It might seem like blasphemy, but you don’t need to spend $1,000 to get a quality smartphone. In fact, you don’t even need to spend over $500 to get your hands on a great phone. You must be thinking that the cameras are trash or they are slow as molasses, but that isn’t the case either. Phones like the Pixel 3a have the exact same camera specs as its Pixel 3 counterpart but is much more affordable. In fact, the best budget Android phones have virtually all of the features you would find in more expensive smartphones, all for less than $400.
There are some great deals out there for budget Android phones, and you won’t lose out on a ton of quality features. Before you rush to Best Buy to drop your paycheck on a new phone, check out some of the best budget phones below and save yourself some cash.
Below are our picks for the best budget Android phones.
1. Google Pixel 3a
Yes, it is a hair more expensive than other budget smartphones on this list, but this is easily the best Android phone for under $500. The Pixel 3a comes with the exact same camera as the Pixel 3, which is considered as good or better than the camera on the iPhone X. This 5.5-inch OLED looks sharp, clear and simply fantastic. And the nice thing about owning a Google phone is the constant updates. You’ll continue to get the latest software for your phone, so even though it’s a budget buy, your software will remain new. With constant software updates, a great camera and better processing speeds than every other budget phone, you’re basically buying a premium phone for budget pricing.
Right now, you can buy the Google Pixel 3a for $340, about half the price of a new iPhone. This smartphone is the top-selling unlocked cell phone on Amazon, and for good reason. This isn’t just the best budget Android phone, it may be the best cheap cell phone, period.
2. Moto G7
The Moto G7 boasts a large LCD that looks sharp, albeit a little dimmer than the Pixel 3a. The tiny notch atop the display maximizes real estate, making the screen feel huge. There are multiple cameras on the back that take decent pictures unless the lighting is bad, then your pictures will come out dark and grainy, a typical issue with budget phones.
The best features include Moto Display and Actions, which let you see and clear notifications by using hand gestures without ever touching your phone. It has plenty of processing power, but Motorolla doesn’t send out constant software updates — maybe one or two a year — which can make your phone underperform over time. Otherwise, this is good option for a solid phone that’s inexpensive.
3. Nokia 6.2
The look and feel of the Nokia 6.2 gives you the impression that it’s anything but budget. It has a 6.3-inch full HD+ display and a glass back that make the phone feel closer to a premium option. Beyond looking great, it also comes with some nifty features like NFC for quick Bluetooth connection to NFC-enabled devices and contactless payment options like Google Pay. There’s also a dedicated Google Assistant button to easily speak commands to your phone.
Nokia provides a clean Android experience and doesn’t overwhelm you with bloatware or ugly skins, so navigating through the OS is almost as nice as the Pixel 3a. The one major downside is the phone is only available on AT&T and T-Mobile carriers. If that’s your phone carrier, this is a wonderful option, but if not, we suggest the Moto G7 or Pixel 3a.
4. Samsung Galaxy A50
The Samsung Galaxy A50 is one of the best Android budget phones from Samsung. The phone has a great 6.4-inch AMOLED display that looks vibrant and sharp and a triple-camera setup on the back that produces solid quality pictures, especially for a budget phone. Even though it has more cameras, it still can’t match the photo quality of the Pixel 3a, which is the best camera of the group. Still, you’ll be able to snap pictures and play on your phone all day with the A50’s impressive battery life. And getting in and out of your phone is simple with the in-screen fingerprint scanner. This adds an extra layer of security that we don’t often see from budget phones. Samsung did a great job with this budget option and it is well worth the micro-investment.
5. Nokia 7.2
The Nokia 7.2 is a great option for those who are clumsy by nature. The Nokia 7.2 has a polycarbonate frame and a gorilla glass display that was built to withstand a bit more punishment than your average phone. That being said, you should still go get a case, don’t be foolish. But the phone’s features are as impressive as its durability. Nokia uses Android One on the 7.2, which is a delight to navigate and doesn’t have any annoying bloatware or skins. It also gets regular security updates and two or more major updates a year, which is much better than the Moto 7. On the back of this impressive phone is a triple-camera setup that takes good wide-angled photos, so you can squeeze all your friends into that selfie. But if your phone carrier is Sprint, unfortunately, you’ll need to look elsewhere for the best budget phones. It works only on major carriers Verizon, T-Mobile and AT&T networks.
6. Nokia 4.2
BEST CELL PHONE UNDER $200
The Nokia 4.2 is similar to the Nokia 7.2 in design and look, but the plastic construction makes it not nearly as durable. Like the 7.2, it has a large screen that maximizes all the real estate with only a tiny notch atop for the front-facing camera. The Android One OS is fantastic, clean and simple to navigate. And of course, you get the same round of software updates as you would with the Nokia 7.2. Perhaps the most impressive feature found on this budget phone is NFC for contactless payment options. You don’t often see features like that on budget phones, let alone one’s under $200. The processing power isn’t nearly as speedy as other cheap Android phones, but for under $200, it’s tough to complain. If you need a phone and are strapped for cash, this is a very solid option from Nokia.
7. Alcatel 1x
BEST UNDER $100
Alcatel 1x is a good emergency replacement option if you need a cheap phone now, but also can’t spend major bucks. To be clear, this is a no-frills option. The design is actually kind of impressive looking (and reminiscent of an iPhone at a glance), but the camera doesn’t take great photos and the processing speed is sub-par. The 5.3-inch display looks small, but we easily forget how convenient a smaller phone is to hold and use (ah, the good ol’ days of the iPhone 4). Surprisingly, there is a finger-sensor on the back of the phone for added security, but beyond that, there isn’t much else to gloat about. It’s a super budget option that can make phone calls, take photos in a pinch and can surf the web. Don’t expect much else.