Looking for decent places to buy non-contract phones

After the whole "iPad 4 replacing my iPad 3 within 7 months" debacle, I'm really looking to possibly replace my aging iPhone 4 with a Samsung Galaxy S III instead of upgrading to the iPhone 5 as I had originally intended.

My dilema is that I don't want to sign another two year contract with AT&T in order to get a new phone-- I aso don't want to lock myself into an untested (for me) ecosystem that I won't be able to get out from. I tried to look on eBay and local Craig's List sellers, but they all seemed rather expensive and somewhat shady. Was wondering if anyone has any tips for places to buy phones, and what a "reasonable" price should be for these sorts of phones.

Any ideas?

You may want to keep an eye on the upcoming Nexus announcement, and if it looks good, just buy it from Google's Play Store. Their GSM Galaxy Nexus pricing was pretty much unbeatable, so hopefully this will be as well.

General Crespin wrote:

You may want to keep an eye on the upcoming Nexus announcement, and if it looks good, just buy it from Google's Play Store. Their GSM Galaxy Nexus pricing was pretty much unbeatable, so hopefully this will be as well.

I don't follow Android news at all... is the new Google model going to out-gun the GSIII?

I'd look at T-Mobile if they've got good coverage in your area. I know a lot of folks who have service with them and like it rather much.

SommerMatt wrote:

I don't follow Android news at all... is the new Google model going to out-gun the GSIII?

Possibly but not probably. Previous Nexus phones have not been cutting edge, "only" current.

That said, if having the latest version of Android at or right after release is important to you, a Nexus device is really the only option. If hardware is more important and you don't care if you get a new version of Android, then the SGS3 probably is a great option. Samsung is releasing Jelly Bean on the SGS3, but I don't know if they've said what will happen for the version of Android getting announced soon or after that.

AnimeJ wrote:

I'd look at T-Mobile if they've got good coverage in your area. I know a lot of folks who have service with them and like it rather much.

I was a T-Mobile customer for many years, but their coverage here stinks. Switched to AT&T for the iPhone, and coverage is better in most areas.

General Crespin wrote:
SommerMatt wrote:

I don't follow Android news at all... is the new Google model going to out-gun the GSIII?

Possibly but not probably. Previous Nexus phones have not been cutting edge, "only" current.

That said, if having the latest version of Android at or right after release is important to you, a Nexus device is really the only option. If hardware is more important and you don't care if you get a new version of Android, then the SGS3 probably is a great option. Samsung is releasing Jelly Bean on the SGS3, but I don't know if they've said what will happen for the version of Android getting announced soon or after that.

Well, I have no knowledge of Android OS, but I like what I've seen with the Samsung UI "layer" with the GSIII. I honestly don't know what I'm looking for... the iPhone 5 seems to beat all other phones in the "processing" department, but I'm just tired of the limitations on the UI-- I'm sitting on iOS 5.01 because I don't want to lose my Jailbreak and the Android-like window-shade that I have installed. I like what I've seen of widgets and other stuff, but I also appreciate the iOS app development dominance.

Ideally, I just wanted to buy a non-contract phone to be able to play around with it, but I'm not sure how realistic that is-- I'm thinking it's going to run me close to $350-400 to get a GSIII.

You can buy an unlocked SIII from AT&T (new, refurb). Just go to their store or website. You can also grab it from Amazon. Newegg has it too.

Any retailer that carries cell phones should have an unlocked version. Check Costco too.

Like someone mentioned earlier, wait till after tomorrow for the announcement of the new Nexus 4 and see if you like that or just pick up a Galaxy Nexus now.

SommerMatt wrote:
General Crespin wrote:

You may want to keep an eye on the upcoming Nexus announcement, and if it looks good, just buy it from Google's Play Store. Their GSM Galaxy Nexus pricing was pretty much unbeatable, so hopefully this will be as well.

I don't follow Android news at all... is the new Google model going to out-gun the GSIII?

If the rumoured/leaked specs pan out, then yes, at least in terms of CPU -- it's meant to have 2GB of RAM (which matches some variants of the S III, but not others) and a quad-core CPU that's faster than either the quad-core or dual-core variants of the S III. We don't know how the video hardware will compare yet, but that was one of the weaker aspects of the Galaxy Nexus, so I'm hoping Google/LG have something impressive there.

What it doesn't seem you'll get on the new Nexus is a tonne of storage -- 16GB may be as high as it'll go, with no micro-SD card slot for further expansion.

Edwin wrote:

Like someone mentioned earlier, wait till after tomorrow for the announcement of the new Nexus 4 and see if you like that or just pick up a Galaxy Nexus now.

Do you know if the announcement is still going ahead? Last I heard the event had been postponed due to the Frankenstorm, but maybe they're just going to release details instead?

Edwin wrote:

You can buy an unlocked SIII from AT&T (new, refurb). Just go to their store or website. You can also grab it from Amazon. Newegg has it too.

Any retailer that carries cell phones should have an unlocked version. Check Costco too.

Like someone mentioned earlier, wait till after tomorrow for the announcement of the new Nexus 4 and see if you like that or just pick up a Galaxy Nexus now.

Buying from AT&T without a contract is going to run $500. Not anywhere close to what I'm prepared to spend on untested hardware (untested by me, that is). I was more wondering if anyone had a smaller dealer or someone they had dealt with before that had good prices on used phones... Something along those lines. I know that was probably a silly hope, but just figured I'd ask.

I'll keep my eyes open for the new Nexus phones, but as someone looking to dabble in Android, it might just be too rich for my blood.

Yeah, turns out you are right. For some reason, I thought the announcement would be done in Europe, not NY.

SommerMatt wrote:
Edwin wrote:

You can buy an unlocked SIII from AT&T (new, refurb). Just go to their store or website. You can also grab it from Amazon. Newegg has it too.

Any retailer that carries cell phones should have an unlocked version. Check Costco too.

Like someone mentioned earlier, wait till after tomorrow for the announcement of the new Nexus 4 and see if you like that or just pick up a Galaxy Nexus now.

Buying from AT&T without a contract is going to run $500. Not anywhere close to what I'm prepared to spend on untested hardware (untested by me, that is). I was more wondering if anyone had a smaller dealer or someone they had dealt with before that had good prices on used phones... Something along those lines. I know that was probably a silly hope, but just figured I'd ask.

I'll keep my eyes open for the new Nexus phones, but as someone looking to dabble in Android, it might just be too rich for my blood.

Look around for a used Nexus S. The hardware is still good and you can get it with the latest Android OS. Plus the average used price of $150 isn't bad.

SommerMatt wrote:

Buying from AT&T without a contract is going to run $500.

FWIW, that is an entirely reasonable price for a brand new, current model phone. These things have always cost a lot of money, but people often don't realise that because they've only bought these phones on contracts that don't really reveal the device's true cost. I don't think you can buy an iPhone 5 outright in the US, but if you bought one outright in Canada (which seems to be the cheapest place to do so), it'd set you back $700. Even the iPhone 4 there is still $450 outright.

I'd probably wait until after whenever Google's announcement of its new phone happens to be to see if the prices drop, but $349 for the Galaxy Nexus is crazy-good value for a brand new phone that's still very capable.