Prices for flagship phones are higher than ever, but as the high-end gets better, so does the budget market. You can get a new phone that can handle everything you throw at it for less than $500. Because they have lower contract prices, the best cheap phones are also better in the long run. But if you can afford it, it might be better to buy these smartphones outright and only pay for your minutes, texts, and data.
Most people who go to school full-time can also buy them. If you are a parent looking for a first smartphone for your child or a student looking to upgrade before going to college or university, check out our buying advice below the chart. We’ve put together a list of some of our favorite low-cost smartphones if you want one that won’t break the bank.
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Best Budget Android Smartphones in 2023
If price is the most important thing to you, you won’t find a better list of cheap phones anywhere else. We’ve tested, rated, and ranked the best cheap phones from companies like Samsung, Xiaomi, Oppo, Motorola, and many others. Along with our reviews, you’ll find buying advice from experts to help you decide if a cheap phone is really as good of a deal as it says it is.
1. Google Pixel 6A
Google’s Pixel 6a does a lot of things well for $450, and early sales have made it an even better deal. It’s the fastest phone on this list because it has the same Tensor chipset as the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro and six gigabytes of RAM. Even though its main camera sensor isn’t as big as the Pixel 6’s with 50 megapixels, it still takes great photos.
The Pixel 6a has the same camera sensor as the Pixel 5 and Pixel 5a. Google has made hardware for cameras for a long time, and it shows. It also has Google’s version of Android, and for the next five years, security updates will be made for it. The Pixel 6a has some flaws. If you live in a place where the wireless signal is weak, you might not want to buy it.
There’s also no way to charge it wirelessly or plug in headphones, a first for the a-series. Unlike some other mid-range options, the 6a has a 60Hz OLED screen, and the fingerprint sensor under that screen isn’t very quick. But there’s a lot to like here if you care about speed, how well the camera works, and how well the phone is made.
2. OnePlus Nord N20 5G
3. Motorola Moto G62
This is one of the best cheap phones you can get. Even though the phone doesn’t have an OLED screen, it has a great always-on display that makes it easy to see notifications and open them. This is something that no other phone brand has. Even though Xiaomi’s cheap phones are good, you won’t mind that this phone is sometimes slow because the software looks so nice. It’s a great replacement for Xiaomi’s UI, which is a mess.
On the back of the Moto G62, there are three cameras, but it’s hard to say if they’re all good. Luckily, the main 50Mp sensor is very good and will let you take great pictures during the day. When you add the great battery life of the 5000mAh cell, which we sometimes found to last until the end of the day at 50%, you have a great cheap phone option. Only $279 will get you a Moto G62.
4. Samsung Galaxy A53
If you want the best cheap Samsung phone, you can’t do better than the Samsung Galaxy A53. Even though it has a low price, this attractive budget phone doesn’t look cheap. It has a great screen and even better cameras. The 6.5-inch screen is just as fancy, thanks to Samsung’s AMOLED display technology, which makes everything you watch bright and colorful.
The graphics are also very clear, thanks to the 120Hz refresh rate. Its performance and ability to charge are a bit slow, which is a shame, but if you don’t need a fast flagship phone for your daily mobile needs, these aren’t deal-breakers. This is especially true if you care more about the media you watch and make. Even with all of these great features, the Samsung Galaxy A53 only costs $337.
5. Samsung Galaxy A14 5G
Samsung’s Galaxy A14 5G may not be at the top of this list, but if you only have $200 to spend on a smartphone, this is the one to beat. Compared to what came before it, the A14 is a bit of a strange bird. Instead of improving everything, Samsung kept almost all of the A13’s internal parts. It has the same MediaTek Dimensity 700 processor, the same 64GB of storage and 4GB of RAM, and the same cameras on the back.
On paper, it’s hard to see how different the two generations really are. It looks more like other phones made by Samsung. It looks like the Galaxy S23 series with the camera island. The phone as a whole feels a little bit more solid, and the pattern on the back is pretty eye-catching for this price range. Even better, the screen went from 720p to 1080p, but the refresh rate stayed at 90Hz. If you want an AMOLED screen, you’ll have to get the A54, but for $200, it’s hard to complain about the quality of this screen.
6. Samsung Galaxy A13 5G
The regular price of the Samsung Galaxy A13 5G is $250, but it has everything you need in a cheap smartphone and works with all US carriers. The battery life is measured in days, and it’s fast enough to handle any simple task you throw at it. Even though the screen is big and bright, it gets messy and distracting when you touch it. Samsung says it will support updates for four years. The most recent update, from Android 11 to Android 12, came out in the summer of 2022, so the A13 5G is safe to use until early 2026.
7. Moto G Fast
If you want one of the newest Moto G phones but need to spend even less money, the Moto G Fast is a great choice. It still has the Snapdragon 665 chipset that runs the more expensive Moto G models, but it costs a lot less. It doesn’t have anything special about its 3GB of RAM, and its 32GB of storage isn’t much.
Still, for a low price, you get a screen that looks pretty modern and has a hole punched in one corner, which is also a modern touch. The 6.4-inch screen is pretty big for less than $200, even though it’s only HD. You also get a fingerprint scanner, a headphone jack, and a USB-C port for charging, but you’ll have to buy a Motorola Turbo Charger on your own.
You can save money by buying an older budget phone, but be careful: these phones are sometimes refurbished and may not work as well as a new one. Budget phones also get less support than flagship phones, and if you buy a budget phone that is a year old or older, it might not get any security updates.