Not everybody needs to spend upwards of a thousand dollars on their phone just to get by, especially those on prepaid carriers looking to cut down on spending wherever possible. Luckily, phones at all price ranges have gotten great lately, and that holds especially true in the budget category — though previously a wasteland of near-unusable devices, you can get a shockingly good and reliable phone these days for under a Benjamin.
Best unlocked phone
The Nokia 2 is about as good as it gets for $100 or less, offering a completely barebones version of Android, great built quality with an aluminum unibody enclosure, and a quad-core processor. Best of all, it’s unlocked to work on any GSM carrier — but CDMA shoppers will want to look elsewhere. The only thing it’s missing — and this is a big one — is a fingerprint sensor, meaning you’ll have to revert back to using a PIN for security.
Right on the dot at $100, the Alcatel 1X doesn’t have the the Nokia 2’s nice metal build, but it does feature an 5.3-inch 18:9 display, a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor, and Android Oreo. Like the Nokia 2, it’s only compatible with GSM carriers, but it serves as a good alternative to Nokia’s offering with more modern hardware features.
Best on Verizon
Moto E5 Play
The Moto E5 Play doesn’t have the 18:9 display or huge battery of the rest of Motorola’s refreshed lineup, but it still features a quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM, and 16GB of microSD-expandable storage. This is one of the few remaining phones with a user-replaceable battery, and the included Moto app allows for some software conveniences that other phones in its price range lack, like the ever-useful Moto Display.
Best on Cricket Wireless (AT&T)
LG X Charge
AT&T’s Cricket sub-brand has a great selection, including the LG X Charge for $70 (at least for new lines with a port-in). It’s got a big 5.5-inch HD display, a quad-core processor, Android 7.0 Nougat, and a massive 4500mAh battery. The X Charge doesn’t run as clean of software as some of the other options in this list, but its large display is great for watching YouTube and scrolling through social media.
Best on Metro by T-Mobile
Samsung Galaxy A6
The Galaxy A6 is one of the best deals on Metro — it’s usually $359, but if you port your number over and sign up for the unlimited LTE plan, it drops down to an even $99. For that money, you get a fantastic 5.6-inch display, an aluminum unibody design with a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor, 32GB of expandable storage, and a sizable 3000mAh battery, all powered by Android 8.0 Oreo. As an added bonus, the 16MP f/1.7 rear camera is easily the best of this list.
Best on Boost Mobile (Sprint)
Moto E5 Play
The Moto E5 Play’s specs aren’t anything mind-blowing, but they’re enough to keep the phone running smoothly. One of the Moto E5 Play’s biggest advantages is its wide network availability. This is the same great budget phone that we recommend for Verizon customers, and it works just as well on Sprint’s prepaid Boost network.
Whether you’re shopping for a phone made just for your network or you want an unlocked phone that you can take with you to the next carrier, there’s a surprising amount of good phones under $100. Customer discounts could land you a better deal depending on your carrier, but for most people on a GSM network, there aren’t many deals better than the Nokia 2.
November 25, 2018 at 04:16PM