Back to school smartphones under $100 (Gallery)

Back to school smartphones under $100 (Gallery)

Summary: While high end smartphones run $200 to $300, there are plenty of options from free to $100. This gallery shows you two smartphones from each of the four major carriers that your student might want to consider.


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  • T-Mobile Nokia Lumia 521

    The new Nokia Lumia 521 on T-Mobile is an amazing value at only $144 full retail price or $6/month for 24 months. The Windows Phone 8 OS is extremely responsive and since it is a Nokia device there are a ton of software and service options included.

    I believe lower cost Windows Phones offer more than old iPhones and cheap Android smartphones and recommend this for T-Mobile customers.

  • AT&T HTC First

    It is debatable whether or not the official Facebook phone, the HTC First is a desirable product or not, but at just 99 cents (with contract) it is tough to beat this device on AT&T. The HTC First is a solid Android smartphone and with a focus on the Facebook experience students and parents may appreciate the functionality.

    You can always turn off the Facebook parts and end up with a near pure Google experience. The HTC First has a dual core 1.4 GHz processor, 16GB storage, 1GB RAM, 5 megapixel camera, and attractive, well-designed form factor.

  • AT&T LG Optimus G Pro

    I was personally very impressed with the LG Optimus G Pro and was surprised to see it already down to just $99.99 on AT&T.

    The LG Optimus G Pro is a large 5.5 inch display device with a ton of capability packed in. It has a quad-core 1.7 GHz processor, 13 megapixel camera, note taking capability, and a ton more. This is a device that can serve as a portable tablet for a student, as well as their primary phone.

Topics: Mobility, Android, HTC, Nokia, Samsung, Smartphones, AT&T, Verizon, Windows Phone

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  • T-Mobile Lumia 521

    FYI: WalMart has the Nokia 521 for $129, and occasionally runs it on sale for $99. Great basic smartphone, too.
  • What's the deal on price?

    Back in spring I got two Lumia 920s with two wireless chargers from AT&T for $100. Yes, they are on a shared contract for two years, but you're going to be paying for monthly access anyway. We recently added a Samsung Galaxy S4 Active to the contract for a teenager that just had to have the latest trendy Android thing. I don't remember if it cost $200 or $300, but it was way overpriced. And it's given the teenager in question nothing but trouble and the battery life is awful. My wife and I have had no trouble whatsoever with the Lumias.
    Sir Name
  • Lumia 928...

    ...just went to $0 on Verizon. It was down to $49, after initially being $99. I don't know why Verizon is selling the 822 for $19.99 when the 928 is free? I bought the 822 at Best Buy in December for $0 (with an Amazon price match). It is still available on Amazon for free on contract.
  • ATT GoPhone

    Lumia 520 is supposedly $99. Not sure if it is unlocked so it can be used on TMobile, too.
  • You forgot about BlackBerry.

    The BlackBerry Z10 is selling for $99.00.
  • Phone only price?

    I think it would be much better to compare phones when the plan is taken into account, for example $1200/yr. vs. $800/yr.
  • Saving $100 on a phone is saving 5% not 50%

    Don't look at this as $100 vs $200 - look at it as $2100 vs $2200. By the time your done paying for 2 years of monthly bills it's going to cost you over $2000 to own that phone.

    So if you can afford that much, then don't save a measly $100 to get an inferior phone - pony up the money. And if you can't afford the $100, you shouldn't get a smart phone at any price.
    • or switch to t-mobile and save $500

      2.5gb/mo plan - $1440 ($60x24)
      lumia 521 - $150
      • 500MB

        And the 500MB plan works well for many, as you can use WiFi at home for data. Save more $$$$. I got the Nexus 4 phone from Google for $299 then the card for T-Mobile and saved a lot of bucks. I may try AT&T or Consumer Cellular some day. T-Mob is not great everywhere, but for the most part, I have decent service for $50 per mo.
  • NOT under $100

    The contract is paying the difference, so those are NOT $100 phones. The Nokia 521 may be close to that, but not the others. I got an unlocked Nexus 4 with bumper for $299 from Google Play Store -- that is a bargain. T-Mobile has some good plan prices. Next up is AT&T, which is a little more each month and they have some phones you can buy at a pretty good price. Verizon is the best perhaps, and the price reflects it and then some.
  • Lumia 521 is the only bargain in those

    Buy the Lumia 521 if you want a good phone for a low price.

    The rest wil cost you a lot more when you add the cost of the plan.
  • Cost effective

    Cost effective for the kids!
  • LG F3 on T-mobile/MetroPCS for $99

    Got youngest kinder an unlocked, no contract, $150 with a $50 mail-in rebate F3. $40 MetroPCS plan - great basic phone, LTE, front/back cameras, NFC, $10 for a 16GB SD card. I was surprised how well the Snapdragon 400 handles Android 4.1.2.

    2-year price, $1060. (oh, $1070, forgot the SD card)