If you really want it you can get Chinese phones for as little as $20 but you will hate yourself in the process unless you are one of those people with no self-respect. We have been over this, the very cheap phones always come at a cost.
On the other hand there are overly expensive phones whose purchase price is worth several cows now I don’t know about you but to me that seems a little bit of an overkill. Parting with a whole herd just so you can have a wonderful selfie just doesn’t seem right. I know a lot of people with an S8 that never use two thirds of the features.
Budget phones are the answer
There are a lot of great phones that offer bang for buck. They come with a battery that will last a whole day even with 9 hours on screen time, near perfect cameras for those who obsess over this sort of thing, 32GB of ROM, at least 3GB of RAM, dual SIM capacity, expandable slot and lots of wonderful stuff including updates to Nougat and/or Oreo if they don’t come with it out of the box.
What if I told you could get these phones for near $200 or less? Great right? I have spent a long time researching these phones for myself and friends. You are free to do your own research but believe me when I tell you they are awesome phones.
NB: These phones are not listed here in order of awesomeness or anything.
The Xiaomi Redmi 5
Xiaomi is the king of budget phones in my book and you can never go wrong whatever device you buy from them but the Redmi 5 is in a class of its own. There are many variants of this device with different bands ( it can support CDMA 2000 for example) and screen resolution. The phone comes in three colours Black, Rose Gold and Blue
- You can get the 2GB/16GB version for around $119 from Gearbest, Geekbuying
- The 3GB/32GB version for as low as $150 from Gearbest
- The 4GB/64GB version which comes with a 1080p display for $200 from Gearbest,
The Redmi 5A
A sibling to the Redmi 5, the 5A comes with a better selfie (front) camera, is a little smaller but it comes with the respectable Snapdragon 435 so this is not a device to sneer at.
- You can get it for $130 from Gearbest, Geekbuying $148
- If you don’t care about the fingerprint scanner you can get the 2GB/16GB variant for $95 from Gearbest, Geekbuying $110
You remember Nubia right? It is a popular phone in Zimbabwe, well sort of. Nubia is an offspring of ZTE and everyone except the crazy protectionist U.S Congress loves ZTE. The M2 comes with two dual rear cameras, the power saving Snapdragon 625 and as a 4GB/64GB build.
The downside is it comes with Android 6.0 out of the box. Android 6.0 is a capable O.S. but if you like living on the edge you can always upgrade to Nougat, or soon Oreo using a Lineage ROM Lineage is an offspring the once popular Cynagenmod so this will be like two royal offspring hitting it off. Symmetry huh.
- You can get the device from Geekbuying for $160
- There is lite version which comes in a 3GB/32GB configuration but it has one rear camera. You can get it for $118 from Gearbest.
Huawei Honor 6X
This veritable photography powerhouse comes with a 3GB/32GB variant. The device comes with Huawei’s own Kirin processor while on paper this has less muscle than Snapdragon’s series it’s so well optimized that this will not matter much in real world use cases. While this comes with Android 6.0 you can easily upgrade to Nougat. The camera app for this phone is to die for not that Huawei needs an introduction in Zimbabwe anyway.
- The Global version can be purchased for $160 from Gearbest
- It is also selling on Geekbuying for the same price
Technically you will have to fork out at least $22 more to get the Honor 7X but it’s close enough to $200 I am including it here. It is naturally the successor to the 6X. However while the 6X comes in silver this one comes in blue. I am referring to the linked devices here not the entire range of products. So please no trolling.
- The cheapest version can be found on Geekbuying selling for $220.
NB 3GB/32GB means a phone has a 3GB RAm and 32GB ROM pairing and so on.
In making my list I deliberately omitted a lot of great brands such as Elephone as they might not be well known to a lot of people so this list is not exhaustive. I can guarantee you though that all the phones listed above are beautifully crafted, come with good battery life, have excellent cameras and offer great value for money.
Three shops were considered in the making of this list: Gearbest, Geekbuying and Aliexpress. The later proved to be useless as most of the phones above could not be delivered to Zimbabwe. It is however a good shop for accessories.
Duty and Making payments
You will need a MasterCard/Visa card that can make international payments to buy these items from their relevant stores. I would strongly recommend the FBC MasterCard not only can you load it using USD you can also receive wire transfers from abroad onto this card. The Steward prepaid Visa Card is also a good card.
Phones have to pay 25% duty and 15% VAT. This is levied on what ZIMRA calls Value for Duty Purposes which is close to the purchase price. In anycase the cost of buying a phone online is almost always cheaper than buying an equivalent phone here in Zimbabwe. The above phones (or equivalent versions) sell for around $450-$500 or even in Zimbabwe so …