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The best prepaid phones for 2022

People often misconceive prepaid phones as being cheap and low-budget. However, these days any smartphone can be used on a prepaid plan with talk, text, and data paid for in advance. Prepaid phones free you from multiyear contracts and long-term commitments. To help you keep your smartphone plan flexible, we put together a list of our favorite phones that are often available on the prepaid market.

Samsung Galaxy S21

Samsung Galaxy S21 back in hand.

Samsung’s high-end Galaxy phones are the king of Android mobile displays. As one of the more expensive prepaid options available, you would be hard-pressed to complain about the Samsung Galaxy S21‘s bright, crisp, colorful 1080p (2400 x 1080) screen, which also offers wide viewing angles. This Samsung phone features a variable refresh rate that dynamically switches from 48Hz to 120Hz, keeping everything as smooth while simultaneously conserving battery life. The Galaxy S21 uses the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 (or Samsung’s Exynos 2100 internationally) chipset, which provides exceptional performance. While 8GB of RAM may not sound like much, our tests revealed not a single hiccup in powerful multitasking or gaming. The camera performance is almost identical to the previous S20 model, with 12-megapixel main, 12MP ultrawide, and 64MP zoom cameras grouped on the back, though enhancements to the image signal processor combined with new processing software, promise to make better use of the raw data captured. The battery is a respectable 4000mAh battery — nothing to write home about but offering good performance nonetheless.

Apple iPhone 13 Pro

Apple iPhone 13 Pro front in the hand.

Yes, you can — as in, you can have an iPhone 13 with a pre-paid plan. The iPhone 13 Pro is the best iPhone for most people who want a brand new Apple handset. It has everything you could wish for including a powerful A15 Bionic processor, 120Hz ProMotion display, nearly two days of battery life, and excellent camera performance. The iPhone 13 Pro measures 5.78 x 2.81 x 0.3 inches and weighs 7.2 ounces. The 6.1-inch Super Retina OLED screen has great color accuracy, 2532 x 1170 resolution, and 460 pixels per inch. Its sharp, bright viewing angles can hit 1,000 nits brightness, and punch up to 1,200 nits for HDR content. Outdoor visibility is excellent even in direct sunlight, and the screen also supports HDR10 and Dolby Vision. The 120Hz ProMotion variable display lets Apple boost the refresh rate from 60Hz to 120Hz for different kinds of content. The iPhone 13 Pro has an excellent camera array composed of three 12MP sensors: A 12MP wide-angle, a 12MP telephoto, and a 12MP ultrawide that can take 120-degree snaps.

Apple iPhone SE (2020)

iPhone SE 2020 Screen Front
Andy Boxall/DigitalTrends

Alright, so it’s basically an iPhone 8 with some upgraded innards, but don’t let that put you off the iPhone SE (2020). The 2020 refresh of 2016’s iPhone SE is an exceptional iPhone, with a powerful processor, slick iOS 15, and a great camera. Yes, it has a dated design and only sports a single camera lens in the rear module, but if that doesn’t put you off, then this $400 marvel is well worth buying outright if you want a cheaper iPhone that will last for years. While it doesn’t have the low-light mode of more expensive iPhones, the single 12MP shooter takes excellent photos, and the A13 processor will handle anything you can throw at it. The battery life is perhaps its weakest point, and heavy users may find it giving out towards the end of the day, but it’s otherwise a solid all-day battery life.

Google Pixel 5a

Google Pixel 5a front.

The Google Pixel 5a is a smart and solid choice — and now the lineup comes with IP67 water and dust resistance, meaning the Pixel 5a can withstand a complete dunking in water, splashes, and rain, or a day at the beach. It has a 6.34-inch, 2400 x 1080 resolution OLED screen with a 20:9 aspect ratio and pixel density at 413 pixels per inch (ppi). Viewing angles are great both indoors and outdoors, with maximum brightness so videos, games, and text look equally crisp. The Pixel 5a  is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G processor with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage. With a 4,680mAh cell, it’s one of the beefier batteries, withstanding one-and-a-half to two days of regular use. There’s no wireless charging, but you get 18 watts of fast wired charging with the included adapter. Over time, the phone also learns your app usage and habits with its Adaptive Battery feature. From a photography point of view, the Google Pixel 5a doesn’t disappoint. The primary sensor is a 12.2MP camera with a 16MP ultrawide camera that has a 117-degree field of view. The 8MP front camera functions passably for selfies and video.

Motorola Moto G Power 2021

Moto G Power 2021 portrait.

The Moto G Power 2021 is a low-priced phone with a glossy, curved plastic back and frame and some very nice touches for a $200-range price point. It has a stripped-down software experience of almost-stock Android that’s appealing for users who seek ease of use. Its 6.6-inch 720p-resolution screen is nothing to write home about, but it’s still easy to read with respectable brightness. The Moto G Power operates with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 662 processor, coupled with either 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage in the base model. There’s also a microSD card slot for expanded storage. It comes packed with a massive 5,000mAh battery — one of the best reasons to buy it. You can likely get two days of use out of the device, and even into a third day for some. The Moto G Power supports fast charging of up to 15W, but there’s no wireless charging. This model has a triple-lens camera featuring a 48MP main camera with an f/1.7 aperture (effective output of 12MP given the quad pixel tech) and a 2MP macro camera and a 2MP depth camera.

Motorola Moto G Play

Motorola Moto G Play front.

If you need to keep your expenses down, but you still want a smartphone with all the fixings, consider the Moto G Play. It is designed as an excellent value, which sets you back only $170. As expected, it doesn’t have the highest specs — a Qualcomm Snapdragon 460 processor, coupled with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage — but it makes up for that somewhat with a huge 5,000mAh battery, a modern design, and a popular edge-to-edge display. The LCD display measures a large 6.5 inches and at 720p it does the job. OK, so colors aren’t especially vivid, and there’s no high refresh rate, but for everyday use, it works just fine. A microSD card slot lets you expand the storage, while on the back, there’s a respectable dual-camera system with one 13MP main camera with an f/2.0 aperture, and a 2MP depth sensor. In good lighting, you’ll be proud of your shots.

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