, 8GB LTE (5GB on the GSMA network!)
  • $60/mo – Unlimited Everything, 12GB LTE (10GB on the GSMA network!)

Red Pocket Mobile has come a long way over the years. It could be a great choice for those looking for a wide array of device compatibility and a variety of plan options. If you want to learn more, check out its plans page.


Republic Wireless best prepaid plans in the US

Republic Wireless

Republic Wireless used to be one of the simplest companies on this list, and while things are a bit more complicated now, its plans are all relatively straightforward. It encourages users to use their home or work Wi-Fi whenever possible to get cheaper plans.

Plan details:

  • $15/month – This is the base price for unlimited talk and text. There is no data included with this plan and you’ll be expected to use your home Wi-Fi.
  • $5 a month for each GB of data – It’s pretty simple; just add how many GB of data you want to add to the basic plan, and it’s just $5 a month for each GB. For example, if you wanted to add 5GB of data, that’s $25 added to the $15 a month plan, for a total of $40 a month. The maximum data limit is 15GB.

It isn’t quite as impressive as it once was, but it’s still a solid choice for those looking for something a bit different.

Republic Wirless prepaid plans & phones


simple mobile best prepaid plans in the US

SIMPLE Mobile

Simple Mobile hasn’t changed a whole lot over the last couple of years. It’s still on T-Mobile’s network and you can still bring your own T-Mobile-capable GSM device if you so choose. Its rates also haven’t changed much. You can get about 10 percent off all plans if you use auto-pay. Additionally, all plans come with unlimited calling to cell phones in 20 countries and landlines in 65 countries.

Plan details:

  • $25/month – Unlimited talk, unlimited text, 3GB of data.
  • $30/month – Unlimited talk, unlimited text, 2GB of data. You get unlimited 2G data after the data cap. This plan also works in Mexico.
  • $40/month – Unlimited talk, unlimited text, 12GB of data. You get unlimited 2G data after the data cap. This plan also works in Mexico.
  • $50/month – Unlimited talk, unlimited text, and unlimited data plus 10GB of mobile hotspot data, with video streaming at 480p. This also includes unlimited talk and text to supported International countries. This plan also works in Mexico.
  • $60/month – Unlimited talk, unlimited text, and unlimited data, plus 10GB of mobile hotspot data, with video streaming at 1080p. This also includes unlimited talk and text to supported International countries.

There are a lot of plans available, including wireless hotspot plans, and the international plans are pretty good. Don’t forget to read the fine print so you can see the restrictions and such.

Simple Mobile prepaid plans & phones


Sprint best prepaid plans in the US

Sprint

This entry may not last for long, as Sprint is due to merge with T-Mobile. Until then, the nation’s fourth-largest carrier has its own prepaid plans.

Plan details:

  • $45/month – Unlimited talk, unlimited text, 4GB of data. You can add an additional 1GB of data to your plan for $15 per month on top of your plan. Once you hit your limit, you’ll be throttled to 2G.
  • $65/month – Unlimited talk, unlimited text, and unlimited data. You also get 10GB of high-speed hotspot data.
  • Add-ons – All plan prices assume you’re going to be using auto-pay. If not, add $5 to each one.

Sprint prepaid plans & phones


Straight Talk best prepaid plans in the US

Straight Talk Wireless

Straight Talk made headlines a few years ago with its bold, no-contract plans and “bring your own phone” philosophy. Most carriers now mirror this ideology, but you can still bring pretty much any GSM smartphone with you to the service.

Plan details:

  • $35/month – unlimited talk, unlimited text, 2GB of data. All plans, including this one, include unlimited calls to 411 as well.
  • $45/month – unlimited talk, unlimited text, 10GB of data.
  • $55/month – unlimited talk, unlimited text, unlimited LTE data.
  • $60/month – unlimited talk, unlimited text, and 10GB of data. Once your data allotment is up, you’ll have unlimited data at 2G speeds. This plan includes unlimited International calling to Mexico, India, Canada, and “select International landline destinations.”

While StraightTalk isn’t perfect, recent changes have greatly increased the amount of data available, making it a solid option. We also love no overages.

Straight Talk prepaid plans & phones


Ting Prepaid

Ting Mobile

Ting is perhaps one of the most interesting carriers on the list. It’s a dual GSM/CDMA carrier that uses Sprint’s network and an undisclosed (literally) GSM network. You should be able to bring most GSM phones to this service, along with Sprint phones, which is great news.

Plan details:

  • For plans, Ting uses a “only pay for what you use” philosophy which makes listing out plan rates literally impossible. You can find their rates here.
  • We also recommend you use their savings calculator. It allows you to get a good idea of what you’d pay based on your usage.
  • $6/month – no talk, no text, no data. This is the lowest possible plan that is literally just a device connected to their service.
  • $522/month – 9,000 minutes, 18,000 texts, 30GB of data. This is the max price for a plan as listed by the Ting website.

It’s a fun idea, especially if you like to micromanage your usage. If you stick to Wi-Fi as often as possible and mitigate text and calling to services like Hangouts, Skype, and so one, you can get decent phone service for a very low cost. If you’re not interested in managing your own services all the time, you should probably look elsewhere.

Ting prepaid plans & phones


US Cellular best prepaid plans in the US

US Cellular

US Cellular is a lesser-known carrier operating its own wireless network independent of the major four carriers in the US. It’s a CDMA carrier with LTE coverage. You can bring your own device, but the compatibility list is not very large.

See: Best US Cellular phones

Plan details:

  • $30/month – Unlimited talk, unlimited text but no data
  • $40/month – Unlimited talk, unlimited text, 3GB of data. You get unlimited 2G speeds once you hit the data cap.
  • $55/month – Unlimited talk, unlimited text, unlimited data. Speeds are capped at 3Mbps, and you may experience slowdowns if you go over 15GB.
  • $5/month – You can add unlimited talk and text to Mexico and Canada for an extra $5/month.

US Cellular keeps its prepaid plans simple, which we like. The only issue is this service isn’t available everywhere, so you’ll have to check if you can get it before signing up.

US Cellular Prepaid plans & phones


Verizon Wireless best prepaid plans in the US

Verizon Wireless

Next on our list is Verizon Wireless. It’s been slower to adapt than its smaller counterparts over the last few years, but don’t let that chase you away. It still has a rock-solid network and good LTE speeds. Not too long ago, Verizon simplified its prepaid and no-contract plans a bit. You can bring your own device as long as it supports Verizon’s network.

Plan Details:

  • $30/month – Unlimited talk, unlimited text, 500MB of data. This plan is recommended for people with basic smartphones. Unused data will rollover to the next month.
  • $35/month – Unlimited talk, unlimited text, 3GB LTE of data.
  • $45/month – Unlimited talk, unlimited text, 15GB of LTE data. This is a limited time offer for this plan.
  • $65/month – Unlimited talk, unlimited text, unlimited LTE data.
  • Discounts for extra lines – Verizon also offers discounts two to five prepaid lines on one account. It also lets customers with multiple lines choose which plan they want to use. One line may have the cheap $30 500MB plan, while the second may get the unlimited plan, and that line will still get a $20 discount.

In classic Verizon fashion, you get rock solid service, but you don’t get to use a lot of services. These plans are great for those who need calls and texting but not so great for those who consume a lot of data. Thankfully, things are at least a little better than they used to be, which is something to take into consideration.

Verizon plans & phones


Unreal Mobile

Unreal Mobile is a recent entry in the prepaid smartphone plan market. It offers ultra-cheap plans, plus extra features like free VPN services and a free ad blocker. You can bring your own phone or purchase one directly from Unreal Mobile

  • $10/month – Unlimited text and talk, 1GB of LTE data, with rollover if you don’t use all of your allotted data.
  • $15/month – Unlimited text and talk, 2GB of LTE data, with rollover if you don’t use all of your allotted data.
  • $30/month – Unlimited text and talk, 5GB of LTE data, with rollover if you don’t use all of your allotted data.

Unreal Mobile also promised to give bonus data if you stay with the carrier for a certain period of time. Considering this carrier offers unlimited talk, text, and some data at prices limited to just talk and text at other wireless providers, Unreal Mobile might be worth checking out.

Unreal Mobile plans and phones


Mint Mobile

Mint Mobile Mint Mobile

This  T-Mobile MVNO sells some of its plans in multi-month packages, rather than just per month. That means you won’t have to look at your bank account every month for the phone bill. All of the plans include unlimited talk and text in the U.S.

Three-month plans

  • $45 for 2GB of 4G LTE data a month ($15 per month)
  • $60 for 5GB of 4G LTE data a month ($20 per month)
  • $75 for 10GB of 4G LTE data a month ($25 per month)

Six-month plans

  • $108 for 2GB of 4G LTE data a month ($18 per month)
  • $144 for 5GB of 4G LTE data a month ($24 per month)
  • $180 for 10GB of 4G LTE data a month ($30 per month)

12-month plans

  • $180 for 2GB of 4G LTE data a month ($15 per month)
  • $240 for 5GB of 4G LTE data a month ($20 per month)
  • $300 for 10GB of 4G LTE data a month ($25 per month)

Check out Mint Mobile


Visible

Visible is using Verizon’s 4G network to launch its service. It started just for iPhone users but recently expanded to the Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus. More Android phones will be added to Visible in the future.

Customers sign up for service online via the Visible Android app (still in beta) and order a SIM card. Once it arrives in the mail, they pop it into their existing phone and activate it. You can also purchase the Galaxy S9 via Visible if you want, and it ships with both the phone and the SIM card already installed.

There are a few catches. The upper limit for data speeds is 5Mbps while streaming video speeds are limited to 3Mbps and 480p resolution, streaming audio is limited to 500Mbps, social networking scrolling is limited to 1Mbps, and video chatting with friends is limited to 2Mbps.

Check out Visible


Prepaid plans – Wrap up

We would love to hear about your experiences with these carriers and, of course, recommend any great prepaid and no contract plans that we might have missed! If you’re looking for epic smartphones to use on your new service of choice, check out our reviews section, our list of the best cheap Android smartphones, and our list of the best Android smartphones!

Have a specific prepaid carrier in mind? Check these lists out as well:

Next: Compare all cell phone plans