5 On Your Side

Quality, affordable smartphones offer alternative to pricey models

Posted July 21

Some of the most popular phones on the market are also some of the most expensive.

Apple’s iPhone 6s and Samsung’s Galaxy S7 each costs $650 dollars. But it is possible to get a great smartphone for less.

After recent smart phone tests, Consumer Reports found some good options they describe as more affordable. One of the newest is Apple’s iPhone SE, which starts at $400.

“Four hundred dollars may sound like a lot for a cheap smartphone, but it’s the least expensive new iPhone you can buy," said Consumer Reports' Mike Gikas.

The SE looks like the older iPhone 5s but performs more like the iPhone 6s. It has Touch ID, Apple Pay and the “Hey, Siri” voice assistant. Battery life is good, too, with nine hours of talk time.

The big thing you give up, though, is a larger screen.

Another recommendation is LG’s Escape 2 for $180. The Android phone has a slightly curved display. Home and volume buttons are on the back. Consumer Reports says it's a watered-down version of LG’s flagship phones.

“The Escape has a lower resolution display than some pricier smartphones," Gikas said. "And it’s only available on AT&T.”

If you prefer a larger phone, check out the Asus ZenFone 2 and the Blu Vivo 5. Both phones have 5.5-inch displays and cost $200.

Both come unlocked, which means they can run on a number of different carriers. Battery life was good on both.

As for the cameras, they each took decent pictures, but not as good as the top-rated phones. Both offer slots for two SIM cards, so you can have a work account and a home account on one phone.

Monica says another option to save some money is to consider buying models that are a year or two old. Companies often sell them at a discount.

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