How cheap is too cheap? That’s the biggest question facing competitors in the burgeoning market for competent-but-inexpensive smartphones—their phones need to be cheap enough to appeal to dumbphone users and people in developing markets, but not so cheap that they’re unusably poor.
$50 locked to Cricket Wireless, $69 locked to T-Mobile
Microsoft’s (still-Nokia-branded) Lumia 530 smartphone aims squarely for that gap. In the US, the phone will usually be sold carrier-locked but contract-free for something less than $100—we picked up our T-Mobile version of the phone from Microsoft’s online store for just $69, and sales will send that price even lower. Despite being carrier-locked, it can still be used with budget-focused MVNOs like Straight Talk, making it a tempting option for anyone contemplating their first smartphone.