Best prepaid phones of 2021

From 5G connectivity to foldable screens, phone manufacturers are innovating faster than ever to capitalize on many carriers’ unlimited data, unlimited talk and unlimited text offerings. While Samsung’s Galaxy line and Apple’s iPhone are many people’s top smartphone choice, there are other cell phone-makers gunning for their place. Android phones with facial recognition, mobile phones with extended battery life and an increasing array of camera options make for greater competition, and all of it benefits us, giving us excellent phones to choose from at a wide range of prices and plans. 

This includes unlocked phone options and prepaid cell phone plans, where you pay for your data (prepaid unlimited data or other data service plans) and text messages or phone calls upfront, rather than with a contract plan. There are a ton of factors to consider when thinking about signing up for a prepaid phone on a prepaid plan. Will the cell phone plan cover as much as a monthly plan? Does the service provider have a solid network? Does the network support your Android phone or iPhone? Is there an activation fee? Will you have access to unlimited calling and texting? 

Read on to see what would be the best prepaid phone for you, and check out our tips on how to buy a new phone. And for more information about prepaid carrier options and service, read our comparison of best prepaid wireless plans: Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, Boost and more. We’ll keep this list of the best prepaid phones updated periodically as we review new products.


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The refined, feature-packed Note 10 Plus closes the gap with rival phones. This top-of-the-line smartphone was made for people who want the best Android. It has a killer 6.8-inch screen, an all-day battery and excellent camera tools.

Read our Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus review.

Angela Lang/CNET

Despite not having wireless charging or a headphone dongle in the box, the competitively priced OnePlus 7T is one of the first cell phones to come with Android 10. It also has three rear cameras that capture excellent photos, a lightning-quick processor and it has a smooth 90Hz display. It’s available unlocked and on T-Mobile, but it also works on AT&T and Verizon’s network. OnePlus’  7 Pro is also available unlocked from OnePlus.

Read our OnePlus 7T review.

Angela Lang/CNET

As the most wallet-friendly Galaxy S10 phone, the Galaxy S10E has a lot to offer. It’s a smaller phone, which is great for those looking for a small grip, it has a superfast Snapdragon 855 chipset and a lengthy battery life. It can also wirelessly charge other phones and accessories.

Read our Samsung Galaxy S10E review.

Angela Lang/CNET

The Pixel 3A shaves a few features off of last year’s Pixel 3: It’s not water-resistant, doesn’t have wireless charging, and it maxes out at 64GB of storage. But it adds a headphone jack and keeps the same amazing Night Sight camera that can shoot great photos in the dark. (Daytime photos look amazing, too.) It’s because of its great value that the smartphone recently earned a CNET Editors’ Choice.

Read our Google Pixel 3A review.

Angela Lang/CNET

The Moto G7 is one of the most affordable and reliable mobile phone options. Though its single speaker doesn’t offer the greatest sound, and it takes mediocre low-light photos and video, the G7 has dual rear cameras, an enduring battery and a sleek design. It also charges really quickly, which is useful when you need to juice up while on the go.

Read our Motorola Moto G7 review.

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