Don't buy these phones (roundup)

Not every smartphone is a winner. Check out the handsets that will only crush your mobile dreams.

We review a lot of phones here at CNET. A lot. A few are standouts, most are decent and affordable, and a very few just aren't worth the trouble, low price be damned. Gathered below is the rogues gallery of recent disappointments that just weren't able to live up to their promise. Arm yourself with the knowledge of the phones you can safely skip, then cheer yourself up with this list of rock stars.

The LG G3 S is a low-end phone with a midrange price. Andrew Hoyle/CNET

LG G3 S, October 2014

Also called the LG G3 Beat or G3 Mini, the LG G3 S just isn't the bargain buy we were looking for. Cheaper than the LG G3 original and only a little smaller (5-inches!), its price is too high to support the low- to midgrade specs. The phone isn't bad per se, but bargain-hunters should look to other options, like the Sony Xperia Z3 Compact or one of the Motorola Moto G variations. Read the full LG G3 S review.

The Hydro Life barely treads water when it comes to being a compelling handset. Josh Miller/CNET

Kyocera Hydro Life, September 2014

As a waterproof smartphone, the Hydro Life stands out among the wide selection of land-loving devices. But unless its splash-happy design is an absolute priority for you, we believe it's safe to skip over -- especially when you take into account its laggy performance and mediocre camera. Read the full Kyocera Hydro Life review.

The Fierce 2's low price is its best feature. Josh Miller/CNET

Alcatel OneTouch Fierce 2, September 2014

Although it's inexpensive for an Android 4.4 device, the OneTouch Fierce 2 needs more than a low price tag to deem it a worthy buy. Its 5-megapixel rear-facing camera produces poor photos and its screen is too dim. Storage space is also low at 4GB of internal storage out of the box. Read the full Alcatel OneTouch Fierce 2 review.

Good luck typing on the small-screen Lumia 530. Josh Miller/CNET

Nokia Lumia 530, October 2014

You'll be lured by this Windows phone's rock-bottom price, but be forewarned of its ills. First, there's the 4-inch screen that makes typing tricky for all but fans of tiny displays. Then, there's the fixed-focus 5-megapixel camera that trips up at closeups. Finally, there's the slippery form that gave us a case of the "dropsies." Read the full Nokia Lumia 530 review.

The LTE Quantum is out of time. Josh Miller/CNET

Verykool Quantum, October 2014

The budget California-based phonemaker is better known overseas for its inexpensive Android handsets than it is in its own borders. Though its low price and specs like 4G LTE support and 5-inch display may sound alluring, a poor 5-megapixel camera and low-screen resolution only begin to outline the phone's failings. Read the full Verykool Quantum review.

This is one of Huawei's worst phones. Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Huawei Ascend Y550, November 2014

The "Y" appended to Huawei's Ascend series stands for "youth", but it might as well stand for "yuck." The Android device's performance simply stalled and buckled, from the low-resolution screen to the 5-megapixel camera and beyond. Read the full Huawei Ascend Y550 review.

About the author

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.

Jessica Dolcourt

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. See full bio


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