Sprint's Milano Is World's Best $30 Cellphone

NEW YORK ( MainStreet) -- The cellphone world may be abuzz these days with what's hot or not with uber smartphones such as the Apple ( AAPL) iPhone, Motorola ( MOT) Droid or RIM ( RIMM) BlackBerry. But after spending a month or so testing the much more modest Kyocera Milano from Sprint ( S), I have to say, the low-end in smartphones is getting to be the smart place for business telephony.

Cheap consumer smartphones are getting downright business friendly. They boast reasonable-sized screens, easy-to-use keyboards, perfectly fast-operating systems and support most important business apps. Plus they can be had for real bargains. To wit, until mid-November, this Milano is available for just $30 from Sprint, with a two-year contract and mail-in rebate.
Until mid-November, the Kyocera Milano is available for just $30 from Sprint with a two-year contract and mail-in rebate. Get it without a contract, though, and you'll pay $300.

Here's what you need to consider if you considering the Milano:

What you get
Ounce for ounce, this is close to the best value in business mobile telephony going.

Clearly, neither Sprint nor Kyocera was attempting to corner the cheapskate business phone market with the Milano. The shape, layout and overall youth-media feel of this device is clearly aimed at the Web-using/text-communicating kiddie smartphoner. But between its fast processor, beefy Android 2.3 operating system and small but perfectly functional qwerty keyboard, this basic 4-inch sliding smartphone turns out to be exactly what a business doctor ordered.

It's fast, easy to boot up and has gobs of battery life. My business' Google ( GOOG) Apps account synced up on this device in five minutes and worked all day -- try that with an iPhone. I had access to my critical usual business navigation and document-sharing apps via the Android market. I found the camera perfectly adequate. I liked that the Sprint HotSpot Wi-Fi option could connect my iPad or other tools to the Web. And how blissful to have a smartphone that didn't feel like a clip of M-16 ammo in my pocket.

And did I mention the price? Not only are you getting a great phone for the great price of $30, you are getting a Sprint contract, which really is the value leader in low-cost data plans.

What you don't get
This phone is not a top-end smartphone, and if you are not careful it can get pricey.

The Milano is about getting a great value for a simple way to communicate. It is not about high-end features or competing with heavy-hitters such as an iPhone or Droid. Its screen, keyboard and storage are small and cramped. And this is strictly a 3G device. So if you need speed on the go, this is not the tool for you.

Plus, if you want to go without a contract -- and many businesses do now -- this phone is a not a solution. Sprint is charging a simply nutty $300 for the no-contract version of this device.

Bottom line
If you're looking for a get-it-and-forget-it wireless option that can connect your people without costing a fortune, the Milano is worth a look. It's a cheap smartphone with some not-cheap features. Just get right with the fact it's not an iPhone and it will reward you with solid service.

Is there a better way to say happy holidays?

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This commentary comes from an independent investor or market observer as part of TheStreet guest contributor program. The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of TheStreet or its management.