Deal or No Deal? Amazon Prime Offers Ad-Supported Phones

If you're an Amazon Prime member in the market for a new smartphone, Amazon's willing to knock up to $50 off the price tag of an unlocked Android device. But you're going to have to make some trade-offs to take advantage of that deal.

Amazon says it will offer exclusive pricing to Prime members that can cut the price of newly released unlocked smartphones by up to 50 percent. Amazon's first discounted phones include the Moto G for $149 and the Blu R1 HD for $49. Normally, those two phones cost $199 and $99, respectively.

There's a price to be paid for that $50 savings, though, and it comes in the form of ads. Amazon says discounted pricing is supported by personalized offers and ads that will appear on the phone's lockscreen.

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The ads, which include a mix of offers from Amazon and third parties, will share the lockscreen with your notifications. When you don't have any notifications, you'll get a full screen ad on your lockscreen.

In addition to the adds, you can also expect to find Amazon apps preinstalled on your discounted phone. That would negate one of the appeals of unlocked smartphones, which typically come free of the bloatware that wireless carriers like to jam onto Android devices. You can't delete these apps either, although you can hide them.

Still, this isn't the first time Amazon has turned to ads to help lower the cost of the devices it sells. The company has also offered ad-supported Kindles and Fire tablets and says those have been a hit with customers.

If you don't mind looking at an ad every time you go to use your phone, Amazon is certainly offering some compelling pricing. The just-announced Moto G is a water-resistant phone with a 1080p screen and fast charging. Amazon says it's also offering a limited time promotion that further lowers the cost of the Moto G: You can get a 16GB model for $125 and a 32GB Moto G for $155.

An Amazon Prime membership costs $99 a year and includes perks such as expedited shipping, access to original programming and streaming media and the ability to share benefits with other members of your household. Amazon's hoping that the lure of discounted phones will convince more shoppers to sign up for Prime.

Would you be willing to live with ads on your phone for a lower cost upfront? Let us know in the comments.

Philip Michaels

Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.