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The best cheap phones in 2024: our 9 favorites for tight budgets

OnePlus 12R
OnePlus 12R
The best cheap phone overall
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Google Pixel 8
Google Pixel 8
The best premium cheap phone
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Samsung Galaxy A35
Samsung Galaxy A35
The best cheap Samsung phone
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Apple iPhone SE (2022)
Apple iPhone SE (2022)
The best cheap iPhone
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Motorola Edge (2023)
Motorola Edge (2023)
The best cheap Motorola phone
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Google Pixel 8a
Google Pixel 8a
The best cheap Google phone
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Moto G Stylus 5G 2023
Moto G Stylus 5G (2023)
The best cheap phone with a stylus
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OnePlus Nord N300 5G
OnePlus Nord N300 5G
The best cheap phone under $250
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Samsung Galaxy A14 5G
Samsung Galaxy A14 5G
The best cheap phone under $200
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oneplus 12r review 9
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

Don’t want to spend $1,000 or more on a new smartphone? We don’t blame you. The good news is there are plenty of models available for half that price, but the trick is knowing which cheap smartphone is worth buying. After all, just because you’re not spending flagship phone money doesn’t mean you want to be stuck with a phone that's rubbish. There are plenty of options out there for the best cheap phones!

We’ve collected the models that still give you great performance, good cameras, the right connectivity, and often a desirable design and brand name too — all for less money than you may expect. Cheap phones in 2024 will surprise you with their strong performance, making them more than capable of playing the latest games; plus they have batteries that will last you at least a day.

If your budget for a new smartphone this year is around $500, then these are the best models you can get.

dont buy galaxy s24 ultra iphone 15 pro max do this instead oneplus 12r review 1
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

OnePlus 12R

The best cheap phone overall

Pros
  • Sleek, polished design
  • Top-notch display
  • Fast performance; runs cool
  • Excellent battery life
  • 80W charging!
  • Unbeatable price
Cons
  • Poor ultrawide and macro cameras
  • No wireless charging

Why you should buy this: It's OnePlus's newest flagship killer and the truest expression of OnePlus's creed.

Who it's for: Anyone who wants an amazing phone at an incredible price.

Why we picked the OnePlus 12R:

OnePlus is best known as the "flagship killer," which certainly used to be accurate. These days, OnePlus's flagship phones are, well, flagships themselves. While they're no less capable, it's hard to frame them as a true "flagship killer". That title has instead been handed down to the OnePlus 12R, a $500 smartphone that absolutely deserves the nickname. It's a powerful, gorgeous, and immensely desirable phone and our pick for the best cheap phone in 2024.

Performance here is top-notch. It uses the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, last year's flagship chip, and it's exceptional. It runs cool, even under pressure, and it'll handle anything you can throw at it. It's silky smooth, thanks in large part to the variable 1-120Hz refresh rate, and the 2780 x 1264 resolution means everything on the AMOLED 6.78-inch display looks crisp, vivid, and inky dark.

It looks great elsewhere, too. The aluminum frame has soft curves and the camera system on the back is unique without being ugly. Sure, it won't be to everyone's tastes, but it's not afraid to stand out, and we love it for that. Under the hood, it's running Android 14 in the OxygenOS 14 flavor, and it looks and feels great. Even better, you get three years of Android updates and four years of security patches, too.

The battery is another big highlight. First, it takes serious advantage of OnePlus's charging expertise, and has an 80W charging rate (100W outside of the U.S.), and while there's no wireless charging, the speed of the wired charging is enough that you might not miss it. Not that it'll need charging that much, as the enormous 5,500mAh battery is more than capable of lasting for two days on a single charge. It's an exceptional performer here.

The camera is good, but not up to the level of the rest of the phone. The main 50-megapixel camera lens has taken some greats shots during our time with it, and while it's taken some bad shots, it's been solid on the whole. The ultrawide lens isn't as good, largely because it only has 8MP, and the less said about the macro lens the better. Thankfully, the 16MP selfie camera is good, leaving this on a good note.

The OnePlus 12R is a great smartphone, and it comes at a great price, too. It starts from $500, but OnePlus offers a strong deal where it takes a further $100 off that price when you trade in any other smartphone in any condition. Yes, including that decade-old smartphone from the dawn of the era. That's an unbeatable deal and makes the OnePlus 12R an even better deal. The best part? It's available to take advantage of for the entire life of the OnePlus 12R. It doesn't get much better than this.

OnePlus 12R
OnePlus 12R
The best cheap phone overall
google pixel 8 review taking photo 2
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

Google Pixel 8

The best premium cheap phone

Pros
  • Great main camera
  • Amazing AI photo editing tools
  • Two-day battery life
  • Slick, fast Android 14
  • Tensor G3 is cool and efficient
  • Seven years software support
Cons
  • Wide-angle camera disappoints
  • Average charge speed

Why you should buy this: It has everything we love about the Pixel 8 Pro, but in a cheaper package.

Who it's for: Anyone who wants a powerful but reasonably priced Google smartphone.

Why we picked the Google Pixel 8:

It's a great time to pick up the second model in flagship ranges, as they're currently proving to be excellent phones. Many brands have finally hit the sweet spot in balancing power and price, and the Pixel 8 is a perfect example of this. It has a large number of the features we love from the Pixel 8 Pro, but in a smaller, cheaper package.

It has the same Tensor G3 processor as the Pro variant, and while that means you get the same flagship performance, it does also mean it shares the same temperature problems. However, the Pixel 8 doesn't go past "warm", so this isn't an enormous issue by any means. The display is a 6.2-inch OLED panel running a 2400 x 1080 resolution and a maximum brightness of 2,000 nits — which is very bright. Add a 60-120Hz variable refresh rate, and you've got a very beautiful screen — and one that's hard to pick fault with.

But as good as the performance is, it's the camera that's always going to be the big winner here. It's a dual-lens system that misses out on a telephoto camera, but that doesn't really matter because the 50MP main camera and 12MP ultrawide camera are so good. This time around, it also has the new Magic Editor, a step up on the Magic Eraser that can move subjects around your pictures, change the color of the sky, and other edits you used to need a degree in advanced Photoshop to make.

The battery is a little small for a flagship at 4,575mAh. You may be able to squeeze out two days if you're moderate with your use, but a single day is more likely. The 30W wired charging is fine, but it's nothing that'll knock your socks off. Wireless charging sits at 18W, which is also okay, but nothing spectacular.

At $699, the Pixel 8 isn't exactly the cheapest device around — but it's still worth keeping in mind because it often falls below $500 during sale periods. We're not talking about Black Friday discounts either (though those are worth watching out for); Google itself has been known to drop the price down to $499 whenever it fancies shifting a few phones, so this is definitely one to watch.

Google Pixel 8
Google Pixel 8
The best premium cheap phone
samsung galaxy a35 review hero
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

Samsung Galaxy A35

The best cheap Samsung phone

Pros
  • Light and comfortable to hold
  • IP67 rating makes it durable
  • Main camera takes fun photos
  • Long software update commitment
Cons
  • Battery doesn't last two days
  • No wireless or fast charging

Why you should buy this: It's a very impressive phone for $400.

Who it’s for: Anyone who appreciates Samsung phones at a great price.

Why we picked the Samsung Galaxy A35:

The Galaxy A55 may have been a letdown, but that doesn't matter because the Samsung Galaxy A35 is here to plug that gap. It's a great-looking and feeling smartphone with a good amount of power, a strong display, a capable camera, and some very compelling reasons to be your next phone.

The design is a particular high point. It's similar looking to Samsung's flagships, but uses a plastic chassis instead of metal. That's not a downside, as Samsung has invested well into plastic that feels great to hold, and when paired with the glass that curves into both sides, the result is a well-weighted device that doesn't feel at all cheap. Keep a tight hand on it though; while the front glass is Gorilla Glass Victus+, the back is just regular glass, and might not have the durability to take the blows and falls the display glass will.

The processor isn't a new one by any means, but the Exynos 1380 still has plenty of legs. It handled most of the games we threw at it without any noticeable heating up or lag. The battery isn't as impressive as we hoped, though, managing a day-and-a-half on one charge, and charging is on the slower end, topping out at 25W.

The camera is good, with the main 50MP lens being the standout and the only bit really worth your attention. The images it takes are fun and colorful, and it's capable of tackling most circumstances. Don't expect much from the wide-angle and macro lenses, as they're nowhere near the same level of quality. Ignore them and pretend the main lens is the only one.

For $400, it's hard to argue against the Samsung Galaxy A35. It'll get four years of software updates and five years of security patches, so it has the support to last for a long time, even if it will probably be barely hanging in there by the end of the updates. At this price, it sweeps a lot of the competition, making it a must-buy for midrange Samsung fans and a strong consideration for anyone who wants a phone packed with value.

Samsung Galaxy A35
Samsung Galaxy A35
The best cheap Samsung phone
iphone se 2022 review starlight back in hand
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends / Digital Trends

Apple iPhone SE (2022)

The best cheap iPhone

Pros
  • Compact and light
  • Very powerful
  • Touch ID works really well
  • Wireless charging
  • IP67 water resistance
Cons
  • Poor battery life
  • 60Hz screen
  • 64GB won't be enough

Why you should buy this: It's the smallest iPhone you can buy, yet it's still powerful, plus it has Touch ID and the very latest version of iOS too.

Who it’s for: Apple iPhone lovers who miss small phones but don't want to compromise on performance.

Why we picked the iPhone SE (2022):

It's not the biggest smartphone on this list, but it's still one of the most powerful. The jewel in the iPhone SE's crown is the A15 Bionic processor powering it. This is the same chip you'll find in the iPhone 14, and it's incredibly powerful. The result is a budget smartphone that can handle the latest and most demanding 3D games, and pretty much anything the latest flagships can do. It's a strong advantage.

However, the iPhone SE looks just like iPhone 8 so it has chunky bezels and a relatively small display. It may perform like a flagship iPhone, but it looks older, especially as it has a Home button and Touch ID fingerprint sensor. However, some may see this as a benefit.

It's made from glass and aluminum, is very compact and lightweight, plus there are various attractive colors available. There's only a single 12MP camera on the back, but it does have some excellent post-processing, thanks to the A15 Bionic processor, and the iPhone SE still takes good shots. Unfortunately, there's no Night mode, which means you'll need to rely a little more on good lighting.

The battery life is a major drawback. We managed a day of use out of the iPhone SE, but it's unlikely to stretch much further than that with even moderately heavy use, and you're going to need to top it up on particularly hectic days.

Prices for the Apple iPhone SE (2022) start from $429 for 64GB of storage and rise up to $579 for 256GB of storage. We recommend buying the $479 to upgrade your storage to 128GB at least, as performance and battery life suffer when the storage gets close to full.

Apple iPhone SE (2022)
Apple iPhone SE (2022)
The best cheap iPhone
Someone holding the Motorola Edge (2023), showing its backside.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

Motorola Edge (2023)

The best cheap Motorola phone

Pros
  • Unique leather back
  • Gorgeous curved display
  • Solid day-to-day performance
  • Good battery life
  • 68-watt wired charging
Cons
  • Slow cameras
  • In-screen fingerprint sensor
  • Only gets two software updates

Why you should buy this: Motorola has made some great flagships recently, and the Edge is a solid smartphone with a lot to love.

Who it’s for: Motorola fans who want something powerful, but well priced.

Why we picked the Motorola Edge (2023):

It's easy to discount Motorola these days, but you really shouldn't. Not only has it been leading the charge on flip smartphones, it's also making some utterly gorgeous flagship phones that you need to know about if you want a real bargain.

Motorola really has made a stunning smartphone here. It's not often we come across leather backs on phones now, and having a vegan leather back on the Edge (2023) feels luxurious and unique, and it perfectly complements the soft curves of the phone. The display also leans into this gorgeous design, with curved edges that sink into the body, creating a no-bezel effect that really makes the phone stand out. There's a maximum refresh rate of 144Hz, and a 1080p resolution, and it looks utterly amazing in motion.

Performance is solid, thanks to the MediaTek Dimensity 7030 chip, and the battery regularly managed a day-and-a-half on regular use. Charging is swift too, with a 68W recharging rate, 15W wireless charging, and the option to charge another device with the 5W reverse wireless charging.

It's not perfect by any means. When one of its competitors is the Pixel 8, having a camera that's really not up to snuff is a big problem, and the Edge's camera is not great. The 50MP main lens does fine, most of the time, but the app is slow to respond and boot up, meaning you might miss the chance to take a quick snap of an interesting bird or hyperactive toddler. Worst of all, the phone only comes with two software updates — and since it launched with Android 13, well, it's getting the upcoming Android 15, and that's your lot. Motorola's update speeds also really haven't been great as of late, so you might be waiting a long time.

The Motorola Edge (2023) is another one of those phones that doesn't technically count as cheap, due to its $600 MRSP. However, steep discounts aren't uncommon for the Edge, and we've seen prices for it go as low as $350, which is an absolute steal for a phone this good.

Motorola Edge (2023)
Motorola Edge (2023)
The best cheap Motorola phone
google pixel 8a review aloe hand edit
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

Google Pixel 8a

The best cheap Google phone

Pros
  • Compact and light
  • Vibrant camera
  • AI photo-editing suite
  • Easy to use Android software
  • Long update commitment
Cons
  • Cheap-feeling body
  • Slow charging
  • One-day battery life

Why you should buy this: It has everything that makes flagship Pixels great at a much lower price.

Who it's for: Pixel and Android fans alike who appreciate a low price when attached to a great phone.

Why we picked the Google Pixel 8a:

The Google Pixel 8a is flawed, but it's still a good smartphone. If you're looking for a good midrange smartphone and camera quality is right at the top of your needs, then the Google Pixel 8a should be your first stop.

Yes, the camera is still the highlight. Both the 64MP main lens and 13MP wide-angle lens are excellent performers, and they'll deliver solid results from pretty much every lighting circumstance you can think of. The only negative this camera system has is a problem with zoomed-in shots — but considering it doesn't have a telephoto lens, that's understandable. The camera's excellent quality can be paired with the strong AI-assisted editing tools too, with Magic Editor allowing you to remove background elements, change the sky, or do a number of other impressive transformations.

It's worth highlighting the AI elements a bit more, too. Google Gemini Nano will eventually be coming to this phone, which means you have something to look forward to if you buy it before this rollout. But even without Google's on-device AI tech, you have Circle to Search, an actually useful addition that provides very quick and easy image searching.

The processor is the same Tensor G3 you'll find in the flagship Pixel 8 and 8 Pro, and it's just as powerful here. It still suffers from overheating problems though, and the phone will get hot to the touch when playing games or performing any intensive tasks.

The battery is disappointing, lasting only a day on a single charge, and charging is limited to just 18W. We expect more from midrange phones, since the less-demanding specs tend to mean more significant longevity. We suppose you can give the Pixel 8a's disappointing battery a pass for its flagship processor, but there's no excusing the relatively weak 18W charging rate.

We've ending this section on a bit of a low note by listing the Pixel 8a's weaknesses, but do keep in mind its strengths too. What the Pixel does, it does very well indeed, and there are more than enough people out there who will prize what the Pixel 8a can do with its camera to trump some low points with the battery or charging. It's a phone that's sure to last, thanks to Google's seven-year support promise — and if you get a cool seven years out of it, that's $500 very well spent.

Google Pixel 8a
Google Pixel 8a
The best cheap Google phone
moto g stylus 5g 2023 review cosmic black with
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

Moto G Stylus 5G (2023)

The best cheap phone with a stylus

Pros
  • Gorgeous 6.6-inch display
  • 120Hz refresh rate
  • Fast performance
  • Long lasting battery
  • Responsive and fluid stylus
  • Decent cameras
Cons
  • Poor lowlight photos
  • Fast charging maxes out at 20W
  • Only one major software upgrade

Why you should buy this: It's a great cheap phone from the kings of making budget phones. Oh, and it has a stylus.

Who it's for: Stylus-lovers who also love a bargain.

Why we picked the Moto G Stylus 5G (2023):

The Moto G Stylus 5G (2023) is a true blue cheap phone, rather than a more expensive phone at a bargain price — but that doesn't mean you can afford to discount it. The G Stylus is a bargain-priced smartphone with a great looking display, excellent battery, and solid performance — and it has a stylus, too.

The solid performance comes from the Snapdragon 6 Gen 1, a midrange chip that'll handle most of what you can throw at it. It'll even handle most 3D games, though you might notice a few blurry details while you're playing. The performance is underlined excellently by the display's 120Hz refresh rate. That comes on a 1080p 6.6-inch panel, and it looks really good. It uses LCD tech, so it doesn't look as good as the OLED screens on this list, but it's still more than acceptable, and we really like it.

The camera is a small step down, but only because it's closer to "acceptable" than "good". Shots are generally fine, but you'll notice a steep decline when lighting becomes more challenging. The real issue for it here is that there are phones like the Pixel 7a that dominate this space, and it just can't compete with phones like that. The software is a similar story, and while the software itself is good, the update promises are not. You'll get one update, and that means Android 14, and nothing else. That's not great when many brands are now offering four-plus years of support, even on cheaper phones.

Thankfully, the battery is exceptional. A single charge will last you for two days, and will still manage a single day with ease when pushed hard. Sadly, the charging speed is not as good, being limited to just 20W, with only a 10W charger in the box. That's a letdown.

For $400, it's hard to argue against the Moto G Stylus 5G (2023). Not only do you get a stylus, kept snugly within the phone's body, you also get a great-looking 120Hz display, and an exceptional battery life. For the stylus-lovers amongst us, it's the cheap phone of choice.

Moto G Stylus 5G 2023
Moto G Stylus 5G (2023)
The best cheap phone with a stylus
oneplus nord n300 5g review with box
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

OnePlus Nord N300 5G

The best cheap phone under $250

Pros
  • Sleek and lightweight design
  • 90Hz refresh rate on a large 6.56-inch display
  • Nice tactile haptics
  • Great selfie camera
  • Expandable storage via microSD
  • 5,000mAh battery with 33W fast charging
Cons
  • Lower-res screen resolution
  • 2MP depth camera doesn't add much
  • Won't get updates after Android 13
  • Only available on T-Mobile

Why you should buy this: It has desirable features like a 90Hz refresh rate screen and 5G, plus long battery life.

Who it's for: If you value screen technology and battery life over the camera.

Why we picked the OnePlus Nord N300:

OnePlus is an established brand with a lot of experience delivering great value phones, and the Nord N300 5G continues this tradition. The Nord N300 has a fast refresh rate, and a longer lasting battery, and faster charging too, all for a great price. This is what we mean when we say it really pays to shop around for the right low-cost phone.

The OnePlus Nord N300’s 6.56-inch screen has a 90Hz refresh rate for smoother scrolling and less eyestrain, plus a big 5,000mAh battery that should last for at least a couple of days (depending on your use). When it comes time to charge it back up, it’ll take just 90 minutes with the included charger and cable.

A 48MP camera on the back may sound simple (we’re ignoring the 2MP macro camera, and you should, too), but it takes photos that are fine for social media, particularly if you don’t mind playing with the editing suite in the Gallery app. The phone’s software is a letdown, though, as it runs OxygenOS 12. It’s not as fluid or cleanly designed as old OxygenOS, and can be complex and unreliable.

However, for the price, the OnePlus Nord N300 has several standout features: a capable MediaTek processor with 5G, and even a headphone jack and MicroSD card slot. It’s a good value blend of desirable modern features and often-forgotten phone staples.

OnePlus Nord N300 5G
OnePlus Nord N300 5G
The best cheap phone under $250
samsung galaxy a14 5g review back exterior in bush
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

Samsung Galaxy A14 5G

The best cheap phone under $200

Pros
  • Only $200
  • Large display with a 90Hz refresh rate
  • 5,000mAh battery
  • 50MP rear camera, 13MP selfie camera
  • Respectable performance
  • Unique, textured back
Cons
  • Secondary cameras aren't impressive
  • No water or dust resistance
  • Fast charging up to 15W only

Why you should buy this: It has a big screen, great software, and a decent camera for a very competitive price.

Who it’s for: Anyone who wants the Samsung Galaxy software experience, but wants a bargain at the same time.

Why we picked the Samsung Galaxy A14 5G:

The Samsung Galaxy A14 is cheaper than the Galaxy A54, but it shares many of the same upsides. And if your budget won’t stretch to more than $200, it’s the phone to buy. The Galaxy A14 is made entirely from plastic, but this will increase durability. It isn’t slippery to hold, and a textured finish keeps it mostly fingerprint-free.

Like the Galaxy A54, the Galaxy A14 leans into Samsung’s design for the Galaxy S23. The triple-lens camera array on the back contains a 50-megapixel main camera, plus a pair of mostly useless 2MP macro and depth cameras. The main camera still takes attractive photos you’ll be happy to share online.

A 6.6-inch AMOLED screen with a 90Hz refresh rate dominates the front of the phone. It runs on Android 13 with One UI, which will be updated until 2027. For a phone at this price, this is a good commitment, and along with 5G connectivity, it means the A14 should last for several years before it needs replacing.

The MediaTek Dimensity 700 processor is great for normal use, but may struggle if you want to play intensive games or multitask, and the 5,000mAh battery has enough power to last two days before it needs recharging. You don’t get features like wireless charging, and the phone obviously isn’t going to compete with flagships, but it represents excellent value provided your expectations aren’t stratospheric.

Samsung Galaxy A14 5G
Samsung Galaxy A14 5G
The best cheap phone under $200

Frequently Asked Questions

Where do I buy cheap phones?

You can always find bargains at online retailers, but be careful to do your research and order the model number you need. In particular, check that the model you are buying supports the bands your carrier operates on. The major carriers sometimes run good promotions, but if you find a phone you like in-store it's worth doing a quick search online to see if you can find it for less. You'll often find cheaper options at MVNOs (Mobile Virtual Network Operators) and we have a list of the best MVNOs to check out.

Who has cheap phone plans?

There are lots of different cell phone plans out there, so take your time and do some research before picking a plan. We have a breakdown of the best cell phone plans to help you get started. If you go for a family plan, then you can often secure good deals on additional lines. Consider the coverage in your area before deciding on a carrier.

How do you get a new phone for cheap?

The most obvious way to score a bargain is to buy second-hand. If that appeals to you, then we have a guide on how to buy used smartphones that you’ll want to read. You may also consider online retailers, just make sure that you check the model of the phone you are buying supports the bands your carrier operates on.

Should you buy a cheap phone or wait for last year’s flagship to get cheaper?

Flagships have been climbing in price recently, but if you're willing to wait and look at flagship phones from a year or two ago, then you can get them much cheaper. Almost all Android phone manufacturers offer discounts on older flagships and those discounts get deeper the older the phone gets. On the other hand, the general quality of budget phones has improved greatly in recent years and phone design moves very quickly, so a midrange device today will likely match a two-year-old flagship on performance and may boast a more modern design.

Andy Boxall

Andy is a Senior Writer at Digital Trends, where he concentrates on mobile technology, a subject he has written about for almost a decade. During that time he has seen the evolution from 2G to 5G, reviewed dozens of smartphones, worn dozens of smartwatches (not at the same time), and visited many manufacturers and events all over the world. A multi-year veteran of Mobile World Congress, CES, IFA, and Baselworld trade shows, Andy always has a strong opinion on the mobile industry, and is excited about its future.

Mark Jansen

Mark Jansen is an avid follower of everything that beeps, bloops, or makes pretty lights. He has a degree in Ancient & Medieval History, which obviously makes him a shoo-in to write about technology for a living. He currently contributes to the Mobile section on Digital Trends, with a particular emphasis and expertise on exploring the weirder side of smartphones, from tiny rugged phones to massive gaming phones. You'll most often find him seeking out leaks and rumors on upcoming devices, and playing with a variety of new apps for both Android and iOS.

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