Best Android Phone Under $100 in 2018
  • The best
  • Runner-up
  • Best on Verizon
  • Best on Cricket Wireless
  • Best on MetroPCS
  • Best on Boost

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The best

Nokia 2

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See at Amazon

Right on the dot at $99, the Nokia 2 is simply the best low-cost phone you can buy. It features a sleek and sturdy design with a metal frame, along with a 1.3GHz quad-core processor and a near-stock build of Android. It’s a bit lacking internally, with just 1GB of RAM and 8GB of storage, but the clean software keeps it running smoothly, and you can expand its storage with a microSD card.

The 5-inch 720p display is fairly impressive as well, but where you’ll really be wowed is with the 4100mAh battery, which easily manages two days of moderate usage. It also has a surprisingly decent 8MP primary camera, as well as a 5MP selfie shooter.

Bottom line: The Nokia 2 offers clean software and speedy performance for just a Benjamin.

One more thing: There’s a newer version of the device, the Nokia 2.1, but it sits just above our $100 price limit.

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Why the Nokia 2 is best

The ideal package in any price range is a well-built phone with clean and quick software, and the Nokia 2 delivers. With a beta version of Android 8.1 Oreo already available, it’s easily the most up-to-date device below $100, making it even more attractive on the software front than the Moto E5 Play.

It’s not the flashiest or showiest smartphone, with a relatively generic design, but you don’t expect pizzaz when you’re paying a Benjamin for a full-featured smartphone. 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.

Runner-up

Alcatel 1X

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See at Amazon

The first Android Go-powered phone on the market exceeds our expectations. The Alcatel 1X doesn’t look like much, but its tall 5.3-inch display is great, and it’s got all the specs necessary to power Google’s version of Android that’s optimized for entry-level smartphones. There’s even an 8MP camera around back, a fingerprint sensor, an LTE modem and a nice 2460mAh battery.

Bottom line: At just under $100, the Alcatel 1X is a good alternative to the Nokia 2.

One more thing: The phone is only compatible with AT&T, T-Mobile and other GSM carriers in the U.S.

Best on Verizon

Motorola Moto E5 Play

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See at Best Buy

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. The phone ships with Android 8.0 Oreo, and the 2800mAh battery is one of the few removable batteries left on the market.

Bottom line: The Moto E5 Play is a great prepaid phone for Verizon customers.

One more thing: While Verizon sells the Moto E5 Play for $95, Best Buy (linked above) sells it for even cheaper — just $64.99.

Best on Cricket Wireless (AT&T)

LG X Charge

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See at Cricket Wireless

If you want to get a prepaid phone from one of the big four carriers, your choices are limited, but AT&T’s Cricket sub-brand has a great selection, including the LG X Charge for $79.99 (at least for new lines). It’s got a big 5.5-inch HD display, a quad-core processor, Android 7.0 Nougat, and a massive 4500mAh battery.

Bottom line: The LG X Charge’s huge battery will outlast any other phone in Cricket’s lineup.

One more thing: If you’re upgrading from an existing Cricket device, the X Charge will actually cost $129.99.

Best on MetroPCS (T-Mobile)

LG K20 Plus

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See at MetroPCS

Sitting right at the edge of our budget, the K20 Plus is the best phone on MetroPCS’s roster for under $100. With it, you get a 1.4 GHz Snapdragon 425, 2GB of RAM, and 32GB of storage. The 5.3-inch 720p display barely draws any power from the 2700mAh cell inside, and the 13MP camera isn’t half bad either.

Bottom line: The Moto E4 offers decent specs and speedy performance at an affordable price.

One more thing: The K20 Plus is running the dated Android 7.0 Nougat.

Best on Boost Mobile (Sprint)

Moto E5 Play

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See at Boost

The Moto E5 Play is just as good on Boost as it is on Verizon. It’s one of the few phones under $100 that still runs a current version of Android — specifically Android 8.0 Oreo — and while its specs aren’t anything mind-blowing, it’s plenty good enough to keep the phone running smoothly. Its software is delightfully close to stock Android, with a few added goodies from Motorola.

Bottom line: The Moto E5 Play is your best bet for clean, modern software for cheap.

One more thing: If battery life is your top priority, the ZTE Max XL with its 3990mAh battery is a better option.

Conclusion

The Nokia 2 is the best overall device, largely thanks to its clean software and high-end build quality, but customer discounts could land you a better deal depending on your carrier.

The best

Nokia 2

nokia-2-2018.jpg?itok=46LcdRhg

See at Amazon

Right on the dot at $99, the Nokia 2 is simply the best low-cost phone you can buy. It features a sleek and sturdy design with a metal frame, along with a 1.3GHz quad-core processor and a near-stock build of Android. It’s a bit lacking internally, with just 1GB of RAM and 8GB of storage, but the clean software keeps it running smoothly, and you can expand its storage with a microSD card.

The 5-inch 720p display is fairly impressive as well, but where you’ll really be wowed is with the 4100mAh battery, which easily manages two days of moderate usage. It also has a surprisingly decent 8MP primary camera, as well as a 5MP selfie shooter.

Bottom line: The Nokia 2 offers clean software and speedy performance for just a Benjamin.

One more thing: There’s a newer version of the device, the Nokia 2.1, but it sits just above our $100 price limit.

Updated August 2018: The Moto E5 Play has become our top pick on Verizon and Boost.