What’s the best cheap smartphone you have used?

For most of us, when you walk into an electronics shop, you first look all around the shop at all the cool gadgets on display, then finally zoom into what you’re interested in for that time. For example when you walk into a phone shop in your favourite mall or Mutaasa Kafeero, your attention will be drawn to the section with the flagship smartphones. If you aren’t in a hurry or if you are just curious, you will first check out the latest Samsung Note, the Huawei P8 or Mate, the iPhone 6 Plus, and maybe a tablet or two. That is regardless of whether you’re in the market for one of those or you’re actually looking for a device lower in the food chain!

There’s the section that rarely gets people’s attention, at least not at first. The section with phones that don’t get too much hype, don’t have fancy TV commercials or newspaper ads. The phones in this section don’t have large and glorious HD screens or cameras, or the processor or even the storage to brag about. The phones that don’t have all the “sexy” features that you drool over but never use once you buy the phone.

Yet according to statistics, these are the phones that make the majority of smartphones used in Uganda! Ask any web publisher/advertiser to check his statistics and he will tell you that a considerable number of his Ugandan users are visiting from low end smartphones. Or next time you’re out in the real world, beyond your swanky air conditioned office in the prime areas of Kampala, pay attention to the smartphones that people are using. See how many high end smartphones are in your fellow citizens’ palms. And when you see a nice looking one, see whether it’s a genuine Samsung or Samsong…

That means many of us take a look at the UGX 3.7m (over $1,000) iPhone 6 Plus, drool over it but for one reason or the other buy from “the other section”.

iPhone6-jumiaIt might be because you have a limited budget and can only afford a low-end or mid-range smartphone at the time, or because you already have a device that meets your needs but need an extra handset for that side gig you run on weekends or for someone at home. You know in the past you could just buy one of those “ka-torch” Nokias like the Nokia 110 but these days everyone you talk to asks for your Whatsapp number so you need to spend a little extra to get a device with, at the very least,  Whatsapp, Facebook, Twitter.

Whatever your reason, worry not, many phones in this category do not have fancy features but they get the job done.

Both the big name manufacturers and smaller “Chinese” ones are cranking out these devices, you’re actually spoilt for choice when you get into this category. The other day a friend of mine was trying to decide between 3 phones in the same price range with specs that at first glance don’t stand out from each other. She reached out on Twitter.

I told her she’s better off going with the lower spec phone from a stronger brand.

I’d recommend the same approach whenever you’re in doubt about which phone to buy regardless of the segment. If you are choosing between a Samsung Galaxy S6 and a Technizen E5 (never heard of Technizen phones!) at the same price point, go with the Samsung.

By the way I’m specifically talking about genuine products, not the knock-off versions of high end phones. For example a knock-off Samsung Galaxy S5 isn’t one of the phones that I’m talking about. That is something totally different. We’re talking about the Samsung offerings at the lower end of the spectrum, say the Samsung J1. That way you might not get the fancy features but you get the quality, durability and reliability that the manufacturer has built a name for over the years.

I’ve just got my hands on a Huawei Y330 from MTN Uganda. I’m going to write a review in a few days and give you my thoughts on it, but so far, it seems like it’s one of those phones that I talked about above: Doesn’t have a very heavy spec sheet but it does what it says it does!

In the meantime, how about you tell us in the comments, from your own experience, which phones you have used that you didn’t buy because they were the latest flagship devices but because that’s all you could afford or you needed a basic/supplementary device, but they’ve got the job done pretty well.


Joshua Twinamasiko G

Husband, Father, Geek, Petrolhead, Serial Entrepreneur. Co-founder and Managing Director, PC Tech Magazine. Managing Director TwinSource.

One Comment

  1. I also have that a Techno m3, it has served me well. I didn’t expect it to last this long but ist been 2 yrs already

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