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It's an exciting time for smartphones. Thanks to increasingly powerful new chips, we're long past the days when you had to choose between spending a bundle on a premium phone or settling for sluggish performance on a budget model. As the most expensive flagship smartphones strive to deliver console-quality gaming and advanced computational photography experiences, more affordable phones have benefited from a healthy range of powerful midrange processors that can now easily handle all the daily tasks that most smartphone owners need and won't need to be left behind when the next Android update comes along.

It would have seemed unthinkable a few years ago, but today you can easily find a budget smartphone for well under $500 that will give you a smooth user experience and easily last you for the next couple of years. Some of these even cross over onto our list of the best Android phones overall. What's even better is that budget phones have expanded to the point where there's something at an affordable price for just about every need, from styluses for scribbling notes to advanced cameras and even foldables. We've rounded up some of the best picks to get you started.

Cheap Android phones that are worth buying

Google Pixel 6a smartphone
Source: Google
Google Pixel 6a
Best overall

A fantastic phone for a fantastic price

The Google Pixel 6a wowed us when it hit store shelves last summer, and since then, it's only gotten better. These days, you can get Google's most recent midrange phone for as low as $250, with sales constantly taking place. Throw in a great camera, good performance, and excellent software support, and this device can't really be beaten.

Pros
  • Strong performance
  • Great cameras
  • Pixel software
Cons
  • Wireless signal weaker than some others
  • No wireless charging
  • Sluggish fingerprint sensor

Although it's no longer Google's latest A-series phone, the Pixel 6a ticks a lot of boxes at a newer $350 price tag. With six gigs of RAM and the same Tensor chipset that powers the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, it's certainly the fastest phone on this list. While it doesn't share the Pixel 6's big 50-megapixel primary camera sensor — the 6a uses the same sensor that was in the Pixel 5 and 5a — it still takes outstanding photos. Google's got a lot of experience with this camera hardware, and it shows. It has Google's custom flavor of Android, too, and it's set to get five years of security updates.

The Pixel 6a is not all sunny — if you live in an area without a strong wireless signal, the 6a's weaker-than-average reception should give you pause. There's also no wireless charging and no headphone jack (a first for the A-series). Unlike some other mid-range options, the 6a sticks with a 60Hz OLED, and the fingerprint sensor under that screen isn't especially quick. But if you value speed, camera performance, and build quality, there's a lot to like here.

Pixel 6a Review (6)

It's not just the best budget Android phone right now; it's close to the best Android phone, period. Combined with recurring deals that see the Pixel 6a routinely drop as low as $250, it's truly unbeatable — although, if you have some more money to spend, the Pixel 7a is likely a better deal.

Google Pixel 7a blue render, front and back
Source: Google
Google Pixel 7a
Premium pick

A more expensive A-series entry with some great quality-of-life improvements

Google's Pixel 7a is its most expensive A-series device yet, but that price bump comes with all sorts of big improvements. With a 90Hz display, a new camera lineup, and wireless charging, it's basically a Pixel 7 with a cheaper price tag. Just be prepared for some mediocre battery life alongside the usual heat produced by Tensor-powered phones.

Pros
  • Nice QoL improvements, including a 90Hz panel and wireless charging
  • Best build quality yet
  • Basically, a Pixel 7 for $100 less
Cons
  • Battery life is somewhere between fine and bad
  • Phone gets pretty hot in regular use
  • Most expensive A-series device yet

The Pixel 7a is Google's latest A-series phone, essentially combining the legacies of the Pixel 6a and Pixel 7 into one device. At $500, this is the most expensive A-series phone yet, but you can't say that price tag doesn't come with some serious advantages over its predecessor. With a near-identical design to that of the Pixel 7, some shoppers may find that Google's most recent flagship phone is a bit redundant now. Still, with a slimmer camera bar, a durable back made of plastic, and some colorful new options not available in the rest of the lineup, the 7a might be an easy choice.

That said, some of its improvements come with caveats of their own. For example, although a 90Hz display makes scrolling and gaming smoother than ever, it's disabled out of the box by default. Wireless charging also makes its first appearance on the A-series, but at just 5W, it's better for overnight charges than boosting your battery life throughout the day. Speaking of which, the battery life also seems pretty subpar, with our review noting between 3 and 4 hours of screen-on time with light use. Ouch.

google-pixel-7a-review-03

Then there's the price tag. At $500, this is our "premium" pick of the bunch. Every phone on this list is cheaper, and some may argue that — at least at MSRP — the Pixel 7a isn't much more of a budget phone than the Pixel 7. We'd encourage potential shoppers to wait for a sale, which usually arrives within a month or two after launch of Pixel phones. But if you truly can't wait, the Pixel 7a remains a good buy at full price, assuming you can accept some of its more glaring red flags.

Galaxy A14 5G_Black_Front R30
Source: Samsung
Samsung Galaxy A14 5G
Best value

Affordable alternative without too many sacrifices

Samsung's Galaxy A14 5G is the latest budget phone from the company, keeping the same adequate performance from its previous generation but with a better display and a cheaper price.

Pros
  • A fast, high-res display for just $200
  • Improved design over its predecessors
  • Headphone jack!
Cons
  • No IP rating (so don't get it wet)
  • Mono speaker quality is poor
  • Cheap-feeling build quality

While Samsung's Galaxy A14 5G might not crack through to the top of this list, this is the one to beat if you only have $200 to spend on a smartphone. The A14 is a bit of an odd duck, at least in comparison to its predecessor. Rather than delivering an across-the-board boost to its specs sheet, Samsung retained nearly identical internals to the A13 — the same MediaTek Dimensity 700, the same combination of 64GB of storage and 4GB of RAM, and the same camera array on the back. On paper, it's difficult to notice a huge difference between the two generations.

So what is new? For starters, the design is more in line with the rest of Samsung's phones and uses the same "camera island" style we've seen on the Galaxy S23 series. The entire phone feels a bit sturdier in hand, and the engrained pattern on the back is pretty eye-catching in this price range. Even better, the display received a huge upgrade to 1080p while keeping its 90Hz refresh rate. It's still an LCD panel — you'll need to grab the A54 for AMOLED — but for $200, it's hard to argue with the screen quality here.

samsung-galaxy-a14-colors-resized 1

It might sound like a small batch of changes, but it makes the A14 a pretty undeniable deal, especially at this price. By keeping the specs sheet relatively unchanged, Samsung was able to drop the price by $50. It might not be as exciting as foldables or $1,200 phablets, but if you're looking for a cheap smartphone that gets the basics right, this is the device for you.

Moto Razr (2023) in Summer Lilac, closed and opened
Source: Motorola
Motorola Razr (2023)
Best budget foldable

A fun foldable at a wallet-friendly price

$500 $700 Save $200

Motorola's new 2023 Razr is amazingly affordable by the standards of foldable smartphones, especially when you consider that its 2020 predecessor launched at twice the price. Motorola has cut its corners carefully to get here, still delivering solid midrange performance, great battery life, and an expansive 6.9-inch inside screen.

Pros
  • Same expansive 6.9-inch pOLED screen as its more expensive sibling
  • Good battery life
  • Available in vibrant colors with vegan leather finishes
Cons
  • Small cover screen is less useful than most other foldables
  • Middling camera quality

With a list price of $700, Motorola's Razr (2023) may not feel like it belongs on a list of budget phones, but it's a bargain among foldables with great value for the price — and it's not hard to find it on sale for even less. While Motorola has made a few compromises to get here, it's mostly made the right calls. The older Snapdragon 7 Gen 1 may not win any speed records, but it's a capable and power-efficient chip to handle all your daily tasks with aplomb and helps the phone deliver battery life that will get you through a typical day with room to spare.

Some of Motorola's more nostalgic fans may be disappointed with the departure from its iconic Razr design. However, this latest foldable goes in a fun new direction, with whimsical colors and a vegan leather finish on all models that feels great in the hand and helps you keep a grip on the phone. Flip it open, and you're greeted by an expansive 6.9-inch 144Hz pOLED LTPO screen that's among the best Motorola has ever made — it's the same one found on its more expensive Razr+ — with 1,400 nits of peak brightness and bold and vibrant colors.

Motorola Razr 2023 closed showing the media player on the exterior display

The biggest knock against the new Motorola Razr is the shrunken cover display, which now measures only 1.5 inches. It isn't useful for much more than showing notifications and tiles and can't be used to preview main camera selfies. The dual-camera system also follows Motorola's usual pattern of being merely adequate — it produces good everyday snapshots in the right lighting conditions but doesn't do so well when the lights are down.

samsung galaxy a54 5g in amazing graphite
Source: Samsung
Samsung Galaxy A54 5G
Best Samsung phone

A great Pixel alternative with some excellent additions

Samsung's Galaxy A54 is an update to one of our favorite budget phones of 2022, delivering improved performance and a sleeker design that looks more in line with the flagship S23 series. With a 120Hz AMOLED display and a capable 50MP shooter on the back, it's a solid all-around offering for only $450.

Pros
  • Excellent, fast display
  • Premium design and feel
  • Expandable storage
Cons
  • No wireless charging
  • 25W charging limit feels slow
  • Phone can get toasty in regular use

If Google's A-series isn't doing it for you, maybe Samsung's will. The Galaxy A54 is Samsung's mainline mid-range offering for 2023, and despite some minor year-over-year improvements compared to its predecessor, it really impressed us. Its upgraded Exynos processor makes the phone feel faster than the A53, and its design has been updated to better match the flagship Galaxy S23. Unfortunately, the result is using a phone that feels and looks a lot more premium than it truly is.

All that said, the Galaxy A54 is far from a perfect device. It does get warm during regular use — not just gaming, but browsing as well — and its 25W charging speeds can feel a little slow if you're coming from a OnePlus device. Likewise, the 50MP camera just doesn't hold a candle to what Google manages with its Pixel lineup, although it's certainly capable of collecting a good shot. But that 120Hz AMOLED panel puts the Pixel 6a to shame, and with expandable storage, it's also reminiscent of the Android days of yore.

Shot of the back panel of the Galaxy A54

Even at full price, the A54 is totally worth it, but if you're lucky, you likely won't have to pay full price. Samsung's phones usually don't drop in price as quickly or as steeply as Google's, but we've already seen some early Galaxy A54 sales following its launch. With the device already having dipped as low as $375, it's worth keeping your eye out for sales throughout 2023.

Render of the back and front of the OnePlus Nord N30
Source: OnePlus
OnePlus Nord N30 5G
Pixel 6a alternative

A step forward, a step back

$230 $300 Save $70

The OnePlus Nord N30 is more of a remix than a revolution. Keeping some of the best parts of its predecessor — and losing others — OnePlus has kept the low-end dream alive, albeit at the cost of its excellent design.

Pros
  • Same excellent performance
  • Affordable, especially when on sale
  • Fast charging for under $300
Cons
  • No AMOLED display
  • Worse battery life than the N20
  • Plastic design that shows scratches and scuffs

The OnePlus Nord N30 is the successor to one of our surprise favorite phones of 2022, but in some ways, we still prefer last year's model. It's not that the Nord N30 is a bad phone — it's not — but in so many ways, it's a step back compared to the N20. Gone is the AMOLED display — replaced by a faster 90Hz LCD panel — and the slick design that made a sub-$300 smartphone feel so premium. Instead, this is a device that feels as cheap as its price tag, with a plastic build that shows scuffs after days, not months.

That said, plenty of the magic that made the N20 shine is still here — largely because OnePlus has maintained several of the key specs. The processor is unchanged, now paired with more RAM for a smoother performance. Charging is also faster than ever, though our review found the N30 suffered from worse battery life than its predecessor. Still, we've already seen the Nord N30 for as little as half off, which makes this one of the best budget phones you can buy. Just don't think about the Nord N20 too much — it's better not to know what you missed.

samsung galaxy a03s-1
Source: Samsung
Samsung Galaxy A03s
Cheapest pick

Cheapest phone

If you need the absolute cheapest phone around, the Samsung Galaxy A03s is your pick. While you can probably find even more affordable options on Amazon — or through used marketplaces like eBay — the A03s represents the floor of what we consider acceptable performance. While it handles the basics just fine, savvy shoppers may want to consider slightly more expensive options like the Galaxy A14.

Pros
  • Cheap
  • Security updates into 2026
  • It has a fingerprint sensor!
Cons
  • Crummy cameras unchanged from A02s
  • 3GB RAM is an upgrade from the A02s, but it's still skimpy
  • No 5G

Samsung's gotten its budget phones down to a science; as such, the Galaxy A03s isn't much different from the Galaxy A02s that came before it. It's still got a 720p LCD at 60Hz; it's still got the same set of not-very-good cameras, and it's still running an older version of Android. But there are a few notable differences.

Chiefly, while the Galaxy A02s had no fingerprint sensor, the A03s has one built into its power button, which means getting into the phone is less of a hassle. It's also got three gigabytes of RAM. That's still not much, but it's a big bump from the two gigs in the A02s. Samsung also switched from a low-end Snapdragon chipset to a low-end MediaTek one. That probably won't matter much for performance, though, and Samsung's still promising four years of quarterly security updates from the phone's US launch — which means it should stay secure into 2026.

Samsung Galaxy A03s in hand on pull down menu
Source: Android Police

If you already have an A02s, the A03s probably isn't worth upgrading to. It goes for $160, which is $30 more than the A02s — and the most significant difference is the addition of a fingerprint sensor. But if you're on an older phone, that one difference will likely be worth buying the A03s over its predecessor. If you're looking to spend as little as possible overall, the Galaxy A03s remains one of the best cheap Android phones around. That said, we recommend springing for the newer Galaxy A14 5G. For just $40 more, it delivers a substantially better day-to-day experience.

Moto G Stylus (2023)
Source: Motorola
Moto G Stylus (2023)
Best with a stylus

An affordable note-taker

$135 $200 Save $65

The Motorola Moto G Stylus (2023) is a budget-friendly 4G device that stands out for its affordable price and stylus features. Although there are some drawbacks, such as a dim screen and slow performance, it's still a decent option for the price that is often under $200.

Pros
  • Very Affordable
  • Great stylus-focused software features
  • 90Hz Display
Cons
  • Cameras aren't great
  • Screen is a bit dim

The newest iteration of the Moto G Stylus remains to be somewhat unique in the budget Android market because it includes a stylus. The software implementation of stylus-specific features remains a highlight of the device, and so does its low price. The device features a MediaTek chipset, 4GB of RAM, and a sleek 90Hz display, providing acceptable and reliable performance. While its smaller form factor and battery have decreased the battery life of the device compared to the 2022 version, the Moto G Stylus (2023) still provides ample juice to get through about two days between charges.

Despite its stylus capabilities, the Moto G Stylus has significant drawbacks to take into account. The cameras, especially the Macro sensor on the back, are underwhelming. Furthermore, it only charges at a sluggish rate of 15 watts — better than last year's but still woefully slow. Nevertheless, it may be a feasible option if you're seeking an economical phone with a stylus.

A side shot of the buttons on the Moto G Stylus (2023)

Yes, we know that Motorola offers this device with 5G support and other significant upgrades as well, but that costs $400, and there are just too many other great phones in that price range that make the Moto G Stylus 5G (2023) hard to recommend.

T-Mobile-REVVL-6-PRO-5G
Source: T-Mobile
T-Mobile Revvl 6 Pro 5G
Biggest screen

Massive, beastly phone for T-Mobile subscribers

While you might be tempted to shy away from carrier-branded smartphones, the T-Mobile Revvl 6 Pro 5G gets you some pretty impressive specs for the money. It's not a perfect phone — that display is pretty low-res — but if you're looking for a big, cheap Android device on the Uncarrier, this is a great option.

Pros
  • Pixel-like software experience
  • Headphone jack still intact
  • Great battery life
Cons
  • Terrible fingerprint reader
  • Poor video quality
  • Massive size might not be for everyone

When you're on a limited smartphone budget, your purchase always comes down to compromises. You're not likely to get everything you want for less than $300, so finding a phone that fits your main priorities is key. For plenty of shoppers, the T-Mobile-exclusive REVVL 6 Pro might be just what the doctor ordered. With a massive 6.82-inch display, ultra-long battery life, and a Dimensity 700 SoC, this device is built to stick with you no matter what life throws at you (albeit without the perks and quality-of-life improvements you'll find in more expensive smartphones).

Performance from MediaTek's chipset is solid enough for typical usage and some light gaming, and that gigantic 5,000mAh battery lasts for more than a full day on a single charge. The display, while only 720p, looks better than you might think; in fact, you might not notice its low resolution unless you're holding it side-by-side with another phone. Even the primary camera lens is perfectly adequate in daylight, and with a 3.5mm headphone jack, the REVVL 6 Pro is perfect for anyone trying to rock out on the go.

REVVL-6-Pro-5G-rear2

There are no better budget smartphones on the market, so T-Mobile customers shouldn't ignore this phone. Although it does cut a few corners to get the price down to $220, it's a great deal for anyone hunting down a gigantic phablet-size device. Just keep your expectations in check while you give the latest REVVL smartphone a look.

oneplus-nord-n300-5g
Source: OnePlus
OnePlus Nord N300 5G
Great OnePlus alternative

A newer, cheaper alternative to the OnePlus Nord N20

The OnePlus Nord N300 isn't quite as good as the other major Nord release from 2022 — the N20 — but if you're a T-Mobile subscriber, it's a good deal. Considering most shoppers can score one for free on contract promotions, the 90Hz 720p display, 33W fast charging, and good-looking design aren't too shabby.

Pros
  • Affordable price, especially with carrier deals
  • Good-looking design
  • Has a headphone jack!
Cons
  • Low-res display compared to the competition
  • Poor software support
  • Middling cameras

Although it doesn't quite live up to the Nord N30, the OnePlus Nord 300 5G is a solid alternative for T-Mobile subscribers. Available for just $230 — and routinely given away for free through contract-based carrier promotions — the company's latest Nord device for the US is best looked at as a Galaxy A14 alternative. There are some real benefits to grabbing this phone over Samsung's, starting with the processor. The Dimensity 810 isn't a powerhouse by any means, but it should deliver better performance than the aging Dimensity 700 found in the A14.

oneplus-nord-n300-back-case

Unfortunately, the rest of the hardware isn't quite up to snuff. The 720p 90Hz LCD panel is reminiscent of the A13's display, but the A14 has it trumped. It launched with Android 12, and it took over six months to see an upgrade to Android 13. Likewise, it's only slated to receive security patches until 2024. It's also more expensive than the Galaxy A14 by $30 — though, again, those carrier deals can make it far more tempting. Ultimately, the Nord N300 isn't a bad phone, but compared to our top picks, it feels a bit like an also-ran.

The best time to buy a budget phone is now

Fall is officially here, which means the intense shopping season is about to kick off and it's the time you'll find the biggest discounts on hardware. The annual Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend is only two weeks away, with plenty of deals to offer on Android phones every year — and some of these sales have already begun. These next few months are the best time to buy a new phone and should help you save even more money when picking a budget phone.

The best Android phone for the best price

There's no shortage of inexpensive Android phones, and more of them than ever are actually worth buying, even if you're looking for a great 5G phone. If you're after the best cheap Android phone, Google's Pixel 6a keeps a lot of the best things about the Pixel 6 — like its high-end CPU, excellent camera processing, and solid construction — and trims some fat to hit a very appealing price point.

Thanks to its age on the market, it regularly drops below $300 on sale, with an all-time low of $250. So if you're looking for an affordable, reliable smartphone, you can end your hunt here. Even the newer Pixel 7a can't compete with this bargain budget price tag.

If you're after a truly budget smartphone with a decent experience, you won't find many cheaper than the Samsung Galaxy A14 5G. Although it's not the cheapest phone on our list — that honor belongs to the Galaxy A03s — it's only $40 more than that particular smartphone and manages to outperform it in nearly every way. With a 1080p 90Hz LCD, solid build quality, and reliable software support, it ticks all the essential smartphone boxes while delivering solid, if not incredible, performance. You won't find anything flashy here, but as a basic entry-level phone, it more than gets the job done.

Google Pixel 6a smartphone
Source: Google
Google Pixel 6a
Best overall

A fantastic phone for a fantastic price

The Google Pixel 6a wowed us when it hit store shelves last summer, and since then, it's only gotten better. These days, you can get Google's most recent midrange phone for as low as $250, with sales constantly taking place. Throw in a great camera, good performance, and excellent software support, and this device can't really be beaten.