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June 28, 2018

Best Android Phone Under $100 in 2018

by John_A

  • The best
  • Runner-up
  • Best on Verizon
  • Best on Cricket Wireless
  • Best on MetroPCS
  • Best on Boost

The best

Nokia 2

nokia-2-hands-on-1.jpg?itok=41rllVmi

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: 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.

Runner-up

Alcatel 1X

2alcatel-1x-stock-photo.jpg?itok=azFvl2B

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 2,460mAh 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

moto-e5-play-verizon.jpg?itok=qCIAv0Rx

See at Verizon

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: For just $69.99, the Moto E5 Play is a great prepaid phone for Verizon customers.

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

Best on Cricket Wireless (AT&T)

LG X Charge

cricket-lg-x-charge.jpg?itok=ANNk8L-x

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)

Moto E4

moto-e4-metropcs.jpg?itok=GW24lFX-

See at MetroPCS

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: You won’t find a fingerprint sensor on the Moto E4.

Best on Boost Mobile (Sprint)

ZTE Max XL

zte-max-xl-boost.jpg?itok=DlT1T0PF

See at Boost

The Max XL may not have the latest version of Android, but it still packs a lot of punch. There’s a huge 6-inch 1080p display, a 3990mAh battery, and a fingerprint sensor — a rarity in this price range. The Max XL also features an octa-core Snapdragon 435 processor, 2GB of RAM, and 16GB of expandable storage. It even charges over USB-C, which is uncommon in the sub-$100 category.

Bottom line: You won’t find a bigger battery and screen for the money.

One more thing: The Max XL only runs Android 7.1.1 Nougat, with no Oreo update in sight.

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-hands-on-1.jpg?itok=41rllVmi

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: 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.

Updated June 2018: Replaced the Moto E4 with the Moto E5 Play on Verizon, and added the ZTE Max XL as the best choice for Boost.

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