The best cheap phone you can buy right now is the Google Pixel 4a. It has one of the best cameras you’ll find on any phone, and at $349, it’s $50 cheaper than the iPhone SE 2020. The Pixel 4a also features a larger display and night mode for its camera.
That doesn’t mean you don’t get a lot in return should you opt for the iPhone SE. Apple’s $399 phone includes a blazing fast A13 Bionic processor, very good rear and front cameras and a bright and colorful 4.7-inch display. And it’s all wrapped up in a compact design that’s waterproof and supports wireless charging.
If you want to spend even less on your phone, get the Moto G Power, which features the longest-lasting smartphone battery we’ve tested for less than $300. We’re also keeping an eye on OnePlus, as the company is rumored to be launching new budget-priced phones in the U.S this fall. This includes the Nord N100.
The best cheap phones you can buy today
- Google Pixel 4a
The best cheap phone you can buy
Display: 5.81-inch OLED (2340×1080) | CPU: Snapdragon 730G | RAM: 6GB | Storage / Expandable: 128GB / No | Rear camera: 12.2MP (ƒ/1.7) | Front camera: 8MP (ƒ/2.0) | Weight: 5.04 ounces
TODAY’S BEST PIXEL 4A DEALS
Google Pixel 4a – New…
Subpar battery life
Performance lags iPhone SE
At $349, you won’t find a better value than the Google Pixel 4a. Google’s latest budget phone recaptures all the things that made the Pixel 3a such a hit, but in a device that costs $50 less.
There’s just the one 12.2-megapixel rear camera as before, but Google augments that with some software smarts such as Super Res Zoom and Live HDR+. Many of the photographic features you’ll find in the more expensive Pixel 4 are on display here, and the result is some of the best photos you’ll see from a phone at any price.
The Pixel 4a can’t match the performance of the iPhone SE, but for most smartphone users, Google’s phone has enough processing power from its Snapdragon 730G chipset to handle most tasks. Throw in an attractive design, a bright OLED screen and 128GB of storage, and you’ve got a phone in the Pixel 4a that delivers a lot for a low price.
- iPhone SE
The best cheap iPhone
Display: 4.7-inch LCD (1334×750) | CPU: A13 Bionic | RAM: Unknown | Storage / Expandable: 64GB, 128GB, 256GB / No | Rear camera: 12MP (ƒ/1.8) | Front camera: 7MP (ƒ/2.2) | Weight: 5.22 ounces
Fast A13 Bionic performance
Supports wireless charging
No camera night mode
The iPhone SE 2020 is what happens when you make a cheap phone that isn’t cheap. For $399, this iPhone offers the same fast performance as the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro, thanks to is A13 Bionic processor. And that same chip gives the iPhone SE photography capabilities that most budget Android phones lack. This includes Portrait Mode for the front and rear cameras, Smart HDR and extended dynamic range when shooting videos.
With its 4.7-inch display, the iPhone SE is best for those who prefer smaller phones, but the screen is bright and colorful. You also get a Touch ID button for unlocking the device, Apple Pay and entering passwords, as well as a water resistant design. The new iPhone SE supports wireless charging as well.
The new iPhone SE is well made with its glass and aluminum chassis, but the bezels are on the big size. Plus, you don’t get the Night mode for the camera offered by the iPhone 11. But overall this is easily the best cheap phone yet.
- Moto G Power
A cheap phone with the best battery life
Display: 6.4-inch LCD (2300×1080) | CPU: Snapdragon 665 | RAM: 4GB | Storage / Expandable: 64GB / Yes | Rear camera: 16MP wide (ƒ/1.7); 8MP ultrawide (ƒ/2.2); 2MP macro (ƒ/2.2) | Front camera: 16MP (ƒ/2.0) | Weight: 7 ounces
The best battery life we’ve tested
Low price tag
Good performance and photos for the price
Screen isn’t very colorful
No optical zoom
A really long-lasting phone endures for over 11 hours on our battery test. The Moto G Power blows them all away with a runtime of 16 hours and 10 minutes. It’s the best phone battery life we’ve ever seen and is really remarkable when you consider the Moto G Power costs under $250. But that’s not the only reason this Android phone made our best cheap phone list.
The Moto G Power also features a large 6.4-inch display with ful- HD resolution, pretty good performance from its Snapdragon 660 processor and a solid 64GB of storage. And while the triple rear cameras aren’t best in class, we appreciate that there’s an ultra-wide shooter on board here.
At 7 ounces, the beefy 5,000 mAh battery inside the Moto G Power certainly contributes to its weight. And the screen on this phone could be more colorful. But overall the Moto G Power more than lives up to its name.
- Moto G Stylus
A cheap Galaxy Note alternative
Display: 6.4-inch LCD (2300×1080) | CPU: Snapdragon 665 | RAM: 4GB | Storage / Expandable: 128GB / Yes | Rear camera: 48MP main (ƒ/1.7); 16MP ultrawide (ƒ/2.2); 2MP macro (ƒ/2.2) | Front camera: 16MP (ƒ/2.0) | Weight: 6.8 ounces | Battery life (Hrs:Mins): 12:13
Comes with a stylus
Long battery life
Triple rear cameras
Colors aren’t very vibrant on screen
No optical zoom or ultra wide angle lens
You don’t have to spend big bucks for a phone like the Galaxy Note 10 to get a stylus with your handset. The Moto G Stylus costs $299 and there’s a handy stylus tucked right into the bottom right corner of the phone. While you won’t get S Pen levels of functionality, you will be able to remove the stylus and start jotting down notes on the Motorola phone’s screen, all without having to unlock your device. The stylus also can help you take screenshots and edit photos.
In many ways, the Moto G Stylus is exactly like the Moto G Power. They’ve got the same screen size and processor, though the G Stylus comes with more storage and a bigger main camera sensor. The biggest tradeoff, though, is battery, where the Moto G Stylus makes do with a 4,000 mAh power pack. Even with the smaller battery, the G Stylus still lasted more than 12 hours on our battery test, making this a long-lasting phone for people who want a productivity-boosting stylus.
- Samsung Galaxy A51
A good cheap Samsung phone
Display Size: 6.5-inch OLED (2400×1080) | CPU: Exynos 9611 | RAM: 4GB | Storage / Expandable: 128GB / Yes | Rear camera: 48MP wide (ƒ/2.0), 12MP ultrawide (ƒ/2.2), 5MP depth (ƒ/2.2), 5MP macro (ƒ/2.4) | Front camera: 32MP (ƒ/2.2) | Weight: 6.07 ounces | Battery Life (Hrs:Mins): 9:16
Versatile quad-lens camera
Camera struggles in low light
After last year’s successful Galaxy A50, Samsung’s new Galaxy A51 adds even more value for under $400, with its 6.5-inch AMOLED display, quad-lens camera that includes ultrawide, depth and macro shooters, as well as a generous 128GB of storage built in. We especially like the A51’s design; it’s made of plastic, but feels well built, and its full-screen proportions and slim bezels make a for a more attractive midrange offering than even the new iPhone SE.
Well, at least until you try to use those cameras to take shots in low light. The Galaxy A51 is a very pretty looking phone, though it suffers with camera quality and performance. Apps can sometimes take too long to open, and the device can get flustered when you’ve got a lot of things going on at once. Samsung’s latest budget offering isn’t quite as compelling all-around as the iPhone SE, Pixel 3a or Moto G Power, but it is a respectable choice nevertheless, especially if you want a large AMOLED screen for under $400.
- TCL 10L
A cheap phone with a great display
Display: 6.53-inch LCD (2340 x 1080) | CPU: Snapdragon 665 | RAM: 6GB | Storage / Expandable: 64GB / Yes | Rear camera: 48MP (f/1.8) main; 8MP (f/2.2) ultra wide; 2MP (f.2.4) macro; 2MP (f/2.4) depth sensor | Front camera: 16MP | Weight: 6.3 ounces
Cameras struggle with color
Won’t work on CDMA networks
A cheap phone doesn’t have to look cheap. The TCL 10L features a design that plays down its bargain price while also sporting one of the better displays you’ll find on any phone. The TCL 10L’s 6.53-inch LCD panel showcases a wide array of colors, and TCL’s Nxtvision technology enables welcome features such as dynamic adjusting the screen’s color temperature and brightness.
Other parts of the TCL 10L don’t live up to the stellar example set by its display. Performance is about what you’d expect for a phone powered by a Snapdragon 665 chipset and battery life is average. That would be all right, but the similarly priced Moto G Power lasts more than 6 hours longer in our test. The TCL 10L’s four rear cameras also struggle with color.
Still, this is a very good looking phone, especially if you can get the TCL 10L in Mariana Blue. And at $249, you won’t have to pay big bucks to add a little style to your smartphone.
Read our full TCL 10L review.
(Image credit: Tom’s Guide)
- ZTE Blade 10 Prime
Solid performance for the price
Display: 6.3-inch LCD (2280×1080) | CPU: MediaTek Helio P60 | RAM: 3GB | Storage / Expandable: 64GB / Yes | Rear camera: 16MP wide (ƒ/1.8); 5MP depth (ƒ/2.2) | Front camera: 16MP (ƒ/2.0) | Weight: 5.76 ounces | Battery Life (Hrs:Mins): 7:02
Short battery life
Camera can be unresponsive
The ZTE Blade 10 Prime delivers a surprising amount of phone for under $200. You get a dual-lens rear camera, a big 6.3-inch display with slim bezels and a water drop notch, 64GB of storage and a microSD card slot that supports up to 2TB. The MediaTek’s Helio P60 processor combined with 3GB of RAM keeps things running smoothly on this Android phone.
The biggest strike against the Blade 10 Prime is the short battery life; this handset lasted just over 7 hours on our web surfing battery test. But overall this is one of the best cheap phones you can buy. If you want to run the ZTE Blade 10 Prime on Verizon’s Visible network, you’ll pay just $216 up front or $9 per month if you want to spread the payments out over time.
- Samsung Galaxy A20
Great battery life for the money
Display Size: 6.4-inch AMOLED (1560×720) | CPU: Exynos 7904 | RAM: 3GB | Storage / Expandable: 32GB / Yes | Rear camera: 13MP wide (ƒ/1.9); 5MP ultrawide (ƒ/2.2) | Front camera: 8MP | Weight: 5.8 ounces | Battery Life (Hrs:Mins): 13:46
Outstanding battery life
Good cameras for budget phone
Design isn’t that durable
The Samsung Galaxy A20 costs just $250 and gives you pretty good features for the money. This includes a 4,000 mAh battery that lasted a very impressive 13 hours and 46 minutes our battery test, a roomy 6.4-inch AMOLED display and solid dual rear cameras with Live Focus mode. Another plus is 15-watt fast charging; the Galaxy A20 got to 30% in just 30 minutes.
The Samsung Galaxy A20 is available through multiple carriers, including Verizon, Boost and Republic Wireless. However, there are some drawbacks at this price, including a design that can scratch easily and somewhat laggy performance from the Samsung Exynos 7904 CPU.
It won’t be out until this summer, but keep an eye out for the Galaxy A21, which will feature a 6.5-inch screen and quad-lens camera system.