HOT - New Android Smartphone For $50 NO CONTRACT (Use With Any Provider)!

LG Optimus One I posted an amazing deal I got on a brand new android smart phone in my latest How To Save Money Radar. But, since this is such a smoking hot deal, I thought I should write a separate post with a step by step guide on how to get one yourself before this offer expires on March 31st, 2011 along with answering some common questions!

First things first, I want to make sure everyone understands that modern smart phones do not really cost between $0 and $100, which is what you see them typically advertised for. They actually cost more than $500 if you don’t want to be tied down with a 3 year contract. Some people don’t look at a 3 year contract as a big deal, but it is a big deal and here’s why:

  • Contracts eliminate your negotiating power and you can usually negotiate with retentions to save an enormous amount off your monthly bill if you aren’t under contract.
  • Contracts with smartphones often force you into an expensive monthly plan in addition to an expensive data plan totalling more than $50/month to get the cheap phone price.
  • Contracts stop you from switching to another provider that better meets your needs or that has better prices.
    • This is especially bad when a great promotion comes along and you want to switch.
    • Many prepaid companies offer outstanding value for savvy consumers and light users ($8.50 per month or less).
  • Contracts stop you from changing your phone whenever you want if you don’t like it or a newer model comes out that you really want.
    • If your phone dies out of warranty or you drop it, lose it, or otherwise break it then you are on the hook for the full cost of replacing it!
  • Contracts have huge cancellation fees (up to $400) if you need to get out of it because you are moving out of the country or to a place that doesn’t have service from your provider.

The Phone: LG Optimus One

The LG Optimus One is an Android smartphone that ships with Android 2.2 installed right out of the box. Many smartphones are still shipping with Android 2.1 or earlier and it also has a scheduled upgrade to Android 2.3 to be released in May of this year. At first, I was skeptical about the phone because I didn’t think it had the horsepower and specs to perform well compared to the higher end android phones that are out there, but after using it for a few days, I admit I was dead wrong. This phone is amazing!

What Exactly Is The Phone Missing?

There are only a few small differences between the LG Optimus One and other smart phones that would cost you up to $600 if you were to buy them without a contract.

  1. The processor is 600MHz. Higher end phones typically having a 1GHz processor.
  2. The included camera is only 3.2 megapixel with no LED flash. Higher end phones may have a 5 megapixel camera with LED flash.
  3. The screen is only 3.2” big with a 320x480 resolution. Higher end phones are up to 4” with a 480x800 resolution.
  4. Data speeds are a bit slower but still very fast 3G HSDPA.
  5. The processor doesn’t support flash but the amount of scenarios where this is required are minimal.
  6. Unfortunately, no track ball or optical mouse is included.

So those 6 things may sound like a big deal, but in practice they really aren’t. I personally prefer the smaller screen size because it fits in the pocket nicely and with the fluid pinch and zoom it makes browsing the web very easy. I’m accustomed to a 2.7” screen myself on my old HTC Touch so it is actually a nice improvement for me. I also don’t find the camera to be a big deal because no one has made a phone with a truly capable camera in it to date. Until that happens, phones are only good for the odd snapshot when you don’t have your real digicam with you.

Moreover, I find the phone to be very snappy with no noticeable lag, even with lots of applications running in the background, so the 400MHz in lacking processor power isn’t much of an issue either. The 3G data capabilities of the phone allow it to stream music and video just fine as well, so I also find that to be a non-issue.

The only thing in the above list that I find truly important is the lack of a track ball or optical mouse. 90% of the time you don’t need it, but 10% of the time when you are typing a message and you need to quickly jump around to make an edit, it can be very frustrating to try and squeeze between letters with your finger. If the word you are trying to get at is off screen, forget about scrolling there with your finger – you might as well just start over. This could easily be fixed by having arrow keys on the keyboard, which the default android keyboard lacks. However, I’m sure there are 3rd party keyboards downloadable from the app store that can easily solve this problem.

These small sacrifices are definitely worth it to be free of a contract without having to paid more than $500 for the phone!

Extremely Positive Reviews

I am not the only one that gives this phone extremely positive reviews, but professional critics also rate the phone very highly and, even better, other consumers tend to rank it higher than the vast majority of the more expensive smart phones out there. It just works and performs well all around.

I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention the battery life, it is fantastic for a smart phone! The smaller screen and slower processor really help with this too. Today, I was streaming music for a good 2 hours after having used the phone moderately during the morning and it was still showing 76% battery after all of that! My last phone would have already chewed through 100% of its battery and probably part of a second one doing the same activities in that timeframe!

If you want to read some reviews yourself, here are some good ones:

LG Optimus One Review @ GSM Arena

LG Optimus One Review @ Phone Arena

LG Optimus One Specifications @ GSM Arena

The Amazing Koodo Deal

So, by now, you’re probably dying to know exactly how the deal works! Here’s how:

Koodo Has No Contracts

Koodo is a budget cell phone provider owned by Telus that has no contracts on any phone you buy from them. Normally their phones are slightly cheaper than the no contract price found at other providers and in additional to that you can cut the price down even further by adding a “tab” of up to $150. A tab is an IOU put on your account that you have to pay back when you cancel  your service. 10% of the amount you spend on your monthly bill goes toward paying down your tab, so if you stay with Koodo long enough your tab will eventually get paid off and you will owe nothing.

This is the foundation of this deal because it means you can sign up with them, get a brand new phone, pay for one month of service, and then cancel your plan and walk away owning the phone. You could even cancel your plan immediately if you can talk a CSR into doing it for you.

LG Optimus One Goes On Sale

Koodo’s regular price of the Optimus One is $250, which is already a fantastic price! However, they put it on sale for $200 recently and then as of March 18th they launched an even better sale dropping the price to $150. If you apply the $150 tab, that brings the phone down to $0 – but that is optional and will have to be paid back if and when you cancel.

$100 Promotional Visa Gift Card

To sweeten things even more, Koodo is running a concurrent gift card offer where they will give you $100 in Visa gift cards if you buy and activate this phone before March 31, 2011. That bring the final price down to $150 + tax = $169.50 - $100 = $69.50 (13% HST was used in this calculation). You have to calculate the tax on the $150 because you don’t save any tax with the $100 Visa gift card.

It’s also useful to note that some people have been successful in getting the store reps to use the $100 visa gift cards to pay down the remaining cost of the phone if you don’t use the tab. Your mileage may vary here as some people have also been refused. Personally, I plan to use the $100 to simply buy gas for my car so it didn’t matter to me either way.

The only way to get the $100 Visa gift card is by buying at a Koodo kiosk or buying online from If you buy online, you won’t get the Visa gift card immediately, but after 4-6 weeks so you may have to remain a customer for a few months before leaving if you plan to move the phone to another provider.

$25 Referral Credit

The title of this post says $50, but you can actually save even more money by getting an existing Koodo customer to refer you. If you sign up using a referral, your account and the referrer’s account will be given a $25 credit that can be used towards paying off your tab after 4-6 weeks.

If you would like to take this extra step, then I would be happy to refer you. Please email me your First Name, Last Name, and email address so I can send you a referral email which you can use to sign up either online or in-store at a kiosk.


What do I need to know about cancelling my Koodo service?

First of all, you need to give 30 days notice upon cancelling your service. Some people have been able to get around this by cancelling within 14 days under the satisfaction guarantee, but if you try to do this they will probably try to get you to return the phone along with the Visa gift card. So, if you wish to cancel, remember to call them and give them your notice as soon as possible. If you are under 14 days as a customer, they may give you increased hassle. To avoid this, wait 15 days and then call and give your cancellation notice. That means you will have service with them for about 45 days.

Note: I've actually read now that they prorate your bill so you may only end up paying for the number of days of service you actually use (15 in the example above) even though their terms say you need to give 30 days cancellation notice. When talking to one of their CSRs, he told me a similar story. I wouldn't count on them not enforcing the 30 days cancellation policy, but you could very well get lucky. 

Do I absolutely need to have a credit check done? 

Yes. Even if you opt not to use the tab and pay for the phone upfront, you need to have a credit check done. The reason for this is that Koodo is a postpaid cell phone service provider, which means they provide you the service first and then they bill you later. They need to make sure you are credit worthy and capable of paying before they will provide a service to you without making you pay anything upfront.

You also have to actually activate the phone to get the $100 Visa gift card and to get the phone at the advertised price. There is actually a difference between the month-to-month (no contract) price and just buying the phone outright. Koodo might not even be willing to sell you the phone outright without activating it on their network first.

Can I and do I need to port my number to Koodo?

Yes you can, and no you don’t need to. If you wish, you can continue on with your existing service with your old provider and just create a brand new number with Koodo even if you don’t intend to use it. You can then unlock the phone and put in the SIM card for whatever provider you want immediately and it should work. If you plan to use it for internet, you may need to program the APN settings. Call your service provider for more details on this if it doesn’t work immediately.

How do I unlock the phone? Is it difficult? How much does it cost?

First, unlocking a phone simply means removing a software restriction that prevents the phone from being used with another service provider. Once the phone is unlocked, it can be used with any service provider that offers SIM cards and uses one of the wireless frequencies offered by the LG Optimums One. Fortunately, almost all Canadian providers now offers SIM cards and support the wireless bands that the phone offers. The two notable exceptions are Mobilicity and Wind, which use a special radio frequency that most phone do not support.

Unlocking a phone is dead easy and simply involved entering a special number into the phone. These numbers are calculated based on the IMEI (like a serial number) of your unique phone. Many people offer unlocking services that can give your the correct number for your phone. Here are two sources I’ve seen referenced:

Will I get in trouble for doing this?

You shouldn’t get in trouble at all for doing this. Koodo may not be very happy with you if you decide to cancel, but it is perfectly within your rights to do so because you are not under any obligation to continue with them without having signed a contract.

What are some cheap cell phone providers I can use this phone with?

Everyone’s needs are different. However, I would say the best bang for your buck is to sign up for prepaid service with either 7-11 Speakout Wireless, Petro Canada Mobility, or President’s Choice Telecom.

The reason I recommend these three is they all offer $100 top up cards with a 365 days (1 year) expiry. This means that you can have cell phone service for only $8.50 per month! The all comes with caller ID and voicemail included and you only pay for what you use. Calls usually cost about $0.25 per minute. Incoming texts are usually free and outgoing texts are as lows as $0.10. President’s Choice may actually be the best choice because I believe they allow you to purchase a SIM card without purchasing an actual phone, which is much cheaper. The other two Petro Canada forces you to buy the phone to get the SIM card, which you can take out and then resell the phone through Kijiji. There is also a rumour that you can get the $7 unlimited mobile browser data plan offered by President’s Choice to work on this phone, but proceed with that at your own risk.

If you are a heavy talker or want a full blown internet plan, then you may need to go with a postpaid provider, but at least you won’t need to sign up for a contract!

Update: Jeff in comment #5 points out that it is now possible to buy just a SIM card with Speakout Wireless as well.

How did I discover this deal?

I found out about this deal through a couple of threads in the RedFlagDeals hot deals forum. If you want all the details you can read through the lengthy threads yourself. The provide lots of useful tips, most of which I have tried to summarize in this post. If you are trying to do something extra tricky, it would likely help you to read through them:

Koodo LG Optimus One $200 + $100 GC

Koodo - LG Optimus One - 150$ starting Friday

If you have any questions, please post in the comments and I will do my best to promptly respond with an answer!

Disclosure: Some links in this article may be affiliate links. We're letting you know because it's the right thing to do. Here’s a more detailed disclosure on how HTS makes money.

Editorial Disclaimer: The content here reflects the author's opinion alone, and is not endorsed or sponsored by a bank, credit card issuer, rewards program or other entity.

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Paul Clunn
Paul Clunn's picture


I have just purchased one of these Optimus phones. It's my first smartphone and I love it.
Question....If I get the phone unlocked and choose to stay with Koodo for the moment would unlocking it have any effect on the service/10 days free data/ useability of the phone etc. with Koodo?
The main reason I want to unlock it is to use it overseas with a local sim card/wifi but am just being cautious before I actually unlock it.
Great web site.



March 22, 2011 @ 2:22 pm
SavingMentor's picture

From everything I have heard and from my own experience, this should have no impact on your current situation with Koodo. Unlocking the phone simply allows it to be used with any carrier that supports the technology of the phone, which of course includes Koodo as well.

March 22, 2011 @ 3:24 pm
Te's picture

Have you figured out the exact total cost? Because if they charge you a cancellation fee based on how many days are left in your billing month, and you have to wait a month for the referral to be applied, that would mean you have to pay a full month ($15) plus a fee for the entire next month (another $15?) more than nullifying the $25 referral.

March 25, 2011 @ 12:19 pm
SavingMentor's picture

For my specific situation, I am not exactly sure what the final cost will be. However, the thing is that I am actually using the phone during this period while I wait so I don't consider the money to be wasted. Sure, I can do better than $15/mth for a cell phone - but that still isn't that bad so I don't mind paying until my referral comes in along with my Visa gift card (I ordered online).

Several people at RedFlagDeals confirmed that if they called in ASAP they were able to get it prorated and one CSR confirmed that one guy's total bill should only be about $3. However, other people had much more difficulty with it.

From what I can figure, if you are not interested in referral credit and want to cancel the easiest thing to do is wait until day 15 until after the 14 day satisfaction guarantee period has past and cancel then. That way they will be sure not to request you return the phone nor the $100 Visa gift cards they gave you. Ultimately, you should be billed for 1/2 month of usage after proration and only owe about $7.50 + tax.

The only thing I can't figure out is that Koodo bills 1 month in advance. So if your first bill is generated 1 day after you sign up (this can actually happen because it happened to me) and then you will be charged the full $15 right away. I'm not sure if they will credit the difference back to you on your 2nd bill in that case or not. I'm choosing not to worry about it and will just deal with whatever situation I find myself in when the time comes to cancel as I think that will be the easiest thing. That way I'll have all the facts and can further negotiate if I think it's being handled improperly.

March 25, 2011 @ 3:41 pm
SavingMentor's picture

That's great news Jeff! There are no 7-11's anywhere near me, but I know Speakout is a very popular choice for people in Ontario and in the western provinces.

I just picked up a President's Choice Mobility SIM card yesterday for $10 at Superstore. I was just planning to scope the place out and see if they actually had SIM cards for sale and, if they did, buy it later. However, it was the last one they had in stock so I figured I might as well pick it up right away even though I plan to stick with Koodo for at least a couple of months.

March 27, 2011 @ 6:31 pm
bill morrison
bill morrison's picture

Could you send me a referral for the Optimus phone. sounds like a great deal!

March 28, 2011 @ 3:26 am
SavingMentor's picture

The referral email should be in your inbox now Bill, thanks!

March 28, 2011 @ 11:41 am
youngandthrifty's picture

A promotional visa gift card sounds sweet! Too bad I'm locked in with my iphone (though I love it, not loving the 'autocorrect' so much). I hear androids are great.

March 29, 2011 @ 12:49 am
SavingMentor's picture

Ya, it's a pretty sweet deal overall - very happy with my new phone. An iPhone is definitely a better phone, but the price of this can't be beat and the iPhone simply isn't for me anyway. I like the added flexibility that Android and open source provides.

You must be able to turn the auto correct off on your keyboard somehow right? If not, the app store must have different keyboard that you can buy, right? The android marketplace has a tons of different keyboards available. It was a good thing too because the default one that came with the Optimus has terrible word prediction. I think it may have been bugged though and missing a proper dictionary somehow. Anyway, the replacement one I downloaded (Swiftkey) is much better all around.

March 29, 2011 @ 9:21 am
Invest It Wisely's picture

The worst is if you pay full price for a smart phone and the phone is STILL locked to a carrier! We need more manufacturers selling the phone direct instead of through the carrier. I wonder what deals there'll be on the Nexus S when that gets released over here.

March 30, 2011 @ 1:03 am
SavingMentor's picture

I agree that is very annoying. If you pay the full price and buy it outright, it should come unlocked. However, most phones can be unlocked very cheaply. For instance, I was unable to unlock this one for about $6 buying the unlock code through Ebay.

Since unlocking is so easy, it would be nice if they just got rid of the whole locking thing entirely - but that probably won't happen anytime soon.

March 30, 2011 @ 11:22 am
SavingMentor's picture

Wow, they're really going nuts! Too bad this extra sweet combination only lasts for 1 day, otherwise I might have activated another phone for my wife to take advantage of all that. Thanks for sharing!

March 31, 2011 @ 9:36 pm
Buck Inspire's picture

Great review and sounds like you got an awesome deal. Is this only offered in Canada?

April 01, 2011 @ 2:07 am
SavingMentor's picture

Yes, unfortunately Koodo only operates in Canada. For once, we may have gotten a deal that is as good or better than what you guys get in the USA. However, you guys still have 2 year contracts down there and we've had 3 year contracts for many years now.

Getting the latest and greatest smartphone on a 2 year down there isn't all that painful because it should definitely last you 2 years if you aren't too greedy :)

April 01, 2011 @ 8:15 am
SK's picture

Hi there,
Will there be an update from Android 2.2 to Android 2.3 for LG Optimus?
I was gonna buy this phone but I hear there is a newer model coming out by March 31 2011 or month of April 2011. Any idea about the newer model?


April 01, 2011 @ 2:39 pm
SavingMentor's picture

Yes, there is going to be a 2.3 update for the Optimus. And if there wasn't or you want something after 2.3, you can always root the phone and install and custom ROM to get what you need. Of course you need time and patience to do that!

As for the new model you mention, are you talking about the new model from Koodo or the new model from LG. I did hear there is going to be a really nice dual core model coming from LG, but you can forget getting it for anything like the price you are seeing on the Optimus One today.

I also hear that Koodo is getting a new Android phone soon. Don't know the model but the store rep told me it would be "expensive". So again, it will definitely be a better phone but you will have to pay for it.

For me, this is a fantastic deal on a device with good performance.

April 01, 2011 @ 4:53 pm
Sean Conrad
Sean Conrad's picture

I was looking really hard at this Koodo deal... but.

I think I am going to give Wind mobile a try. A true independent mobile platform is very interesting - and they only launched in 2010 so their utilization is very low which = good fast mobile data.

Wind is getting the new Google Nexus in April sometime apparently, but since it will be my wife's phone she's not interested in that fancy a phone - she just wants a Blackberry curve so no problems.

Anybody have experience porting their number from Rogers mobile or home phone to Koodo or Wind? Anybody else try Wind?

April 04, 2011 @ 1:07 pm
SavingMentor's picture

Wind is definitely a good provider to choose. Too bad their service isn't available in more cities. Hopefully they will do well in the cities they are in and then expand to other markets and bring more competition throughout the rest of Canada.

I can't imagine you'd have any problems porting either number away from Rogers. All carriers support portability, especially the major ones like Rogers. The only thing to watch out for is the 30 day cancelation policy. You may end up stuck paying for an extra 30 days for which you get no service because your number has already been ported.

April 04, 2011 @ 8:21 pm
Jason's picture

Great deal!

April 11, 2011 @ 12:03 am
Sandy - yesiamcheap's picture

I refuse to get a smart phone because I don't want to pay upwards of $50 plus another 20% in taxes for the privilege. I hardly use my cell phone as it is. I'll wait them out until prices drop a little.

April 13, 2011 @ 12:22 am
CreditDonkey's picture

Nice review! I am always for postpaid because I always believed that if you have to save up, save up on buying a phone. Most providers have postpaid plans that include the mobile phone and therefore you just have to adjust your plan if you want to have the latest phone. ;)

April 30, 2011 @ 11:54 am
Bill Beard
Bill Beard's picture

Could you send me a referral for the Optimus phone

September 28, 2011 @ 11:08 pm
SavingMentor's picture

Thanks for the request Bill, but unfortunately I moved my LG Optimus One over the President's Choice Telecom from Koodo, so I am no longer able to refer people. I may switch back to Koodo in the future because I like their current nationwide plans, but I have no plans to do so in the near term.

September 29, 2011 @ 11:34 pm
Ian's picture


I don't mean to be a bother but this was such a great article and I am wondering if you can help me?

I live in a remote area. All that's available here is a dial up connection for my laptop from regular companies and I have limited power due to a small solar power system. (I'm also not very saavy when it comes to techno things, i.e. computers)

I would like to connect to the net via a cell phone and am wondering if th LG model you recommend would properly give me higher speeds of data using a simple "LG Optimus One Sync & Charge USB Cable" that I can buy online?

Hope you can help,


January 07, 2012 @ 12:13 am
Jeff's picture

I would be happy to refer you. Please email me your First Name, Last Name, so I can send you a referral email which you can use to sign up either online or in-store at a kiosk.

just email me at jeffwils214[at]gmail[dot]com


January 10, 2012 @ 8:34 pm
Ian's picture

Jeff, are you speaking with me? please forgive my retiecnce, I require Rogers to be a server would you be referring Rogers based company?


January 10, 2012 @ 10:00 pm
SavingMentor's picture

Ian, it is possible you could use the cell phone for data. You can actually turn it into a wireless hotspot. The 3G data comes in/out via the cellular antenna and then the wifi antenna is used to transmit/receive data from all your devices nearby. I don't think you'd want to use the cable in this instance.

That said, I probably wouldn't trust a cell phone to be your primary source of internet. You have to deal with battery issues, maybe overheating issues, and although 3G data is fairly fast I think it has a pretty sizeable delay. You also have to worry about the quality of the cellphone signal and if whatever service provider you choose has good 3G coverage in your area. Then there's also the data caps to consider . . .

If you're desperate, it's worth a shot but you'd probably be better off going with some form of satellite based high speed internet instead.

January 28, 2012 @ 11:48 pm
Ian's picture

Thank you SavingMentor This information is helpful to me. I would love to have sateelite but I run a solar array that only gives me limited power. If I go with the Optimus I will use my USB to charge it and sit it on the windowsill to keep it cool, winter anyway :) I'll go back to Rogers and see if I can get a home hub with unlimited data now as they have an external antenna which will be good for my signal weakness.

Thanks again...

January 29, 2012 @ 2:22 pm
nic's picture

This article has some GREAT info - but I nearly did not read it, as when I began reading, it is clearly out of date by over 5 years (the deal you are discussing expired in early 2011, and I am guessing the phone models are also really different by now) You will get a lot of readers interested if you could update this article. We use Virgin Mobile and do the $100 per 365 days pre-paid card. You don't even need to use up the t$100 within the year if you purchase another prepaid card before the one you are using expires. If you could update this article and maybe remove the old one from scrolling, that would be most useful! Thanks!!

September 08, 2016 @ 1:49 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

Thanks nic. It can be really hard to keep old articles up to date but I do try when I find the time.

September 08, 2016 @ 9:09 pm

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