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Last Update
Jun 2017
This month we removed the Samsung Galaxy S7, S7 Edge, and Alcatel Idol 4 to make room for the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus.

best prepaid phones

A prepaid phone is a phone you buy off-contract, which means you can’t get it on an installment plan and have to pay for it upfront. You can get prepaid phones from any carrier in the US, although that may not always be the best idea.

The reason why is that some carriers will lock a prepaid phone they sold you for a certain period as soon as it’s activated on their network. The duration depends on the network provider, but for reference, Verizon’s prepaid phones are locked for 60 days after activation, while those from AT&T have to be used on their network for at least six months before you can request an unlock.

This means that if you opt for a prepaid phone along with a prepaid plan from one carrier, you may not be able to switch to another carrier right away if you don’t like their services. You’ll have to wait until the phone gets unlocked, which can take months and months depending on your provider.

From that perspective, it’s better to just get an unlocked phone directly from a manufacturer like Samsung or a retailer like Amazon, which can then be activated on a carrier of choice — carriers won’t lock these devices. We’ll show you the best ones to spend your money on in this post, which fall in the high-end, mid-range, and budget categories. All these phones have officially been released in the U.S. and are backed by a warranty.

Best prepaid/unlocked phones:

Editor’s note: We’ll be updating this list of the best prepaid phones regularly as new ones launch.


1. Samsung Galaxy Note 10 series — high-end

Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus - best off-contract phone

The Galaxy Note 10 and 10 Plus are both aimed at demanding users, although the Plus model offers more. It has a larger display with a higher resolution, more RAM, a larger battery, and an additional camera at the back — a ToF sensor. It also supports expandable storage.

Editor's Pick

The rest of the specs and features are mostly the same between the two devices. You get the Snapdragon 855 chipset, an in-display fingerprint scanner, and wireless charging. Both are also IP68 rated and come with the S Pen, which has a few new tricks up its sleeve — check them out here. All these things combined put the Galaxy Note 10 and 10 Plus among the best prepaid phones you can spend your money on.

Both phones lack a headphone jack and run Android Pie with Samsung’s One UI on top. They will be among the first Samsung phones to get updated to Android 10, although there’s no word on exactly when that will happen.


Samsung Galaxy Note 10 specs:

  • Display: 6.3-inch, FHD+
  • SoC: Snapdragon 855
  • RAM: 8GB
  • Storage: 256GB
  • Cameras: 12, 12, and 16MP
  • Front camera: 10MP
  • Battery: 3,500mAh
  • Software: Android 9.0 Pie


Galaxy Note 10 Plus specs:

  • Display: 6.8-inch, QHD+
  • SoC: Snapdragon 855
  • RAM: 12GB
  • Storage: 256/512GB
  • Cameras: 12, 12, and 16MP + ToF
  • Front camera: 10MP
  • Battery: 4,300mAh
  • Software: Android 9.0 Pie


2. Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL — high-end

Pixel 3

The Pixel 3 phones offer high-end specs, a great camera, and a bloat-free software experience. Despite being almost a year old, they are still among the best phones you can currently get.

The Pixel 3 phones offer a clean Android experience and feature a fantastic camera.

The Pixel 3 and 3 XL are great choices for those into photography, despite only having a  single camera at the back. They can capture fantastic images, even in low-light conditions thanks to Google’s Night Sight technology. As they run stock Android, they will be among the first to get updated to the latest version of the OS.

The phones are similar in terms of specs, both featuring the same chipset, camera, and memory options. They are also both IP68 rated for protection against water and dust. However, the Pixel 3 XL does have a larger display with a higher resolution, a bigger battery, and a notch.


Pixel 3 specs:

  • Display: 5.5-inch, Full HD+
  • SoC: Snapdragon 845
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Storage: 64/128GB
  • Camera: 12.2MP
  • Front cameras: 8 and 8MP
  • Battery: 2,915mAh
  • Software: Android 9.0 Pie


Pixel 3 XL specs:

  • Display: 6.3-inch, QHD+
  • SoC: Snapdragon 845
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Storage: 64/128GB
  • Camera: 12.2MP 
  • Front cameras: 8 and 8MP
  • Battery: 3,430mAh
  • Software: Android 9.0 Pie


3. OnePlus 7 Pro — high-end

OnePlus 7 Pro screen upright on table

The OnePlus 7 Pro packs the Snapdragon 855 chipset along with as much as 12GB of RAM under the hood, which means it can handle just about any task you throw at it. It also features an in-display fingerprint sensor, a pop-up front-facing camera, and three cameras at the back.

The phone offers a great software experience thanks to its OxygenOS skin, which is one of the best skins out there in our opinion. All these things combined make the OnePlus 7 Pro one of the best prepaid phones you can get.

However, the handset does have a few drawbacks. It doesn’t have an official IP rating, lacks a headphone jack, and doesn’t support wireless charging. It’s also the most expensive OnePlus phone to date, though it’s still cheaper than the likes of the Galaxy Note 10.


OnePlus 7 Pro specs:

  • Display: 6.67-inch, QHD+
  • SoC: Snapdragon 855
  • RAM: 6/8/12GB
  • Storage: 128/256GB
  • Cameras: 48, 16, and 8MP
  • Front camera: 16MP
  • Battery: 4,000mAh
  • Software: Android 9.0 Pie


4. Google Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL — mid-range

Prepaid Google Pixel 3a XL phone

If you’re in the market for a mid-range smartphone, the Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL should be at the top of your list. The most impressive thing about them is that they offer almost the same camera experience as the regular Pixel 3. The hardware, coupled with Google’s superb camera software features like the ever-impressive Night Sight, serve up photos far beyond what you might expect from phones in this price range.

The handsets pack the Snapdragon 670 chipset under the hood along with 4GB of RAM. That’s less impressive than the high-end Snapdragon 845 you get in the Pixel 3 phones, but it’s still more than good enough for the average user. They also feature a headphone jack and the Active Edge feature, which lets you quickly summon Google Assistant by squeezing the edge of a phone.

There are a few omissions, though, which are expected due to the price tags of the phones. There’s no wireless charging or an IP rating. The phones also don’t feel quite as upmarket because of their plastic backs. 


Pixel 3a specs:

  • Display: 5.6-inch, Full HD+
  • SoC: Snapdragon 670
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Storage: 64GB
  • Camera: 12.2MP
  • Front camera: 8MP
  • Battery: 3,000mAh
  • Software: Android 9.0 Pie


Pixel 3a XL specs:

  • Display: 6.0-inch, Full HD+
  • SoC: Snapdragon 670
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Storage: 64GB
  • Camera: 12.2MP
  • Front camera: 8MP
  • Battery: 3,000mAh
  • Software: Android 9.0 Pie


5. Motorola Moto Zoom — mid-range

Motorola One Zoom purple on the couch

The Motorola One Zoom is a mid-range phone with a quad-camera array on the back, giving you plenty of versatility when taking pictures. It comes with a large 6.39-inch display and packs the Snapdragon 675 chipset under the hood along with 4GB of RAM. The phone also sports a large 4,000mAh battery, an in-display fingerprint scanner, and a headphone jack. 

Despite its name, the Motorola One Zoom is not part of the Android One family. It runs Android Pie with the company’s skin on top, which is so minimal you could easily mistake it for stock Android. It’s a gorgeous device that stands out from the rest due to its eye-catching camera design at the back.

The One Zoom was recently announced at IFA 2019 and is already for sale in the U.S. You can get it directly from Motorola via the button below.


Motorola One Zoom specs:

  • Display: 6.39-inch, Full HD+
  • SoC: Snapdragon 675
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Storage: 128GB
  • Cameras: 48, 16, 8, and 5MP
  • Front camera: 25MP
  • Battery: 4,000mAh
  • Software: Android 9.0 Pie


6. Samsung Galaxy A50 — mid-range

Samsung Galaxy A50 front display in hand

In his review, our very own Dhruv Bhutani said that the Galaxy A50 is “Samsung’s best mid-ranger in years.” It offers decent specs, a great design, and a versatile triple-camera setup, among other things.

The phone sports a large 6.4-inch display with a notch, an in-display fingerprint scanner, and a 4,000mAh battery. It supports expandable storage and has a headphone jack on board.

The unlocked variant of the Galaxy A50 has recently launch in the U.S. and is currently the best option for those looking for a mid-range Samsung device — you can get it via the button below.


Samsung Galaxy A50 specs:

  • Display: 6.4-inch, Full HD+
  • SoC: Exynos 9610
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Storage: 64GB
  • Cameras: 25, 8, and 5MP
  • Front camera: 25MP
  • Battery: 4,000mAh
  • Software: Android 9.0 Pie


7. Nokia 7.2 — mid-range

Nokia 7.2 app drawer

What makes the Nokia 7.2 one of the best prepaid phones in its segment is a combination of decent specs, an eye-catching design, and a great software experience. The handset is part of the Android One family, which means it runs a stock version of Google’s OS.

The mid-ranger is powered by the Snapdragon 660 chipset that’s backed by 4GB of RAM in the US. It features three cameras at the back and a fingerprint scanner that sits below it. Other specs and features worth mentioning include a 6.3-inch Full HD+ display with a notch, a 3,500mAh battery, and a headphone jack — see more specs below.

The Nokia 7.2 has recently been announced at IFA 2019 and is already up for pre-order in the US. Shipping is expected to kick off on September 30. 


Nokia 7.2 specs:

  • Display: 6.3-inch, Full HD+
  • SoC: Snapdragon 660
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Storage: 128GB
  • Cameras: 48, 8, and 5MP
  • Front camera: 20MP
  • Battery: 3,500mAh
  • Software: Android 9.0 Pie


8. Samsung Galaxy A10e — budget

Samsung Galaxy A10e -- best budget prepaid phone

This is the best prepaid Samsung phone on a budget you can get. Its specs won’t blow your socks off, but the device still has enough power to handle everyday tasks like surfing the web and checking emails.

It looks more expensive than it is, especially because of its relatively high screen-to-body ratio. The display comes in at 5.83 inches and offers HD+ resolution, while the battery sports a 3,000mAh capacity. The phone also has a headphone jack on board and supports expandable storage.

The main camera has an 8MP sensor that gets the job done, but you should expect the world from it — especially in low-light situations. The Galaxy A10e runs Android Pie with Samsung’s One UI on top.


Samsung Galaxy A10e specs:

  • Display: 5.83-inch, HD+
  • SoC: Exynos 7884
  • RAM: 2GB
  • Storage: 32GB
  • Camera: 8MP
  • Front camera: 5MP
  • Battery: 3,060mAh
  • Software: Android 9.0 Pie


9. Moto E6 — budget

Motorola Moto E6 hands on screen on

There’s a lot to like about the Moto E6. It runs a near-stock version of Android, supports expandable storage, and has a fingerprint scanner at the back, despite its affordable price.

As you can imagine for a phone coming in at way under $200, it offers entry-level specs. You get the Snapdragon 435 chipset and 2GB of RAM, while a 3,000mAh battery keeps the lights on. The battery is also removable, which is something a lot of people will enjoy.

The Moto E6 sports a headphone jack and is easy on the eyes, although it doesn’t look super modern due to its thicker bezels. It’s a great phone for undemanding users who are looking for something cheap.


Moto E6 specs:

  • Display: 5.5-inch, HD+
  • SoC: Snapdragon 435
  • RAM: 2GB
  • Storage: 16GB
  • Camera: 13MP
  • Front camera: 5MP
  • Battery: 3,000mAh
  • Software: Android 9.0 Pie


10. Nokia 2.2 — budget

Nokia 2.2

The last model on our list of the best prepaid phones you can get in the U.S. is the Nokia 2.2. It’s the most affordable phone on this list, although it doesn’t look cheap.

The handset, which is aimed at undemanding users, comes with a 5.71-inch HD+ screen, a 5MP selfie camera in a waterdrop notch (with face unlock), a 13MP rear shooter, and even a Google Assistant button. There’s no fingerprint scanner, though, which may be a deal-breaker for some.

The Nokia 2.2 is an Android One device, which means it offers a bloat-free software experience. It runs Android Pie but will get upgraded to the latest version of Google’s OS.


Nokia 2.2 specs:

  • Display: 5.71-inch, HD+
  • SoC: Mediatek Helio A22
  • RAM: 3GB
  • Storage: 32GB
  • Camera: 13MP
  • Front camera: 5MP
  • Battery: 3,000mAh
  • Software: Android 9.0 Pie


Best deals on prepaid phones

prepaid phone deals

Although we recommend getting an unlocked phone from a retailer like Amazon, that doesn’t mean that buying a prepaid phone from a carrier doesn’t make sense. It does, but only if you can get it cheaper than from other retailers and if you plan on staying with that carrier for the period in which the phone will be locked. With that in mind, here are the best deals on prepaid phones you can get from carriers at the moment: 

Metro by T-Mobile:

Mint Mobile:

AT&T:

Cricket Wireless: 

Boost Mobile:

Verizon:

There are more deals available, but these are the best ones in our opinion. However, keep in mind that terms and conditions apply for each of them — click on any of the links above to find out more.