Happy 2014, everyone! I arrive to you refreshed from the holiday break and rarin' to round up the best deals money (or, ideally, less money) can buy.
If Santa didn't bring you a new smartphone, don't fret: this year promises lots and lots of new models. Even better, you'll enjoy more no-contract options from big and small carriers alike. (Prediction: the dreaded two-year contract will disappear by the end of 2014. And good riddance!)
Don't want to wait? You don't have to. For a limited time, and while supplies last, HSN has the Motorola Moto G no-contract Android phone for $99.95, shipped. That's after redeeming a $30 mail-in rebate (PDF). The Moto G debuted just two months ago and continues to sell at most places for $179.95. So even without the rebate you're scoring a solid deal. With it: woo!
Interestingly, the Moto G first arrived in the U.S. as an unlocked GSM phone, meaning you could take it to AT&T, T-Mobile, or any carrier that tapped their networks. HSN's offer appears to mark the first availability of the CDMA version, which is why it's being offered via Sprint-powered Boost Mobile.
There are a few question marks here. For starters, nowhere does it say this is an unlocked Moto G, though I believe this phone is sold only that way. In theory, if you're not happy with Boost Mobile, you could take it to Sprint or even Verizon -- but, again, that's a guess on my part. I'm not intimately familiar with the intricacies of the CDMA world. (I do know it limits you to making calls only from the U.S.)
I'm also seeing only one plan option from Boost Mobile: $55 monthly for unlimited calling, texting, and data, with a $5/month reduction every six months. (So eventually the rate drops to $50, then $45, and so on, down to as low as $40.) I thought Boost used to offer other plan options, but their site lists only the one. On the plus side, it's a no-contract plan, so again you may have the option of looking elsewhere.
As for the phone itself, it's a quad-core handset with a 4.5-inch HD screen, dual cameras, and Android 4.3 (Jelly Bean). It's available in your choice of four colors, and it comes with extras including a case and car charger. The Moto G is widely regarded as a lower-end version of the mega-popular Moto X, and it's definitely more of an entry-level smartphone -- though if you went back in time a year or two, it might be considered a premium model.
Ultimately, there's a very good argument to be made for spending another $100 to $200 for a more powerful, expandable phone. That said, if your budget is limited and you want a robust Android experience without a two-year contract, this is definitely worth a look.
Bonus deal: Game time! If you like your shooters with a side of RPG, here's one of the best: For a limited time, Green Man Gaming has Mass Effect 3 (PC) for $4 when you apply coupon code GMG20-ZB5D1-93X49 at checkout. (It's already a great deal at the precoupon price of $4.99.) Find out why CNET rated this one of the top games of 2012, then skip your second daily latte in favor of this thrilling adventure.
Deals found on The Cheapskate are subject to availability, expiration, and other terms determined by sellers.
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