Best overall: Nokia 2

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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: Nokia has promised an upgrade to Android 8.1 Oreo soon, bringing the Nokia 2 far more up to date than anything else on this list.

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 HMD Global already promising an update to Android 8.1 Oreo, it's easily the most up-to-date device below $100, making it even more attractive on the software front than the popular Moto E4.

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.

Best on Verizon: Samsung Galaxy J3 Mission

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The Galaxy J3 Mission is an affordable phone from Samsung with a quad-core processor, 1.5GB of RAM, and 16GB of microSD-expandable storage. The 2600mAh battery provides plenty of endurance throughout the day, and the phone ships with Android 7.0 Nougat.

Bottom line: For just under $100, the J3 Mission is one of Verizon's better prepaid offerings.

One more thing: This phone isn't likely to receive many software updates.

Best on Cricket Wireless (AT&T): LG X Charge

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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 $100. 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: Don't expect many updates with this phone. That's the price of prepaid.

Best on MetroPCS (T-Mobile): Moto E4

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The Moto E4 is one of the best deals around, coming in at just $59. With it, you get a 1.4 GHz Snapdragon 425, 2GB of RAM, and 16GB of storage. The 5-inch 720p display barely draws any battery from the 2800mAh cell inside, and the 8MP camera isn't half bad either.

Bottom line: The Moto E4 offers stock Android and speedy performance at a shockingly low price.

One more thing: The Moto E4 is actually $119 upfront with a $60 mail-in rebate. Unfortunately, this is how almost every phone at MetroPCS is sold.

Best on Boost Mobile (Sprint): Moto E4 Plus

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You probably aren't surprised to see another Moto phone on this list, because they're just the pinnacle of value. For $79.99, you get a fast fingerprint sensor, some light water resistance (but not IP68, so don't go dunking the Moto E4 Plus in a pool), and a ridiculous 5000mAh battery with fast charging.

Bottom line: You won't find a bigger battery and cleaner software experience for the money.

One more thing: If Boost's pricing were available on the unlocked Moto E4 Plus, it would easily be our top overall pick.


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.

Update February 2018: The unlocked Moto E4 is no longer available for under $100 on Amazon, so we've replaced it with the Nokia 2.