ASUS Zenfone 2E GSM phone, 5" screen, 1GB/8GB, used/refurb $35.99 shipped eBay

  • Global Moderator

    I’m waiting for a replacement battery for my regular phone and needed something to use in the meantime. The requirements were: Android, at least 1GB RAM, Micro SIM and MicroSD slots, T-Mobile compatible, and dirt cheap.

    After excluding listings with “cracked”, “broken”, “bad”, “not”, “parts” and “repair”, I still found myself searching through hundreds of listings for phones that I wouldn’t have picked up if I saw them on the sidewalk: “does not include battery or rear cover”, “screen unresponsive”, “damaged digitizer”, “run over by a garbage truck”. Okay, I may have made up that last one, but still, junk of almost no use to anyone.

    Then I found this:

    First, the bad: This is a dual-core Intel Atom, with 1 GB RAM and 8 GB storage. As any heavy smartphone user can tell you, quad-core and 1.5GB is pretty much the performance floor today. So, if you’re looking for butter-smooth, lag-free multitasking, this phone is only going to frustrate you. It comes locked to the AT&T network and is loaded with Android Lollipop 5.01, with no updates available.

    The good: The eBay listing appears to be a classic undersell. I placed my order on Thursday, and after travelling completely across the country, it arrived on Saturday. It was neatly (albiet plainly) packed in a box labeled with the model, IMEI, and “REFURBISHED, 90 DAY WARRANTY”. Opened it up and the phone didn’t have a single mark on it, and the accessories (charger and USB cable) were clearly new, if not original. The listing had made no mention of the charger or cable, didn’t think they’d be included. Switched it on and it had zero minutes uptime, meaning it had never even been powered up. If I had to guess, I’d say that these must be AT&T product returns that were cleaned and repacked in generic boxes.

    For those unfamiliar with ASUS, they’re a legacy computer manufacturer with a strong presence in the smartphone market. Their phones generally have a solid feel and good build quality.

    Supposedly AT&T product support will unlock these for free (yes, for non-customers):!/wireless/KM1008728?gsi=Ed29zApy

    But I decided to get an unlock code from eBay for 99¢. Popped in a T-Mobile SIM and it works like a charm. Incidentally, I was a little concerned about the 128GB MicroSDXC card from my other phone, since this one is advertised as accepting cards up to 64GB. As it turns out, it sees my 128GB card and accesses it with no problems.

    In fact, the only issue I’ve run into so far is that Asus’ baked-in Wi-Fi Hotspot and Bluetooth data sharing features have been disabled, and after spending hours trying to get around it, I can say that if you’re planning to share your data connection, this phone isn’t for you. For a kid’s first phone that will probably get dropped or dunked, this isn’t a bad choice. It would also be great for a spare or glovebox phone, or something for an elderly relative who isn’t going to be playing Dead Trigger 2 on it.

    If anyone has any questions, I’ll do my best to answer.

  • Looks pretty good. Pretty nice for use as an inexpensive media player as well.

  • Global Moderator

    It would do pretty well as a standalone media player, but next time the Moto e4 goes on sale, that definitely edges out the Asus 2E for playing music or video, with 2GB/16GB, fast charging, and Android 7.1. The problem with the e4 is that the dirt-cheap version only works on Verizon Prepay, and there’s no feasible way to unlock it for use with anything else.


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