Don't buy these phones (roundup)

Fact of life: not everything can be a hit. Case in point: these phones, which really, really missed the mark.

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Editors' note: This post was originally published on March 9, 2012 and is updated frequently.

It's no easy task birthing a cell phone, but despite the hard work that goes into designing and manufacturing these handsets, things can go (very) awry. If you've been thinking about picking up one of the following phones the next time you head out of the house, well, you might want to reconsider.

ZTE Sonata 4G (Aio Wireless)
Inexpensive as it is, the Sonata 4G's tune is still off-key. Josh Miller/CNET

ZTE Sonata 4G (Aio Wireless), February 2014
Though it clocked in solid data speeds and has a cheap price tag, those are about the only redeeming qualities of this ZTE handset. Other than that, the Sonata 4G is primarily a hefty and slow smartphone with a camera that falls flat. Read the full review.

Kyocera Hydro Plus (Cricket Wireless)
Perhaps more like a Hydro...minus? Josh Miller/CNET

Kyocera Hydro Plus (Cricket Wireless), January 2014
Kyocera usually offers solid waterproof phones, like the Hydro Elite for Verizon, for example. And while we do acknowledge the Plus being one of its low-end devices, we just couldn't get on board with it. Especially given the phone's dated OS and middling call quality. Read the full review.

Nokia Asha 503
The Asha 503 may look snazzy, but its performance is anything but. Josh Miller/CNET

Nokia Asha 503 (unlocked), January 2014
Geared toward developing markets, we know the Asha 503 isn't supposed to be on the bleeding edge of mobile technology. But even with its sharp looks and affordable price, the poor screen resolution and aggravatingly low speaker volume has us looking elsewhere. Read the full review.

Huawei Pal (MetroPCS)
Don't call me 'pal,' chief! We're not friends. Josh Miller/CNET

Huawei Pal (MetroPCS), August 2013
We're all about simple feature phones, don't get us wrong -- not everyone needs the latest and greatest in tech. But the Pal, whose only basic feature is making a call, can't even do that properly. Even though MetroPCS is offering it for less than $30, we still won't take it. Read the full review.

Alcatel One Touch Evolve
This low-entry device is far from being an apex smartphone. Josh Miller/CNET

Alcatel One Touch Evolve (T-Mobile), October 2013
Oh, if only this device could evolve to something better. Slow internal speeds, a low-resolution screen that's also too dim, and glacial data speeds all contribute to making this handset the bottom of the food chain. Read the full review.

About the author

Jessica Dolcourt reviews smartphones and cell phones, covers handset news, and pens the monthly column Smartphones Unlocked. A senior editor, she started at CNET in 2006 and spent four years reviewing mobile and desktop software before taking on devices.

Lynn La

Lynn La is CNET's associate editor for cell phone and smartphone news and reviews. Prior to coming to CNET, she wrote for the Sacramento Bee and was a staff editor at Macworld. In addition to covering technology, she has reported on health, science, and politics. See full bio


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