Greatest Pay as you go Cellphone of 2024: Worth Picks for Cheaper Plans


Up to date Dec. 25, 2023 5:00 a.m. PT

Written by 
Mike Sorrentino

Our skilled, award-winning employees selects the merchandise we cowl and rigorously researches and checks our high picks. For those who purchase via our hyperlinks, we might get a fee.

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Mike Sorrentino Senior Editor

Mike Sorrentino is a Senior Editor for Cellular, protecting telephones, texting apps and smartwatches — obsessing about how we are able to benefit from them. Mike additionally retains a watch out on the film and toy business, and out of doors of labor enjoys biking and pizza making.

Experience Telephones, texting apps, iOS, Android, smartwatches, health trackers, cell equipment, gaming telephones, funds telephones, toys, Star Wars, Marvel, Energy Rangers, DC, cell accessibility, iMessage, WhatsApp, Sign, RCS

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$270 at OnePlus

OnePlus Nord N30 5G and its 50W charger.

Greatest funds choice for beneath $300

OnePlus Nord N30 5G

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Pay as you go telephone carriers are continually touting mobile phone plan offers and promotions, in some instances providing plans that value considerably lower than what’s supplied by Verizon, AT&T and T-Cellular. Nevertheless it’s useful to understand how pay as you go and conventional carriers work when trying to find the perfect worth in reasonably priced plans.

Generally, pay as you go telephone operators are owned by or carefully affiliated with the three main carriers. This implies telephones that work on postpaid plans usually additionally work on pay as you go plans. As an example, T-Cellular is the proprietor of Mint Cellular, AT&T owns Cricket and Seen is owned by Verizon Wi-fi. Different pay as you go telephone carriers like Increase Cellular and Google Fi present clients with entry to those self same networks, and additional differentiate themselves via aggressive pricing and perks. This enables for lots of flexibility relating to discovering a telephone to make use of on a pay as you go plan, as a result of practically any unlocked telephone will be introduced over.

Nonetheless many of those pay as you go telephone carriers promote gadgets too, and whereas their promotions aren’t essentially anyplace near a “free iPhone,” you may doubtlessly get smaller reductions off the acquisition of a tool whereas switching to a pay as you go telephone service. So in forming this checklist for the perfect pay as you go telephones, we took into consideration gadgets which can be accessible instantly from pay as you go carriers alongside value-filled telephones that may be bought unlocked.

See extra: Greatest pay as you go telephone plans

What’s the greatest pay as you go telephone of 2024?

Like with any telephone alternative, the perfect machine goes to depend upon what you might be valuing probably the most out of your telephone as a communication machine and as a digital camera. Nonetheless, if machine value is probably the most delicate situation alongside getting a less expensive pay as you go telephone plan, then the $200 Samsung Galaxy A14 5G is the choice I can most advocate. 

Whereas pay as you go telephone carriers do supply even cheaper telephone choices than the Galaxy A14, this Samsung telephone is the lowest-cost method to get a tool that features 5G compatibility and NFC for contactless funds. Samsung can be offering the A14 with two main software program updates (the primary of which can be primarily based on Android 14 launched in late 2023) together with 5 years of safety updates, making it a safe telephone to make use of for a number of years. That mentioned, the machine is just a little sluggish in efficiency and the digital camera is not nice, but when value is the best precedence then the A14 is in any other case a fantastic entry-level choice for a pay as you go telephone plan.

Greatest pay as you go telephones of 2024

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The $200 Samsung Galaxy A14 5G is among the most useful telephones beneath $200 accessible proper now. Though it is at a budget-friendly value, this Samsung telephone consists of 5G help for sooner knowledge and NFC for contactless funds utilizing Google Pockets. Whereas each of these options are highlights for this value vary, Samsung can be planning to help the Galaxy A14 with two years of software program updates and 5 years of safety updates, making it a telephone that can be secure to make use of for a number of years.

Nonetheless you must nonetheless remember that the telephone does have tradeoffs to hit its $200 value. It has a colorless design, a slower processor and combined pictures efficiency. 

But regardless of its points, the options it does embody make it a simple advice in case you are shopping for the telephone outright or if it is supplied without spending a dime with a service subsidy deal.


  • NFC for contactless pay
  • 90Hz refresh fee
  • Good software program and safety replace timeline


  • Sluggish efficiency
  • Blended pictures
  • Single audio speaker

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The $300 OnePlus Nord N30 5G consists of plenty of options for the cash, however its 50W charging velocity is a standout for this value vary. The telephone can cost from 0% to 100% in 45 minutes, and most different telephones that value $300 or much less want 90 minutes to 2 hours to do the identical factor. Its giant 6.72-inch 1080p show that runs at a 120Hz refresh fee additionally makes apps, video games, web sites and streaming video animate easily.

Nonetheless it is value calling out that the 108-megapixel fundamental digital camera — regardless of being an astounding megapixel quantity on a telephone — takes images which can be solely marginally higher than what I often see from telephones on this value vary. Meaning it will possibly take good, detail-filled images in outside settings with loads of mild. Nonetheless images taken in darker settings are a wrestle for the N30, with indoor images wanting washed out or blurry.

The telephone will even solely get one software program replace to Android 14 (launched in late 2023) together with three years of safety updates — which is a mean timeline for this value vary but nonetheless disappointingly brief.


  • Actually quick charging
  • Giant 120Hz refresh fee display screen
  • NFC for contactless funds


  • Blended pictures
  • Quick software program replace timeline

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Google’s funds telephone took a leap ahead in 2023 with the $499 Pixel 7A, which provides most of the identical advantages because the Pixel 7 however at a less expensive value. Just like the Pixel 7, the Pixel 7A runs on Google’s Tensor G2 processor, which means it has most of the identical picture modifying and language translation options as its pricier sibling. The Pixel 7A’s 64-megapixel digital camera additionally takes glorious images that rival the Pixel 7’s in high quality. 

An particularly good perk in regards to the Pixel 7A is its software program replace timeline: It is going to get three years of software program updates (the primary of which is Android 14 launched in late 2023) and 5 years of safety updates. On high of that, the 7A can be among the many first Android gadgets to get these software program updates, with Google in a position to push them on to its Pixel telephones alongside Characteristic Drops that add options all year long.


  • Wonderful digital camera
  • Lots of the identical options because the Pixel 7 at a less expensive value
  • Engaging design
  • Positive aspects wi-fi charging, face unlock and excessive refresh fee


  • Display nonetheless seems dim open air
  • Larger value in contrast with Pixel 6A at launch

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Samsung revived its FE line of gadgets this yr with the $600 Samsung Galaxy S23 FE. The brand new telephone largely takes the perfect specs of the Samsung Galaxy S22, together with a quick (albeit two-year-old) Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor alongside a 50-megapixel fundamental digital camera, and locations it inside a colourful aluminum physique that highlights a 6.4-inch 1080p show.

It ends in a telephone that gives an entry-level value for a tool that options Samsung’s higher-end options, which embody the desktop-optimized DeX mode and reverse wi-fi charging.

Whereas researching my evaluate of the Samsung Galaxy S23 FE, I discovered it supplies a pleasant step up from Samsung’s A-series of telephones with its energy and pictures. Nonetheless, similar to with the Galaxy S22, I did discover that the Galaxy S23 FE’s battery life is shorter than I would like throughout my testing, however its 25W wired charging can assist for a fast noon cost when wanted.


  • Quick efficiency
  • Lower cost for higher-end options
  • Low-light pictures


  • Battery life
  • Feels just like the Galaxy S22, for higher and worse

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Apple’s $599 iPhone 13 is at present probably the most up-to-date but reasonably priced choice the corporate provides in its telephone lineup, which features a bigger 6.1-inch display screen with Face ID, 128GB of storage and the entire options included in iOS 17. Whereas you may get a new iPhone SE at $429 that features the identical processor because the iPhone 13 with many equal options, it does so within a dated design that features a smaller 4.7-inch display screen and a relatively small 64GB of space for storing.

Along with the iPhone 13’s bigger measurement, the telephone is reportedly going to obtain help for Qi2 wi-fi charging, in accordance with 9to5Mac. Ought to that turn into official, it should imply the iPhone 13 can be appropriate with a wave of sooner wi-fi chargers which can be anticipated to hit the market in 2024, alongside the telephone’s current help for Apple’s MagSafe line of wi-fi chargers.

Whereas I would wish to see Apple carry again a $499 iPhone choice — maybe by reviving the iPhone Mini design — for now Apple’s $599 iPhone 13 is among the lower-priced methods to purchase a larger-screen iPhone in new situation and get entry to Apple’s providers like iMessage.


  • Runs Apple’s latest iOS 17 and consists of iMessage and FaceTime entry
  • Good cameras with Cinematic mode
  • Magnetic wi-fi charging and equipment with MagSafe


  • Show notch is noticeable a part of show
  • Comparably priced Android telephones embody newer options and specs

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Whereas pay as you go telephone carriers promote all kinds of telephones — together with many flagship telephones from yesteryear — for our greatest pay as you go telephones checklist, I’ve centered the picks on telephones which can be at present accessible unlocked from a telephone maker along with telephones you should buy instantly from a service. That is partly due to software program and safety updates — every of those picks will obtain not less than one main software program replace and not less than three years of safety updates, which prolong the lifespan of those telephones. 

It is an vital distinction, as a result of although you should buy a tool just like the Google Pixel 3A XL from Mint Cellular for $130, that machine is not receiving safety updates. This implies the telephone is not as secure to make use of as a lower-cost machine that’s nonetheless receiving lively vulnerability safety from its telephone maker.

Because of this most picks on this checklist are telephones which have been launched inside 2023, except for Apple’s iPhone 13. It is because Apple’s telephones traditionally obtain a few years of software program and safety help — for example whereas Apple just lately sundown main iOS software program updates to 2017’s iPhone X and iPhone 8, each gadgets are nonetheless receiving safety updates. This enables us to be fairly assured that Apple can be offering many extra years of software program and safety updates to the iPhone 13, even because the machine enters its third yr available on the market. 

Discovering the appropriate value is essential: A profit to getting a pay as you go telephone plan over postpaid is that by shopping for your service upfront, you will not in any other case be caught on a contract nor do you have to get a credit score test so as to join a mobile phone plan. Nonetheless, it does imply that you’re unlikely to obtain a deep low cost off of your subsequent machine while you aren’t bringing over an current one, since many telephone carriers supply hefty machine subsidy incentives when signing up with a brand new postpaid plan or renewing an current one. Which means machine value goes to be a vital situation when shopping for a telephone to make use of on a pay as you go plan, since you might be footing all the invoice. 

Goal your most vital wants: You will wish to determine whether or not you want a less expensive machine that covers your whole important capabilities or in case you are OK with springing for a dearer machine with extra capabilities. 

Bear in mind to buy round: Whereas many US telephone purchases are made via a telephone service, most pay as you go telephone plans embody a bring-your-own-device choice. This implies you do not have to purchase your handset from a pay as you go telephone service to enroll with them, which is useful in case you have one already or particularly in case you discover a deal at one other retailer for a similar machine. After buy, you’ll as an alternative join a plan along with your pay as you go service and observe their instructions for organising your machine with their service. 

Ensure you purchase a appropriate machine: Though you do not have to purchase your telephone from a pay as you go service, you do want to ensure the telephone you buy is appropriate with it. As an example, in case you are shopping for a telephone to make use of on Mint Cellular, you will wish to guarantee that it is a machine that is appropriate with T-Cellular’s community. Similar with Cricket, working on AT&T. Similar with Seen, working on Verizon. Most pay as you go carriers will inform you what networks their service runs on, and that can show you how to match up what machine you want from there.

Each telephone on this checklist has been completely examined by CNET’s skilled opinions group. We use the telephone, take a look at the options, play video games and take images. We assess any advertising and marketing guarantees that an organization makes about its telephones. And if we discover one thing we do not like, be it battery life or construct high quality, we inform you about it. 

We look at each side of a telephone throughout testing:

  • Show
  • Design and really feel
  • Processor efficiency
  • Battery life
  • Digital camera high quality
  • Options

We take a look at all of the telephone’s cameras (each back and front) in quite a lot of circumstances: from open air beneath daylight to dimmer indoor locales and nighttime scenes (for any accessible night time modes). We additionally evaluate our findings in opposition to equally priced fashions. We now have a collection of actual world battery checks to see how lengthy a telephone lasts beneath on a regular basis use.

We take note of extra telephone options like 5G, fingerprint and face readers, styluses, quick charging, foldable shows and different helpful extras. We weigh all our experiences and testing in opposition to the value so you recognize whether or not a telephone represents good worth.

Learn extra: How we take a look at telephones

Samsung Galaxy A14 5G vs. OnePlus Nord N30 5G vs. Google Pixel 7A vs. Samsung Galaxy S23 FE vs. Apple iPhone 13

Samsung Galaxy A14 5G OnePlus Nord N30 5G Google Pixel 7A Samsung Galaxy S23 FE Apple iPhone 13
Show measurement, decision 6.6-inch FHD+ LCD show, (1,400 x 1,080 pixels), 90Hz 6.72-inch FHD (1080p decision); 120Hz refresh fee 6.1-inch OLED; 2,400×1,080 pixels; 60/90Hz 6.4-inch AMOLED show; 2,340 x 1,080 pixels; adaptive 120Hz refresh fee (60-120Hz) 6.1-inch OLED; 2,532×1,170 pixels
Pixel density 268 ppi 391 ppi 361 ppi 466 ppi 460 ppi
Dimensions (inches) 6.6 x 3.07 x 0.36 in. 6.51 x 2.99 x 0.32 in. 6.00 x 2.87 x 0.35 in. 6.22 x 3.01 x 0.32 in. 5.78 x 2.82 x 0.3 in.
Dimensions (millimeters) 167.6 x 77.9 x 9.1mm 165.5 x 76 x 8.3mm 73 x 152 x 9.0mm 157.9 x 76.4 x 8.1mm 147 x 72 x 7.65mm
Weight (ounces, grams) 203g (7.19 oz.) 195g (6.97 oz.) 193g (6.81 oz.) 209g (7.4 oz.) 6.14 oz.; 174g
Cellular software program Android 13 Android 13 Android 13 Android 13 iOS 15
Digital camera 50-megapixel (fundamental), 2-megapixel (macro), 2-megapixel (depth) 108-megapixel fundamental, 2-megapixel macro, 2-megapixel depth sensing 64-megapixel (fundamental), 13-megapixel (ultrawide) 50-megapixel (large), 12-megapixel (ultrawide), 8-megapixel (telephoto) 12-megapixel (large), 12-megapixel (ultrawide)
Entrance-facing digital camera 13-megapixel 16-megapixel 13-megapixel, 4K @ 30fps 10-megapixel 12-megapixel
Video seize 1080p at 30fps 1080p at 30fps 4K at 30/60fps 8K at 24fps, 4K at 60fps HDR video recording with Dolby Imaginative and prescient as much as 4K at 60 fps
Processor MediaTek MT6833V Qualcomm Snapdragon 695 Tensor G2 Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 Apple A15 Bionic
RAM/Storage 4GB + 64GB 8GB + 128GB 8GB + 128GB 8GB + 128GB, 256GB 128GB, 256GB, 512GB
Expandable storage Sure Sure None No No
Battery/Charger 5,000 mAh 5,000 mAh (50W wired charging) 4,385 mAh (18W quick charging 7.5W wi-fi charging) 4,500 mAh (25W wired charging) Battery capability not disclosed (20W wired charging, 15W MagSafe wi-fi charging)
Fingerprint sensor Facet Facet In-display In-display No (Face ID)
Connector USB-C USB-C USB-C USB-C Lightning
Headphone jack Sure Sure None No No
Particular options 5G-enabled, NFC, 15W charging 50W SuperVooc quick charging, 108-megapixel fundamental digital camera, recreation mode, twin stereo audio system 5G (5G sub6 / mmWave), IP67 ranking, 18W quick charging, 7.5W wi-fi charging Wi-fi PowerShare, Quick Wi-fi Charging 2.0, Samsung Knox with Samsung Knox Vault, IP68 water resistance 5G enabled; MagSafe; water-proof (IP68); wi-fi charging; dual-SIM capabilities (nano-SIM and e-SIM)
Worth off-contract (USD) $200 $300 $499, $549 (mmW) $600 $599 (128GB), $699 (256GB), $899 (512GB)
Worth (GBP) £179 Converts to £238 £449 £599 £599 (128GB), £699 (256GB), £899 (512GB)
Worth (AUD) AU$379 Converts to AU$443 AU$749 AU$1,099 AU$1,099 (128GB), AU$1,299 (256GB), AU$1,649 (512GB)

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