Best Android phones under $200 in 2023
Samsung comes out on top again.
The best Android phones under $200 prove just how far the tech world has come in just a few short years. While everything else is getting more expensive, cheap smartphones are quickly becoming commonplace, and now you can find dirt-cheap devices with premium specs like quad-camera systems, massive 5,000mAh batteries, and flagship-level software support.
If you need a new smartphone but only have a couple of hundred bucks to spend, the Samsung Galaxy A13 is our top favorite with four cameras, a large screen to enjoy all those photos and videos, and four years of software updates. We test all kinds of Android phones to ensure you're getting the best bang for your buck no matter how much you have to spend.
At a glance
Complete with a 5,000mAh battery, decent cameras, and four years of software updates, the Galaxy A13 proves you don't need to spend a lot to get the Samsung experience.
Sleek and reliable
Thanks to a stylish design, efficient MediaTek processor, and up to 512GB of expandable storage, the Nokia G20 is a cheap phone that doesn't feel cheap.
Best battery life
The Moto G Play (2021) can easily clear three days of use on a single charge, plus you get a headphone jack and support on all U.S. carriers.
Big and beautiful
Unusual for this price range, the TCL 20 SE comes with a vibrant 6.8-inch LCD display, large battery, and the solid Snapdragon 460 chipset.
Best camera in its class
With the Moto G Power (2022), you'll get flagship-level camera tech without paying a flagship price, plus great battery life and a 90Hz display.
Despite a clunky design, the BV4900 boasts military-grade durability (you don't even need a case), plus a huge 5,580mAh battery and IP68 dust/water protection.
Samsung Galaxy A13
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
When you think of the best Samsung phones, your mind probably drifts to devices like the Galaxy S23 — big, flashy, and expensive phones that are sure to break the budget. However, if you're eager to own a Samsung phone for yourself but need to keep costs low, the Galaxy A13 is a solid device.
Note that this is a different phone than the Galaxy A13 5G, which is a more expensive phone. That model adds 5G, more RAM and storage, and packs in a faster processor. But here's the kicker: the non-5G version of the Galaxy A13 — the one we recommend here — has a better display and cameras.
At 1080p+, it's more than twice the resolution of what's offered on the Galaxy A13 5G. And at 6.6 inches, this display is ideal for videos and other types of media.
Around the back, the A13 boasts a total of four cameras — consisting of a 50MP primary, 8MP ultra-wide, 2MP macro, and 2MP depth sensors. The image quality won't blow you away, but the cameras get the job done for social media and allow some image-taking (especially with the ultra-wide camera).
Other highlights of the Galaxy A13 include expandable storage. That helps make up for the paltry 3GB of physical RAM by using Samsung's virtual RAM tech, which essentially creates a RAM disk on your microSD cards. It's also got a very generous 5,000 mAh battery, 15W fast charging, and Samsung's custom One UI software loaded with endless features and settings.
It comes with Android 12 out of the box and has already been updated to Android 13, which is a rarity in this price category. Better yet? Samsung promises four years of security updates for the phone which is completely unheard of in this price category, making it the best phone you can possibly buy for under $200.
Best unlocked phone
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
None of the phones on this list are considered expensive, but if you're trying to spend your money on something reliable, the Nokia G20 is for you. Sitting towards the upper limit of $200, it's the best unlocked phone in this range at the end of the day. You can get a lot of value from every dollar spent on the G20 instead of the cheaper G10.
The Nokia G20 is equipped with a 6.52-inch IPS LCD that sports an HD+ resolution of 720x1600. It's also got a MediaTek processor, 4GB of RAM, and an impressive 128GB of expandable storage (up to 512GB). Unfortunately, there's no fast charging, but you shouldn't have to mess with it too much, thanks to the generous 5,050 mAh battery.
The Nokia G20 is powered by Android One, which means you'll get two years of Android upgrades and three years of monthly security patches, which should get you through 2023. The phone shipped with Android 11 and recently got the Android 12 update. We're hoping to see it get updated to Android 13 this year. The software experience is delightful as there's no bloatware and Nokia sticks to stock Android.
The phone comes with a lovely textured back available in two colors, with a side-mounted fingerprint scanner. The Nokia G20 sports an IPX2 rating, making it splash-proof in nature. You also get a quad-camera setup, including a 48MP primary camera that is surprisingly decent. Nokia packed just the right features into this value-rich device, making the G20 our top sub-$200 recommendation.
Best battery life
Moto G Play (2021)
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
Moto has traditionally been the king of the sub-$200 category, and the Moto G Play (2021) is no exception to Motorola's rule here. Of course, it makes a few spec compromises to reach this price tag, but it's still a perfectly enjoyable piece of tech. It's also a better phone than the Moto G Play (2023), despite the 2023 version being newer.
The display is a 6.5-inch, 720p HD+ LCD, but it does the job. You also benefit from respectable bezels and a small waterdrop notch, making this a decently good phone for watching videos or playing light games. You'll find more noticeable downgrades with the 13MP + 2MP dual rear cameras, but they're serviceable for quick uploads to your favorite social media app.
The Moto G Play (2021) has a fingerprint sensor on the rear in the Moto logo, which is every bit as fast and reliable as you could ask for. There's also a headphone jack and support for expandable storage, along with an awesome 5,000mAh battery and support for all U.S. carriers. Because of the lower power processor and lower resolution display, we found that Motorola's 3-day battery life claims were perfectly achievable, making this the best battery life pick of the bunch.
Perhaps the biggest downside to the Moto G Play (2021) is that Motorola has confirmed that it would only see one major platform update — and that is to Android 11! Motorola shipped the Moto G Play in 2021 with Android 10 (meaning it was already outdated) and didn't get around to updating it to Android 11 until 2022. At least Motorola will be providing two years of quarterly security updates for the phone, ensuring it's safe to run for another few years.
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
It may not have the most cutting-edge specs, but don't you sleep on the TCL 20 SE. Under $200, you won't find a more captivating display than this phone's 6.82-inch vivid LCD panel. The waterdrop notch looks a little dated, but it's the entire package as a whole that bolsters the worth of this phone.
TCL gives you a nice deal along with all that screen real estate. You get lots of memory, with 4GB RAM and 128GB of storage that can be increased up to 256GB. There's also a fingerprint scanner on the aesthetically pleasing backside of the phone. The TCL 20 SE has a generous 5,000mAh cell that tops up quicker than any phone in this category, owing to its 18W fast charging speed.
You get a nice set of quad cameras featuring a 48MP primary lens. On the software side of things, the TCL 20 SE is powered by Android 11. Under the hood, you will find a Snapdragon 460 chipset to keep the entire phone afloat. What prevents this phone from being our number one pick is the lack of any future platform upgrades or any manner of waterproofing. TCL does promise two years of security updates though.
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
Let's start with the positives, shall we? The Moto G Power (2022) has the best camera in its class, delivering crisp, clear photos throughout the day and even in low-light situations. It's no Pixel but it's certainly impressive for a phone under $200. Even the macro camera is impressive — something you'll almost never see in this price range — letting you get super up-close to objects for some interesting, 'Grammable imagery.
It's also got fantastic battery life that'll easily get you through the promised 3 days per charge. Our Moto G Power (2022) review confirms the longevity, although it will take several hours to charge it up since it only supports 10W charging.
But the kicker is that, to achieve this kind of battery like, Motorola went with an incredibly weak MediaTek processor in the Moto G Power (2022). Simply put, if a sluggish UI and lag when switching between apps is a deal breaker for you, consider something with a better CPU. The Moto G Power has a Mediatek Helio G37 chipset that was never going to break any records.
At least the screen is relatively large at 6.5 inches and can even run at 90Hz if you're doing light enough work that the chipset can keep up. It runs Android 11, which isn't uncommon for this price point, but when you consider how many other phone makers are committing to updates on cheaper phones, like Samsung, it's definitely a weakness. Still, just about anything you need to do on this phone should work without issue on this older version of Android.
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
Putting a case on the phone is an excellent way to ensure it stays safe throughout your daily use, but some phones were designed to be rugged and durable right out of the box. One such phone is the Blackview BV4900, and if you're prone to clumsiness or work in a physically demanding environment, the BV4900 is a solid choice.
The design of the BV4900 makes its ruggedness unmistakable, and it has durability ratings to back it up. Not only is there an IP68 dust/water resistance rating, but you also get a MIL-STD-810G certification. This means the BV4900 was tested to survive drops of up to five feet.
Moving beyond its design, there are plenty of other highlights for the BV5900. It has a massive 5,580mAh battery, USB-C charging, NFC for contactless Google Pay payments. There's also 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage that can expand to 128GB. You miss out on any platform upgrades past the pre-installed Android 10 and there's no fingerprint sensor.
Blackview's design of the BV4900 certainly isn't for everyone, but if you're someone that knows you'd benefit from a ruggedized handset like this, it's certainly worth a good, hard look. The Blackview BV4900 makes a lot of compromises but its rock-bottom price tag is certainly very attractive.
Which is the best smartphone under $200?
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Just a few years ago, $200 couldn't buy you much in the way of the best Android phones. These days, however, it's pretty surprising just how many options you have in such a low-price segment. There are plenty of "cheap" Android phones that are pretty great.
We think the best Android phone under $200 is the Samsung Galaxy A13 out of everything currently available. For the average person shopping for a new phone, the Galaxy A13 is excellent. It's got solid cameras, a display that'll get the job done and, most importantly, years of software updates that'll keep it safe and relevant for as long as you want to keep it.
Samsung's software update promise is unmatched in the industry right now, offering more updates than any company that makes Android phones. That's not just important for getting new features and keeping your phone feeling relatively new, but also for security. Without proper security updates, older phones can be a ticking timebomb for malware or hackers.
If you'd rather go with an unlocked device, the Nokia G20 is our second favorite choice. The display looks good enough, the performance is great for most apps and light games, the three rear cameras are a bunch of fun to use, and that 5,050mAh battery is a life-saver. It's also got a pretty solid software update schedule, even if Nokia isn't the fastest company to roll out updates.
It also offers 4GB/128GB memory options, a side-mounted fingerprint sensor, quad cameras, and underrated features like face unlock. Let's not forget the sublime stock Android experience with guaranteed upgrades to Android 12 as well as Android 13.
How to choose the right phone under $200
When you’re on a tight budget, buying a new phone isn’t the easiest thing to do. Most phones in the under-$200 category look very similar, but what brands can you trust and what should you look out for?
At under $200, it’s uncommon to get a phone that isn’t made of plastic. There’s just no way around this as it’s a huge cost-saving measure most manufacturers take. Otherwise, you’ll be spending more for an expensive phone body and the company will have to cut back elsewhere.
It’s also very common to find phones with a standard HD display — also known as 720p — instead of a full-HD 1080p or higher resolution. Some phones, like the Samsung Galaxy A13, offer a 1080p display that looks substantially better than others in this class.
But, in most cases, that lower resolution is preferable for two reasons. First off, most phones under $200 don’t have a powerful processor. Without that extra processing power, a higher-resolution display will end up making the phone feel a bit laggy when a lot is going on. Second, a lower-resolution display helps keep the phone’s battery lasting a long time on a single charge.
Phones like the Moto G Play (2021) are a great example of this, as they feature a lower-spec Snapdragon 460 processor and a 720p display but can last up to three entire days on a single charge. You won’t find that on any more expensive phone on the market and, aside from sheer price savings, is one of the main reasons to choose a phone under $200.
Most phones in this category only feature 3-4GB of RAM, which is often fine with those lower-resolution displays. The lower-power processors can’t multitask particularly well, so having a ton of RAM isn’t going to help things much. But, in certain cases, having extra RAM could help make your phone feel a bit speedier. Samsung’s virtual RAM technology allows you to use a small portion of a microSD card as a way to “virtually” create more RAM and could be a killer feature depending on your app usage.
Now, with all that said, you should never expect to get lots of major operating system updates on a phone in this price category. While most phones see a single big OS update — commonly from Android 11 to Android 12, or something similar — some phones will just get security updates for a few years and be done. While major OS updates are a nicety, they don’t always make sense for a phone with a lower-power processor as new features often require more processing power to actually be nice to use.
Those security updates are what you should actually pay attention to, and that’s why Samsung got the pick of the litter in this category. Samsung’s promised four years of security updates for the Galaxy A13 is double that of any other manufacturer on this page. While lower-power processors don’t always hold up well for that long, it’s great to know that your phone won’t be vulnerable to cyber-attacks or malware for as long as you own the phone.
Should you choose a SIM-free or contract phone?
At under $200, many phones offer the easy option to choose between buying them outright — also known as SIM-free since they don’t come with a carrier’s SIM card — or just adding them to your phone plan as part of your monthly bill. While many phones on this list won’t cost anything at all from great wireless carriers like T-Mobile, it might be worth just buying them outright for a number of reasons.
First off, at under $200, all of these phones are quite affordable. Many of the phones in the above list are available for under $150, making them even easier to afford outright — especially when compared to flagship smartphones, which often cost $600 or more to buy outright.
Second is the fact that putting a sub-$200 phone on a contract means you’re stuck with it for 24 months until the contract is up. While your carrier might offer a way to pay it off early, it’s likely for a higher price than it would have cost to purchase outright from Amazon or Best Buy.
Third, is the fact that most sub-$200 phones tend to get a bit slow over a 24-month period, and that’s assuming you purchased the phone right when it came out. Case in point, if you were to choose a Moto G Play (2021) right now, you would be using a phone that’s already over 2 years old, meaning it’s probably not going to be nice to use for all that much longer, much less 24 months from now.
Are Android phones under $200 any good?
Yes, $200 (or less) Android phones can be good for many different types of people. But just how good can a phone be if it’s 1/5th of the price of premium phones like a Samsung Galaxy S23? Obviously, you’re missing out on something by saving a ton of money, right?
Buying an Android phone under $200 is a bit like buying a cheap car for your daily commute. That car’s entire goal is to get you to and from your home or place of work or school and not much more. Similarly, a sub-$200 phone is going to accomplish your daily needs and probably not a whole lot more.
In both scenarios, you should expect to forego fancy features and other bells and whistles when you opt to save money. Don’t go into a smartphone purchase expecting a screen that’s super bright in direct sunlight or to be amazed by every photo you take with its cameras. You won’t get autopilot or a backup camera with a super affordable car, either.
Likewise, ensure you’re setting yourself up for performance expectations when moving into either category. An affordable car isn’t going to reach highway speeds right away, and you should never expect to race one. Likewise, a $200 or less phone won’t play games very well and will not multitask between apps very well, either.
In a nutshell, you should expect that listening to music, scrolling through social media, watching a video on YouTube, or just browsing Android Central on the go will be a good overall experience on one of these phones. Almost all of these phones get multi-day battery life, too, which is a huge advantage of this lower-priced, lower-power category.
How long do Android phones under $200 last?
On average, users who spend less than $200 on an Android phone will find their purchase can last them around two years before the phone begins to feel a bit slow or old. That’s most often why manufacturers only promise one major OS update, as some new features could end up slowing the phone down too much.
During that two-year ownership period, it’s important to choose a manufacturer that promises regular security updates. Oftentimes, manufacturers in this price range will promise to deliver quarterly security updates to ensure that no big security vulnerabilities crop up on your phone. Phones with recent security patches are far less likely to fall prey to malware or other types of cyber attacks.
Because most sub-$200 phones will only get one major Android update and two years' worth of security updates, it’s most important to choose a newer phone that still has many months of support left.
When taking these measures into consideration, the weakest link on our list is the Blackview BV4900, which will likely never see another update. While that’s fine in some circumstances, you’ll need to be extra mindful to avoid scenarios that could end up putting malware on your phone.
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- Patrick FarmerStaff Writer
- Namerah Saud FatmiEditor — Accessories, speakers, and tablets