Flagships are amazing, but they aren’t always the practical choice for a lot of people. Smartphones are goods with a rapidly depreciating value, so for a lot of people, it just doesn’t make sense to put in thousands of dollars every year or two. Luckily there are carriers like Cricket Wireless that offer phones and cellular plans at a more affordable price.
But just because most of these devices are considered entry-level or mid-tier phones doesn’t mean they are bad phones. Far from it — they’re all very capable smart devices. And of course, if you really want to splurge, Cricket offers the most premium phone Apple has to offer too.
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Best iPhone overall: Apple iPhone 14 Pro
Apple’s new iPhone 14 Pro brings a lot of new features to the iPhone lineup for the first time including a new style of cutout for the front camera and FaceID tech, a new 48MP sensor main camera sensor, an always-on display, a new chipset, and more. All these upgrades make the new iPhone 14 Pro a true “Pro” iPhone which justifies the premium over the regular iPhone 14 models. It’s also readily available to purchase from Cricket Wireless in the US, making it a solid addition to this list.
One of the highlights of the iPhone 14 Pro is the new cutout on top of the display. Apple is calling it Dynamic Island, which is essentially a funky name for a cutout that becomes active based on the apps you use. The company is using software to turn two separate cutouts into one single unit that responds to touch interactions with slick animations.
Also new to the iPhone 14 Pro models is the A16 Bionic chip. Not only is it the most powerful mobile chip on the market right now, but it also enables some cool new features including the new always-on display. Apple’s version of the always-on display is a bit different from what we have on the Android side, and a lot of people have been vocal about the display being a little too, well, “on”. Notably, the A16 Bionic’s display engine also enables the iPhone 14 Pro to achieve a new peak brightness of up to 2,000 nits outdoors.
The new 48MP main camera sensor is also a nice addition as it allows you to capture more detailed shots. We highly recommend you to check out our iPhone 14 Pro Max review in which we into detail about the new camera sensor along with a bunch of camera samples. The regular iPhone 14 Pro and the Pro Max models are largely the same, except you get a bigger display and battery with the Max variant.
Cricket Wireless is carrying all four colors of the iPhone 14 Pro — Space Black, Silver, Deep Purple, and Gold. You can also choose between 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, and 1TB storage options, though some models are already running out of stock. You can either choose to pay the full price of the phone upfront or get it financed with $63 monthly payments. Cricket Wireless will also waive the activation fee when you purchase and get it activated online.
Best budget iPhone: Apple iPhone SE 3 (2022)
Apple’s new iPhone SE 3 is the one that we think is best for most users on Cricket Wireless, mainly from a price-to-performance point of view. This new 2022 model still carries the same iPhone 8 body but Apple has updated the internals to match some of the new iPhones on the market. There’s a lot to like about the iPhone SE 3 and we think it’s an excellent phone for those who don’t want to spend upwards of $1,000 on a new smartphone.
One of the best things about the iPhone SE 3 is that it comes with Apple’s A15 Bionic chip. This means the iPhone SE 3 is just as performant as the iPhone 13 series and even the new iPhone 14 and the iPhone 14 Plus models. Apple’s A-series chips are known to be powerful and more reliable than even some of the top-tier chips in the Android space. So it’s safe to say that the iPhone SE 3 will serve you well for many years to come.
The fact that the iPhone SE 3 carries the same design as the iPhone 8 also means it’s relatively compact in the sea of massive phones that are coming out these days. It’s also the only iPhone to use TouchID which makes it very unique by itself. The trade-off is obviously the massive bezels on the front that makes this phone look very old compared to the newer iPhones with a notch and Dynamic Island.
The iPhone SE 3 also runs the latest iOS 16 software, which means it gets some of the neat iOS features that you enjoy on some of the latest iPhones. Apple is also known to keep its devices on the latest software for a long time, so we expect the iPhone SE 3 to stay relevant even, say, 3-4 years down the line. We highly recommend checking out our iPhone SE 3 (2022) review to learn more about this phone in detail including its camera performance.
If you don’t mind using a phone with a relatively old design then we think the iPhone SE 3 is a great option to consider. Cricket Wireless is carrying all three colors of the phone and you also get to pick between 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB storage. You can choose to pay the full price or get it financed to pay as low as $20 a month with a new or existing line.
Best Android phone overall: Samsung Galaxy S21 FE
The Galaxy S21 FE may not be the most premium Samsung smartphone out there right now, but it’s one of the few reliable Android options that’s available to purchase on the Cricket Wireless network. The Galaxy S21 FE is a cheaper alternative to buy if you don’t want to pay the full price for the Galaxy S22 and the Galaxy S22 Plus. It trades some of the premium features for a relatively cheaper price tag, and we think it’s one of the best phones to buy if you don’t want to opt for the iPhones or other cheaper Android phones.
There’s a lot to like about the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE including its FHD+ display that supports a 120Hz refresh rate. The AMOLED display gets bright enough and has vibrant colors with crisp visuals. The rear casing of the phone, as you can see, is made out of plastic but we like how the camera island at the back melts into the rest of the shell instead of sticking out separately.
The Galaxy S21 FE is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 SoC in the US, and a Samsung Exynos 2100 SoC nearly everywhere else. The variant sold on Cricket Wireless will come with the Snapdragon 888 chip. It’s not the fastest chip around, but it should be enough to help you get through your day-to-day workloads without any issues. The phone also comes with Samsung’s promise of three Android OS updates and four years of security patches.
As for the optics, we’re looking at a triple camera setup that includes a 12MP ultra-wide, a 12MP primary camera, and an 8MP telephoto camera. The photos captured using the Galaxy S21 FE are mostly on par with what you’d get from other modern Samsung phones, so no complaints there. You can check out our Galaxy S21 FE review to check out some camera samples to get a better idea of what to expect from the phone’s cameras. Overall though, we think the Galaxy S21 FE is a good phone to consider if you’re looking for a phone to buy from Cricket Wireless.
The carrier is also offering the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE for just $500 right now, down from its original price of $700. It’s only available to purchase in Graphite colorway and you can pair it with a monthly plan to get unlimited 5G data along with 15GB hotspot data.
Best mid-range: Samsung Galaxy A53 5G
The Samsung Galaxy A53 5G is easily one of the best mid-range phones on the market right now, and we’re glad that it’s available to purchase at Cricket Wireless. The Galaxy A53 5G stands out in the sea of mid-range phones with its specifications and a good set of features. It goes head-to-head against the iPhone SE 3 (2022) with its 120Hz display, huge battery, decent set of cameras, and more.
The Samsung Galaxy A53 5G has a very simple design with a plastic back. What we like the most about the design, however, is how the camera island eases and melts into the back of the phone. We’ve seen this on some other premium phones like the OPPO Find X5 Pro, and it looks just as good on the Galaxy A53 5G too. The fit and finish of the phone is also quite nice and it feels good in the hand despite its relatively big footprint.
The performance is handled by Samsung’s Exynos 1280 chip with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. It runs Android 12 with OneUI 4.1 out of the box and it’s guaranteed to get Android 13-based OneUI 5.0. In fact, one of the best things about the Galaxy A53 5G is that it is guaranteed four years of Android updates in the future. This makes it significantly better than a lot other mid-range phones on the market. Notably, the Galaxy A53 5G also packs a 5,000mAh battery inside, which we think should be enough to comfortably last for a day on a single charge.
We have a lot more samples in our Galaxy A53 5G review, but the general overview of the camera performance is that the phone’s triple camera setup captures some decent-looking photos. Its camera setup includes a 64MP main camera, 12MP ultra-wide, and a pair of 5MP sensors for macro and depth. The selfies are handled by a 32MP front camera. The photos captured using the main camera sensor look great, especially during the day when there’s enough light. Overall, there’s a lot to like about the Galaxy A53 5G. It also supports 5G and works well on the Cricket Wireless network.
Cricket Wireless is carrying the Galaxy A53 5G in the ‘Awesome Black’ colorway and you can get it for as low as just $249 right now. You can also pay for this phone with both a new or an existing Cricket number, so be sure to check it out.
Best budget phone: Moto G 5G (2022)
The Moto G (2022) is one of the few budget phones that’s available to purchase at Cricket Wireless, so we wanted to add it to this collection as a viable option to consider. A lot of the older Moto G phones have earned a recommendation as solid budget phones and we think the new Moto G 5G (2022) is no different. It may not move a needle in this space to come out on top, but it offers enough value to earn a spot in this collection over some other similarly-priced phones.
The new Moto G 5G, as you can see, has a very simple design that looks a lot like many other Moto phones that are available to purchase on the market. It’s got a simple plastic back panel with just the camera island and the Moto logo. The frame of the phone is also made out of plastic, so you won’t get any fancy build materials on this phone. It sports a 6.5-inch HD+ display with support for up to 90Hz refresh rate. The HD+ display is a little bit of a bummer but it makes up for it with 90Hz refresh rate support.
The device is powered by a Mediatek Dimensity 700 chip which comes with up to 6GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. The phone also supports expandable storage via a microSD card, which is great. One of the highlights of this particular phone is that it comes with a massive 5,000mAh battery inside. You can expect this phone to last for a really time between the charges, but it only supports 10W charging, meaning it might take a while to fully charge.
The Moto G (2022) comes with a triple camera setup at the back which includes a 50MP main sensor along with two 2MP macro and depth sensors. Sadly, we don’t have any camera samples captured using the phone to share, but we’ve heard some good things about the phone’s main 50MP sensor. Selfies, on the other hand, are handled by a 13MP front-facing camera.
The new Moto G 5G (2022) can be had for free if you’re a new customer bringing your number to activate a new line with Cricket Wireless. The carrier will also let you make monthly payments for the phone instead of asking you to pay the full price upfront. Only the Moonlight Gray colorway of the phone is available via the carrier though, so keep that in mind.
Also great: Moto G Stylus (2022)
If you don’t mind spending a little bit more money over the asking price of the regular Moto G 5G (2022), then we highly recommend checking out the Moto G Stylus 5G. This particular phone has also become cheaper now compared to its original price, meaning it’s easier for us to recommend it over others. It’s also readily available to purchase via Cricket Wireless, making it a good addition to this collection of the best Cricket Wireless phones in 2022.
The Moto G Stylus isn’t the best-looking phone on the market, but it sticks to the basics and offers a tried-and-tested design with a plastic back. It comes in a couple of finishes, but Cricket Wireless is only offering the phone in ‘Steel Blue’ color, which is what we featured in our review. The back of the phone looks very simple with just the camera island and a Moto logo in the center.
The highlight of the phone is obviously the included stylus. Just like the one included with the TCL Stylus 5G, the Moto G Stylus also comes with a passive stylus, meaning it doesn’t need charging. But it also means it doesn’t have Bluetooth, so it’s going to have limited functionality. You can still use it for drawing on screenshots, doodling, writing notes, etc. The software doesn’t have any extras for the stylus, but you get all the basic functions.
The phone is powered by a Snapdragon 695 chip, which performed quite well during our time with it. This particular chip is no slouch and it should be sufficient enough to run games like Call of Duty: Mobile, Diablo Immortal, and more. It comes with up to 8GB of RAM and up to 256GB of storage. You also get an option to expand the storage via a microSD card up to 2TB, so it’s great for those who install a lot of apps and games. The device also packs a 5,000mAh battery that should last you for a long time on a single charge. But just like the regular Moto G 5G (2022), this one also ships with a 10W charger which will take you a while to charge.
All things considered, we think the Moto G Stylus is a good phone overall. We suggest you check out our Moto G Stylus 5G review to learn more about the phone. Cricket Wireless will let you have it for as low as $29.99 when you bring your own number and activate it with a monthly payment. It’s only available in colorway though, so keep that in mind.
Cricket Wireless’s catalog is fairly limited, and if you’re looking for high-end devices, there’s not much to look at other than some great iPhones. Apple’s entire current lineup is available on their website, but we have highlighted the iPhone SE 3 and the iPhone 14 Pro because they’re both the cheapest and most premium options respectively in their lineup. For most Cricket customers, we think the iPhone SE 3 is a really good option.
On the Android side, the best you can get is the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE, a phone that came out early this that actually offers a good value for the money right now. We’ll continue to keep an eye on the Cricket Wireless catalog and add more options to this collection once they’re made available to purchase.