October 22, 2015

Worst Tracfone Cell Phones

List of the Worst Devices from Tracfone

This post is created by TracfoneReviewer and shares some of the phones we wouldn't recommend for most Tracfone users. 

bad tracfone cell phones
Worst Tracfone Cell Phone - photo from PicJumbo.com
Tracfone is a prepaid wireless cell phone company that provides low cost phones and cell coverage. The phones they offer are usually a few years behind the latest technology, and sometimes have some serious drawbacks.

Here at TracfoneReviewer we provide lots of cell phone reviews, and are generally very excited about the new phones Tracfone releases, because we like the value (cost vs benefits) Tracfone provides and the new phones bring.

However, over the years there have been several phones released by Tracfone that have really been pretty poor, especially as we've had time to look at user reviews and compare them to other devices.

So which Tracfone cell phones are the worst? We're going to share our pick below!

Before we get to our pick, we want to clarify a few things first.

What Makes a Phone 'Bad'

We want to quickly clarify how we are defining a 'bad' phone. Basically any phone that either:

  • Has issues that the majority of users experience - thus not a case of one defective phone, but all phones being defective.
  • Or lacks proper features/specs to make the phone usable for the majority of people (and there are other phones available that do).

Both of these points are sometimes hard to recognize in a newly released phone because we either don't have enough input from user reviews, or we don't have other phones to compare the new device to.

Over time we are able to gain a better picture of whether a phone is 'good' or 'bad' based on how it is performing, and how it compares to other phones available.

This brings us to an important point:

'Bad' Phones can Still be 'Good' for Some People

Let's be clear, each person has different needs and expectations for a phone, and so some phones may not meet the needs/expectations of the majority of people, but for a few people it may perfectly meet their need.

Some Tracfone users prefer a smaller touchscreen and don't want the features that come with an Android powered smartphone.

So while we will be highlighting a few phones and designating them as 'bad' phones, they may still be a good choice for some people.

Drop a comment below if you want to add your thoughts on 'good' and 'bad' phones, or if we weren't clear in defining this.

Now, let's get to our picks for the worst Tracfone cell phones.

The Worst Tracfone Cell Phone

There are three phones that rise to the top of the list for worst cell phone from Tracfone. Number two and three are the ZTE Valet and the LG Optimus Dynamic. These two phones are basically tied for second worst phones from Tracfone.

The LG Optimus Dynamic, when it was released, had some of the best and most advanced features for a Tracfone device yet. It came with Android version 2.3 which allowed users access to thousands of apps on Google Play. Until the Optimus Dynamic, Tracfone users had not had access to a true smartphone.

When the LG Optimus Dynamic was only about $20, I picked one up and enjoyed using it for a while.

However, the Dynamic had a major flaw which brings it onto our list - very little internal memory for installing apps (the phone has 1 GB internal memory, but less than 200 MB that is actually usable)

One of the major strengths of a smartphone is the ability to install applications that can do many different things. So when the Optimus Dynamic could only hold a small handful of apps, it was defeating the purpose of being a smartphone. Some users were able to move apps to the external SD card, but not all users were interested in trying this, and were left with a phone that would often have 'memory full' messages pop up.

If you're looking for new apps, take a look at our List of the Best Apps for Android which may contain some new ideas for you!

The ZTE Valet came after the Optimus Dynamic, and improved on it in a few ways, such as a newer OS, Android 4.1. However the quality of the Valet was soon brought into question as many users noticed both poor sound quality when making phone calls, and poor WiFi reception in their home.

unimax maxpatriot worst cell phone
The Worst Tracfone is the Unimax MaxPatriot
These issues were prevalent for the majority of Valet users and caused many to look for a new phone soon after getting the Valet. The new and improved LG Optimus Dynamic II was a popular choice. Let's hope the issues with the ZTE Valet are cleared up for the more recently released ZTE Quartz.

And finally, the worst phone released by Tracfone is the Unimax MaxPatriot.

Unlike the ZTE Valet and LG Optimus Dynamic, the MaxPatriot was an inferior phone from the start. When it was released there were several other phones from Tracfone that were significantly better (specifically, the LG Ultimate 2). Plus, user comments and reviews quickly outlined a number of quality issues with the phone, and the phone manufacturer.

It is the only phone that we couldn't recommend for anyone, because there were phones that were both better and cheaper available at the same time. But some people still decided to try out the Unimax, and here are some of their comments:

bad tracfone reviews
Comment on the Unimax MaxPatriot
unimax MaxPatriot worst phone
Comment on the Unimax MaxPatriot

And finally this user was clearly unhappy with the Unimax phone:

worst tracfone cell phone
Comment on the Unimax MaxPatriot

Other comments were more restrained and merely read, "ditto on all the bad reviews."

To be fair, there were some comments from users who actually liked the phone, or at least weren't unhappy with it.

While there are other phones from Tracfone that do have their issues, none (as far as we know) were as bad as the Unimax MaxPatriot.

Let us know in the comments what your choice for the worst Tracfone would be, or if you have had a good experience with any of the phones in our list.

If you're looking for a new phone, we recommend taking a look at our Tracfone BYOP page where you can learn all about bringing your own phone to Tracfone. This includes a wide variety of GSM and CDMA phones, and even 4G LTE devices. You can find a list of compatible phones on that page as well.

We also recently reviewed the Call Detector App, which you can use on Android devices to block unwanted calls.

Stay up to date with the latest Tracfone news and information by following us on Facebook! As Black Friday and Christmas approach, Tracfone has traditionally released new phones or great deals, and we will share them both on the Facebook page, and here on the blog as we find them.

Thanks for visiting and we hope this post was useful and informative!


Cody L Custis said...

I had the old Optimus Dynamic. It served its purpose (smartphone, limited web browsing) fine for the $20 phone it was, but had serious app issues. I was happy to upgrade to an older model iPhone I bought from a friend (iPhone 4, back when the newer iPhones were not supported).

Bunky said...

I have the optimus dynamic ii, and although it is good for basic texting, calling and browsing, I am disappointed with several features. Cannot send emails but can receive (customer service never resolved this), group texts are so difficult to read and data has to be turned on, touch screen slow to respond, my contacts do not backup to Google as it's supposed to.

David said...

If you want something similar that actually works (I've used all of these) get either the LG Optimus Fuel or the LG Sunrise. They're both (basically) the same phone as far as specs go and can be had for as little as 10 bucks.

But if you want an actual phone with pretty good specs and capabilities on a budget, the Samsung Galaxy Stardust at 50 bucks is a hell of a deal.

Specs between two two

Basic specs Optimus Fuel and Stardust:
3.5" 320x480 display on the Fuel, 3.8" at the same resolution for the Stardust.
4GB of onboard space with about 1.5GB available to the user, both come with 4GB SD cards.
1.2ghz dual core CPU with 512MB of RAM
3MP fixed focus reaer shooter (no flash) that shoots video at 840x480

The only differences between the Fuel and the Sunrise, the Fuel has a physical Home button that also serves as a multi-color notification light that the Sunrise lacks, and the display itself on the Sunrise isn't anywhere near as nice as what's on the Fuel. It has some pretty bad viewing angles. But at 10 bucks, who cares.

Galaxy Stardust (it's a rebranded Galaxy Ace Style)
4" 800x480 display
8GB of onboard space, around 5GB available to the user. Doesn't come with an SD card but has a slot for one.
5MP autofocus rear shooter (no flash) that shoots 720x480 video, 0.3MP front camera that shoots 640x480 video.
1.2ghz dual core with 1GB of RAM

It also has a lot of the features in Android itself from the higher end Galaxy phones like TONS of options with the camera. It also comes with one of those silicon phone cases (mine was clear, it may be standard, I don't know).

The Stardust is what I'm using right now, and yeah. It's damned well worth the extra money. It's not quite as nice as the LG Ultimate 2 or the LG Power, but at the price difference (the other two run about 80 bucks each) and where the features are lacking (no flash, slightly smaller display) it's not a huge deal.

The lack of RAM on the Dynamic II, Valet, Fuel/Sunrise is the HUGE culprit for why apps run like garbage. While such a tiny amount of RAM is just fine for running Android itself, the apps are updated all the time and are passing up those specs.

wigs2 said...

I had the Samsung Centura. I thought it was a bad phone. The clock would fall behind 6 hours regularly. Even old dime-store watches did better. The resolution was poor. And the watch frequently dialed phone numbers while in my pocket or lying on a table.

Then I replaced it with the LG Ultimate 2. I was extremely happy with that phone. I liked it better than my wife's iPhone 5.

In August, I purchased a like-new LG G3 for $85 that was larger with even better resolution. But I don't know that it's all that much better. Although the G3 is a much more ballyhooed phone, I still have my Ultimate 2. And I really don't know which one to get rid of.

If these new Tracfone phones are better than the Ultimate 2, I'd consider getting rid of both phones and getting the new Tracfone.

Christian LaPlante said...

Where did you find an LG G3 for $85? I got a Galaxy Note 2 to activate with tracfone because it was cheaper than the G3

Thomas Weaver said...

It's interesting that you call the LG Optimus Dynamic the second worst phone from Tracfone, yet you also wrote that it was one of the best phones from LG only two months before this article was published (ranked 5 out of 8).


It seems like the Optimus Dynamic takes a lot of flak for being a relatively underpowered phone with an older OS and scant memory (which can be overcome, by the way, with APPMGRIII). Different phones tap into different needs. Not everyone needs (nor wants) all the bells and whistles of the latest Android. With the Optimus Dynamic, people who knew what they were getting into when they bought it (a simple smartphone) generally seemed content (rated 3.7 on Amazon with 895 reviews as of 11/3/2015. ZTE Valet is rated 3.6 with 615 reviews. Not the most scientific assessment, I know...). It seems like a great (and cheap) way to try out Android phones before moving onto other devices...or stick with it if one prefers.

wigs2 said...

I found it on craigslist. Advertised for $100 obo. He said he wanted $85. So I went to look at it. Like new with OtterBox case. I thought if it didn't work, I could get almost that much for parts. You just have to look and be persistent.

Small Town Hoosier Girl said...

Galaxy Centura should be number 1. All it does is freeze and you can't use it!

Anonymous said...

The LG Optimus Dymanic most likely is the second worst......if you let it be. I'm still using mine today. I guess it depends on your point of view. I saw it as a extremely cheap upgrade from flip phone to android. After a little research I found it was easily rootable then could be re-partitioned to give a full Gig of space to install apps. Remove the bloatware and it's a whole new ballgame folks. There are a few custom roms available for it as well. I learned how to do all of this on a $25 phone. If I bricked it, no big deal. The 3MP camera could be better, but overall, it was well worth $25.

Greg said...

I just got my Sunrise a little over a week or so ago. More phone than I really need, but it was $10 and I needed a new unit. If I had gotten another one of the one I had (an LG cell phone), I would have spent at least $20. Getting it all set up right was a bit of a hassle, and I've had to get used to it being a battery vampire, but I'm pleased with it overall.

I don't plan to watch You Tubes or do a lot of emails from the phone, so it works for me. The only app I got (other than the standard ones any unit comes with) is the My Account app to track my time remaining.

Anonymous said...

The problem with the Centura and Discover (GSM equivalent), is that Android 4.0.4 is not really suited for a 800mHz clocked processor. I'd call it an Android "Feature Phone" rather than a smartphone...

Unknown said...

What is the best phone you can use with Track phone ?

Anonymous said...

'Every year' when I need to reactivate my cell service with 'Trac(less)fone' they inspire one with a whole new set of mind boggling headaches. They never inform when your (annual) service is about to expire therefore 'BAM' you are 'service 'less'! They no longer allow a reactivation using your phone and (when) the online try 'fails' (over and over!) they instruct you to get a 'code' on your phone and using an 'alternate' phone (somehow) enter the code to the cell phone, etc. In 'this' case I was in the middle of a snow storm with no power therefore disabling my land line (alternate phone) and they had ABSOLUTELY no alternative procedure to reactivate! So yes, stuck in a snow storm, no power, no phone, etc., and their wonderfully educated (outsourced) 'help-line' who had a hard time understanding my (diction/trained) 'foreign' language (English) actually confused themselves (made 3 calls) more than confusing me. Online would not recognize my usser name or password (even) if I changed them to suit (their) website and simultaneously telling me 'the transaction failed' (and) 'the transaction is pending'(!) 'Ineptitude' has an on-going champion;......'Tracfone'.