Dirt cheap goodies: reliable smartphones for under and around $100

Dirt cheap goodies: reliable smartphones for under and around $100
Welcome to the era of smartphones under and around $100. What do we mean? Just look at how smartphone prices have gone down this year, and you’d notice an interesting development: gone are the times when you needed to spend a fortune to get a decent smartphone experience.

Just a year ago, you’d have found it hard to get a smooth-running smartphone at such a low price. In late 2014, two things have happened: prices of some great devices have gone down dramatically, and manufacturers have rolled out brand new devices at previously unheard of prices.

That’s why we’ve picked some of these cheap phones that are not just underpowered gadgets that are barely usable (such phones are still out there). Instead, we tried to select smartphones that cost under and around $100 from phone makers you’ve actually heard and that deliver a satisfactory experience. Take a look below.


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22 Comments

1. ABC_123

Posts: 49; Member since: Jul 11, 2014

No zenfone 4?

2. ihavenoname

Posts: 1693; Member since: Aug 18, 2013

iPhone 3GS hell no. Hell m*therf*cking no. I can understand why people choose 4S, but 3GS is not a good phone at all. And if somebody picks one up just to get hands on App Store, he/she is gonna have awful time with that SLOOOOOOOOOOW processor, resolution from feature phone and a quarter GB of RAM. Not to mention app compability issues.

5. elitewolverine

Posts: 5192; Member since: Oct 28, 2013

I could say the same for alot of low cost droids, like the Prism (bane of low phones existence) and some others. Point being though it was once a flagship, by todays standards it is very much a entry phone that will be the same pace as most phones in its price range. They could include the new windows Blu Phone for 89, comes with earbuds, case, screen protectors etc.

6. shuaibhere

Posts: 1986; Member since: Jul 07, 2012

"by todays standards it is very much a entry phone" Hell,no.... It's not even a feature phone by todays standards.... Entry phones like moto e, zenfone 4,redmi 1s are 10x better than ip3gs....

9. domfonusr

Posts: 1083; Member since: Jan 17, 2014

Once a smartphone, always a smartphone. I still consider the Nokia E75 to be a smartphone, even though it ran Symbian and had worse specs than the iPhone 3GS... I really liked my E75 while I had it. Granted, we now live in a world of monster phablets, because it is now 2014 rather than 2009, but that doesn't relegate an old smartphone into being "just a featurephone." They were still smartphones... they were just from way back in 2009 and such and so on.

12. hurrycanger

Posts: 1759; Member since: Dec 01, 2013

It's even worse than the Lumia 521 if you ask me, which phone is only $50 now. It's just... to basic to be a reliable smartphone. And there are the Lumia 630, 635, Galaxy Light, Lg F3, F6, L90, etc. They can be found cheaper than $150 brand new, yet they offer much more than that old 3gs. As for that Blu phone, idk. Blu phones are usually cheaply poorly built and they don't last. From a small company that probably doesn't sell many units relatively, there are too many faulty devices and devices that fail in the first few months. All their previous phones were just rebranded cheap chinese phones. BLU phones maybe worth trying for curious people, but I would never call them reliable. Well, maybe when they get better hardware, I will change my mind. Actually, the Vivo IV seems to be a nicely built device (same as the Gionne S5.5), but the battery life of that thing is miserable.

13. elitewolverine

Posts: 5192; Member since: Oct 28, 2013

From their last unboxing on wpcentral it looked really good, plus all the 'goodies' you get with the phone. I would choose a 521 or Blue myself if i wanted the ultimate low cost device, especially with 8.1.

14. hurrycanger

Posts: 1759; Member since: Dec 01, 2013

Yup, 521 is definitely a better choice imo, even if the BLU were priced at $50 to compete. The only thing I don't like about it comparing to this Blu phone is the sharp edges in the front. The 521 is freaking uncomfortable to hold and use with one hand. And I just checked out that unboxing video. Not bad. But it's just about the same with the 2 BLU phones I got before (Life Play and Studio 5.5s), so no surprise. The accessories in the box are super cheap anyway, like a $1 case and $0.33 screen protector. Oh and the 521 has much more storage. I cannot live with 1.5gb available internal storage anymore. xD

15. elitewolverine

Posts: 5192; Member since: Oct 28, 2013

8.1 makes that irrelevant. While supper cheap, most people will spend 10-30 to get the accessories. Though I don't get the sharp edge complaint nor do I use a case on my 521. I love my 521, I recommend it everyday, but long lasting is not how I would describe the feel by any means. The main advantage is the camera you can play with, but the blu still kind of beats it there imo. Hard call and cant go wrong with either throw away device.

19. hurrycanger

Posts: 1759; Member since: Dec 01, 2013

I usually hate to use case, so yea. I don't like the idea that it's okay for a phone to feel uncomfortable in hand unless you use a case. I mean... why do I HAVE TO use a case? xD I actually have similar complaint over the HTC One M8. Using it without a case is just... not good. I can go naked with the Galaxy Mega 6.3, but not the M8. The good thing is the case I got for it is not too bulky, it looks cool, and quite a few people didn't even know it was a case. Oh, and 8.1 makes what irrelevant? I don't get that.

17. Kaiser2007

Posts: 173; Member since: Nov 16, 2013

Galaxy Light is now $100. Great phone.

18. hurrycanger

Posts: 1759; Member since: Dec 01, 2013

Yep, that thing is great, too. I had it, but now my gf is using it. She just lost her phone. xD The Galaxy Light has NFC (with NFC payment), LTE, and better speaker, while the LG L90 has a bigger and better display color (no NFC, no LTE). The L90 feels lighter while it's bigger, which is nice. I really believe both these two phones are the best in that price range.

3. stuyjcp

Posts: 31; Member since: Apr 29, 2012

iPhone 3GS can be had for far less than $150 (as low as $50). Swappa, eBay.

10. domfonusr

Posts: 1083; Member since: Jan 17, 2014

Yeah, but they are all used, I am sure. Who in their right mind would hang onto an iPhone 3GS for five years, after having paid for it, and never open the box?

4. lolatfailphones

Posts: 224; Member since: Apr 08, 2013

Phonearena had to squeeze in an apple product no matter how dumb they'll look.

7. vananucho

Posts: 83; Member since: Jun 01, 2011

This article is stupid. You put the 3GS as a viable option when you cant even get it new right now (because we all know that is almost impossible get it 5 years after its launch sealed in box) taking that in account, then there are better, least outdated and cheaper options if we go to the preowned phones market, like the Droid RAZR M (~$80) or the LG F3 (~$90), both proper midrange phones with android Kit Kat, snapdragon S4 chipsets & dual cameras.

11. domfonusr

Posts: 1083; Member since: Jan 17, 2014

Agreed. But... the LG F3 got KitKat? And my lousy LG Viper (predecessor to the F3) is stuck with ICS... couldn't it at least have gotten Jelly Bean, or been rootable so I could put CyanogenMod on it?

8. hurrycanger

Posts: 1759; Member since: Dec 01, 2013

I wanna add LG L90, priced at only $100 without contract on T-Mobile. It has a very good 540p 4.7" scree, snapdragon 400 quad 1.2ghz, both front and back cameras, and Android KitKat out of the box.

16. HoPhonTab

Posts: 36; Member since: Jun 03, 2014

LoL here in my country the asus zenfone 4 is just under $99 without contract Asus zenfone 4 have 1600mah,intel dual core,1GB Ram and 5 Mp

20. Titania

Posts: 21; Member since: Dec 20, 2013

No Moto G ?

21. ViewFromTheTop

Posts: 28; Member since: Sep 08, 2014

The Moto G costs $180 in the US (unlocked) and $220 in India, so no, it ain't a $100 unlocked phone. The best unlocked phone for exactly $100 currently (in India at least) is the Xiaomi Redmi 1S (Snapdragon 400 MSM 8228 quad@1.6Ghz, 1GB RAM, 8GB ROM, 720p 4.7" IPS screen, 8MP/2MP cams with 1080p recording and a whole host of sensors that you expect only in $600 phones). The only drawback is the absence of LTE. Failing that, the Asus Zenfone 4 (A450CG, not the A400CG) @$120 is a great option as well, 4.5" FWVGA screen, Atom Z2520 dual with HT @1.2 Ghz, 1GB, 8GB, 8MP/2MP, recording &playback @1080p, 3G. From all accounts, these phones are good enough for serious multitasking and can run highly gfx intensive games like MC4, Dead Trigger 2, RR3, Asphault 8, on high or at least medium settings without any lag, choppyness or dropped frames (check out the like review videos on YT) So within a year I assume, even $50 unlocked phones might actually be pretty usable LOL!

22. darkoman4

Posts: 183; Member since: May 30, 2014

LG L90 for $97 on TMobile is the best smartphone for that price.

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