Best Mobile, Pocket-sized Computer and No Data Plan?

Dennis Faas's picture

Infopackets Reader Steve T. writes:

" Dear Dennis,

I just read yesterday's survey article entitled 'Are Smartphones a Vital Tool in 2015?' and was intrigued with its findings. Personally, I don't own a smartphone because I cannot afford to pay for the data plans. I would like to know, is there a cheap mobile device that I can use that is similar in size to a smart phone, but doesn't use a mobile data plan? "

My response:

Yes. You can use a small sized tablet (around 8 inches or so) but it's not very mobile in the sense that won't fit very nicely in your pocket. As such, I think best choice here is to purchase an "unlocked" cell phone (one that does not have a mobile data plan attached to it), and use just as you would a smartphone or tablet with a WiFi Internet connection. Since tablets and smartphones operate on similar hardware, you would be getting the best of both words (so to speak), and it would easily fit in your pocket.

For instance, the smartphone I purchased last year is unlocked and cost only $140. It has no mobile data contract, and also offers dual sim cards, which means I can use two different mobile phone providers if I choose to do so (or none if you don't have a mobile phone provider). Having dual sim cards is particularly useful if you travel often (to another country, for example) and you don't want to take your phone apart to input a new sim card each time.

Personally, I have an old phone plan (without mobile data) and the cost is $15 a month. I use my old phone plan with my new phone without any issues. I've connected my smartphone to my WiFi and use the phone around the house, so it's essentially a mobile computer in my pocket. If I'm out of the house, I connect to WiFi hot spots when available. When I revisit the same locations later (McDonalds, for example), the phone remembers the connection and automatically connects.

A Cheap, Unlocked, Quad Core Android Smartphone

The phone I have is the Blu Studio 5.0c HD; it has a big 5 inch screen, a quad core processor, and runs the Android operating system. It's the exact same size as a Samsung Galaxy s5, available from, and costs roughly 1/4 the price as the Galaxy S5.

My only caveats about the Blu Studio 5.0c HD is that the battery life isn't the greatest, but most people charge their phones each day anyway, so that isn't a big deal for me. Also, the Blu Studio 5.0c HD runs a bit on the big side and doesn't always fit in my pant pockets very well, but that also depends on which pants I'm wearing as some of my pants have smaller pockets compared to others.

If you prefer a slightly smaller phone, I suggest the Blu Studio 5.0c. Note however that the 5.0c / 5.0ce (non "HD") only has a dual core processor compared to the  Blu Studio 5.0c HD. This means that the Blu Studio 5.0c won't perform as quick as a quad core in the  Blu Studio 5.0c HD, but performance is still acceptable. The price for Blu Studio 5.0c is around $83 compared to $140 for the  Blu Studio 5.0c HD. The price will fluctuate depending on color, merchant, and availability. You can see images of the phone over at Amazon - just click any of the links I've provided.

There are other phones available through Amazon or elsewhere, but the ones I've suggested have the best features and performance (that I could find) and for the lowest price.

Hope that helps!

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About the author: Dennis Faas is the owner and operator of With over 30 years of computing experience, Dennis' areas of expertise are a broad range and include PC hardware, Microsoft Windows, Linux, network administration, and virtualization. Dennis holds a Bachelors degree in Computer Science (1999) and has authored 6 books on the topics of MS Windows and PC Security. If you like the advice you received on this page, please up-vote / Like this page and share it with friends. For technical support inquiries, Dennis can be reached via Live chat online this site using the Zopim Chat service (currently located at the bottom left of the screen); optionally, you can contact Dennis through the website contact form.

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bcorsale's picture

Dennis: I have the same dilemma as Steve T. I do like your solution. What makes and models of the "no-frill" phones would you recommend for your solution.

blqwlf_4371's picture

I have a Moto E from Republic wireless $99 my plan is $10 per month unlimited cell and text and unlimited data off WIFI. They use Sprint as main carrier and has roaming. I live in a remote location where few people have any cell service and mine works fine. It's a great alternative to regular cell service. It's no contract and 30 days risk free.

lkugle_4373's picture

How do dual SIMs work? You have a local service provider, but what do you do when you travel? Do you need to make arrangements with a service provider where you are going?

Dennis Faas's picture

The benefit of a dual sim is that you can switch to another provider via the phone Settings menu. You don't need to take the phone apart and mess around with internal components to insert another sim card. If you travel a lot then dual sim in the way to go.

samflittle_4384's picture

I went to Amazon to purchase & found the new model above. Do you know anything about it, how it compares etc?

Dennis Faas's picture

The Blu Studio X looks comparable to the Blu Studio 5.0c in terms of hardware. Specs are near identical except that it's thinner and looks like the batteries are built in instead of external, so that is something to consider. The Blu Studio X can run Android Lollipop and physically looks just like a Samsung Galaxy S6 (same form factor), though lower specs than an S6. For the price you can't beat it.

samflittle_4384's picture

Another question. This seems to be about 1/2 in narrower with 2 batteries, same depth. Is something out of wack?

Dennis Faas's picture

The batteries are internal and thus have a smaller form factor. Samsung's Galaxy S6 went this route as well and it upset some users because they cannot replace the battery as with previous editions of the Galaxy - but as I mentioned, the tradeoff is that you get a thinner phone. Most likely by the time the batteries are ready to be replaced, the phone will be antiquated anyway. I'm guessing that it wouldn't be impossible to replace the batteries - though it won't be as easy as using a 'replaceable battery pack' that you would normally insert as with other phones.