A powerful, cheap smartphone? Set yourself free

Regular readers will know that I’ve ditched my long-standing Orange contract mobe and switched to a rolling monthly deal instead. The benefits are that I’m not hooked into a 2-year deal, I’m spending less because I’m not subsidising that “free” handset, and I can hop to another network easily if my usage patterns change.


You need an unlocked phone. Sure, you could use your old one and get it unlocked but if it’s pretty old everyone will stare and point at you. So, I’ve had a dig around for options.

I’ve already mentioned the rather excellent dual-SIM bargain that is the Acer Liquid E2 Duo. For a nudge over £180 for a quad-core phone, it’s staggeringly good value.

But wait, there’s more. The Archos 53 Platinum is a tad more expensive at £219.99 SIM Free (inc delivery) but has a 5.3″ screen, quad-core 1.2Ghz chip and an 8 megapixel camera. It also has 4GB internal storage, microSD card slot, Bluetooth 3.0, Wi-Fi, GPS and dual SIM.

A powerful, cheap smartphone? Set yourself free

Now, you may notice that I’ve picked out a dual SIM handset again. I’m really loving these at the moment because of the intelligence built in. You can choose what SIM to use for texting, calling or browsing or you can tell it to ask you each time. Plus, when a text or call comes in, you can see which SIM it came in on. It’s ideal if you carry a second work phone around or if you have two SIM only deals

Have you seen an offer for a SIM-only plan which is uber-cheap and gives you lots of texts and calls but no data? Have you also spotted a deal which gives you data but not much else? Are the two, when combined, cheaper than other plans or a better fit for your needs?

Get both, get a dual SIM handset, boom.

The Android machine plows on and on.
Review - Kensington Powerbolt 1.0 car charger
  • Have you ever heard of Zopo? Take a look at this one, it costs a bit more but it’s a higher-end device (review is in Italian though, but you can translate it): http://www.webnews.it/recensioni/zopo-mobile-zp980-scorpio

  • Jamie

    Tell you what – my Sky Go app is completely hampering my choice of phones, not to mention being able to root them. I pay a fortune for the subscription, and not to be able to use it across any good Android phone (like you can on Netflix, I think) is immensely annoying.

  • phillip norton

    I have a zopo c2 and it’s goin on eBay in a week. It’s on aliyman os or something similar and I’ve not got the knowledge to put android on it without bricking it but it’s a super phone and dual SIM I would recommend one with android they go for approx 200 quid

  • Billinge

    I heartily recommend this option, I currently have a Samsung Nexus S which has been doing me ok for the last 18 months, but I might start looking round for the next bargain soon. I’ve been on a Three month to month rolling contract for at least that time, with unlimited data, but have now just taken out a 12 month £15pm One Plan (thanks to this site for alerting me to this), which is great, as I can tether my tablet and/or laptop when on the go and not worry about data allowance.

  • weirdstuff

    I’m loving the Motorola RAZR i at the moment. Smaller than your average current phone (‘only’ 4.3 inch) but whippet fast and no matter where you buy it unlocked to any network…

    • Gears

      I must admit, the RAZR I is a fantastic phone. The best Motorola out there at the moment.

  • Rooster

    Beginning to see the potential for dual sim – hadn’t appreciated it until now.

  • Martin

    I’ve been sim-free for about 3 years now, more out of neccessaty than anything else. I pay for the wife and daughters handsets which are both on monthly contracts and are now running at a smidge over £80pm what with O2 and EE putting their prices up. I’m with Virgin and paying £7pm! I would like to upgrade now as my Xperia Ray is starting to play up. I’m looking at one of 3 phones at the mo…Acer Cloud Mobile, the Liquid E2 Duo menitoned here, the Razr i and having seen the price of them second hand, the Xperia SP.

    The E2 Duo is alomost edging it, I could pop my works sim in as well and not have to carry 2 phones around :)
    If you can do without the absolute latest all singing all dancing phone then sim free and a nice mid range phone is the way to go.