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Get an HTC Evo 4G and one year of service for $159

Unlimited talk, unlimited texting, and 500MB of data per month. Total cost of operation: zero, unless you consume more data. But what's the catch?

A couple years ago, this 4G phone was state-of-the-art. Now, it's an incredible bargain at $159 -- one full year of service included.
A couple years ago, this 4G phone was state-of-the-art. Now, it's an incredible bargain at $159 -- one full year of service included.

I've always said that I don't mind spending a couple hundred bucks for a smartphone -- it's the service that kills me. Paying $80 per month for a mandatory minimum of two years is not my idea of a great deal.

There are, of course, less expensive alternatives, but you're always going to be on the hook for some kind of monthly fee, right?

Wrong: For a limited time, StackSocial has a refurbished HTC Evo 4G smartphone with one year of service for $159 shipped.

What kind of service? Unlimited talk. Unlimited texting. And 500MB of 3G/4G data per month. So your total cost of operation -- for the first year, anyway -- is $0. That's "zero" with a "nothing" after it. The only charge you might incur is if you go over your 500MB cap, at which point you'll pay 2.5 cents per megabyte.

I'm not a math guy, but my calculator informs me that that works out to $2.50 per additional 100MB. So even if you burned through, say, 1.5GB each month, you'd end up paying a very reasonable $25.

Of course, this deal is best suited for folks who don't consume a lot of data. Mrs. Cheapskate, for example, typically uses around 400MB per month, so this phone would literally be free most months. And if you spend most of your time blanketed by Wi-Fi (at home, the office, Starbucks, and so on), you may be able to get by just fine on half a gigabyte.

This deal is also best for folks who don't need a super-fancy smartphone. The Evo 4G debuted three years ago, and its specs reflect that: It has a single-core 1GHz Snapdragon processor, a 4.3-inch display with 800x480 pixel resolution, and limited storage courtesy of an included 4GB microSD card. It runs Android 2.1, though I believe with a little tinkering you could upgrade it to a newer version.

On the other hand, it's also a 4G-capable phone (courtesy of Sprint's WiMax network, though it reverts to 3G when WiMax isn't available), and its rear camera is good for 8-megapixel snapshots and HD video recording. Perhaps the best feature of all: there's a built-in kickstand.

I can see where this might be a great option for kids, who just want to text their friends and play Candy Crush Saga, or first-time smartphone users who don't care about bells and whistles. Heck, at this price you could use it as a backup phone.

Make sure you scroll down on StackSocial's promo page and read through the FAQ. I'm not saying this a great option for everyone, merely that it's an incredible deal on a smartphone. If you've had any hands-on experience with the Evo 4G or FreedomPop (I haven't), be sure to share your feedback in the comments.

Bonus deal: Speaking of smartphone deals, Amazon is currently offering the Nokia Lumia 520 GoPhone for $39.99 shipped. It's a no-contract, pay-as-you-go Windows 8 smartphone with a 4-inch display, 5-megapixel camera, and AT&T service. That service will run you $40 or $60 monthly -- not cheap, but also not bad. Thanks to the anonymous reader who shared this deal!

Update: Well, that was fast: The Lumia is now listed at $85. Nothing like a sudden price change to make your favorite cheapskate look like a numbskull!

Bonus deal No. 2: I can't say I've ever understood the appeal (or insanely high pricing) of the Beats by Dr. Dre line, but if you do, you might appreciate this: 1Sale has the Powerbeats by Dr. Dre earbuds for $69.99 shipped. Retail price (and price at Amazon): $149.95. They're designed for runners and other athletes and come in your choice of three colors. Just don't expect them in time for Christmas: shipping is likely to take 1 to 2 weeks, possibly even a little longer.

Deals found on The Cheapskate are subject to availability, expiration, and other terms determined by sellers.

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