Best smartphones for under $100 (roundup)
When it comes to picking out a smartphone that'll cost you less than $100, there's plenty of good news to go around. Constant sales on older-model phones mean that carriers are giving away great handsets in exchange for your two-year contract commitment.
Thanks to pitched smartphone and carrier competition, more excellent handsets launch at less than $100, too, and I'm not talking about phones labeled $99.99, even though many of those, like the Nokia Lumia 900, offer great value in their own right.
Here's my current crop of favorites, in no particular order.
Nokia Lumia 710 (T-Mobile), October 26, 2011
We all wondered if Nokia was making the right decision when it introduced the $50 Lumia 710, a budget smartphone, as its first U.S. Windows phone. The company's strategy seems to have paid off, since the Lumia 710 isn't just a likeable phone, but also a moderate hit. Read the full review of the Nokia Lumia 710.
Samsung Exhibit II 4G (T-Mobile), October 26, 2011
A front-facing camera, 4G (HSPA+) speeds, a decent 3-megapixel main camera, and Android 2.3 Gingerbread for only $30? Not bad, T-Mobile! Sure, you can only nail down the price after a $50 mail-in rebate, and the handset may never see an Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich update, but that's a pretty decent little package for not a lot of dough. Read the full review of the Samsung Exhibit 4G II.
Pantech Burst (AT&T), January 23, 2012
Two colors -- red and titanium -- and a horde of features make the $50, 4G LTE-ready Burst the cell phone country's best value Android phone. It has a beautiful 4-inch Super AMOLED display, a dual-core 1.5GHz processor, a great 5-megapixel camera, and a front-facing camera to boot. Read the full review of the Pantech Burst.
Samsung Focus Flash (AT&T), November 4, 2011
Another $50-at-launch phone with a Super AMOLED screen, the Focus Flash is a terrific budget Windows Phone with the complete package: dual cameras, a fast 1.4GHz processor, and a surprisingly strong speakerphone. I also like the classy design and the support for HSPA+, which was AT&T's fastest data network before it launched LTE, after the phone's release. Read the full review of the Samsung Focus Flash.
Pantech Breakout (Verizon), September 21, 2011
Pantech knows how to create some solid design and good value. The Breakout's LTE-capability proves that a little can go a long way. There are some problems with the camera on the Android 2.3 Gingerbread phone, but the call quality is a plus. Read the full review of the Pantech Breakout.
Looking for specs and pricing? Compare these phones head-to-head.