Don't buy these phones (roundup)

Although there are many great handsets out there on the market, not all are home runs. We round up a few strikeouts that smartphone users should avoid.


As CNET mobile editors, a lot of smartphones cross our desks everyday. A few of these devices are standout winners, most are decent handsets with affordable prices, and some just aren't worth the trouble no matter how much they cost. Below, we gather some of the phones in recent memory that just failed to impress us because they're either too slow, too ineffective, too unreliable, or worse, all of the above. Check out the devices below to know what handsets to avoid and click here to find out what phones are worth buying.

Despite its competitive price tag, the OneTouch Fierce 2 is still anything but fierce. 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 be deemed a worthy buy. Its 5-megapixel rear-facing camera yields poor photos, the screen is too dim, and it only offers 4GB of internal storage out of the box. Read the full 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 review.

ZTE Open C
The Open C is definitely wallet friendly, but we recommend keeping your wallet closed for this one. Stephen Shankland/CNET

ZTE Open C, May 2014

We understand that the Open C Firefox handset is supposed to be an ultra-cheap handset for burgeoning markets, but even its bare-bones specs are too minimal for us. Its internal speeds are glacial, the fixed-focus 3-megapixel camera is frustrating, and the Firefox 1.3 OS has a long way to go in terms of software offerings. Read the full review.

In Nokia's case, X doesn't mark the spot. Aloysius Low/CNET

Nokia X, April 2014

We're usually fans of Nokia's accessible and affordable devices that come in bright, bold colors. Unfortunately, the lackluster X phone is not one of those handsets. Not only is its touchscreen unresponsive to the touch, but it also has an unattractive UI and a sluggish performance. Read the full review.

It's time for the Prelude's curtain call. James Martin/CNET

ZTE Prelude, April 2014

If the Prelude was a real piece of sheet music, it's tempo would be slow -- very slow. The handset's paltry 1GHz processor barely gives it enough power to trudge through simple tasks, and the 2-megapixel camera snaps grainy, fuzzy photos. But its worst trait is its middling call quality, which defeats the very purpose of this device as a phone. Read the full 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.


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