Smartphones have become essential in our daily lives.
We use our smartphones to stay connected with our family and friends, access important information, and even find employment opportunities. It can also serve as a tool for education and entertainment.
Not everyone can afford a flagship phone like the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra or iPhone 14 Pro Max. For many people, budget smartphones may be the only option they can afford.
Fortunately, With the recent developments in the mobile industry, There are plenty of cheaper devices offer an excellent experience all the same.
In many cases, budget smartphones offer similar features and functionality to higher-end devices, making them a great option for those who are looking for a phone that can perform basic tasks like making calls, sending messages, browsing the internet, and taking photos.
Even better news is that a lot of the tech that was previously limited to mid-range devices has since trickled down to the cheapest phones. Features such as 5G connectivity, ultra wide cameras, four years of security updates and more are now offered with entry-level devices.
Phones from the likes of OnePlus, Motorola, and Google are all great buys, and if you live outside north America you may find you have even more options from brands like Realme, oppo, vivo, Xiaomi, and Poco.
There are just so many manufacturers to choose from. Finding a smartphone with the most up-to-date features and specifications within your budget appears to be a challenge at times.
The cheapest phones aren’t made alike, though. The budget options you choose should offer respectable specs, decent performance and good software support.
As of 2023, there are several budget smartphones available on the market that offer great features and performance at an affordable price point of under $500. In this article, we will be discussing the top 10 best smartphones in this price range.
How to choose the best budget phone for you?
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 $500, so finding a phone that fits your main priorities is key.
The chipsets used are effective enough to let the user multitask and take good pictures. While these can’t compete with the biggies in the market, they can still offer reasonably good performance for regular usage.
Most will support 4G (or even 5G) connectivity but features like NFC, wireless charging and water resistance will likely be absent, unless specifically stated.
You can also expect a good build, fingerprint sensor, and even fast charging in this price segment.
They usually using cheaper materials, Plastic is obviously the most common option, although some plastics are expensive to produce and can compete with glass and metal.
Budget phones typically have less advanced cameras or just the one rear and one front camera setup. But, if having a powerful camera is important to you, there are still some options to select from.
There are many phones in the markets with OLED display but majority of them comes in high price range. OLED displays always look fantastic, with perfect contrast and excellent color gamut.
Budget phones tend to opt for standard IPS LCD screens, usually at around 1080p or 720p, but that’s still fine if you don’t plan to do a lot of photo editing or movie watching on your device.
Picking the perfect budget phone isn’t easy, and there are all sorts of factors to consider when making your purchase. Before you head to the checkout, you’ll want to make sure you have all the bases covered. To make your decision a bit easier, we’ve highlighted the main criteria you need to look out for.
10 Best budget smartphones in 2023
We have carefully curated this list taking into account the phone’s price, features and performance to help you make an informed decision while shopping for a new mobile phone.
These phones are perfect for those looking for the best budget phones, the best cheap phones, or the best budget smartphones.
They can be used as your secondary phone or a device for that teenager at home or your grandparents who may not have tried touchscreen smartphones to date.
Whatever your priorities may be, there is a budget phone out there that will meet your needs and fit within your budget.
1. Google Pixel 6a
If you want a clean Google experience on a budget smartphone, the Pixel 6a is the cheapest phone it still makes.
Costing less than $400, the Pixel 6a is a scaled-back version of the more expensive Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 pro, and a full generation behind the newest Pixel 7 phones. However, you still get most of the key features that make the more expensive phones great.
The 6.1-inch screen on the Pixel 6a is very good. It uses an OLED panel with a 2400 x 1080 resolution, squaring up to 429 pixels per inch, which keeps everything pin sharp.
Colors, contrasts and black levels are terrific, and the 20:9 aspect ratio slims the width of the device for that one-hand comfortability.
The Google Pixel 6a has the same Tensor processor under the hood that’s in the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro. Paired with 6GB RAM and 128GB of UFS 3.1 storage, the 6a absolutely flies through everything you want to do.
Pixel 6a comes with an attractive two-tone design, a plastic body and an aluminum frame. the bezels remain slim. The phone is also available in three different colors- obsidian, snow, and hazel.
There’s a 12.2MP main camera and a 12MP ultrawide lens on the back. which is capable of recording 4k video at up to 60fps from the main camera, and up to 4k @ 30fps with the ultrawide camera.
The Pixel 6A also offering intelligent AI (Artificial Intelligence) features including ‘magic eraser’ letting you remove objects from the background of photographs.
The Google Pixel 6a is equipped with a 4,410mAh battery and comes with Google’s Extreme Battery Saver mode, allowing you to get long usage time. but charges quite slowly at a maximum of 18W.
You’ll get 5 years of security updates, but Google is only promising three Android OS upgrades, which is oddly less than what Samsung offers for its devices.
If you’re looking for the best value, the Pixel 6a remains a solid option, especially at its lower price. On the other hand, if you’re willing to spend a bit more for better performance and features, the newest Pixel 7a is well worth the investment.
The Google Pixel 7a offers several key improvements over the Pixel 6a. They include a faster processor, better camera, wireless charging, and a higher refresh rate display.
2. Samsung Galaxy A54
The entire Galaxy A5x series has been very popular with customers looking for cheap Android phones. These devices provide great specs at a very competitive price point.
It’s a similar story for the Galaxy A54 5G, the latest addition to this very successful series.
There’s a 6.4-inch Super AMOLED display on the front with 2340×1080 pixels resolution and 1000 nits of maximum brightness.
The display also has a 120Hz refresh rate, so on top of those rich colors and deep blacks you’ll get from the OLED screens, you’ll also get smooth scrolling and lots of sharpness.
The rear camera setup includes a 50MP primary sensor with optical stabilization, a 12MP ultrawide lens and a 5MP macro sensor.
The Galaxy A54’s camera performance is above average and can capture good shots in various lighting conditions.
In order to keep the price low however, the Galaxy A54 runs on a relatively slow Exynos 1380 processor which has a very fast CPU, but a relatively weak GPU. But it still offers snappy performance for most part – web browsing, work applications, casual gaming, etc.
The handset is available with 6 GB of RAM and 128 GB of internal storage, Thankfully, there is also the option to expand that storage via a microSD card up to 1TB.
It comes with a massive battery of 5000mAh, which is more than enough to get you through an entire day’s worth of use. There’s support for 25W fast charging as well.
It supports 5G networks, including mmWave, which makes for better streaming and faster internet.
It sporting Gorilla Glass 5 for the front and back and a plastic frame which has a bit of high-end flavoring. The smartphone comes with IP67 rating which makes it water and dust resistant.
An attractive phone with a good-looking screen and impressive cameras for the price, the Galaxy A54 offers good value for money.
3. OnePlus Nord N20
The OnePlus Nord range is quickly becoming one of the most recognisable budget smartphone options, as the company looks to bring impressive features to those on a budget.
The Nord N20 is a formidable budget phone that comes with smooth performance and impressive design at a very competitive price.
The OnePlus Nord N20 packs Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 695 chipset with Adreno 619 GPU for graphics, 6GB of RAM and 128GB of UFS 2.2 storage. which is smooth and fast to use, and handled everything we threw at it with ease.
Then there’s the 6.43-inch sharp and colorful AMOLED screen with 1080 x 2400 pixels resolution and 500 nits of max brightness, which looks beautiful with great viewing angles.
The Nord N20 comes with a sleek design layout that appears to be more elegant and classic, the bezels are reasonably small. It also features an optical in-display fingerprint sensor, built-in 5G support, a 3.5mm headphone jack, a microSD card slot, and a punch hole in the top left corner for the selfie camera.
The Nord N20 carries over the 64MP primary camera, but drops the ultrawide entirely and keeps the 2MP monochrome and 2MP macro. It can take decent pictures and the video quality looks good, Unfortunately, low-light shots are noisy and show over-sharpening.
Battery life and charging speed are standout features. It packs an impressive 4,500mAh battery capacity, and a powerful 33W fast charger, which means it can last more than a full day no matter what you do.
The powerful performance is made more delightful by the consistently pleasing OxygenOS – a functional take on Android that is the cleanest and most helpful OS experience outside an iPhone or Google Pixel phone. But OnePlus is only guaranteeing one major OS update and three years of security updates.
For less than $300, the OnePlus Nord N20 is an easily recommendable budget 5G phone that offers users a lot of capability for the money.
4. iPhone SE (3rd Gen)
If you want modern iPhone performance but don’t want to spend $1,000 on a new phone — or just prefer something smaller (one-handed use) — the iPhone SE 2022 is for you.
On the outside, the iPhone SE has the same body as the Apple iPhone 8, which was released in 2017. It’s also the only brand new iPhone left that retains the home button and its fingerprint scanner rather than Face ID, comes with thick bezels on the top and bottom.
The 4.7-inch Liquid Retina Display boasts 1334 x 750 resolution (around 326 pixels per inch) and a 60Hz refresh rate, ensuring everything looks crisp, with True Tone technology, haptic touch, and wide color support.
You also get a single-lens 12MP camera on the rear and a 7MP selfie camera, both performing well, provided lighting conditions are good, though there’s no Night mode.
However, on the inside, the smartphone features the A15 Bionic processor, the same one fueling the iPhone 13, iPhone 13 Mini, iPhone 14, and iPhone 14 Plus. You’ll have no issues multitasking between apps or playing the newest iOS games here.
It also features the same access to the Apple App Store and just about every Apple service, including FaceTime, iMessage, iCloud, Apple Music, and much more, but at an affordable price.
The iPhone SE comes in three colors, including Midnight, Starlight, and red, as well as a few storage options, such as 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB.
Being a smaller phone, its battery life isn’t the greatest, either — heavy users will find themselves charging it during the day, but moderate users should find it’ll last a day.
It includes some major feature upgrades most midrange phones don’t offer, like wireless charging, 5G connectivity, and an IP67 rating for good water and dust resistance.
5. iPhone 12
The iPhone 12 is an ideal option if you’re not looking to spend as much as a brand new model, but you still want something with a more modern design and features than the iPhone SE that will also hold up for several years.
The iPhone 12 offers the modern iPhone design, a 6.1-inch OLED display with a resolution of 2,532 x 1,170 pixels at 460 ppi, the display is sharp and clear and viewable at all angles.
It runs on Apple’s A14 Bionic processor, which is still perfectly capable today, fast enough for everyday tasks and for gaming.
It offers Face ID within a notch at the top of the display and it features an aluminium frame with flat edges and ceramic shield front.
There’s a dual rear camera system with Night Mode – one 12MP wide, the other 12MP ultrawide. Both offer crisp details and accurate colors. the Night Mode Portrait photos by the iPhone 12 indeed turned out great.
iPhone battery life started to become incredibly impressive with the iPhone 13 series, so you could justify spending some extra money on the iPhone 13’s superior battery life, as the iPhone 12’s is only average.
It is available in five colors: black, blue, red, green, and white. support for the fastest 5G networks, and support for MagSafe charging and accessories.
One potential downside for opting for the iPhone 12 model is that the base storage amount starts at 64GB, while the iPhone 13 lineup starts at 128GB. so the iPhone 13 would be a better choice for those who tend to hoard large amounts of digital files on their phone.
It can run the latest iOS operating system from the iPhone, and are sure to remain supported for years to come. That’s good news, since you don’t want to invest in a phone that won’t be supported in a few years.
6. Motorola Moto G Stylus
The Motorola Moto G Stylus 5G features a huge 6.8-inch IPS screen with good-enough 2460 x 1080 pixels resolution and a fast 120Hz refresh rate. Scrolling smooth, and great for watching and reading content.
The Snapdragon 695 processsor’s performance is very good and feels perfectly capable. plenty of 8GB ram makes it responsive, large 256GB storage space means no need to uninstall apps and constant dump contents to backup.
There’s a 50-megapixel main camera with optical image stabilization, an 8-megapixel ultra-wide-angle camera that doubles as a macro camera, and a 2-megapixel depth sensor. The camera system deliver sharp images in a various lighting conditions which is decent, but not great.
Unlike the rest of its Moto G siblings, it has a built-in stylus so you can use it for writing, note-taking, drawing, sketching, and other tasks. of course, the stylus isn’t quite on the level of Samsung’s S Pen.
The newest version has NFC for Google Pay at stores—very handy when you forget your wallet at home. It also includes 5G connectivity, so you can benefit from the newer and faster cellular network.
The software experience is quite clean since the UI is similar to stock Android. Motorola’s even is promising three years of security updates, and best of all, the 5,000-mAh battery lasts nearly two days.
The Moto G Stylus is a tall and thin phone, making it easy to hold and even text with one hand. Overall performance of the phone is very good, Very affordable and has all the features you needs.
If you just need an affordable phone that won’t fall apart soon after purchase, the cheaper Moto G Power will work. The two devices bear a striking resemblance.
7. TCL 30 XL
TCL 30 XL is a budget smartphone that offers a large display and a long battery life. But it compromises with some of the core aspects.
The TCL 30 XL has a gigantic 6.82-inch IPS display with 1640 x 720 pixels resolution, supports more than 16.7 million colors. This mean users will get a very clear and vivid screen.
It also uses TCL’s own NXTVision capability to punch up the vibrancy of images and video that you watch on it. Users can enjoy a sharp, high-contrast, and colorful display with this feature. moreover, speaker is clear and loud.
The device is powered by the MediaTek MT6762V Helio A25 Octa-core processor while the GPU is PowerVR GE8320. It is packed with 6 GB RAM and 64 GB internal storage that can be increased with microSDXC slot.
Usually, you can get impressive performance if the phone is being used for normal content watching and casual gaming. But if you tried to play advanced graphic games or run heavy multitasking, the device will struggle to perform well.
The phone also has a quad-camera setup with a 50MP primary sensor, a 5MP ultrawide, a 2MP macro sensor, and a 2MP depth sensor.
On the front side, you will get a 13MP front camera for selfies. You can takes some good shots and can record video up to 1080p/30fps from both cameras.
The TCL 30 XL smartphone has other necessary comms and sensors including a rear-mounted fingerprint scanner. For the software part. the phone has the Android 12 OS combined with TCL UI 3.0 customization.
Furthermore, the device packs a Li-Ion 5000 mAh battery with 18W fast charging support. With that much battery capacity, it’s expected that the phone will provide more than 6+ hours of screen time in most ideal conditions.
8. Samsung Galaxy A14
Samsung Galaxy A14 5G has pretty much all the important features you’d want in a smartphone at a very attractive $200 price, It outperforms many others in its price range.
The body is made from plastic, but it has a unique texture that feels good and adds grip, something glass-bodied phones can struggle with.
The 6.6-inch IPS display has a 1080-pixel resolution, the screen is plenty sharp for gaming, reading, and watching. With 90 Hz refresh rate, you get a more fluid experience and it makes the phone feel more responsive.
It’s modestly powered by a MediaTek Dimensity 700 processor and 4GB of RAM, which does a respectable job of keeping the phone’s daily use relatively fluid, but it may not deliver the same performance as more expensive smartphones.
Storage starts from 64GB, which is relatively low these days, but there’s the option to use a microSD card to expand that by 1TB.
It support 5g connectivity, great for users seeking faster download and upload speeds on 5G networks. plus a headphone jack, and NFC for contactless payments.
With a triple-camera setup on the back of the device, consisting of a 50MP primary camera, a 2MP macro camera, and a 2MP depth sensor, the Samsung Galaxy A14 5G provides users with a flexible and decent-quality photography experience in various lighting conditions.
It ships with Android 13 and One UI 5.0, and Samsung has committed to two major Android updates and four years of security updates — a strong promise for a budget smartphone.
The A14 has a 5,000mAh battery that is specifically designed to last all day with normal usage. But there’s no wireless charging support, Also the charging rate is limited to 15W, so the charging speed is oddly slow.
If you are on a tight budget, you can’t do much better than the Samsung Galaxy A14.
9. Xiaomi Redmi Note 11 Pro
The Xiaomi Redmi Note 11 Pro 5G is one of the best budget smartphones available in the market.
The Xiaomi Redmi Note 11 Pro looks and feels a lot more expensive than it is, thanks to its premium frosted-glass backplate, its narrow bezels, neat finish and sculpted squared-off edges.
Xiaomi Redmi Note 11 Pro comes with a 6.67-inch AMOLED display, offering a resolution of 2400×1080 that can push out 1,200 nits of peak brightness. the bright, sharp and Vibrant display is very pleasing.
The 120 Hz refresh rate helps a lot on decreasing screen display lag when scrolling around or navigating around the UI. which feels slick, smooth, and responsive.
It runs on the Snapdragon 695 chipset with Adreno 619 graphics chip that is good enough for daily usage and medium-quality games.
It also comes with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage which is one of the best configurations among the mid-range smartphones.
The Redmi Note 11 Pro offers three rear cameras: a 108MP main camera, an 8MP ultrawide lens, and a 2MP macro sensor. powered by a decent Sony IMX 355 sensor, the camera does a good job at delivering overall crisp images with vivid colors.
The battery capacity is 5,000mAh, So battery life is good enough for a day of hard use, charging speeds are excellent because of included 67W fast charger.
This device is MIUI 13 based on Android 11. The device also features a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor and support for 5G + 4G LTE.
If you’re looking for a budget-friendly smartphone with decent performance and features, then the Xiaomi Redmi Note 11 Pro is the smart choice.
There’s also a 128GB+6GB RAM version of Redmi Note 11 Pro, with commensurate drops in price. In general use the performance is still efficient. However, More RAM can greatly increase multitasking performance.
10. Poco X4 Pro
Poco is a sub-brand of budget phones from Xiaomi. And the Poco X4 Pro 5G is a great value handset that offers a wonderful screen, a very capable camera, and 5G connectivity.
The device features a large 6.67-inch AMOLED display with 2400×1080 px resolution, 1,200 nits of peak brightness and 120Hz refresh rate, perfect for entertainment and multimedia consumption.
Powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 695 octa-core processor with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of big internal storage, it delivers smooth and responsive performance.
The triple rear camera setup includes a 108MP primary sensor, an 8MP ultrawide shooter and a 2MP macro lens to capture stunning photos and videos. It also has a 16MP front camera.
You can get completely lost in movies or music with its immersive Hi-Res Audio Certification that’s optimized for maximum entertainment.
A plus point for the Poco X4 Pro 5G is its 5000mAh battery with 67W fast charging, which is good for around two days of typical usage.
All the features are good and make it a good deal for budget fanatics.
Budget smartphones have a huge place in the world of technology. They may not have all the bells and whistles, but they do provide everything you need.
Of course, they’re not here to please everyone, just the ones that need to save money and still enjoy what the world of smartphones has to offer.
These 10 smartphones can be useful as a daily driver since they all offer reasonable specs, with decent built quality.The best option depends on your personal needs and preferences.
Some want great cameras, others prefer a large display and some just want the basic features to work well. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach, It’s important to first decide what you’re looking for the most.
If you want the best value for money, look no further.