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. It was previously a wasteland of near-unusable devices, but now you can get a shockingly good and reliable phone these days for under a Benjamin.
Best unlocked phone
Ulefone Note 7
Kicking off this list is our top overall pick — the Ulefone Note 7. As far as smartphones in this price range go, the Note 7 is one of the best. It brings a lot to the table, including a 6.1-inch display, three rear cameras, and a 3,500 mAh battery. Android 9 is available right out of the box, along with support for expandable storage. So long as you’re on a GSM carrier, the Note 7 is perfect.
$80 at Amazon
The Nokia 5 is an older unlocked phone that’s still worth buying, with a completely barebones version of Android 9 Pie, great build quality, and a quad-core processor. It’s unlocked to work on any GSM carrier, but CDMA shoppers will want to look elsewhere. One of the biggest downsides is the lack of a fingerprint sensor, but for the price, it’s a pretty great value.
$89 at Amazon
Best on Verizon
Moto E5 Play
The Moto E5 Play isn’t quite as up to date as Motorola’s newer lineup, but it still features a quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM, and 16GB of expandable storage. The included Moto app allows for some software conveniences that other phones in its price range lack, like the ever-useful Moto Display. So long as you can overlook the huge bezels, the E5 Play is a solid purchase.
$80 at Verizon
Best on Cricket Wireless (AT&T)
Moto G7 Supra
AT&T’s Cricket sub-brand has a great selection, including the Moto G7 Supra. This is just a rebranding of the Moto G7 Power, meaning the phone has a 6.2-inch HD+ display, 1.8Ghz octa-core processor, and a downright massive 5,000 mAh battery that should get you up to three days of use on one charge. There’s also a fingerprint sensor and expandable storage!
$100 at Cricket
Best on Metro by T-Mobile
LG Q7 Plus
The Q7 Plus is one of the best deals on Metro. It typically costs more than a hundred bucks, but if you switch from another carrier, you can get it well below that price. For your money, you’re getting a phone with a 5.5-inch Full HD+ display, IP68 dust/water resistance, a quad DAC headphone jack, and expandable storage. And, yes, there’s a fingerprint sensor.
$50 at Metro
Best on Boost Mobile (Sprint)
Samsung Galaxy A10e
Who says budget phones have to look like they’re from five years in the past? The Galaxy A10e features impressively slim bezels with a teardrop notch housing the front camera, and it runs modern Android 9 Pie software. The 3,000mAh battery charges over USB-C and the 32GB of internal storage can be expanded by up to 512GB with a microSD card.
$90 at Boost
Great phones don’t have to be expensive
You might not think that $100 can buy you much in the smartphone world, but if you know where to look, it’s possible to find some shockingly great handsets at or below this price — a prime example being the Ulefone Note 7.
The Note 7 doesn’t look the part of a $100 smartphone, showcasing a display with slim bezels and a waterdrop notch, not to mention its triple-camera system on the back. Internally, the phone’s rocking a quad-core processor, 1GB of RAM, 16GB of expandable storage, a 3,500 mAh battery, and Android 9. If you have a GSM carrier like AT&T or T-Mobile, this is a solid way to go.
There are also a lot of good deals offered by prepaid wireless providers, such as the Samsung Galaxy A10e on Boost Mobile. This is one of the best budget phones on the market right now, offering things like 32GB of expandable storage, 2GB of RAM, USB-C for charging, and a 3.5mm headphone jack.