Like any consumer product, there are many plans and price points for smartphones. Some people with SMI may be eligible for a free smartphone via project Lifeline and you can learn more about it here. For those people not eligible, there are two broad options to consider.
First, you can buy a smartphone with no contract, often called the “pay as you go” option. This option is good for people who may not need many cellular minutes or a data plan. Thus, someone who lives nearby to or has access to free wi-fi may be able to do much on their smartphone without ever paying a bill. If you want to use your phone for a video or telehealth visit, the pay as you go option will only be useful with wi-fi you can access. Smartphones for these “pay as you go options” are often between $50 to $100.
The second option is a service contract that often comes with a free phone but also a commitment to pay a service bill for phone minutes and cellular data – often for at least 12 months. Most large phone companies offer basic plans that may cost around $30 to $40 per month, and these basic plans should be more than enough for nearly all use cases. These basic phone plans will offer enough data and coverage for video and telehealth visits.
Before picking any phone or plan, it is important to learn if there is good coverage in the area you want to use the phone. Classically, these are some examples less expensive phones and service options to consider (no endorsement implied):