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Best Prepaid Phone of 2024: Value Picks for Cheaper Plans

$250 at OnePlus

Best price range possibility for less than $300

OnePlus Nord N30 5G

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Prepaid telephone carriers are continuously touting mobile phone plan offers and promotions. In some circumstances, carriers be offering plans that charge considerably lower than what is presented by means of Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile. But it is useful to understand how pay as you go and conventional carriers paintings if you end up looking for the most efficient cost in reasonably priced plans.

This tale is a part of Gift Guide, our year-round choice of the most efficient reward concepts.

Most pay as you go telephone operators are owned by means of or intently affiliated with the 3 primary carriers. This manner telephones that paintings on postpaid plans typically additionally paintings on pay as you go plans. For example, T-Mobile is the landlord of Mint Mobile, AT&T owns Cricket and Visible is owned by means of Verizon Wireless. Other pay as you go telephone carriers like Boost Mobile and Google Fi provide you with get entry to to these similar networks in conjunction with aggressive pricing and perks. This permits for numerous flexibility whilst you join pay as you go plan, as a result of just about any unlocked telephone will also be introduced over.

Many of those pay as you go telephone carriers promote gadgets too, and whilst their promotions don’t seem to be essentially any place just about a “loose iPhone,” you’ll doubtlessly get smaller reductions off the acquisition of a tool whilst switching to a pay as you go telephone provider. So in forming this listing for the most efficient pay as you go telephones, we took under consideration gadgets which are to be had at once from pay as you go carriers along value-filled telephones that you’ll purchase unlocked.

Read extra: Best Prepaid Phone Plans

What is the most efficient pay as you go telephone of 2024?

Like with any telephone selection, the most efficient gadget goes to rely on what you might be valuing probably the most out of your telephone as a conversation gadget and as a digicam. However, if gadget charge is probably the most delicate factor along getting a less expensive pay as you go telephone plan, then the $200 Samsung Galaxy A14 5G is the choice I will be able to maximum counsel. 

While pay as you go telephone carriers do be offering even less expensive telephone choices than the Galaxy A14, this Samsung telephone is the lowest-cost technique to get a tool that comes with 5G compatibility and NFC for contactless bills. Samsung could also be offering the A14 with two primary instrument updates (the primary of which can be in line with Android 14 launched in overdue 2023) in conjunction with 5 years of safety updates, making it a protected telephone to make use of for a number of years. That stated, the gadget is a little bit slow in efficiency and the digicam is not nice, but when charge is the very best precedence then the A14 is differently a really perfect entry-level possibility for a pay as you go telephone plan.

Best pay as you go telephones of 2024

The $200 Samsung Galaxy A14 5G is likely one of the maximum useful telephones below $200 to be had presently. Even regardless that it is at a budget-friendly value, this Samsung telephone comprises 5G improve for quicker information and NFC for contactless bills the usage of Google Wallet. While either one of the ones options are highlights for this value vary, Samsung could also be making plans to improve the Galaxy A14 with two years of instrument updates and 5 years of safety updates, making it a telephone that can be protected to make use of for a number of years.

However you will have to nonetheless remember that the telephone does have tradeoffs to hit its $200 value. It has a colorless design, a slower processor and combined images efficiency. 

Yet in spite of its problems, the options it does come with make it a very easy advice in case you are purchasing the telephone outright or if it is presented totally free with a provider subsidy deal.

The $300 OnePlus Nord N30 5G comprises numerous options for the cash, however its 50W charging pace is a standout for this value vary. The telephone can price from 0% to 100% in 45 mins, and maximum different telephones that charge $300 or much less want 90 mins to 2 hours to do the similar factor. Its massive 6.72-inch 1080p exhibit that runs at a 120Hz refresh charge additionally makes apps, video games, internet sites and streaming video animate easily.

However it is price calling out that the 108-megapixel major digicam — in spite of being an astounding megapixel quantity on a telephone — takes footage which are best marginally higher than what I in most cases see from telephones on this value vary. That manner it could actually take excellent, detail-filled footage in outside settings with various mild. However footage taken in darker settings are a battle for the N30, with indoor footage taking a look washed out or blurry.

The telephone may also best get one instrument replace to Android 14 (launched in overdue 2023) in conjunction with 3 years of safety updates — which is a median timeline for this value vary but nonetheless disappointingly brief.

Google’s price range telephone took a jump ahead in 2023 with the $499 Pixel 7A, which gives most of the similar advantages because the Pixel 7 however at a less expensive value. Like the Pixel 7, the Pixel 7A runs on Google’s Tensor G2 processor, that means it has most of the similar photograph modifying and language translation options as its pricier sibling. The Pixel 7A’s 64-megapixel digicam additionally takes superb footage that rival the Pixel 7’s in high quality. 

An particularly great perk in regards to the Pixel 7A is its instrument replace timeline: It gets 3 years of instrument updates (the primary of which is Android 14 launched in overdue 2023) and 5 years of safety updates. On best of that, the 7A can be a few of the first Android gadgets to get the ones instrument updates, with Google in a position to push them at once to its Pixel telephones along Feature Drops that upload options right through the yr.

Samsung revived its FE line of gadgets this yr with the $600 Samsung Galaxy S23 FE. The new telephone in large part takes the most efficient specifications of the Samsung Galaxy S22, together with a quick (albeit two-year-old) Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor along a 50-megapixel major digicam, and puts it inside of a colourful aluminum frame that highlights a 6.4-inch 1080p exhibit.

It ends up in a telephone that gives an entry-level value for a tool that includes Samsung’s higher-end options, which come with the desktop-optimized DeX mode and opposite wi-fi charging.

While researching my evaluate of the Samsung Galaxy S23 FE, I discovered it supplies a pleasing step up from Samsung’s A-series of telephones with its energy and images. However, similar to with the Galaxy S22, I did in finding that the Galaxy S23 FE’s battery existence is shorter than I would favor all through my trying out, however its 25W stressed out charging can assist for a fast noon price when wanted.

Apple’s $599 iPhone 13 is these days probably the most up-to-date but reasonably priced possibility the corporate gives in its telephone lineup, which incorporates a greater 6.1-inch display screen with Face ID, 128GB of garage and all the options incorporated in iOS 17. While you’ll get a brand new iPhone SE at $429 that comes with the similar processor because the iPhone 13 with many an identical options, it does so within a dated design that features a smaller 4.7-inch display screen and a relatively small 64GB of cupboard space.

While I’d like to peer Apple deliver again a $499 iPhone possibility — most likely by means of reviving the iPhone Mini design — for now Apple’s $599 iPhone 13 is likely one of the lower-priced tactics to shop for a larger-screen iPhone in new situation and get get entry to to Apple’s services and products like iMessage.

While pay as you go telephone carriers promote all kinds of telephones — together with many flagship telephones from yesteryear — for our best possible pay as you go telephones listing, I’ve centered the alternatives on telephones which are these days to be had unlocked from a telephone maker along with telephones you’ll purchase at once from a provider. This is partially on account of instrument and safety updates — each and every of those alternatives will obtain a minimum of one primary instrument replace and a minimum of 3 years of safety updates, which prolong the lifespan of those telephones. 

It’s crucial difference, as a result of although you’ll purchase a tool just like the Google Pixel 3A XL from Mint Mobile for $130, that gadget is not receiving safety updates. This manner the telephone is not as protected to make use of as a lower-cost gadget this is nonetheless receiving lively vulnerability coverage from its telephone maker.

As a end result maximum alternatives in this listing are telephones which were launched inside of 2023-24, except for Apple’s iPhone 13. This is as a result of Apple’s telephones traditionally obtain a few years of instrument and safety improve — for example whilst Apple lately sundown primary iOS instrument updates to 2017’s iPhone X and that iPhone 8, each gadgets are nonetheless receiving safety updates. This permits us to be slightly assured that Apple can be offering many extra years of instrument and safety updates to the iPhone 13, even because the gadget enters its 3rd yr available on the market. 

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Finding the precise value is vital: A receive advantages to getting a pay as you go telephone plan over postpaid is that by means of purchasing your provider prematurely, you will not differently be caught on a freelance nor do you want to get a credit score test so as to join a mobile phone plan. However, it does imply that you’re not likely to obtain a deep cut price off of your subsequent gadget whilst you don’t seem to be bringing over an present one, since many telephone carriers be offering hefty gadget subsidy incentives when signing up with a brand new postpaid plan or renewing an present one. This signifies that gadget charge goes to be an important factor when purchasing a telephone to make use of on a pay as you go plan, as a result of you want to be footing all of the invoice. 

Target your maximum necessary wishes: You’ll wish to make a decision whether or not you want a less expensive gadget that covers your entire crucial purposes or in case you are OK with springing for a costlier gadget with extra functions. 

Remember to buy round: While many US telephone purchases are made via a telephone provider, maximum pay as you go telephone plans come with a bring-your-own-device possibility. This manner you do not need to shop for your handset from a pay as you go telephone provider to enroll with them, which is beneficial when you’ve got one already or particularly should you discover a deal at some other retailer for a similar gadget. After acquire, you’ll as a substitute join a plan together with your pay as you go provider and observe their instructions for putting in place your gadget with their provider. 

Make certain you purchase a suitable gadget: Even regardless that you do not need to shop for your telephone from a pay as you go provider, you do wish to be sure the telephone you buy is suitable with it. For example, in case you are purchasing a telephone to make use of on Mint Mobile, you will want to ensure that it is a gadget that is suitable with T-Mobile’s community. Same with Cricket, operating on AT&T. Same with Visible, operating on Verizon. Most pay as you go carriers will inform you what networks their provider runs on, and that can assist you fit up what gadget you want from there.

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Every telephone in this listing has been completely examined by means of CNET’s knowledgeable evaluations crew. We use the telephone, take a look at the options, play video games and take footage. We assess any advertising and marketing guarantees that an organization makes about its telephones. And if we discover one thing we do not like, be it battery existence or construct high quality, we inform you about it. 

We read about each facet of a telephone all through trying out:

  • Display
  • Design and really feel
  • Processor efficiency
  • Battery existence
  • Camera high quality
  • Features

We take a look at all of the telephone’s cameras (each back and front) in a number of prerequisites: from outside below daylight to dimmer indoor locales and midnight scenes (for any to be had evening modes). We additionally examine our findings towards in a similar fashion priced fashions. We have a sequence of actual global battery checks to peer how lengthy a telephone lasts below on a regular basis use.

We take note further telephone options like 5G, fingerprint and face readers, styluses, rapid charging, foldable shows and different helpful extras. We weigh all our studies and trying out towards the fee so whether or not a telephone represents excellent cost.

Read extra: How we take a look at telephones

Samsung Galaxy A14 5G specifications vs. OnePlus Nord N30 5G, Google Pixel 7A, Samsung Galaxy S23 FE, Apple iPhone 13


Samsung Galaxy A14 5GOnePlus Nord N30 5GGoogle Pixel 7ASamsung Galaxy S23 FEApple iPhone 13
Display measurement, solution6.6-inch FHD+ LCD exhibit, (1,400 x 1,080 pixels), 90Hz6.72-inch FHD (1080p solution); 120Hz refresh charge6.1-inch OLED; 2,400×1,080 pixels; 60/90Hz6.4-inch AMOLED exhibit; 2,340 x 1,080 pixels; adaptive 120Hz refresh charge (60-120Hz)6.1-inch OLED; 2,532×1,170 pixels
Pixel density268 ppi391 ppi361 ppi466 ppi460 ppi
Dimensions (inches)6.6 x 3.07 x 0.36 in.6.51 x 2.99 x 0.32 in.6.00 x 2.87 x 0.35 in.6.22 x 3.01 x 0.32 in.5.78 x 2.82 x 0.3 in.
Dimensions (millimeters)167.6 x 77.9 x 9.1mm165.5 x 76 x 8.3mm73 x 152 x 9.0mm157.9 x 76.4 x 8.1mm147 x 72 x 7.65mm
Weight (oz., grams)203g (7.19 oz..)195g (6.97 oz..)193g (6.81 oz..)209g (7.4 oz..)6.14 oz..; 174g
Mobile instrumentAndroid 13Android 13Android 13Android 13iOS 15
Camera50-megapixel (major), 2-megapixel (macro), 2-megapixel (intensity)108-megapixel major, 2-megapixel macro, 2-megapixel intensity sensing64-megapixel (major), 13-megapixel (ultrawide)50-megapixel (large), 12-megapixel (ultrawide), 8-megapixel (telephoto)12-megapixel (large), 12-megapixel (ultrawide)
Front-facing digicam13-megapixel16-megapixel13-megapixel, 4K @ 30fps10-megapixel12-megapixel
Video seize1080p at 30fps1080p at 30fps4K at 30/60fps8K at 24fps, 4K at 60fpsHDR video recording with Dolby Vision as much as 4K at 60 fps
ProcessorMediaTek MT6833VQualcomm Snapdragon 695Tensor G2Snapdragon 8 Gen 1Apple A15 Bionic
RAM/Storage4GB + 64GB8GB + 128GB8GB + 128GB8GB + 128GB, 256GB128GB, 256GB, 512GB
Expandable garageYesYesNoneNoNo
Battery/Charger5,000 mAh5,000 mAh (50W stressed out charging)4,385 mAh (18W rapid charging 7.5W wi-fi charging)4,500 mAh (25W stressed out charging)Battery capability no longer disclosed (20W stressed out charging, 15W MagSafe wi-fi charging)
Fingerprint sensorSideSideIn-displayIn-displayNo (Face ID)
Headphone jackYesYesNoneNoNo
Special options5G-enabled, NFC, 15W charging50W SuperVooc rapid charging, 108-megapixel major digicam, recreation mode, twin stereo audio system5G (5G sub6 / mmWave), IP67 score, 18W rapid charging, 7.5W wi-fi chargingWireless PowerShare, Fast Wireless Charging 2.0, Samsung Knox with Samsung Knox Vault, IP68 water resistance5G enabled; MagSafe; waterproof (IP68); wi-fi charging; dual-SIM functions (nano-SIM and e-SIM)
Price off-contract (USD)$200$250$374, $549 (mmW)$550$599 (128GB), $699 (256GB), $899 (512GB)
Price (GBP)£179Converts to £199£298£438£599 (128GB), £699 (256GB), £899 (512GB)
Price (AUD)AU$379Converts to AU$385AU$576AU$847AU$1,099 (128GB), AU$1,299 (256GB), AU$1,649 (512GB)

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