I am looking for a smartphone that I can use for testing and developing my Android app on. Any Android version above 2.3 is okay and any screen size is good. I currently have a Nexus 7 and want another, smaller, screen size. Are there any good smartphones at this price point?

  • 2
    Android version above 2.3, including or excluding 2.3?
    – Tymric
    Sep 9, 2015 at 21:43
  • Do you have any specific feature requirements, such as Bluetooth LE, front-facing camera, etc.?
    – rob
    Sep 9, 2015 at 22:37
  • @Timmy including android 2.3 Sep 11, 2015 at 3:23
  • @rob I don't have any specific requirements except wifi and cellular (3G is okay). My application only uses data. Sep 11, 2015 at 3:25
  • If you want a very low end smartphone to test how the app would perform with restrained resources, you could probably get an old smartphone for free, like a Samsung Galaxy S2. You could also get a newer one with cracked screen off eBay or Craigslist. In both cases you would have to peek around to see which models are available under the conditions. Sep 1, 2016 at 20:24

7 Answers 7


Look at Xiaomi (world's 4th largest smartphone maker) for reasonably priced phones with good specifications , they are often hard to beat price-wise.

E.g. the Xiaomi Redmi 2 Pro Smartphone meet all your required specifications and costs ~130 USD: 4G LTE, 2GB RAM, 16GB memory, MSM8916 64bit Quad Core 1.2GHz, Android 4.4, 4.7 inch HD OGS Screen, Dual Cameras. (all specs)

Check out this list of popular Xiaomi phones for a wider choice, some are slightly cheaper (e.g. Xiaomi Redmi 2A A at 102 USD).

  • The OP wants a smartphone UNDER $100 and you list models OVER $100.
    – niutech
    Feb 7, 2016 at 23:55
  • @niutech 102 is not so far away... Feb 7, 2016 at 23:56
  • Yes, but why to buy such expensive phones when you can get a new Moto G for $99 or BLU Advance for $59? Not to mention used ones.
    – niutech
    Feb 8, 2016 at 0:14
  • @niutech Moto G was not at $99 when I wrote the answer. Also twice less RAM. Feb 8, 2016 at 0:27
  • 1
    Sure, but you don't need so much RAM for app testing. Keep in mind that your apps will be run on much lower devices, so you should test them in real world conditions.
    – niutech
    Feb 8, 2016 at 1:02

Use the emulator that comes with the Android development kit.

Cost: $0.

The only point of testing with a physical device is if you want to check the compatibility and ergonomy of your application with a physical device: how it makes use of non-ubiquitous peripherals such as a fingerprint reader, how it interacts with manufacturer-specific software, etc. This is useful if you test with hundreds of different devices. Testing with one cheap device won't teach you anything.

The emulator gives you more possibilities than any single phones. For example, you can (and are encouraged to) test with multiple screen resolutions.

  • Good answer. It's also worth pointing out that certain types of apps can be difficult to test with the emulator. It may have improved since I last used it a few years ago, but as I recall there were a few simulation features missing at that time, such as injecting GPS coordinates or connecting/disconnecting a cable.
    – rob
    Sep 10, 2015 at 20:23
  • The emulator that comes with the Android development kit is quite slow, you might want to check out Genymotion for a faster VM. Sep 11, 2015 at 1:23
  • @FranckDernoncourt It does depend on what your app does. If it's intended to run on low-end phones, then testing on the slow emulator is a good refresher. Sep 11, 2015 at 1:38
  • @Gilles I agree, the provided VM can be good enough. Sep 11, 2015 at 1:48
  • Also, it is nearly impossible to connect the emulator to a bridged network connection - normally each device runs on an isolated network interface. Sep 13, 2017 at 5:37

The Moto E is a low end cell phone priced at ~$120 USD for the 3G model (off contract). It has 1GB RAM, 8GB internal storage, supports up to 32GB microSD, and Android 5.0. The display is 4.5" qHD 540x960 245 ppi IPS. The 3G model has a 1.2GHz quad-core CPU (Snapdragon 200) and an Adreno 302 GPU (400 MHz).

Also, if you order it from Motorola directly, you get free shipping.

  • You can get a new Moto E for $75 on Amazon.
    – niutech
    Feb 8, 2016 at 0:24

Just pick up a cheap prepaid/no-contract Android phone like the LG Optimus Exceed 2 or Moto E.

The Exceed 2 frequently goes on sale for as little as $15-$20 and has a dual-core CPU and 4 GB flash.

The Moto E often goes on sale for $40 and has a quad-core CPU and 8 GB flash. I bought one for $10 on Black Friday 2015. The camera is garbage but otherwise it is a good low-end Android phone for development.

There are also other prepaid phones that run older versions of Android, as well as older unlocked models available on the secondhand market (e.g., eBay) for well under $100.

Keep in mind that, while many people do have high-end phones, many others have lower-end phones, and it's useful to test an app on a range of hardware.


Check this out: LG Optimus Exceed 2

  • Android 4.4
  • 1.2Ghz Dual-core CPU
  • 4GB internal memory + microSD card slot
  • 4.5" Screen, 800x400 resolution
  • $20 free shipping on BestBuy

It's prepaid, so not useful for calling, but it can be used for development.

  • prepaid can be fine for calling, depending on how frequent the usage is.
    – jiggunjer
    Nov 24, 2015 at 1:49

I suggest you go for the Moto E (any generation, preferably the latest) or ship any Android one devices because these are the 'purest' Android devices in the 100$ - 120$ segment out there.

The biggest advantage is that they don't run bloatware means that you have a clutter-free experience with your Android device, and you stay updated all the time (Google ships updates to these devices faster to these devices compared to other OEMs).


I know this is a bit late, but I did just find that Alcatel Fierce 4 has a phone for metro PCS and will release one for T-Mobile this fall. It is $69 USD. It will come with marshmallow.

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