How cheap will phones be in 2014?

Anna Scantlin
Contributing Editor from  Kansas City, MO
| December 26, 2013

So, I'm on this kick about next year and what it holds for us. In my article earlier I had asked what you were most excited to see next year when it came to new phones. Given that CES starts in just a couple of weeks, it won't be long before we're able to see what's in store for us. Pretty exciting stuff, yes?

So following that same theme, I got to thinking a little more about what to expect next year. This year I've been pretty impressed with the lineup of cheaper phones that have come out. First I was impressed with the BLU Life Play, then the Nexus 5 (which may not have been as cheap, but definitely still on the cheaper side of things) and finally the Moto G are the three most notable examples that stick out in my mind. Where normally I would only get excited about the new Nexus coming out, it seems like it's finally time for smartphones with decent specs to hit shelves with reasonable unsubsidized prices.

But just how cheap will phones go in 2014? Will we see a phone as good (or better) than the Moto G come out for cheaper? Will the Nexus take another drop in price to end up below the $300 mark like with the Nexus 4? Will any other manufacturers try to break into the cheap smartphone market?

These are all great questions to ponder as we head into the new year. I just read an article from Quartz that predicted that phones in 2014 will be as low as $20 in some markets. While a $20 smartphone is pretty much guaranteed to be a flop at this point, at least in our market here in the U.S., it's still interesting to me to see that there is a real push to make more affordable smartphones in some parts of the world. Even if the push for cheap smartphones isn't happening in the U.S. (not $20 cheap, anyway) there's still obviously some interest in making smartphones more affordable than where they have been.

"Regularly" priced smartphones cost around $400-$800 for some models, depending on which ones you're looking at. This goes for most smartphones, even some of the low-end models on the market. Moto G, Nexus and BLU phones are a minority. There are a lot of manufacturers out there that offer low-end smartphones for a much higher price than it maybe ought to be. And, for a while, it was easy to get away with it. Smartphones were just expensive; after all, they're just like little handheld computers now. Smartphones could hardly be considered a phone anymore. Computers are fairly expensive pieces of technology, so it almost makes sense. But now that we know we can get these small computers for so much less and not have to sacrifice a good, functional phone (we can admit that while cheap smartphones have been around for a while, they haven't always been worth mentioning) I think there's going to be a harder push to get cheaper, decent smartphones.

Even though I don't think the U.S. will be getting $20 smartphones anytime soon, I do think that if $20 smartphones were to become popular it would have its effect on the consumer base here. People are unquestionably becoming more intrigued in cheaper unsubsidized phones, so I have a feeling that more manufacturers may be jumping on that bandwagon this year.

Readers, are you hoping to see more cheap phones emerge in 2014? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!