Monday, December 29, 2014

Looking for a cheap Bluetooth-capable portable MP3 player? Buy a no-contract smartphone and don't activate it!

My father needed a portable Bluetooth-capable MP3 player with large or expandable memory. Portable MP3 players with such features typically sell for $80+ (Trio mini), with the nicest units being at least $150 (iPod nano) or much more. The cheap models have terrible battery life (3 hours for Trio mini). Creative solution? He bought a no-contract LG Optimus Exceed 2 from Verizon Wireless for less than $50 at Best Buy and used a 16GB microSD card that he already owned.
LG Optimus Exceed 2, Prepaid (no-contract) Phone from Verizon Wireless
This particular no-contract phone is fast, runs Android 4.4.2, and can be used without activating. In fact, it is very easy to bypass the initial activation screen with a special key sequence – volume up, volume down, back, home – pressed after restart at the language selection screen. After bypassing that screen just once, the phone is happy to run unactivated indefinitely after that – it will never present that activate screen again. Use airplane mode to prevent phone from looking for a network to save battery, and flip on WiFi and Bluetooth. It's like a $50 iPod touch. Nice deal.

You can get this phone from a number of places, as shown in links below. Of course, there are other no-contract phone choices you could make (check all no-contract carriers – Boost Mobile, Virgin Mobile USA, T-Mobile, etc.). If you're willing to compromise on the phone software or other capabilities, you can get decent "MP3 player phones" for $30 or even $20.
For example, you can get essentially the same phone from Boost Mobile packaged as the LG Realm for only $35 on Amazon right now. It's $40 from other retailers.
LG Realm, Prepaid (no-contract) Phone from Boost Mobile
So that's like a $35 iPod touch. Even nicer deal!