Consumer Reports: Less expensive smartphone options

Some of the most popular phones on the market are among the most pricey, but Consumer Reports has some alternatives that won't break your budget.

Apple's iPhone 6s and Samsung's Galaxy S7 both cost $650 dollars. But Consumer Reports says you can still get a great smartphone for a lot less.

Consumer Reports has dozens of smartphones in its ratings, including some more affordable options. One of the newest is Apple's iPhone SE, which starts at $400 dollars.

"Four hundred dollars may sound like a lot for a cheap smartphone, but it's the least expensive new iPhone you can buy," said Consumer Reports' Mike Gikas.

The SE looks like the older iPhone 5s but performs more like the iPhone 6s, offering Touch ID, Apple Pay, and the "Hey, Siri" voice assistant.

The SE has very good battery life, with nine hours of talk time in Consumer Reports' tests.

In fact, one of the biggest things you're giving up with an SE is a larger screen.

Consumer Reports also recommends LG's Escape 2 for $180 dollars. This Android phone has a slightly curved display, with home and volume buttons on the back.

It's a watered-down version of LG's flagship phones.

"The Escape has a lower resolution display than some pricier smartphones. And it's only available on AT&T," said Gikas.

If you prefer a larger phone, check out the Asus ZenFone 2 and the Blu Vivo 5. They have five-and-a half-inch displays and cost $200 dollars.

Both are unlocked, which means they can run on a number of different carriers. They also scored very good in Consumer Reports' battery tests.

"The cameras aren't as good as the ones on our top-rated phones, but they do take decent pictures and videos," said Gikas.

And they both offer slots for two SIM cards, so you can have a work account and a home account on one phone.

Another option for saving money on smartphones, consider buying models that are a year or two old. Companies often sell them at a discount.

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