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Today, smartphones see prices upwards of $1,500. But, you don't need the newest iPhone or Galaxy phone to have access to incredible features that make communication a little easier. Thankfully, there are some affordable alternatives, and the days of cheap Android phones that barely function are gone.
Various manufacturers, including many from China and Korea, have compelling products that are becoming more popular as we reach smartphone saturation. We also now see Samsung, Google, and Apple offering more affordable options with all three bringing in models that support 5G cellular connectivity. In particular, Google is committed to bringing its advanced camera software technology to mid-range phones.
Camera performance was a major differentiator between flagships and mid-range phones over the past couple of years, but even today's affordable phones can help you capture decent photos to share with family and friends or selfies for social media. Let's take a look at some of the best smartphones available for your budget.
Also: Best super-cheap phones under $100: Top budget smartphones
Tech Specs: Display: 6.5 inches | CPU: Samsung Exynos 1280 | RAM: 6GB | Internal storage: 64GB storage | Rear cameras: 64MP main, 12MP ultra-wide, 5MP macro, and 5MP depth sensor | Front camera: 32MP camera | Weight: 190g | Battery capacity: 5000mAh
Many things about this Samsung Galaxy A53 are rare, including its incredible camera and refresh rate of 120Hz for high-speed screen performance. Four cameras on the rear of this phone, including the 64 MP main camera, set this unit apart from flagship model phones.
A 2-day battery life ensures you'll never run out of juice doing your daily tasks. And if you need some extra battery before you leave for work, this phone is equipped with super-fast charging to get you going in no time.
If you're looking for a powerful phone to fit your budget, this Samsung Galaxy A53 could be the phone for you.
Read the review: Galaxy A53 5G review: This impressive sub-$500 Android may finally kill flagships for you
Tech Specs: Display: 6.13 inches (2400 x 1080-pixel resolution) | CPU: Octa-core | RAM: 6GB | Internal storage: 128GB storage | Rear cameras: 12.2MP rear f/1.7 camera | Front camera: 8MP f/2.0 camera | Weight: 178g | Battery capacity: 4410mAh
The Google Pixel 6a is the updated version of its predecessor, the Pixel 5a. Though many of the specs are fairly similar, if not identical, the speed of a new phone at the price of an old one makes it worth every penny.
Cameras are typically one of the biggest selling points in today's smartphone industry. Fortunately, Google strives to put quality cameras inside mid-range phones. This unit includes a rear camera featuring 12.2 MP wide camera as well as a 12 MP ultrawide camera, so you can capture some of life's greatest moments with excellent photography performance.
In the last 120 days, this phone has been listed for as low as $299, but the average price for this unit is around $340. That being said, the Google Pixel 6a rarely sees a price tag near its original price of $449.
Read the review: Google Pixel 6a review: Half the price of the Pixel 6 Pro, but just as good
Tech Specs: Display: 4.7 inches LCD (1334 x 750-pixel resolution) | CPU: Apple A15 | RAM: Unknown | Internal storage: 64/128/256GB options | Rear cameras: 12MP main | Front camera: 7MP camera | Weight: 144g | Battery capacity: Unknown
Apple satisfied customers looking for a tiny phone a few years ago with the 2016 iPhone SE. In 2020, it introduced another SE model in a larger form factor that carried on the tradition of the Touch ID front fingerprint sensor. The 2022 iPhone SE (3rd Generation) is available now for an affordable starting price of $429 in three color options: Midnight, Starlight, and Red.
Full review: Apple iPhone SE (2022): As fast as iPhone 13 Pro Max, but half the price
The latest model brings Sub-6 5G support (mmWave is not supported) and a new Apple processor with the same traditional display size, front Touch ID fingerprint sensor, and single rear camera. The processor brings improved performance, longer battery life, and enhanced photography results with the same hardware.
The iPhone SE is still essentially an iPhone 8 with upgraded internals to match the modern iPhone 13 range. For those who want a smaller and less expensive iPhone, this is the one to get. There are also still many fans of Touch ID, especially if you wear a mask regularly.
Tech Specs: Display: 6.67 inches (2400 x 1080-pixel resolution) | CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 480 | RAM: 4GB | Internal storage: 128GB storage with microSD | Rear cameras: 50MP main, 5MP ultra-wide, 2MP macro | Front camera: 16MP camera | Weight: 200g | Battery capacity: 4500mAh
The TCL 30 V 5G is Verizon's lowest priced Android smartphone with 5G support. If you're a Verizon customer, this phone serves as a solid gateway into 5G service. Full price from Verizon is $300 with monthly payment options available too. The phone supports 18W fast charging and can also be used as a WiFi hotspot.
TCL is known for its display technology and it brings the NXTVision technology to the phone with the TCL 30 V 5G, so you can experience high-quality streaming video content through the Verizon network or a local WiFi connection. Dual speakers help enhance the experience too.
Tech Specs: Display: 6.82 inches (1640 x 720-pixel resolution) | CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 460 | RAM: 4GB | Internal storage: 128GB storage with microSD | Rear cameras: 48MP main, 5MP ultra-wide, 2MP macro, and 2MP depth sensor | Front camera: 13MP camera | Weight: 206g | Battery capacity: 5000mAh
The TCL 20 SE is not a gaming phone or one that will help you easily take award-winning photos. As a TCL-branded phone, it' focused on the display experience and the basics. It's a very large phone with a 6.82-inch display and thickness of 9.14 mm. There's no 5G connectivity and it will get 18 months to 24 months of Android security patches, likely released on a quarterly basis.
That said, it's priced at just $189.99. There are not many phones priced less than $200, and the TCL 20SE appears to be well built with a rather lovely modern design. I enjoyed using the large display for messaging and watching Google TV movies, so there are definitely ways to enjoy the optimized visual experience of the phone.
Samsung's Galaxy A32 5G is the best budget phone. We tested an extensive line-up of budget phones and analyzed CPU, cameras, battery life, and more. While our top choice is still over $300, every phone on this list gives you the best bang for your buck.
Samsung Galaxy A53 5G
Google Pixel 6a
Apple iPhone SE 3rd Gen
Up to 256GB
TCL 30V 5G
The best cheap phone depends on what you need it to do. If you snap a lot of photos or use it to play music while working or at the gym, you'll want a phone with plenty of internal storage to handle everything. If you just want a functional cell phone that can make both traditional and video calls as well as access the internet and apps, you should opt for the latest 5G and Wi-Fi connectivity to be able to take full advantage of your new phone.
Choose this best cheap phone...
If you want...
Samsung Galaxy A53 5G
A well-rounded, affordable smartphone
Google Pixel 6a
An affordable, Google-based smartphone
Apple iPhone SE 3rd generation
A cheap iPhone for brand loyalty
TCL 30 V 5G
A budget Android phone
The best value cheap phone
We chose a variety of cheap smartphones with different operating systems to cater to people with differing preferences and tastes. We chose both iOS and Android-based phones with price tags that can fit just about any modest budget.
Samsung Galaxy A32 5G is the best cheap Samsung phone. It has an impressive CPU and camera, and it even comes with 5G capability at less than $250.
The best budget iPhone is the iPhone SE (3rd generation). It comes with all of the best Apple specs like sleek design, iOS, and long battery life -- without the hefty price tag.
There are plenty of options out there if you're looking for an affordable smartphone; whether you're looking to upgrade your current phone on-the-cheap, want an affordable starter phone for your teens, or a cheap smartphone for your older parents. Here's a short list of other cheap smartphones we thought were great choices: