Get a TextNow Moto G phone for $11.99

From the Cheapskate: The first-gen G may not be a powerhouse, but it could be perfect for a youngster or anyone on a serious budget -- especially considering the cheap, contract-free rate options. Plus: two freebies!

Rick Broida Senior Editor
Rick Broida is the author of numerous books and thousands of reviews, features and blog posts. He writes CNET's popular Cheapskate blog and co-hosts Protocol 1: A Travelers Podcast (about the TV show Travelers). He lives in Michigan, where he previously owned two escape rooms (chronicled in the ebook "I Was a Middle-Aged Zombie").
Rick Broida
3 min read

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This is an update of a deal I first wrote about early this year. Not only is the price a bit lower, a few areas have been clarified (and, ahem, corrected).

What do you need from a smartphone? If your first answer was, "A dirt-cheap price tag," followed by, "dirt-cheap service," you've come to the right cheapskate.

Ending tonight, TextNow is offering the refurbished first-gen Motorola Moto G phone for $11.99, plus $9 for shipping. That's not your subsidized price in exchange for a two-year contract; it's your price to own the phone outright.

TextNow's version of the Moto G might be skinned a little differently. Motorola

Do note, however, that you will need to choose a service plan as well, at least for the first month. That's hardly a bad thing given TextNow's prices: Plans start at just $18.99, a price that includes 500MB of 3G data and unlimited calling and texting. For a first-time smartphone owner or someone who spends most of their time connected to Wi-Fi, that may be ample. (The next tier gives you 1GB of data for $26.99.)

After that first month, you also have the option of canceling your service and switching over to any number of free/cheap apps and services that let you make Wi-Fi calls. Likewise, you could use the phone for any number of non-phone tasks, like reading books, watching videos, controlling your Roku box, streaming your Spotify tunes and so on.

As you might expect, there are a few catches. First, this is the first-gen Moto G -- a decent entry-level phone, but limited to 3G data and just 8GB of storage (with no microSD slot for expansion).

Second, the phone is inextricably tied to TextNow for service -- or, at least, for traditional calling service. Like Republic Wireless, it leverages Wi-Fi whenever possible -- not just for data and texting, but also for phone calls.

Except for the limited storage, the Moto G is pretty solid, offering a 4.5-inch screen, dual cameras and most of the other standard smartphone goodies -- plus Android 4.4 KitKat. Although Lollipop was recently made available for the first-gen G, I'm not sure the update can be installed on the TextNow version.

And about that 8GB: it's barely enough to hold a decent collection of apps, and definitely insufficient for a music or video library. But for the latter, at least, the cloud can do a lot of the heavy lifting: just stream your media when you're connected to Wi-Fi. Alternately, you can tap additional storage by way of a USB OTG drive.

Too much hassle? Maybe, but $11.99 for a smartphone is flat-out amazing. Your thoughts?

Bonus deal: Freebie time! If you're looking to do some serious photo editing but can't afford the likes of Adobe Lightroom, check this out: You can get CyberLink PhotoDirector 5 Deluxe (for Windows) for free just for sharing your name and email address. This is "last year's" version of the highly rated photo editor, but so what? Here's a comprehensive review if you want to know more about the product, which normally would run you $50. Needless to say, CyberLink will try to sell you an upgrade to PhotoDirector 6; I mention this because some folks get surprised -- even offended -- when those "upgrade now!" emails start to arrive.

Bonus deal No. 2: Freebie time again! I'm a huge fan and longtime user of WorkFlowy, the browser-based brain-dump/list-management tool. There's a free version, but why stop there? For a limited time, AppSumo is offering one year of WorkFlowy Pro for free. Regular price: $49. You don't even need to provide a credit card.