Smartphones get better and better every year, and prices also seem to get higher and higher. It isn’t uncommon for retail prices to climb up over the $1,000 mark, which put rather plainly — is really expensive. Not everyone needs a top of the line smartphone, but even mid-range prices sit around $500, or more.
Sometimes you just want a phone to meet some basic needs, such as keeping in touch with family and friends. You certainly don’t need a thousand-dollar phone for that, and while some may suggest otherwise, you don’t even need a $500 phone for that.
This is where you may find yourself looking for a “cheap” phone, and Swappa is here to help. You will find a wide variety of phones in the Swappa marketplace, and fortunately, that means you will be able to find phones at a wide variety of price points — even at the sub-$100 level.
Here are the seven best phones you can buy for under $100.
Best Apple iPhones under $100
The iPhone 6s is about five years old, but despite the age, it is still running the latest version of iOS. This means the phone can be updated to iOS 14. This is important because it means the phone is getting the latest updates in terms of security, but also because you will not have any issues with app compatibility. Of course, the Apple default apps such as the Phone (Dialer), Messages, Mail, and Safari will all work very well.
The iPhone 6s features include a 4.7-inch touchscreen display, and it uses a home button with Touch ID to secure your phone. Grabbing an iPhone 6s also means getting a 5MP front-facing camera which will be useful for keeping in touch using Facetime. The 12MP rear camera will also serve you well for capturing quick images to share with your loved ones.
The iPhone SE was released about 6 months after the iPhone 6s, which means it is also capable of running the newest version of iOS. The latest version is iOS 14 and this ensures your phone is secure and will not have any compatibility issues with apps downloaded from the App Store. You will also have your basics covered with the pre-installed Apple apps.
The iPhone SE looks similar to the iPhone 6s in that it also makes use of the home button with Touch ID for security. But the iPhone SE has a smaller display, and the phone is also smaller in size. The SE has a 4.0-inch touchscreen display and measurements of 4.87 (H) x 2.31 (W) x 0.30 (D) inches.
The iPhone SE is a great option to consider if you want the basics, such as being able to make and take calls, send and receive text messages and emails, and grab some pictures to share with your friends. It is also a great option if you want a smaller phone.
The iPhone 6 steps back another year, which means it has already received its final major iOS update. That said, Apple did push a special security update in November 2020. Essentially, this means that while you may not be getting some of the newer iOS 14 features — your phone will be secure.
Buying a sub-$100 phone is about getting the features you need, and not filling a wishlist. The iPhone 6 may be several years old, but it is still capable of providing everything you need in terms of daily use. You will be getting a 4.7-inch touchscreen display, a home button for Touch ID, a 1.2MP front-facing camera, and an 8MP rear-facing camera. The iPhone 6 also has access to the App Store, and the Apple default apps such as the Phone dialer, Messages, Mail, and Safari pre-installed and ready to go.
Best Android smartphones under $100
Samsung Galaxy A10e
Samsung released the Galaxy A10e in mid-2019, which is to say that you would be getting a relatively new phone. This is good news in terms of the software. The Galaxy A10e launched with Android 9.0 and has since been updated to Android 10. You will get features such as a 5.8-inch touchscreen display, 32GB of internal storage, a 5MP front-facing camera, and an 8MP rear-facing camera.
The phone is powered by the Samsung Exynos 7884 Octa processor, which will certainly meet the needs of most regular use cases. By ‘regular’ we mean making phone calls, sending messages and emails, browsing the web, watching videos, and taking pictures to share with your family and friends. Of course, the Galaxy A10e with Android 10 (or version 9) also has access to the Play Store so you can download other apps.
The Galaxy A10e is a good option to consider if you are looking for a relatively new release, that is running a recent version of Android, and with a good-sized display.
Samsung Galaxy A20
The Galaxy A20 was also released in 2019, though, it was released a few months before the Galaxy A10e. In fact, there are some similarities between the A10e and the A20. For example, the Galaxy A20 also launched with Android 9 and has since been updated to Android 10.
Other highlight features of the Galaxy A20 include 32GB of internal storage, an 8MP camera on the front, and a 13MP camera on the back. The Galaxy A20 is powered by the Samsung Exynos 7904 Octa processor. Overall, the Galaxy A20 is going to offer performance that is similar to the Galaxy A10e, though some of the specs such as the camera are improved. The Galaxy A20 would also be the better option if you are looking for a bigger display, which is a 6.4-inch Super AMOLED display.
We should also offer a price disclaimer for the Galaxy A20. Prices will fluctuate a little based on availability, and condition. However, this model is currently sitting about a few dollars above our $100 price limit.
Google Pixel 2
The Pixel 2 was originally released in October 2018, which means you would be getting a relatively new phone. The Pixel 2 is currently running the latest version of Android, which is Android 11. Google has said they no longer guarantee any version updates after October 2020, which means it could stay with Android 11. But on the brighter side, Google has also said that all Pixel phones will get security updates for three years from the time it was released.
Software aside, the Pixel 2 has a great set of specs that include a 5-inch display, Snapdragon 835 processor, and options for either 64GB or 128GB of internal storage. These specs are plenty powerful for everyday use and make this a phone that is certainly worthy of consideration.
One key aspect of the Pixel phones, including the Pixel 2, is the camera. The Pixel 2 has an 8MP camera on the front, which will be good for video chatting and capturing a quick selfie. The rear camera is a 12.2MP, and the camera-related features include goodies such as HDR+ processing and Night Sight.
Google Pixel 2 XL
Almost all of what we said about the Pixel 2 applies to the Pixel 2 XL, except it arrives in a bigger size. The hardware specs, the fact that it is running Android 11, and the camera features are the same. The overall size of the phone is bigger due to the display. The Pixel 2 has a 5-inch display and the Pixel 2 XL display is 6-inches.
Overall, the Google Pixel 2 is a great phone, and you should consider the Pixel 2 if you want the smaller size, or the Pixel 2 XL if you want the bigger size.
What is the best cheap phone you can buy for under $100
People often like to hear “this specific model is the best” or “that specific model is the one you should buy.” But there really isn’t a single best phone in the under $100 category, or for that matter, in any price range. Instead, this is about letting you know there are lots of excellent options available if you are shopping on a budget.
Thinking about spending a bit more?
If you weren’t able to find your perfect phone in the under $100 category — you do have some options. We’ve also written round-up posts highlighting the best phones in the under-$200, under-$300, and the under-$400 price ranges.
Whichever phone you decide works best for you — take comfort in knowing that you can shop safely and securely in the Swappa marketplace. The Swappa team is available 24/7/365 if you need help, and our moderation team is always busy reviewing listings to make sure each device meets our strict listing requirements — which is to say, the moderation team makes sure no junk makes its way into the marketplace. We also encourage you to check out our 11,000+ Trustpilot reviews, which have been written by actual buyers and sellers that have used Swappa.