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Best phones under $100 from major prepaid carriers

No one wants to spend a lot money on a phone. But to get a good one these days, you’ll have to pay hundreds of dollars. That can be an even bigger burden for prepaid users, who, because they don’t sign two-year contracts, pay full price for phones, while contract users get discounts in the form of a subsidy. Even so, there are sometimes deals to be made. Over the next week we’ll take a look at prepaid phone bargains from various carriers. Today we’ll take the major carriers: AT&T GoPhone, Verizon prepaid, T-Mobile, and Boost Mobile, Sprint’s prepaid arm.

AT&T: LG Neon

Thankfully, all the models on AT&T’s prepaid phoens list are under $100, so we have the pick of the lot. The LG Neon comes the closest to the $100 threshold, and it’s probably the best one in terms of features. You can access your email if you have a data package, though you can also do that with the Saumsung A177 (which is $15 cheaper and comes with $30 of airtime credit). But the compactness of the Neon will make it more attractive to more people.

The Neon features Bluetooth, a 2-megapixel camera with 4x zoom, a music player that supports multiple formats, and a WAP browser. It’s not a 3G phone, which is a shame, but otherwise it’s a good phone for the price. If you want to save a few bucks, you can get the refurbished version for $79.99.

Verizon: Samsung Inensity

It’s not a requirement that the phones on this list be as close to $100 as possible, but in Verizon’s case there’s really no other choice. After an assortment of old flip phones for around $50, Verizon steps it up with the Samsung Intensity. All of the cheaper models have VGA cameras and not much else. The Intensity has a 1.3 megapixel camera, still not good but better than the competition. It’s also the cheapest prepaid device to feature V CAST music with Rhapsody. You can add a microSD card to expand memory for even more music. The slide-out QWERTY keyboard makes it an even more attractive option.

Yes, it’s $99.99, but it does come with $10 of airtime. It’s not great, not by any stretch, but it’s the best Verizon has for the price.

T-Mobile: Nokia 2720

The debate was between the 2720 and the Samsung t349, which is $40 more expensive. Is the email access and half-QWERTY keyboard worth $40? Otherwise the devices are similar, with each featuring a 1.3 megapixel camera with video and Bluetooth. Plus, the 2720 looks nicer. If the t349 were a full-QWERTY it’d be a different story. But since they’re so similar and the Nokia is so much cheaper, we’re going with that one.

Boost Mobile: i465

The difference between Boost Mobile, Sprint’s prepaid arm, and the other major prepaid carriers is that Boost has far, far more expensive phones. There are only a few models under $100, with others costing $200 and more. There are two models up for our consideration: the i465 and the i776. I chose the i465 because they’re both similar feature-wise, but the i465 has a full QWERTY keyboard. That’s the tie-breaker, I guess. It features a VGA camera, Bluetooth and, uh, that’s about it. The pickins were slim, but with our criteria this one still comes out on top.

5 Responses

  1. MenoRikey Says

    Any idea if I can use my T-mobile SIM card on the Neon or the Intensity?

    Posted on December 4th, 2009 at 9:45 am
  2. Joe Says

    You have to unlock the phone for the Neon to work with a T-Mobile SIM.

    No on the Intensity. Verizon and T-Mobile run different network types.

    Posted on December 4th, 2009 at 9:52 am
  3. Andre Robertson Says

    How much is the LG Neon? Does it have the Internet on there and if I get the Internet on there will it cost alot? Do I have to get it on a contract?

    Posted on December 16th, 2009 at 5:37 pm
  4. Nate S Says

    I have the Boost I465, do not buy it. It will not send text messages unless you turn the phone off and restart it. Many people have this problem.

    Posted on April 17th, 2010 at 3:13 pm
  5. bob bender Says

    is the red samsung reccomended for girls?

    Posted on February 23rd, 2011 at 4:22 pm

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