Best Android Go phones: Top super cheap phones that cost under $100

Android Go is Google’s special recipe for entry-level phones to be able to support the latest versions of the Android operating system. This initiative targeting the budget segment aims to upgrade the $100 price point devices with the newest versions of the Android operating system. This includes Android Oreo and Android Pie Go edition. Recent versions of the OS make such phones secure and improve the overall experience of owning an entry-level smartphone.

What is Android Go?

Android Go is a lightweight version of the Android operating system that is designed to run on phones with underpowered hardware. The program targets emerging markets such as India and South Africa but regardless of where you live, if you can’t afford the flagship Android phones or don’t want to pay hundreds for a mobile device, you can always buy yourself an Android Go phone.

Google put up extensive work on making Android Go mobiles worthwhile. Phones running on Android Go come with less pre-installed apps and the OS its self is stripped down to such point that it enables phones with as low as 512MB of RAM and 4GB of ROM to run on Android 9 Pie (Go Edition), has some extra storage for third-party apps, and receive regular security updates.

Google’s Android Go software package includes for the first time the Google Assistant for phones with 1GB or less of RAM (Google Assistant Go), improved data saver app, Chrome app that has its own data saver and limits the access of background apps from eating up on your mobile data, a file manager app called Files Go that cleans your phone from unnecessary files.

What are Google Go apps?

Google made its part on pushing the low-tier hardware phones running Go edition of Android by designing a special edition of the Google apps. The line of Google Apps custom-designed to work smoothly on Android Go mobiles take half the space they occupy on regular Android devices, bring for the first time the Google Assistant on phones having 1GB of RAM or less, and are custom-made to better manage and save mobile data.

The list of lightweight Google-developed apps built specifically for Android Go program are:

  • Google Go
  • YouTube Go
  • Google Assistant Go
  • Gmail Go
  • Google Maps Go
  • Navigation for Google Maps Go
  • Google Play
  • Gboard
  • Chrome

These apps are minimized at such levels that installing them takes from a few megabytes to some hundreds of kilobytes. To prevent these or any other app from eating up your phone’s memory space, Google provides the File Go that aside from its purpose of managing files and folders, it is used as a cleaner that wipes out junk and cache files that build up over time.

The Chrome for Android Go comes with functions that limit the access to mobile data from the apps running in the background. Google also encourages third-party developers with a set of guidelines for developing apps that focus on battery consumption, mobile data saving, connectivity, and device compatibility that target mobiles popularized in the emerging markets.

Are Android Go phones worth it?

Aside from Google’s goal bringing the latest feature-rich and secure versions of the operating system to inexpensive Android phones, Android Go phones still remain to be expensive. Yet, Android Go is not stock Android, manufacturers receive the Go firmware and after modifying it to fit their branding they release it. If you were looking for an affordable phone that runs pure Android, you’ll be much better with an Android One phone. They might cost a little more, but their features and performance are of a whole different range.

Chinese manufacturers such as Xiaomi and Huawei have brought affordable Android phones that run on processors initially designed for upper-midrange and high-end devices. Adding some more money to your phone budget will hand you with a cost-efficient smartphone that does not have limitations on its feature supports. But that’s a decision that only you can take.

Convinced that you want to get yourself an Android Go smartphone? Here are the best options you can pick from.

Samsung Galaxy J4 Core

Samsung Galaxy J4 Core

The Galaxy J4 Core is the second Android Go Phone made by Samsung. It is an impressive revamp of the not-so-impressive and ugly J2 Core that was introduced in the summer of 2018. The new J4 Core is much larger and looks similar to the premium line of Samsung phones.

Galaxy J4 Core features a 6-inch LCD screen that comes with a resolution of 720 x 1480 pixel, it runs the Android 8.1 Oreo Go edition and gets powered by the Snapdragon 425 chipset with one gig of RAM. The built-in memory in this handset stays at 16GB with the support of storage extension of up to 512GB via the microSD card. It is the Android Go phone with the largest amount of storage expansion to date.

Regardless of its inexpensiveness, Samsung managed to implement an 8MP primary camera with an f/2.2 aperture, autofocus, and HDR. The Galaxy J4 Core earns its self the title as the Android Go mobile with the best camera amongst other standpoints. It can record relatively good videos and capture decent photography for the segment it belongs to. The 5MP sensor at the front also has an aperture of f/2.2 and an LED flash of its own.

Samsung did not insert a fingerprint sensor on this device. However, it does support two SIM cards, the headphone jack, and runs on a battery with a decent capacity of 3,300 mAh.

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BLU Vivo Go

Blu Vivo Go Android Go smartphone

Blu Vivo Go is definitely the best phone Android Go currently has in its line. It sports design patterns found in top-notch smartphones of 2019. It currently is the only dual-camera Android Go phone. Vivo Go is massive for its segment, it has a 6-inch LCD display with a resolution of 720 x 1440 pixels, it isn’t the brightest of the screens but it still isn’t really that bad.

Vivo Go runs the cost-effective Mediatek MT6739 chipset that is specifically designed to enable low-cost phones to support large screens and run the 4G LTE network smoothly. The phone equips 1GB of RAM and 16GB of flash memory, alongside that, it also supports microSD cards for storage expansion of up to 64GB.

With its design that delivers an edge-to-edge touchscreen display functionality, Blu highlights its Android Go device with two cameras on the back. The 8MP autofocus sensor has a second 0.3MP depth sensor to record 1080p videos. It has a 5MP selfie snapper at the front with an LED flash of its own. Blu’s Android Go device is the smartphone with the best camera for $100. It produces photos and videos better than any other device for the value.

The sub-$100 Vivo Go phone features a fingerprint reader on the rear, supports two SIM cards, maintains the headphone jack socket, and gets its power from a 2,600 mAh battery. With its basic hardware, it should last you through the day with one single charge.

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Nokia 2.1

Nokia 2.1 hands on review

Nokia has made a very powerful return at the smartphone business and has distributed a new series of Android-powered devices that target every segment. The Nokia 2.1 is Nokia’s second take on making a quality and affordable Android phone.

The Nokia 2 (2018) looks more like a now-obsolete Windows phone but it actually runs one of the latest versions of the Android firmware, the slimmed-down Android 8.1 Oreo. It runs the Snapdragon 425 SoC and packs 1GB of RAM with a disappointing 8GB of built-in storage. To make things better at a storage perspective, Nokia enabled this basic Android phone to support microSD cards of up to 128GB and has a dedicated slot for it.

An 8MP camera at the back and a 5MP sensor at the front is everything you’ll be getting in for photos and videos when buying yourself the Nokia 2.1 phone. This device also does not have a fingerprint sensor but does have the headphone jack. The battery, a massive unit of 4,000 mAh is probably a reason why the new Nokia 2 is worth it.

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General Mobile GM 8 Go

General Mobile GM 8 Go hands on review

General Mobile is a Turkish manufacturer that has been designing low-budget Android phones and tablets since 2005. It isn’t a popular brand in the US but it has quite a fan base in Germany. It has been a partner in Google’s Android One initiative and apparently couldn’t miss joining the Android Go program as well. Its first Android Go mobile device is the GM 8 Go, an Android featuring a 5.5-inch 720 x 1440p display that is protected by the durable glass made by Corning.

General Mobile GM8 Go runs the MediaTek MT6739 chip with one gig of RAM and 16GB of onboard memory. It houses Android 8.1 Oreo and it seems like it does not provide support for a microSD card. This phone has an excellent primary camera, its 13MP sensor has a 1.12µm pixel size and features phase detection autofocus, HDR, and an f/2.2 aperture. The 5MP snapper at the front uses software tweaks to enable the bokeh effect in selfies.

This budget mobile sports a fingerprint sensor on the rear, supports the 3.5mm earphone port and gets powered from a 3,500 mAh battery.

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Asus ZenFone Live

Asus smartphones are not all about its Rog line of gaming devices that is now enriched with the Rog phone, the best smartphone to play games with. The Taiwanese manufacturer of electronics has quality handhelds for every segment of the mobile phones market. For instance, its ZenFone Max Pro is an upper medium-range mobile that costs less than an average low-cost smartphone. The Asus ZenFone line of all-range smartphones includes one of the best-quality Android Go mobiles to date. For that matter, the ZenFone Live technically is the only Android Go phone to offer double the number of RAM found in the rest of devices.

The ZenFone Live features a standard 5.5-inch LCD screen with HD resolution and runs the Snapdragon 425 chipset. It has variants having 1GB and 2GB of RAM with 16GB and 32GB of onboard memory. The upper edition of the ZenFone Live is the only Go phone to have 2GB of RAM and 32GB memory. To make things better, Asus enabled to its phone the feature to support microSDs of up to 512GB.

ZenFone Live, sometimes referred to as the Asus Zenfone 3 Go, sports a 13MP HDR-enabled sensor on the back with f/2.0 aperture and phase detection autofocus and a 5MP sensor at the front with an LED flash of its own and f/2.4 aperture. It can record 1080p videos with its primary camera, technical specs of the selfie camera are quite obscure and the manufacturer didn’t release anything regarding its capabilities.

The battery powering the ZenFone Live is a 3,000 mAh unit with the handset sharing support for two SIM cards. There is no fingerprint reader on this mobile while there is support for the earphone jack.

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Alcatel 1X

Alcatel 1x smartphone

The Alcatel 1X was the first ultra-low-end Android phone to come running the Go edition of the operating system. The compact 5.3-incher has an LCD screen having 480 x 960 in resolution and runs the Mediatek MT6739 processor with one gig of RAM and 16 gigs of built-in memory. There is also place for a microSD of up to 32GB if you want to expand the onboard storage availability.

The primary camera of this mobile is an 8MP sensor with HDR to record FHD videos with the selfie snapper being a 5MP sensor that enables HD video chat. It might not be much but isn’t that there are options of Android Go phones with a 4K camera anyway. An FHD camera at the back and an HD at the front is the best you can ask from the phones of this range of specs and cost.

Dual-SIM and a rear fingerprint highlight the connectivity features on the Alcatel 1X while the 2,460 mAh battery powers it up.

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Huawei Y5 Lite

Huawei Y5 Lite (2018) hands on review

Huawei leads the way for the China-based manufacturers of cell phones with the Mate 20 Pro, the best performing Chinese smartphone. But Huawei is not about designing high-end mobiles with advanced AI support and fastest mobile processors that cost above $1,000, it also offers alternative devices to other segments of the phone market. The Y5 Lite is the company’s gift to the ultra-entry-level line of mobile devices that looks like any other Android to not give away its basic functions.

The Huawei Y5 Lite gets powered by the same MediaTek MT6739 chipset found in several phones running Android Go and has it backed by one Gig of RAM, 16GB of storage, with Go Edition of the Android 8.1 Oreo that has the EMUI 8 skin built on top of it. The available memory can be enlarged by up to 256GB via a microSD card.

Y5 Lite can record full HD videos with its HDR-enabled 8MP sensor featuring an f/2.0 aperture and phase detection autofocus and can snap selfies with its 5MP sensor at the front. A 3,020 mAh battery will keep this cell phone going throughout the day and two SIM cards that run the LTE network highlight its connectivity features.

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Motorola E5 Play Go

Motorola Moto E5 Play Go smartphone

Motorola Mobility has been offering alternative phones for a budget since long. Its take on the Android Go Edition smartphones resulted in the introduction of the Go edition of the Motorola Moto E5 Play. The G edition of the Moto E5 Play is the largest of the two, totaling a 5.84-inches it sits in the middle of the E5 and E5 Plus, equally-powerful mediocre low-end devices.

The Moto E5 Go limits is screen resolution to just 480 x 960 pixels and features an 8MP HDR camera on the rear and a 5MP selfie snapper at the front. It runs the Snapdragon 425 SoC with 1GB of RAM and 16GB of storage that can be expanded by up to 256GB via the microSD. The Android 8.0 Oreo Go edition provides you with a neat user interface and support to almost every application on the Play Store for the moment.

There is a fingerprint reader, support for wired headphones, and battery of just 2,100 mAh that backs this device. This phone isn’t much loaded in features and supports but it is an affordable option for anyone that finds the Motorola design something that’s worth having.

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Samsung Galaxy J2 Core

Samsung Galaxy J2 Core Android Go smartphone hands on review

The Galaxy J2 Core was the first Samsung phone running the slimmed-down Android Go operating system. It doesn’t have fancy patterns like the updated J4 Core but it still looks prettier than most of the current Android Go devices. Its LCD screen is of only 5 inches and has a resolution of 540 x 960 pixels.

The J2 Core runs the Exynos 7570 mobile processor that is backed by one gig of RAM, only 8GB of onboard storage, and Android 8.1 Oreo. You can further extend the storage via a microSD by up to 256GB but without it, the storage availability is ridiculously low.

The primary 8MP camera on the Galaxy J2 Core supports HDR imaging and features autofocus to record FHD videos. A 5MP camera at the front takes over the selfie-related and video chat feature supports. There is no fingerprint sensor here as well and the battery capacity is of only 2,600 mAh.

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Nokia 1

Nokia 1 hands on review

The tiny and compact Nokia 1 is an excellent option for anyone that is not blown away by phones with large screens. This mini phone features a small screen of only 4.5-inches that has a resolution of 480 x 854 pixels. Despite being minuscule in size, the Nokia 1 does have all the essential ingredients a smartphone needs.

It runs the MediaTek MT6737M processor backed by 1GB of RAM, 8GB of onboard memory, and the Android 8.1 Oreo. Surprisingly, this phone supports a microSD card of up to 128GB. There is a 5MP camera at the back and a 2MP sensor at the front.

It is dual-SIM enabled, gets its power from a 2,150 mAh battery, and supports 4G LTE network and has GPS just like every other smartphone running Android Go in this list.

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