Prepaid Android phones you can buy now (roundup)

No contracts? No problem. CNET takes a look at some of the best prepaid handsets for Android users that let you talk, text, and surf the Web without any carrier commitments.

Editors' note: This post was originally published November 6, 2012, and is updated continually.

As more users become frustrated with carrier contracts and early termination fees, many have sought prepaid plans to liberate themselves from restrictive two-year agreements. After all, two years is a long time to be tied down, especially if you're unsatisfied with your carrier's network or coverage.

To help you navigate the waters of the prepaid seas, we gathered some of the most impressive off-contract Android handsets in the past months. Unlike flagships or other high-end devices that are available across many networks, most of these mid-tier phones listed below are exclusive to prepaid carriers only, and sport an ultracompetitive price tag.

One tough cookie: The L90 has a "self-healing" battery door that fends off scratches and scuffs. James Martin/CNET

LG Optimus L90 (T-Mobile), June 2014

LG is no stranger to making reliable midrange handsets, and the Optimus L90 is a great example of that. This device features a sizeable 2,460mAh battery that lasted more than 16 hours for continuous video playback, a bright 4.7-inch display, and a "self-healing" coat that protects its backside against everyday scratches. Read the full LG Optimus L90 review.

The compact Galaxy Light packs 4G LTE in your pocket. Josh Miller/CNET

Samsung Galaxy Light (T-Mobile), February 2014

Don't let the Galaxy Light's petite size underwhelm you. For $240, this handset serves up 4G LTE speeds, strong call quality, and a 1.4GHz quad-core processor that delivers a reliable and smooth user experience. Plus, you'll get signature goodies from Samsung's TouchWiz UI, like Smart Screen and gesture controls. Read the full Samsung Galaxy Light review.

ZTE Warp 4G
Equipped with clear call quality and a solid design, the Warp 4G goes big on value. Sarah Tew/CNET

ZTE Boost Warp 4G, October 2013

Currently priced at $149, the Warp 4G's main draw is its off-contract value. For Boost Mobile users, the handset features 4G data, a decent 8-megapixel camera, and a competent Snapdragon 400 processor. In addition, its removable 2,070mAh battery managed to last 9 hours for our video playback test. Read the full ZTE Boost Warp 4G review.

Take the Hydro Vibe the next time you're at the beach and want a good dunking. Josh Miller/CNET

Kyocera Hydro Vibe (Virgin Mobile), May 2014

Virgin's $99 Hydro Vibe 4G LTE isn't one to shy away from water. Certified to satisfy IPX5 and IPX7 standards for water resistance, the handset can be submerged in up to a meter of water for 30 minutes. It also has an Easy Mode UI setting for first-time smartphone users, and an 8-megapixel camera. Read the full Kyocera Hydro Vibe review.

This handset offers Android 4.1 for under $100 and 4G LTE. Josh Miller/CNET

ZTE Overture (Cricket Wireless), October 2013

The Overture is available for regional carrier Cricket Wireless, and doesn't look like much at first glance. But for $99 without a contract, it features a dual-core processor, a 4-inch display, and a 5-megapixel camera. Read the full ZTE Overture review.

About the author

Lynn La is CNET's associate editor for cell phone and smartphone news and reviews. Prior to coming to CNET, she wrote for the Sacramento Bee and was a staff editor at Macworld. In addition to covering technology, she has reported on health, science, and politics.


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