Skip to main content

Best prepaid cell phones 2022

OnePlus Nord N20 5G
(Image credit: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)

Just about any unlocked phone can be used with a prepaid carrier, as long as it supports the bands for the underlying carrier. That means you can buy one of the most expensive phones on the market and use it with a prepaid carrier. But if you're looking to get the best value for money, these Android phones under $350 are the right place to start. The OnePlus Nord N20 has all of the right features with fast hardware, good cameras, and support for sub-6 5G.

These are the best phones for prepaid carriers under $350

OnePlus Nord N20 5G

(Image credit: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)
The best overall phone for prepaid carriers

Reasons to buy

+
Beautiful AMOLED display
+
Excellent cameras
+
5G support
+
Great build quality

Reasons to avoid

-
No promised OS updates beyond Android 12
-
Only available at T-Mobile and Metro by T-Mobile

The OnePlus Nord N20 5G feels like a return to form for OnePlus with hardware specs that exceed expectations for the price. Build quality also feels strong, with an attractive utilitarian design that makes it look like it costs more than it really does. The AMOLED display may only be 60Hz, but with a high 1080x2400 resolution, it looks sharp and vibrant.

The Snapdragon 695 CPU feels like the perfect fit, with enough power to keep things running smoothly, and the efficiency to make the 4,500mAh battery lasts all day with ease. Like Google's low-cost Pixels, the N20 reminds us that a cheap phone can still have excellent cameras with its 64MP main shooter, 2MP macro camera, and 2MP monochrome sensor. We were thoroughly impressed by the photos in our Nord N20 review.

Even if you're a proficient phone photographer who can put a battery through its paces, you can top up the battery in a snap with support for 33W charging with a charger in the box. Beyond that, this phone ships with Android 11 with the promise of an Android 12 release down the road, to keep it feeling modern for a bit longer. It supports sub-6 5G on T-Mobile's network which includes the vast majority of its coverage including the faster band 41.

Samsung Galaxy A32

(Image credit: Apoorva Bhardwaj / Android Central)

Samsung Galaxy A32 5G

Affordable 5G on the AT&T network

Reasons to buy

+
Great 6.4-inch display with 90Hz refresh rate
+
Solid camera performance with a 48MP main shooter
+
Large 5,000mAh battery
+
5G support on most carriers

Reasons to avoid

-
Slower CPU may lead to lag

The Samsung Galaxy A32 5G is a solid Galaxy phone with great cameras, a large battery, and 5G support on AT&T. AT&T's network powers several of the best prepaid carriers including AT&T Prepaid and Cricket. This phone will also work on most other networks including T-Mobile's network. The Galaxy A32 5G features an octa-core Mediatek CPU with 4GB of RAM, which isn't the most powerful in the world but will work fine with most day-to-day activity.

It has a 6.4-inch 2400x1080 display running with a 90Hz refresh rate. The main rear camera is 48MP with an ultra-wide 8MP and a macro camera at 5MP. The battery is an impressive 5,000mAh, which can keep the phone running all day and into the next one. If you're looking for something with enough speed to do the basics and plenty of battery life, this is a solid choice.

Samsung also has one of the best track records for keeping its phones up to date, and that includes years of updates for even lower-end devices like the A32 5G.

Nokia G50

(Image credit: Nokia)

Nokia G50

The best budget software experience

Reasons to buy

+
Massive 5,000mAh battery
+
Clean Android software
+
Large display with tight bezels
+
Wi-Fi 6 and 5G supported
+
Two years of OS updates
+
Three years of monthly security updates

Reasons to avoid

-
Limited 5G band support
-
Low-resolution display

It's nice that Nokia doesn't get carried away with changes to Android and opts to stick much closer to a stock experience. The G50 is powered by the Snapdragon 480 and while it isn't going to top any benchmarks, it has enough power to handle most Android apps with ease and can even do a bit of gaming if you keep your expectations in check. This CPU also sips power making the 5,000mAh battery that easily lasts all day, though the 18W charger means you'll need a bit of patience getting it up to 100%.

This phone will have Android 11 out of the box but can and should be upgraded to Android 12 first thing. Nokia sticks to a clean build of Android and that's a good thing. Nokia is also promising two years of OS updates and three years of security monthly security updates. We're not fans of the pre-installed apps on the phone, but for the price, it's not too much work to remove them.

This phone supports 5G with decent sub-6 band support, including n71, n5, n66, n41, and n78. This means that you'll get access to nationwide 5G on the major U.S. carriers with support for T-Mobile's faster 5G speeds. Wi-Fi 6 is also included unlike some other phones with this CPU.

OnePlus Nord n200 5G

(Image credit: Samuel Contreras / Android Central)
A cheap 5G alternative

Reasons to buy

+
Premium feel
+
Large 90Hz display
+
High-resolution 1080x2400 IPS panel
+
Solid T-Mobile 5G support
+
Android 12 update available
+
Massive 5,000mAh batter

Reasons to avoid

-
No more OS updates expected
-
No wireless charging

The OnePlus Nord N200 5G is a lot of phone for the price with solid specs, good build quality, and a massive battery. Even in our in-depth Nord N200 review, its Snapdragon 480 CPU performed admirably. The large 6.49-inch, 1080x2400 IPS display refreshes at 90Hz making this phone feel even nicer to use. It only comes with 64GB of storage but with one of the best microSD cards, there's plenty of room to grow.

This phone comes with Android 11 out of the box, but you can immediately update it to Android 12. While we don't expect this phone's OS to be upgraded further, it will get three years of security updates so you can keep using it with confidence. And while you don't get pure Android, Oxygen OS is clean and fast enough for most people to be quite happy.

One clear sacrifice is the cameras. The main 13MP sensor failed to impress in our Nord N200 5G review with anything less than brightly lit scenes. Even so, images are serviceable as long as you're not nurturing a social media career from your phone. That's not to say it doesn't have the endurance with a massive 5,000mAh battery easily getting even heavy users to the end of the day. It still would have been nice to see faster charging than the included 18W brick can deliver.

TCL Stylus 5G notes app

(Image credit: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)

TCL Stylus 5G

The best value phone with a stylus

Reasons to buy

+
Large 6.81-inch display
+
Solid MediaTek Dimensity 700 5G chipset
+
Built-in stylus included
+
Good camera in most lighting
+
Two years of security updates

Reasons to avoid

-
No OS updates planned

The TCL Stylus 5G isn't a Galaxy Note replacement, and with a price that's about a quarter of Samsung's flagships, it shouldn't be expected to be. Even so, our Stylus 5G review found the stylus to be underwhelming outside of solid handwriting recognition. The problem is that the phone doesn't treat writing with the stylus or a finger any differently. If you're just looking for something to make precision input a little easier, it's still nice to have stored in the bottom of the phone.

The screen is fairly massive at 6.81 inches, with a high 1080x2460 resolution and a 60Hz refresh rate. The main 50MP camera isn't anything special but still produces solid images as long as you have good lighting. The MediaTek Dimensity 700 5G platform with the MT6833 should have no problem with most apps, although in our TCL Stylus 5G review, we found some games would not work at all.

This version of the phone is designed for T-Mobile and is available for the carrier in a postpaid and prepaid variant, as well as at Metro by T-Mobile. Unlike the international version, this phone has full support for T-Mobile's 5G network, including bands n71and n41. The Dimensity 700 platform is also compatible with 5G carrier aggregation.

Samsung Galaxy A13 5G

(Image credit: Samsung)

Samsung Galaxy A13 5G

The best for security

Reasons to buy

+
5G support with mid-band
+
Large 5,000mAh battery
+
Two OS updates and four years of security updates
+
Solid performance

Reasons to avoid

-
Disappointing display

The Samsung Galaxy A13 5G doesn't hit the mark on every spec, starting with a disappointing display rocking an old-fashioned PLS TFT LCD panel at just 720x1600 resolution. Luckily, this is where most of the harsh criticism ends. This phone is powered by the same MediaTek Dimensity 700 chipset found in other phones at this price range, so it will have enough power for most Android apps outside of 3D games.

It comes with a large 5,000mAh battery though its 15W charging speed is a bit lacking. The A13 5G's main 50MP camera can take some decent images in good lighting but will struggle in low light conditions.

Where this phone starts to make up some ground is in software. Samsung has promised two OS updates for this device so an Android 13 update should eventually make it to the phone. Perhaps more important is the four years of security updates and the Knox security platform. Samsung Knox security can keep sensitive information safe with multi-layered security in the event of theft or loss. This cheap phone punches above its weight in software and performance and can be a great pairing for a prepaid carrier.

Buy it unlocked to try out a new carrier whenever you want

More and more people are looking to leave contracts behind, especially if they know how to switch carriers, and prepaid carriers offer a lot of value. In fact, most of the best cheap Android phones will work on just about any prepaid carrier. Most of these phones here will work on any carrier with LTE, but 5G compatibility can be a bit less predictable. Even so, software has gotten a big boost on cheap phones, thanks to more manufacturers committing to multiple years of updates.

Overall, the OnePlus Nord N20 5G delivers the best overall experience with very little meaningful compromise. While it will only work on T-Mobile's network and must be purchased through its official prepaid brands, it's still an incredible value. This phone supports 5G on T-Mobile's fastest bands and the Snapdragon 695 shames other phones at this price. While it won't get OS updates beyond Android 12, three years of security updates mean you can keep using it with confidence.

When Samuel is not writing about networking or 5G at Android Central, he spends most of his time researching computer components and obsessing over what CPU goes into the ultimate Windows 98 computer. It's the Pentium 3.