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If you're looking for a new phone for yourself or your kids, choosing an old phone model can save you a bit of cash while still giving you plenty of cool features. When shopping for a new-to-you phone, you'll want to choose one that has been released since 2019 so it can support 5G LTE cellular networks and will almost guarantee regular firmware and security updates. Choosing an older phone model may also get you some features that have been abandoned like headphone jacks, microSD card support, and dual SIM card support.
Older phones are great for kids and teens since they're more affordable, which means you won't be out $1,000+ when it gets dropped in a school drinking fountain or crushed at football practice.
If one of your resolutions is to save more money, I've gathered up 5 of the best old phones you can buy. I've broken down their features and price points to help you decide which is the best fit for both your budget and your needs.
Also: What are the best phones for kids, and which do location tracking?
Processor: A15 Bionic | Storage: 128GB | 5G support: Yes | microSD support: No | Display size: 6.1 inches | Display type: Super Retina XDR | Battery life: 19 hours
The iPhone 13 is just one generation away from Apple's newest smartphone offerings, which means that not only can you save a bit of cash, you will also still be able to take advantage of current firmware and security updates. The rear and front cameras support Dolby Vision HDR and 4K resolution for crystal clear pictures and video, while the chassis is IP68 rated for water and dust resistance. The integrated battery gives you up to 19 hours of use on a full charge, and when it comes time to plug in, you can use wireless devices like Apple's MagSafe chargers or Qi-compatible chargers to top up your battery faster. And with 128GB of storage, you can download music and apps, record video, and take pictures without worrying about running out of space; and if you do need more room, you can sync your phone to iCloud to free up space on the local drive.
Check out: The 5 best iPhone models
Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 | Storage: 128GB | 5G support: Yes | microSD support: Yes | Display size: 6.5 inches | Display type: AMOLED | Battery life: 9 hours
Android users who want a solid smartphone without the high cost of a Galaxy S22 model can save money and still get great features with the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE. It supports 5G LTE cellular networks so you can enjoy fast mobile internet speeds and more reliable texting, calls, and video chats. Along with 128GB of integrated storage, you can expand upon that with a microSD card; just pull out the SIM card tray, and you'll see a second slot for a microSD card or second SIM card for international calling.
The front and rear cameras are some of the best you can get, featuring a dedicated night mode for taking pictures and shooting videos in the dark as well as a 30X space zoom mode for capturing great photos of the moon and night sky. The 6.5-inch display uses an AMOLED panel for vibrant colors, crisp details, and enhanced contrast for more lifelike images while browsing photos and streaming videos. And while the 9-hour battery life isn't anything to write home about, the quick-charge feature lets you top up your phone's battery on your lunch break or commute for all-day use.
Processor: Google Tensor | Storage: 256GB | 5G support: Yes | microSD support: No | Display size: 6.4 inches | Display type: OLED | Battery life: 8 hours
The Google Pixel 6 is a great choice for a first phone for your younger kids or teens. Not only is it more affordable than the latest models on the market, it's also built with usability and security in mind. The Google Tensor processor works with a Titan M2 security chip to protect the phone from hacking, spyware, and unauthorized access and keep your kids and their personal information safe. With continuous use, the battery lasts about 8 hours, which is on the short side; but the fast charging feature lets your kids quickly top up their phone battery on their lunch break or between classes with a battery pack.
Check out: The 4 best Google Pixel phones
It even has Google Assistant built in for hands-free voice controls so your kids can quickly add test dates, practice times, and school events to their calendar to stay on top of assignments and extracurricular activities. The phone's case is also water resistant, able to be submerged in up to 4 feet of water, which means that spills, rain, and accidents won't ruin your kids' new phone and put you out several hundred dollars for a replacement.
Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 765 | Storage: 256GB | 5G support: Yes | microSD support: UP to 1TB | Display size: 6.7 inches | Display type: OLED | Battery life: 2 days
Battery life is one of the key features to consider when shopping for a new or new-to-you phone, and the Motorola Moto Edge far outstrips the competition. On a full charge, you can get a truly impressive 2 days' worth of use out of your phone; and when you finally do need to recharge, it supports fast charging so you can quickly top up on your lunch break or commute. The 6.7-inch OLED display supports 4K video playback as well as a wider color range and enhanced detailing for better images when scrolling through pictures or streaming video.
The screen is also made with Corning Gorilla Glass 5 for durability, and the phone body is IP52 rated for water resistance. And you can customize your home screen with the Motorola My UX feature. This lets you set up alerts and touch inputs for more streamlined interaction with apps and focused notifications while you're working and can't have distractions. And with 256GB of storage, you'll have plenty of room for music, apps, and photos, but you can also expand upon that with cloud storage or up to a 1TB microSD card.
Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 480 | Storage: 64GB | 5G support: Yes | microSD support: Up to 1TB | Display size: 6.1 inches | Display type: LCD | Battery life: 26 hours
If you consistently work outdoors or love to hike, mountain climb, or camp, you need the Kyocera DuraSport 5G. This phone was designed to be the gold-standard for cell phone durability, with MIL-STD-810H ratings for drop, shock, and temperature resistance as well as IP68 water resistance. So water, direct sunlight, and even a 5-foot drop onto solid concrete can't stop this phone. The screen's glass is scratch and shatter resistant and is designed for use with gloves and wet hands for better interactivity without having to wash up or remove your work gloves. It's rated for operation in temperatures ranging from -4 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit (-20 to 60 degrees Celsius), and has a built-in GPS to stand up to the toughest outdoor conditions.
Also: The 5 best rugged phones
The integrated battery gives you up to 26 hours of use on a full charge with normal calls, app use, and texting. But if you really need your DuraSport to last, you can place the phone in standby mode which extends the battery life to a truly impressive 336 hours (which is about 14 days) so you can stay connected while camping, hiking, or in an emergency. The DuraSport supports 5G cellular networks as well as Wi-Fi connectivity, allowing you to turn the phone into a hotspot when needed. And you can even connect it to Microsoft Teams and other chat apps for a push-to-talk mode.
My pick for the best older phone is the iPhone 13. Since it's just one generation removed from the latest model, you can still get great, modern features like battery saver mode and support for the most popular apps as well as firmware updates for efficiency and security. It's still on the expensive side, unfortunately, but as the iPhone 14 finds its legs, it won't be long before the iPhone 13 sees a significant price drop.
Up to 512GB
Samsung Galaxy S20 FE
Google Pixel 6
Up to 256GB
Motorola Moto Edge
Kyocera DuraSport 5G
When shopping for a new or new-to-you phone, it's important to consider not only the total cost of purchase, but also storage space, battery life, and the ability to receive updates. Older phones are a great way to save money, but it's important to ensure that the one you choose can still receive regular firmware and operating system updates to stay connected to cellular networks and protect your personal information.
Buy this old phone...
If you need...
Apple iPhone 13
A well-rounded smartphone that still offers premium features
Samsung Galaxy S20 FE
A solid, affordable Android smartphone
Google Pixel 6
A more basic and affordable smartphone for kids and teens
Motorola Moto Edge
An old phone with an impressive battery life
Kyocera DuraSport 5G
A very durable older phone
I made the choice to include phones that were released since 2019, so that they will almost certainly support current 5G LTE cellular networks. I also chose phones with decent internal storage for music, photos, and apps as well as models that are on the more affordable end. I deliberately left out refurbished and pre-owned phones since stock is often exceptionally limited, even online, and can be in very poor condition for the money.
They can be! Big name retailers like Amazon, Walmart, and Best Buy offer refurbished, pre-owned phones that have been inspected for damage and tested to ensure they work properly. They also often have limited warranty coverage for pre-owned phones to give you peace of mind as well as tech and repair support if you need it.
You can also search second-hand seller sites and apps like Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, and OfferUp to see if you can get a new-to-you phone on the cheap. But you should take measures to protect yourself from scammers, including: asking for video proof of the phone booting up to a home screen, video proof that the phone has been wiped of any previous owner's data, and photographic proof of any model and serial numbers. With this information, you can double-check a seller's listing against official product specs to make sure you're getting what they say you are.
And when meeting sellers to pick up products and give payment, make sure you let trusted people know where you are, what you're doing, and when you expect to return. That way if something goes wrong, they can alert authorities for help. It's also a good idea to bring a friend with you to seller meet-ups, since scammers are much less likely to try anything untoward if you aren't alone.
Of course! As long as you have the correct tools and the SIM card is sized correctly for the new-to-you phone, you can absolutely switch it over. By moving your existing SIM card to an older or refurbished phone, you can keep your existing phone number, app and contact data, and stay with your current service provider.
However, you should double check to make sure that your new-to-you phone uses a GSM system (which allows you to switch out SIM cards) rather than a CDMA system, which uses an electronic serial number rather than a SIM card to connect your phone to a mobile carrier network. CDMA models won't have a SIM card slot, forcing you to switch numbers, re-download apps, and possibly switch service providers.
They can, but there are caveats. Smartphones released since 2019 are likely to support 5G LTE networks, allowing you to take advantage of fast mobile internet speeds and more reliable messaging, video calling, and traditional calling. However, anything older than 2018 (even refurbished phones) will likely only support 4G LTE. So keep that in mind while shopping for a new-to-you phone.
If you're willing to look at phones that are either several years old (but still brand new) or refurbished models, you can snag excellent deals on smartphones. Here's a short list of alternative old phones I thought were great: