New simple-to-use, low-cost smart phones

Consumer Reports
Jitterbug Touch

Jitterbug Touch (Photo: Kyocera)

Given the dazzle of the Galaxies, Droids, and other star smart phones, it's easy to overlook the many less expensive, less promoted phones on the market.

Some new models in our latest phone ratings are easy to use, easy on the wallet, and even boast a few cool features you won't find on their richer cousins.

Here's a rundown:

MORE AT CONSUMER REPORTS

Samsung ATIV Odyssey. ($50)

Samsung's first Windows Phone is among several Windows 8 models we've just added to our phone ratings. While the Odyssey lacks a high-resolution display, NFC-managed file sharing, a quad-core processor, and other features that define today's marquee phones, its hardware is more than adequate. It also comes with a decent number of useful apps, and is one of the few Verizon phones that will work on foreign GSM networks. That's a lot of phone for $50 with a two-year contract.

Pantech Discover. ($50)

This Android smart phone, $50 from AT&T, is brimming with top-shelf features, including a large, brilliant 4.8-inch, high-definition display, and dual side-firing speakers for stereo sound without headphones. There's also a 12.6-megapixel camera with time-lapse video recording and a still camera that lets you choose your subjects' best facial expressions from several different photos and "glue" them on one perfect photo.

(See also: Tech that can save you money)

The Discover also has an innovative and intuitive interface. For example, flicking your finger upward from the bottom of the screen summons a tray of convenient shortcuts for adding apps, widgets, changing wallpaper, and accessing phone settings. And for novices or "cognitively challenged" users, the Discover has an Easy Experience interface that clears desktop clutter to put core functions such as phone, contacts, messages, and camera front and center. It's also easy to increase the size fonts and app icons, and menus present a shorter list of options to simplify use.

Kyocera Jitterbug Touch. ($150)

If only this model, the first smart phone from a carrier aimed at people who find today's cell phones "often too complicated to use," was as successful at simplicity as the Pantech. Costing $150 from Great Call without a contract, this Jitterbug is a pudgy model that measures 4.1 inches x 2.3 inches x 0.7 inches and has a 3-inch touch screen that makes everything displayed on it a tad small for any user, let alone one who finds regular screens "difficult to see," though Great Call promises that its phones address this issue.

It doesn't help that text and images aren't very crisp because the display's resolution is relatively low. And the phone's touch interface is simple, but it buries core features such as phone, camera, photo gallery, and messaging under an Apps tab. On the plus side, there is a slide-out keyboard, with keys that are clearly labeled, logically laid out, and well spaced.

Samsung Galaxy Stratosphere II. ($30)

If it's a keyboard you want, a better choice is this Android model from Verizon—which costs even less, at $30 with a two-year contract from Verizon.

As with the original Stratosphere, the keyboard on this model is one of the best we've seen. It's clearly labeled, logically laid out, well spaced, and features five rows—a rarity among phones—with dedicated buttons for numbers across the top row, directional buttons, and buttons for search, accessing the Web, and messaging. Like its predecessor, it has a 4-inch touch-screen display, but it adds more internal memory, a higher camera recording resolution, NFC, and international GSM ability.

Copyright © 2006-2013 Consumers Union of U.S., Inc. No reproduction, in whole or in part, without written permission.

Sorry you didn't like this comment. Please provide a reason below.

Are you sure?
Rating failed. Try again.
Request failed. Try again.
We will promote constructive and witty comments to the top, so everyone sees them!
Sorry, we can’t load comments right now. Try again.

    Recommended for You

    • 7-foot-7 'Game of Thrones' actor Neil Fingleton dies at 36

      LONDON (AP) — Neil Fingleton, a 7-foot 7-inch actor who played the giant Mag the Mighty in "Game of Thrones" has died at 36.

      Associated Press
    • Mariah Carey’s Very Revealing Gown Must Be Seen to Be Believed

      Mariah Carey ended 2016 on a very low note, but 2017 is looking up — way up.

      Yahoo Style
    • Dana White reveals Conor McGregor's next UFC opponent, Mayweather talks going 'nowhere'

      Both McGregor and Mayweather insist they are keen on meeting in the boxing ring in a fight that could become the richest in combat sport history. White has previously insisted his promotion will not sit back and allow the McGregor vs Mayweather fight to happen without their involvement, adding such a move would be "the stupidest in history". Mayweather has since urged McGregor to speak to his MMA bosses and get the green light to "make it happen", but White insists there has been no progress.

      International Business Times
    • The Latest: Trump says he hasn't called Russia 'in 10 years'

      WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on President Donald Trump (all times local):

      Associated Press
    • Chrissy Teigen looked like she was sleeping during Casey Affleck’s Oscar win, and the internet has theories

      The 2017 Academy Awards were an extremely long affair, with patient east coasters staying up way past midnight to catch La La…

      Hello Giggles
    • Oscars 2017: Jimmy Kimmel tries - but fails - to bury the hatchet with Matt Damon

      Jimmy Kimmel and Matt Damon continued their "feud" as the 89th Academy Awards host took aim at the actor in his opening monologue. The host claimed he would "bury the hatchet" with Damon, whose Manchester by the Sea was up for six Oscars, before ripping into the actor. "I would like to bury the hatchet with someone I've had issues with -- Matt Damon.

      The Telegraph
    • The NES Classic Edition is still in stock on Amazon if you hurry

      Last week we gave you the heads up that the insanely popular NES Classic Edition was finally — FIIIIIIINALLY — back in stock on Amazon, and we’re pretty sure the rush crashed Amazon’s servers for a few moments there. Yes, you’ll have to pay a bit of a premium, but the NES Classic Edition is absolutely impossible to find in stores right now, so Amazon is pretty much the only way to get your hands on it anytime soon. What’s more, it’s well worth paying a premium for if you’ve been waiting as long as we have to get your hands on it. Well, gaming fans, guess what: a new wave of inventory just hit Amazon and there’s plenty to go around. This is your chance to pick up an NES Classic Edition and have it shipped to your door in a matter of days, as long as you're willing to pay a bit extra. The alternative, of course, is continuing to wait indefinitely for retailers in your area to get ahold of more units. Good luck! Here are some key takeaways from the product page: The Nintendo Entertainment System: NES Classic Edition has the original look and feel, only smaller, sleeker, and pre-loaded with 30 games The pre-installed games include: Super Mario Bros., Donkey Kong, The Legend of Zelda, PAC-MAN, Dr. Mario, Mega Man, Final Fantasy, and dozens more Includes a standard HDMI cable Comes with one old-school, grey-colored NES Classic Controller and an AC adapter Also compatible with Classic Controller and Classic Controller Pro. Additional NES Classic Controllers will be sold separately

      BGR News
    • Warren Buffett: Wells Fargo made a 'huge mistake,' but it wasn't the one everybody talks about

      Billionaire investor Warren Buffett said Wells Fargo should have nipped its problems in the bud when it had the chance. "They made a huge mistake. The huge mistake wasn't necessarily the dumb incentive system," Buffett told CNBC's "Squawk Box" in a wide-ranging interview. "The problem was they didn't do something about it until they learned about it." Because of the company's incentive structure, several Wells employees opened fee-generating accounts for customers who never requested them. Wells later agreed to pay $190 million to settle a customer fraud lawsuit. "I keep preaching to our guys: If you see a problem, attack it immediately," Buffett said of his employees at Berkshire Hathaway. Buffett

      CNBC.com q
    • Oscar Moments You Didn’t See on TV (10 photos)

      The behind-the-scenes moments rivaled those on stage

      People
    • ‘Game of Thrones’ Actor Neil Fingleton Dies at 36

      Neil Fingleton, who played the colossal warrior Mag the Mighty on “Game of Thrones,” died from heart failure on Saturday. He was 36. Fingleton was the U.K.’s tallest man at seven feet, seven inches in height. In addition to “Thrones,” Fingleton appeared in “Doctor Who,” Avengers: Age of Ultron,” and “X-Men: First Class.” His death was announced... Read more »

      Variety
    • This one tweet explains that truly bizarre Oscars Best Picture mixup perfectly

      In what is certainly the weirdest moment in Oscars history, the incorrect Best Picture winner was announced on stage to finish off the 89th Academy Awards. Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway first announced La La Land as the big winner of the night. The cast and crew walked onstage and began to make their speeches, only to be stopped halfway through — the correct winner was actually Moonlight. Comedian Jackie Jennings quickly pointed out a perfect explanation for the bizarre mistake. WAIT BUT THIS IS ACTUALLY THE REAL END OF LA LA LAND AND ITS GREAT #Oscars — Jackie Jennings (@ohhijackie) February 27, 2017 La La Land' s depressing dream sequence finale was oddly similar to the ending of the Oscars. The Oscars ended exactly like La La Land did. La La Land is the Oscars. The Oscars are La La Land . SEE ALSO: Your guide to the 2017 Oscars, in highly accurate charts As the dust settles on the weirdest Academy Awards thing of all time, more dazed viewers have begun to realize the connection. Hey "La La Land" remember when you gave us that fake happy ending and then took it awayHow's it feel — Daniel "Kibblesmith" (@kibblesmith) February 27, 2017 This was super meta for La La Land- the movie about following your dreams with the most crushing ending. — Tiffany Mink (@minkus) February 27, 2017 I hope they put that alternate ending on the La La Land blu ray — pat tobin (@tastefactory) February 27, 2017 So that was actually just like La La Land, where they imagine the joy and glory they would have had, only to accept a different ending. — Joshuah Bearman (@joshbearman) February 27, 2017 Remember at the end of La La Land where it shows the happy ending but then it's snatched away? And it's nighttime? And there's MOONLIGHT?! — Corey Vidal (@CoreyVidal) February 27, 2017 Insane the Oscars would have the same dream sequence ending as La La Land. — Peter Sherer (@psherz) February 27, 2017 BONUS: Oscars contender 'La La Land' gets an old school video game treatment

      Mashable
    • Man's wife vanished on a cruise. He told no one

      (NEWSER) – Daniel Belling, his wife, and their two children set off on an 11-day Mediterranean cruise on Feb. 9. Only three of them boarded a flight back to Dublin—or tried to. The 45-year-old German native was stopped for questioning at Rome's Ciampino Airport on Tuesday in connection with the apparent disappearance of his wife, Li Yinglei, and taken into custody. He has not been charged, but a judge ruled Friday that he must remain in jail until prosecutors make a decision, reports the Irish Times. The Irish Independent reports the family boarded the luxury Magnifica cruise ship in Civitavecchia, Italy, and records show Li reboarded the ship on the 10th after it docked in Genoa. After that,

      USA Today q
    • Ex-President Bush backs 'welcoming' U.S. immigration policy, free media

      Former Republican U.S. president George W. Bush diverged sharply from Donald Trump's new administration on Monday, saying he supported a welcoming immigration policy and praising the media as "indispensable to democracy." In a wide-ranging interview with NBC's "Today" show, Bush also said he did not know if a special prosecutors was needed to investigate contacts between Trump associates and Russia but added, "We all need answers." Bush, in some of his first televised comments since Trump took office, was asked if he had seen signs that Trump was trying to close the rift in the U.S. electorate after his divisive campaign against Democrat Hillary Clinton. "One of our great strengths is for people to be able to worship the way they want to or not worship at all," he said.

      Reuters
    • Seoul: 4 N. Korean spies involved in Kim killing in Malaysia

      SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea's intelligence service told lawmakers Monday that four North Korean government spies were involved in the killing of the estranged half brother of North Korean ruler Kim Jong Un.

      Associated Press
    • Disbelief, anger and Ryan Gosling's giggling: reaction to the La La Land-Moonlight Oscars mistake

      In one of the most jaw-droppingly awkward moments in Oscars history, the wrong best picture winner was announced at the 2017 Academy Awards.

      The Telegraph
    • Costco might hike its membership fees — here’s how much more you’ll pay

      Costco is expected to raise its membership fees by nearly 10% in the next couple months. The...

      Business Insider
    • Former President Bush breaks his silence, defends Trump

      Reaction from Fox News contributor and former White House speechwriter Marc Thiessen

      FOX News Videos
    • Muhammad Ali Jr. Speaks Out About Being Detained After Officials Asked if He Was Muslim

      Muhammad Ali Jr., son of legendary boxing champion Muhammad Ali, said he was detained for nearly two hours at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport earlier this month by immigration officials who repeatedly asked if he is Muslim.

      People
    • Game Of Thrones actor and UK's tallest man Neil Fingleton dies aged 36

      Game of Thrones actor and former UK's tallest man Neil Fingleton has died at the age of 36. The successful actor also appeared in Doctor Who and X-Men: First Class, Avengers: Age of Ultron, after a basketball career that saw him play professionally in Spain, China, Italy, Greece and England. Raised in County Durham, he starred in HBO's iconic Game Of Thrones series as the giant Mag The Mighty in 2014.

      International Business Times UK q