These days there are myriad choices for smartphones, and if you rule out buying an iPhone, there are many on the market that are actually both affordable and accessible.
Most of the models priced around $250 or lower are likely to be Google Android-based. This section provides you with some options on the minimum specifications you’ll need, as well as some SIM-only plans that can be paired with a budget-priced smartphone to provide you with ongoing cost savings.
Choosing a smartphone
There are many cheap Android smartphones available. Here is a list of recommended questions plus some minimum specifications to maximise the usefulness of your device.
|How many cores does the processor have?
|Quad-core or higher recommended, dual-core is the minimum.
|How much RAM is available?
|1GB or higher.
|How much storage is available?
|16GB or higher recommended, 8GB minimum.
|Does it have 4G?
|If the smartphone has 4G it will be able to load internet content faster
and play better quality videos. However, 3G smartphones are generally cheaper and may provide enough speed for your needs. Ask for a demonstration from the retailer if you are not sure which is best for you.
|Does it have an SD card slot?
|It is helpful if the smartphone has an SD card slot so you can upgrade the storage, but many models don‘t provide this feature. If your model does not have an SD card slot, make sure the storage provided is enough for your needs.
|What version of Android does it run?
|Android 5.0 Lollipop or later is recommended, 4.4 KitKat minimum. More information on the accessibility features in different versions of Android can be found in the What’s accessible section
The smartphone models that consistently top the reviews for budget and quality (as at early 2016) are the Motorola Moto G and Moto E smartphones.
While the current generation of Moto G is just out of the price range for this resource, the Moto G 2014 remains an excellent choice with a popular online retailer selling it for approximately $AUD 200 unlocked. Motorola were briefly owned by Google and as a result of that legacy the company updates the version of Android on their phones faster than most manufacturers at this price point.
There are a variety of different plans available, which often makes it difficult to select the plan which is right for you. In this section we look at the most affordable plans
and smartphones to assist you in determining if you should buy a pre-paid plan or a SIM-only plan.
If you already have an unlocked smartphone or a tablet with a SIM card slot, you can save money by purchasing a SIM-only plan. SIM-only plans can provide you with flexibility to pay a smaller amount of money on a regular basis or only pay
for the specific calls, messages or data that you use.
There are, however, both benefits and issues in using a SIM-only plan.
|Affordable: Plans have the potential to be more customisable, meaning that you only pay for the services you need.
|Bill shock: While cheaper plans can make it easier to monitor each service you use, there is often no restriction on how much of each service can be used. As a result, there is the potential for bill shock unless you specifically adjust your settings with the provider to set a payment limit.
|Understandable: It may be easier to understand your commitments without having a smartphone bundled into your plan.
|Harder to manage: Managing each phone call, SMS and date individually may be harder for some users to manage than a regularly monthly fee for a bundled service.
|Flexibility: SIM-only plans do not necessarily require contracts, meaning you have more flexibility with what service you use, how you use it, and how easily you can change to a different plan.
|Higher individual costs: SIM-only plans generally charge more per minute for phone calls and more for an SMS than if they were included in a bundled contract plan.
|Value: SIM-only plans generally offer better value as you’re more likely to pay for the services that you actually use rather than an expensive monthly plan that contains things you may never want to use.
|No contract: With no contract you can switch companies at any time, to take advantage of a terrific new deal for instance.
There are two companies that are of particular benefit to people looking for both affordability
and support for those with disabilities: Amaysim and Jeenee mobile. Both companies use the Optus network for their service. Let’s now look at each one.
Amaysim is one of the few carriers that offers a true Pay As You Go (PAYG) service. This means that you only need to pay for the services you actually use, be it a phone call, SMS or data. This can be highly beneficial to people with disabilities.
For example, a person who is Deaf could primarily use a mobile phone for sign language
through Skype and use instant messaging apps by purchasing a monthly data plan, but still
have the option to pay for text messages as required.
The PAYG rates are as follows:
- 12c/min calls
- 7.2c/MB or buy a 1GB data pack for $9.90 a month (30 day expiry)
This means that if a data pack was purchased, the minimum monthly payment is $9.90/month
for a 1GB data-only plan, with the ability to pay for each additional call, SMS or MB over 1GB.
If no data plan were purchased, the minimum plan to just receive calls and text is no cost with
payment just being for the services used.
Prices for Amaysim
- $0: pay-as-you-go plan
- $9.90: pay-as-you-go with $9.90/month 1GB data plan
Jeenee mobile includes specific support for people with disabilities which can provide additional benefits including a dedicated support service of staff trained to support people with disabilities, the inclusion of helpful apps such as BIG Launcher in their smartphone products and a GPS locator service.
A popular budget plan for Jeenee is $15/month and includes:
- 300 minutes of calls
- 3000 text messages
- Unlimited Jeenee to Jeenee
- 150MB of Data (30 day expiry) (Get another 600MB for another $5 per month)
Price: $15 plus additional charges over plan limit.