Saturday, March 12, 2016

Off topic ramble: Ridiculously cheap Android devices

So, the other day I was thinking about how cool it would be to have a dedicated player for mod/s3m/xm/it music. I have had this dream many times over the years. I'm sure you could do it with raspberry pi (This guy did with some old cassette player as the case). Cute, but a little bit ghetto, and requires work, plus Raspberry pi still costs $25, or if you get the hard to come by $5 pi, it is still going to cost more than that because you need the i/o expansions and stuff.

But then an idea came to my head: android devices are ubiquitous, can do virtually anything, and have also come down in price a lot lately. In fact about a month ago I bought an android for $20, an LG Sunrise, pretty much exclusively to use as an mp3 player. But I also got a 32GB micro SD card for it which cost $15, so it was really more like $35.

But I thought, maybe there are some even cheaper androids out there?

So I did a google search for cheapest android. And I found something deliciously enticing...

An Indian company claims to be releasing an android phone for 251 rupees which is the equivalent of $3.67!!!  What! That doesn't even make sense, a mobile computer for the cost of a cheeseburger?

But alas, after a little more reading it turns out the company in question is pretty sketchy and it's unsure whether people will actually be getting their orders.

Regardless, I'm in the U.S. so even if I bought it I would have to pay for shipping, which would be much more than $3.67.

So I decided to go on ebay and see what I could see... I went to electronics ---> Cell phones and refined my search by new phones only and buy it now. Then I sorted by price. I was surprised to find a seller offering new android phones for only $10 with free shipping.

The device in question is called the ZTE Whirl...


OS; Android 4.1
Processor: 1ghz Snapdragon
Memory: 512MB RAM
Storage: 4GB micro SD card included
Screen: 3.5" 320x480
Camera: 3MP
Wifi: Yes
Bluetooth: Yes
GPS: Yes


Very very interesting. Of course it's not top of the line by any means, but it is indeed an android device and it's only $10!!! It even has bluetooth and GPS which I wouldn't expect from a device this cheap.

So last night I ordered one. I mean, why not? You can't go wrong. It'll be a fun little experiment.

Here's the crazy part: I was at a local Dollar General store today, and I saw the exact same phone on the shelf. Price: $9!!!   $9
So of course I bought one there too, lol. Now I'll have two to mess with and run experiments on and use for whatever and it won't even matter if they get broken or lost or whatever.

What I don't even understand is how this is even possible. 

I mean seriously, when I was at Walmart last night, I was looking at audio cables, you know the kind with 3.5mm male ends to use as patch cables between devices, and I wanted one that was colored like blue or green or something... And they were all $10, so I passed up on them because I thought that was too much to pay for a 3ft audio cable. 

So, somehow it is possible to get an entire mobile computer for the same price as an audio cable? And the phone also comes with a micro USB cable, AC adapter, and of course that 4GB micro SD card. All those things if sold separately would easily cost more than $10.

It just doesn't even make sense.

So the only thing I can figure out is that these things are being sold at a loss. There is no way they can make money from them, I don't care how cheap of a Chinese factory you use. The economics of it must be: They are expecting to make money from you in the future when you pay for minutes on the phone, so they are selling the phone itself to you at a loss. 

Really funny for budget hardware enthusiasts like myself who just want little gadgets to play with and have no intentions of ever using it as a mobile phone. 

I mean seriously... wifi, camera, GPS, music player (of course!!!), ebook reader, personal digital organizer, even games if you wanted to, and a million other things could be done with this thing...   For the cost of a nice chicken salad at a restaurant.  

Does not compute   :) 


Sorry for the ramble, just wanted to share this modern marvel of technology    :)


  1. I just installed XMP mod player on it and now I'm listening to some Necros classics....

    Insane :)

  2. Oh dude!@!!! I think I'll put the High Voltage SID collection on it. It has 47,500 songs... I don't think in 1982 they ever could have dreamed that a $9 device could hold that many songs :)

  3. I often listen to the HVSC, I even have a little bash script that randomly chooses a music and play it. There are some hidden gold there. Take for instance "Intro without intro" from Holt Hein. And countless others.

  4. We'll have to trade notes about SID musicians later for sure! I really like the stuff by "Sidder" but so far I haven't discovered a whole lot of other artists I like.

    In other news, yesterday we went Geocaching and I used the $9 phone as the GPS with the android app "GPS Essentials". It worked well, and was crazy awesome that I was doing it on such a cheap device. :) Well, the only downside was I couldn't get the compass to work... But still, I'm not gonna complain.