Apple's iPhone SE isn't cheap: Better smartphones start at $150

Looking for another smartphone for international travel? Or just don't want to spend five or six bills on a handset? Have a look at these instead.
Written by Jason Perlow, Senior Contributing Writer

This week Apple announced the iPhone SE, a tech update to the company's venerable 4" iPhone 5 design that includes many of the enhancements introduced with the iPhone 6s, but in a smaller package and with a lower price, starting at $399 unlocked with 16GB of flash storage, or $499 for the 64GB version.

But let's face it, starting at $399, the iPhone SE isn't cheap. It's not a good choice for kids and young adults, who largely want bigger screens and are prone to damaging their devices anyway.

As a travel device it's definitely a theft magnet, as iPhones in many developing countries have significantly higher price tags than they do in North America and Europe.

Perhaps it's time to consider something more reasonable -- such as a new device from any number of Chinese manufacturers that in most use cases, would be just as good or even better than an iPhone SE.

This is especially important if you are buying a second device for international travel, in which case you'll want a phone that can participate well on GSM networks and has dual-SIM capability.

While 4G is deployed in many countries, 3G and GSM is still the established wireless data standard. Chinese-designed and manufactured Android devices such as the ones on this list are well-suited for these networks.

Some of these global phones are GSM and 3G only on certain carriers while some also have HSPA+ and LTE, so you will want to look at the manufacturer specifications closely and determine if they will run well on your carrier network in the US.

You can compare the specs for the carrier supported radio frequencies for many cell phone models at GSMArena.com.

Be advised that unlike the iPhone SE, which has a 4-inch screen, many of the devices on our list are "Phablets" with 5-inch or 5.5-inch screens. That's because in China and in other developing markets, where these phones are popular, small form factor devices like the iPhone 5 and iPhone SE don't sell very well, as most consumers in those regions use a phone as their primary or only computing device and don't own tablets or laptop computers.

But when many of these cost between $200 and $250, are you really going to complain about the size?

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Budget smartphones: Cheaper alternatives to the iPhone SE

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