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The Best Budget Smartphones

With some high-end smartphones achieving incredible things these days, you may ask yourself if there is still a market for budget devices. In fact, many of us still only need our phones to perform basic tasks like messaging, web browsing, ordering taxis or food, taking simple photographs, or even just playing basic games.

For these purposes, it’s unnecessary to splash out hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars on a state-of-the-art device. A few hundred bucks, or even less in some cases, can get you a good smartphone suitable to your needs.

Here are the best budget smartphones available today.

The Samsung Galaxy A53 is such a great device that it’s easy to forget that you are, in fact, using a budget-priced smartphone. It supersedes the A52 and easily beats it on energy efficiency while changing to a more advanced processor.

The Exynos 1280 replaces the Snapdragon 750G and features a 5-nm octa-core CPU with a clock speed of up to 2.4GHz. The 6GB of RAM easily handles multitasking, while the new 5,000mAh battery ensures at least a full day of heavy usage.

The 6.5-inch Super-AMOLED screen contributes to the energy efficiency of the phone. Coupled with the 120Hz refresh rate, you also get fast, blur-free motion response in excellent detail and vivid contrast. Not only that, but it’s easy to see the screen even in the presence of strong sunlight. So, you won’t need to draw the curtain or change your seat while traveling on the train catching up on TV shows.

With 128GB, there’s plenty of room for photos and videos. However, if you need more, you can extend it to a substantial 1TB via a microSD card. You won’t need to worry about trimming down your photo library, and you can fill the card up with your best mixes and podcasts for a variety of on-the-go listening pleasures.

Speaking of photos, lenses on this smartphone are plentiful. The primary camera gives excellent high-quality stills and videos. It features an optical image stabilizer and an ideal-for-low-light f/1.8 aperture. Additionally, you can take impressive landscapes and perfect closeups with its ultra-wide angle and macro lenses.

Key Features
  • Game Booster optimizes battery life, temperature and memory
  • Dolby Atmos
  • Samsung Knox Security with Secure Folder
  • Fingerprint sensor
Specifications
  • Brand: Samsung
  • SoC: Samsung Exynos 1280
  • Display: 6.5-inch, 2400×1080
  • RAM: 6GB
  • Storage: 128GB UFS 2.2
  • Battery: 5000mAh
  • Ports: 1x USB-C 2.0
  • Operating System: Android 12, One UI 4.1
  • Front camera: 1x 32MP wide
  • Rear cameras: 1x 64MP wide, 1x 12MP ultra-wide, 1x 5MP macro, and 1x 5MP depth
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, 5G, LTE
  • Dimensions: 6.3 x 2.9 x 0.3 inches
  • Colors: Black
  • Display type: Super AMOLED
  • Weight: 6.7 ounces
  • Charging: 25W Wired Fast Charging
  • IP Rating: IP67
  • Micro SD card support: Up to 1TB
Pros
  • Excellent display
  • mmWave and sub6GHz 5G support
  • Good camera
Buy This Product

The OnePlus Nord N200 is an update on the N100 and comes complete with 5G connectivity. It’s a stylish, well-built smartphone with a hint of a premium feel despite its budget price tag. It features a large 5,000mAh battery that gives an impressive full day of heavy usage. Lighter users can expect up to a couple of days without the need for further charging.

For a phone at the lower end of the price scale, it has a beautiful 6.5-inch FHD+ screen. Its thin bezels add to the overall display quality and give an edge-to-edge view. When paired with its 90Hz refresh rate, you can easily enjoy movies and shows in high quality and with minimum fuss. Additionally, the 4GB of RAM compliments the Qualcomm Snapdragon 480 processor’s eight cores and enables multiple apps to run simultaneously at a fast 2.0GHz.

Storage-wise, you might quickly fill the 64GB space with videos and music, and the option to extend it on a microSD card is limited to 256GB. This storage is fine for those who trim down their libraries regularly. But, for the disorganized among us, it could be problematic.

Additionally, the camera is a bit limited and doesn’t have a particularly good low-light performance. The primary lens does give decently-detailed shots at 13MP and features an electronic image stabilizer. The front f/2 lens can take pretty good selfies in 16MP quality, but the macro and monochrome lenses do little but offer gimmicks. If you’re not looking for a camera to get your photos into National Geographic, then you will be buying a sturdy and good-looking device that functions admirably well.

Key Features
  • Fingerprint sensor
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 480 processor
  • OxygenOS 11
Specifications
  • Brand: OnePlus
  • SoC: Qualcomm Snapdragon 480
  • Display: 6.5-inch, 2400×1080
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Storage: 64GB
  • Battery: 5000mAh
  • Ports: 1x USB Type-C, 1x 3.5mm headphone jack
  • Operating System: Android 11
  • Front camera: 1x 16MP
  • Rear cameras: 1x 13MP, 2x 2MP
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth, 5G Wi-Fi, NFC, USB C
  • Dimensions: 6.4 x 2.9 x 0.3 inches
  • Colors: Blue Quantum
  • Display type: IPS LCD
  • Weight: 6.7 ounces
  • Charging: 18W wired fast charging
  • IP Rating: None
  • Micro SD card support: Up to 256GB
Pros
  • Good battery life
  • Beautiful HD display
  • Thin bezels
  • Fast charging
Cons
  • Average camera
  • 5G only available on T-Mobile and Google Fi
Buy This Product

If you need a robust, reliable phone at a rock-bottom price, there are few to compete with the Moto G Power 2021 smartphone. This model has 32GB of storage and 3GB of RAM, but if you have a few extra bucks, different options are available that still won’t break the bank.

When buying this phone, you get an energy-efficient Qualcomm Snapdragon 662 octa-core processor that ensures smooth game-playing and streaming. However, its best features are the battery life and, of course, its excellent price. The 5,000mAh battery gives you an impressive 14 hours on average. It’s a major-league performance in this price range; quite the snip.

As for the camera, well, you can’t expect it to deliver Bailey-esque images. However, it will give you some decent stills of everyday snaps in 48MP. The vibrancy may lack punch, but the selfies are of respectable quality. If needed, you can always edit your favorite images later.

It only comes with Android 10 and only offers a single upgrade, and there is no 5G connectivity. However, all in all, it’s a dependable phone on which you can browse, stream, play, and message all day; at this bargain price, that’s already more than expected.

Key Features
  • 48MP primary camera
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 662 octa-core processor
  • Large 5,000mAh battery
  • Fingerprint sensor on power button
Specifications
  • Brand: Motorola
  • SoC: Qualcomm Snapdragon 662
  • Display: 6.6-inch, 1600×720
  • RAM: 3GB
  • Storage: 32GB
  • Battery: 5000mAh
  • Ports: USB-C
  • Operating System: Android 10.0
  • Front camera: 1x 16MP
  • Rear cameras: 1x 48MP
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, NFC
  • Dimensions: 6.5 x 3 x 0.37 inches
  • Colors: Silver
  • Display type: Max Vision HD
  • Weight: 7.3 ounces
  • Charging: 10W wired charger
  • IP Rating: None
  • Micro SD card support: Up to 512GB
Pros
  • Impressive battery life
  • Water repellent
  • Affordable
Cons
  • Limited upgrades
  • Dim display
Buy This Product

The Xiaomi Poco X4 Pro 5G is a well-designed smartphone featuring a stunning display that will make you double-take after mistaking it for a premium device. The display is its biggest asset; it’s a large AMOLED screen with a 120Hz refresh rate that blasts 1,300 nits of peak brightness when watching in HDR. In SDR, this caps out at 700 nits, which is still ample to watch a movie while outside on a sunny day. It also offers a vast range of colors with flawless accuracy with its DCI-P3 technology.

However, the display is only one of the things this camera has to offer. It also has an excellent primary 108MP camera with a sizable 1/1.52-inch sensor. This sensor size, coupled with a large f/1.9 aperture, delivers highly detailed, vibrant images. However, you might expect it to perform well in low light with these specs. Unfortunately, the lack of an image stabilizer means there are still some improvements to make in this regard.

It is also a bit of a flagship in this price range regarding battery life. You can comfortably get at least a full day of intense use, which is even more impressive when you consider you can’t modify the 120Hz refresh rate. Average use should see you getting up to two full days on a single charge, and with 67W turbocharging, you can expect the device to be just about at full power after only half an hour.

Performance-wise, it utilizes Xiaomi’s Memory Extension Feature to boost the already impressive 8GB of RAM up to 11GB. It gives a pretty speedy performance, although it may still occasionally stutter. It markets itself as a gaming phone, and you can play most games with minimal flickering. However, it doesn’t quite achieve the premier game-playing performance you get with high-end smartphones.

Key Features
  • Dual SIM
  • 120Hz AMOLED display
  • DCI-P3 support
  • 360Hz touch sampling rate
Specifications
  • Brand: Xiaomi
  • SoC: Qualcomm Snapdragon 695
  • Display: 6.7-inch, 2400×1080
  • RAM: 8GB
  • Storage: 256GB
  • Battery: 5000mAh
  • Ports: 1x USB-C
  • Operating System: MIUI 13 for POCO, based on Android 11
  • Front camera: 1x 16MP
  • Rear cameras: 1x 108MP main, 1x 8MP ultra-wide, 1x 2MP macro
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, 5G, LTE
  • Dimensions: 6.7 x 2.9 x 0.4 inches
  • Colors: Yellow
  • Display type: AMOLED
  • Weight: 6 ounces
  • Charging: 67W wired turbo charging
  • IP Rating: IP53
  • Micro SD card support: up to 1TB
Pros
  • Beautiful, bright display
  • Quick to charge
  • Excellent battery life
Buy This Product

If taking detailed photos is your number one priority when buying a budget smartphone, the Google Pixel 6a is one of the best choices. Although the primary camera doesn’t have the 50MP offered by other Pixel phones, the 12MP it does offer is ample for standard-sized photos and delivers excellent contrast and detail.

This smartphone also has some fun built-in photo-processing with various features giving satisfying results almost every time. Additionally, the 12MP ultra-wide-angle lens is an excellent alternative and captures good landscapes and architectural shots. For video enthusiasts, you can’t really go wrong with the 4K at 60fps movies that you can shoot.

Build quality is excellent, despite the easily-scratched plastic back (choose the chalk-colored model if you want these to be unnoticeable). Plus, its IP67 rating protects it from the elements, including submersion of up to one meter in water for 30 minutes.

However, the gorgeous AMOLED screen seems a little compact at just over six inches, and although good enough for watching movies and casual gaming, the 60Hz refresh rate won’t impress everyone. But the screen is bright, the contrast deep, and the colors vibrant. Finally, the Tensor processor, usually only seen in premium Pixel phones, works with the 6GB of RAM for a rather speedy performance.

Key Features
  • Fingerprint Unlock
  • 50MP primary camera and 12 MP ultra-wide angle lens
  • Google Tensor chip
  • Quality stereo speakers
Specifications
  • Brand: Google
  • SoC: Google Tensor
  • Display: 6.1-inch, 2400×1080
  • RAM: 6GB
  • Storage: 128GB
  • Battery: 4410mAh
  • Ports: 1x USB-C 3.1 Gen 1
  • Front camera: 1x 8 MP
  • Rear cameras: 1x 12.2MP wide camera, 1x 12MP ultra-wide
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, NFC
  • Dimensions: 6 x 2.8 x 0.35 inches
  • Colors: Chalk
  • Display type: OLED
  • Charging: 18W or 30W fast charging
Pros
  • Solid build with an IP67 rating
  • Excellent image processing features
  • Three years of Android updates
  • Excellent battery life
Cons
  • No charger
  • No microSD card slot
Buy This Product

If you are looking for a compact smartphone with the fastest performance in this price range, look no further than the iPhone SE. The screen size is just 4.7 inches, yet it delivers outstanding performance thanks to the A15 Bionic chip. Running numerous apps and playing games are at the performance level of a premium phone. It also has a surprisingly good 12MP camera, although it lacks any night mode, which will be a pain for those that like to take photos after dark.

Those who worry about a small phone being easier to drop or damage than a bigger one shouldn’t do so. Tough Ceramic Shield glass, often touted as the toughest around, protects the screen. The same glass shields the iPhone 13; it’s kind of Apple to show the same care to their budget phones as their premium ones. It would be best if you still encased it with a cover as you would any phone, but with its IP67 rating, you get a phone that is not only drop-proof but one that fights the elements with ease, too.

Those of you who enjoy watching movies on your phone should consider one with a more prominent display. The screen is likely too small for this purpose for most people. Thick bezels, a 60Hz refresh rate, and a lack of full HD also hinder cinematic enjoyment. But, if you seek a fast and sturdy iPhone that won’t drain your bank account, the iPhone SE is for you.

Key Features
  • 4K at 60fps video captures
  • Touch ID on Home button
  • Splash, water, and dust-resistant
  • A15 Bionic chip
Specifications
  • Brand: Apple
  • SoC: Apple A15 Bionic
  • Display: 4.7-inch, 1334×750
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Storage: 64GB
  • Battery: 2,018mAh
  • Ports: Lightning
  • Operating System: iOS 15.4
  • Front camera: 1x 7MP
  • Rear cameras: 1x 12MP wide
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0, GPS, NFC, 5G
  • Dimensions: 5.5 x 2.6 x 0.3 inches
  • Colors: Starlight
  • Display type: LCD
  • Weight: 5 ounces
  • Charging: Qi Wireless fast charging
  • IP Rating: IP67
Pros
  • Fast charging
  • Decent battery life
  • Choice of storage options
Cons
  • No mmWave 5G support
  • 60Hz refresh rate
Buy This Product

As the name suggests, the Moto G Stylus has a built-in stylus. This feature is not just a gimmick, either. The stylus’s performance is very accurate, and you can even take quick notes without turning on the phone. Added to this, utilizing the built-in apps that put the stylus to use is fun, while the Motorola notes app is one of the best. However, serious artists and students may not want to rely on it as a professional tool; you should look at more premium-priced smartphones with styluses for this.

The Snapdragon 695 is a sufficient processor for this price range. With this and the 4GB of RAM, you will experience the occasional deceleration, and graphic-intensive games probably won’t run particularly well. The 60Hz refresh rate tries hard to compensate for this somewhat and day-to-day use, including casual gaming, is pretty straightforward, making it a good option at this price.

It features a large 6.8-inch screen with an FHD+ resolution that gives accurate colors and contrasts. It also has a surprisingly good camera, with the primary lens taking decent 50MP stills. However, recording movies doesn’t lead to satisfying results. The resolution is just 1080p at 60fps, and the colors may not be as vibrant as you might like.

Key Features
  • IPS LCD Full HD screen
  • Accurate stylus pen
  • Snapdragon 695 processor
  • 50MP primary lens
Specifications
  • Brand: Motorola
  • SoC: Qualcomm Snapdragon 480 5G processor
  • Display: 6.8-inch, 2400×1080
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Storage: 128GB
  • Battery: 5000mAh
  • Ports: 1x 3.5mm headphone jack, 1x USB-C, 1x stylus port
  • Operating System: Android 11
  • Front camera: 1x 16MP
  • Rear cameras: 1x 48MP primary, 1x 5MP macro
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, USB
  • Dimensions: 6.9 x 3.4 x 1.9 inches
  • Colors: Cosmic Emerald
  • Display type: IPS LCD
  • Weight: 14 ounces
  • Charging: 10W Rapid charger
  • IP Rating: None
  • Micro SD card support: Up to 1TB
Pros
  • Excellent battery life
  • Surprisingly-good photos
  • Water repellant
  • Excellent features for the stylus
Cons
  • No IP rating
  • 60Hz refresh rate
Buy This Product

Motorola Moto G Stylus 5G (2021)

One phone that does pretty well in all departments without having a standout feature is the Xiaomi Redmi Note 11 Pro 5G. It’s reliable and well-designed and is available at an eye-catching price.

The Snapdragon 695 processor has a clock speed of 2.2GHz, 6GB of RAM, and a 120Hz refresh rate. These specs give it a generally good performance with barely any lag. Casual gaming is lag-free, and you can enjoy hours of seamless fun. However, playing graphics-intensive games on the lowest settings would be best in order to avoid frustration.

You won’t need to worry about continuous gaming quickly depleting the battery, either. The 5,000mAh battery will, of course, drain quicker if you constantly use the 120Hz refresh rate. But, even then, its lifespan is more than acceptable. Powering up is also quick, with the 67W charger giving a full tank in just 45 minutes.

Unfortunately, the camera only falls into the decent category. The 108MP stills it captures give sharp details and good dynamic range. The electronic image stabilizer does a decent job in the absence of an optical one, and low-light captures come out fairly well. Confusingly, despite the sensor’s ability to capture 4K videos, you can only shoot in 1080p at 30fps. Therefore, it’s probably not one for Tik-Tok enthusiasts wanting highly-detailed video uploads.

Key Features
  • 120Hz AMOLED display
  • Dual SIM support
  • 108MP camera
  • Stereo speakers
Specifications
  • Brand: Xiaomi
  • SoC: Snapdragon 695
  • Display: 6.7-inch, 2400×1080
  • RAM: 6GB
  • Storage: 128GB
  • Battery: 5000mAh
  • Ports: 1x 3.5mm headphone port, 1x USB-C
  • Operating System: Android 11, MIUI 13
  • Front camera: 1x 16MP
  • Rear cameras: 1x 108MP wide, 1x 8MP ultra-wide, 1x 2MP macro
  • Connectivity: GSM, Wi-Fi, CDMA
  • Dimensions: 6.5 x 3 x 0.3 inches
  • Colors: Graphite gray
  • Display type: Super AMOLED
  • Weight: 6 ounces
  • Charging: 67W turbo charging
  • IP Rating: IP53
  • Micro SD card support: up to 1TB
Pros
  • Sturdy build quality
  • Lightning fast charging
  • 1300 nits peak brightness
  • Loud audio
Buy This Product

Xiaomi Redmi Note 11 Pro 5G

For day-to-day use, the Samsung Galaxy A32 5G is a budget-priced smartphone that performs well when browsing, messaging, and casually gaming. It also has excellent battery life. You can get an average of 12 hours of power even when you are in 90Hz mode, with longer performances when you switch to 60Hz. Light users can get up to almost two full days with moderate use. However, you need to compromise on charging speed; the 15W charger takes around two hours to achieve a complete charge.

The 6.5-inch TFT LCD screen has a resolution of 1600x720p. You can’t expect the brightness and vibrancy of an AMOLED screen, but the details are still pretty sharp for the price. The MediaTek Dimensity 720 is an octa-core processor with a clock speed of 2.0GHz. It is energy efficient and gives an excellent general-use performance. However, it will slow down when using graphically-demanding games and apps. Although, getting in a quick game or catching up on social media while commuting is pain-free and seamless.

The camera has four lenses, two of which, the macro lens and 2MP depth camera, offer very little. However, the primary camera has a large f/1.8 aperture providing well-detailed 48MP stills. Additionally, the f/2.2 8MP ultra-wide-angle lens has its moments, too.

Key Features
  • Fingerprint sensor
  • Four years of security updates
  • 4K at 30fps videos
  • MediaTek 720 chip
Specifications
  • Brand: Samsung
  • SoC: MediaTek Dimensity 720 5G
  • Display: 6.5-inch, 1600×720
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Storage: 128GB
  • Battery: 5000mAh
  • Ports: 1x USB-C 3.1, 1x 3.5mm jack
  • Operating System: Android 11
  • Front camera: 13MP wide
  • Rear cameras: 1x 48MP primary, 1x 8MP ultra-wide, 1x 5MP macro, 1x 2MP depth camera
  • Connectivity: 5G, LTE, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC
  • Dimensions: 7.2 x 1.6 x 10.2 inches
  • Colors: Black
  • Display type: TFT
  • Weight: 7.2 ounces
  • Charging: 15W wired
  • IP Rating: None
  • Micro SD card support: up to 1TB
Pros
  • Excellent battery life
  • Good Night Mode for camera
Buy This Product

You might be on the lookout for a rugged phone for whatever reason. It might be a smartphone to give a child or a cheap, robust one to take traveling. The Doogee S61 is a smartphone you can’t really go wrong with.

It has an IP68 rating protecting it from the elements. This excellent protection means you can drop it in a bath or a pool of water up to 1.5 meters deep and still rescue it easily. Additionally, it features tough Corning Gorilla Glass for extra robustness. Therefore, it can take a few drops onto concrete from heights up to 1.5 meters. With it also being dustproof, a windy walk along the beach with sand and spray in the air won’t bother this machine one bit.

Specs-wise, it is nothing out of the ordinary. It has 6GB of RAM and 64GB storage that you can expand up to 512GB. It sports a MediaTek Helio G35 octa-core chipset that gives this smartphone the power to perform as well as you can expect. It’s an entry-level processor and will power day-to-day activities pretty well. You can even game casually with some non-graphically demanding games.

The camera enables you to take everyday snaps in 20MP quality. It also has a night-vision camera and an 8MP front camera for selfies. However, this phone has been designed to be tough rather than outstanding in terms of performance.

Key Features
  • Fingerprint sensor
  • Night vision camera
  • Dual SIM
Specifications
  • Brand: Doogee
  • SoC: MediaTek Helio G35
  • Display: 6-inch, 1440×720
  • RAM: 6GB
  • Storage: 64GB
  • Battery: 5180mAh
  • Ports: USB-C 2.0
  • Operating System: Android 12
  • Front camera: 8MP wide
  • Rear cameras: 20MP dual wide and night vision
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi, USB, NFC, Bluetooth
  • Dimensions: 6.3 x 3.9 x 1.2 inches
  • Colors: Transparent black
  • Display type: IPS LCD
  • Weight: 17.3 ounces
  • Charging: 10W wired
  • IP Rating: IP68
  • Micro SD card support: Up to 512GB
Pros
  • Waterproof and dustproof
  • Up to 2-day battery life
  • Lightweight and compact
Buy This Product
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FAQ

Q: What Should I Consider When Buying a Budget Smartphone?

It all depends on your primary need for the device. If you are one for taking a lot of photos, investigate the quality of the camera and the range of lenses. More often than not, secondary lenses are relatively useless on a budget smartphone. These tend to be the macro lens and depth camera. You will also want to pay attention to the phone’s storage for all your photos and videos and whether you can extend it with a microSD card.

Screen size may also be important, especially if you don’t stream and watch videos. In this case, you might not need such a large or vibrant display and prefer something small and light that fits easily into your pocket. If you do watch videos or play a lot of games, you will need a decent processor. The easiest way to recognize if a processor is good while ignoring all the jargon is to check the processor speed. The higher, the better, although most budget smartphones are only good for casual gaming.

Battery life, for those that use their smartphones regularly, could be crucial. And some budget smartphones have excellent battery performance. If you are not an intensive user, some devices can supply up to two days of power.

Q: Which Is Better: Android or iPhone?

Broadly speaking, Apple’s iPhones offer the most easy-to-use experience, while Android smartphones offer the most choice and software flexibility. Apple iPhones are generally more expensive than their Android counterparts. However, over recent years, the smartphone operating systems, Android and iOS, have matured into similar systems, with each borrowing features from the other.

Aside from the hardware, it is now a business model that separates the two. Google provides Android for free, making Android-based smartphones typically cheaper than iPhones, but gathers data about you, your device, and your habits to sell targeted ads. On the other hand, Apple’s hardware is more expensive and encourages you to invest fully in the company’s ecosystem, thanks to high integration with other Apple products and services.

As a result, the company uses the data it gathers not to sell ads but to customize your services. Consequently, iPhones are generally considered the more privacy-friendly option.

Q: Which Brand Is Best for a Budget Smartphone?

All the premium brands have budget models available. Even Apple has the iPhone SE, while there are excellent models from Google, Samsung, and Motorola, to name just a few.

They all have pros and cons. Whether you are spending a thousand dollars on a flagship phone or a hundred bucks on an economical choice, you should consider the features most suitable to you.

Android,Buying Tips,iPhone SE,Modular Phones,Samsung,Back to School,Smartphone,Unlocked Phones

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