Cheap Cell Phones Are Pretty Awesome These Days

A couple of years ago I bought a new cell phone. I figured I might as well get a flagship model so I could keep it for a long time, so I got a Samsung 7 Edge. I’ve hated it from the first day.

Why? Because of the edge. That’s what made it top-of-the-line, and it drives me crazy. The edge doesn’t really provide any more usable screen area, but it is touch sensitive, which means that every time I so much as look at it cross-eyed it does something. The widgets come up. An app closes. A hyperlink gets clicked. Etc. Perhaps this doesn’t happen to anyone else. Maybe it’s just clumsy little me. But I sure am tired of random stuff happening every time I pick up or put down the phone.

Last week I finally decided to do something about this. I wanted a phone with a good old-fashioned slab side and maybe even a bit of a bezel around the screen. That turned out to be hard to find in a top-line phone. So I lowered my sights, and then lowered them again. And guess what? It’s amazing how good a phone you can get these days for $200. I spent maybe an hour looking at phones online, and there were a tremendous number of excellent phones around this price range.

Left: cheap awesome phone. Right: expensive awesome phone.

Kevin Drum

In the end, without even thinking about it much, I got an Honor 7x, which isn’t even the top of the Honor line. It’s a Huawei phone of some kind, which probably means the Chinese government is spying on me, but whatever. And it’s pretty awesome. I suppose it won’t do if you’re a serious gamer, but for ordinary activities it’s every bit as good as my Samsung. Maybe better. It’s light, fast, has a 6″ screen, great battery life, a pretty good camera, and a better button arrangement than the Samsung. For those of you who actually talk on your phone, it’s got a good radio and it seems to get strong reception on my carrier (T-Mobile) maybe even a little better than the Samsung. On the downside, it doesn’t have NFC, which is probably a deal breaker for you hipster types who just want to swipe your phone in the vicinity of the cashier when you’re buying your avocado toast. Also, no wireless charging, which I don’t really miss much.

So that’s my technology report for the week. For those of us who don’t need the absolute fastest, newest phone out there, we’re now in a golden age of cheap high-end phones. With maybe the exception of the NFC, there’s not a single thing on my $200 phone that I miss from my $800 phone.

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Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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