Moto G Power ReviewSource: Joe Maring / Android Central

Best Cheap Android Phones Android Central 2020

It's 2020, and flagship smartphones are all nearly a thousand dollars or more. But as high-end phones get more expensive, cheaper phones are getting better. Phones under $300 are beautifully designed, with great screens, super-long battery life, excellent cameras, and awesome speakers. We've researched and ranked all of the best cheap Android phones you can buy, and with our buyer's guide, you'll find the perfect phone for you.

Best Overall: Moto G Power

Moto G Power ReviewSource: Joe Maring / Android Central

Year after year, Motorola stands out as one of the best companies to watch for delivering good, cheap Android phones. 2020 saw the release of the Moto G Power, and if you're in the market for an affordable smartphone, it's hard to do much better than this.

The Power name is a reference to the phone's best feature — battery life. With a 5,000 mAh battery crammed inside, you can easily get two or three days of use on a single charge. In a world where it's the norm to throw your phone on the charger every single night, being able to go a few days without worrying about that is a dream come true.

Outside of the legendary battery life, the rest of the G Power's hardware is just as good. The 6.4-inch Full HD display is easy on the eyes, performance is plenty fast thanks to the Snapdragon 665 processor, and graphical performance in mobile games is vastly improved compared to last year's Moto G7. The G Power also has a trio of solid cameras, including a 16MP primary camera, 2MP macro camera, and 16MP ultra-wide camera. This allows for a wide variety of different types of shots you can take with the phone, with image quality being pretty good considering how cheap the G Power is.

Tying all of this together is Motorola's excellent software. The user interface is nearly identical to what you'd find on a Pixel, meaning it's clean, pure Android as Google intended it. Motorola throws in a few software tweaks to further enhance your experience, such as Moto Display and Moto Actions. The former is arguably the best always-on display out there, with the latter allowing you to move the phone in a chopping motion to turn on the flashlight or twist it to open the camera.

There are two complaints we have about the Moto G Power, the first of which is its lack of NFC. Contactless payment solutions like Google Pay are becoming more and more commonplace with every day that passes, and buying a phone in 2020 that doesn't support this feels kind of silly. There's also the fact that Motorola only promises one major OS update for the G Power, meaning it likely won't be updated beyond Android 11 — a potential deal-breaker if you plan on keeping the phone for a long time.

If neither of those two things bother you, however, the Moto G Power is a wonderfully complete package that we think a lot of people will be overly happy with.

Pros:

  • Great build quality and design
  • Three rear cameras are a lot of fun
  • Up to three-day battery life
  • Moto Display and Moto Actions are great
  • Compatible with all major U.S. and international carriers

Cons:

  • Moto G line isn't known for swift software updates
  • Lacks NFC

Best Overall

Moto G Power

The best budget Android phone for most people

If you need a cheap phone, you want the Moto G Power. It's built well, has a good display, fun cameras, and insane battery life.

Upgrade Pick: Google Pixel 3a

Google Pixel 3a XLSource: Alex Dobie / Android Central

The Pixel 3a manages to pack all of the best parts of the standard Pixel 3 into a more affordable package by using a middle-of-the-road chipset and a polycarbonate body. The result is a nearly identical-looking phone for hundreds less that takes incredible photos using the same image processing and Night Sight technology.

While it'll run you an extra Benjamin over the Moto G Power, the Pixel 3a is without a doubt the phone you should look at if photography is your main priority. It's not just good for its price, the Pixel 3a takes some of the best photos of any phone on the market, even though it only has one lens. You also get a squeaky clean build of Android with three years of guaranteed software updates. It's also available at three of the four major U.S. carriers, which is a first for the Pixel lineup.

Pros:

  • Incredible camera
  • Excellent build quality with polycarbonate shell
  • Three years of updates
  • Clean Android build
  • Available at most carriers

Cons:

  • $400 isn't super cheap
  • Performance is a bit slow

Upgrade Pick

Google Pixel 3a

The uncontested budget photography king

The Pixel 3a takes absolutely stunning photos, and comes with the promise of three years of software updates. It's a bit pricey compared to other phones on this list, but it's the best photography option by a mile.

Best Value: Nokia 6.2

Nokia 6.2Source: Android Central

If you like maximizing your bang-for-buck, it's impossible to ignore the Nokia 6.2. This is a product that brings a tremendous amount of value to the smartphone space, and it all starts with the design. The Nokia 6.2 looks and feels like a much more expensive phone than it is, thanks to the striking glass back, polycarbonate frame, and 6.3-inch Full HD+ display with slim bezels and a small waterdrop notch.

Other specs for the phone are just as impressive, including three rear cameras, 64GB of expandable storage, a 3,500 mAh battery, and charging via USB-C. You also get a dedicated button for the Google Assistant, along with an NFC chip for Google Pay.

Being limited to AT&T and T-Mobile is a bit of a letdown, but assuming you use one of those two carriers, the Nokia 6.2 is an easy choice.

Pros:

  • Beautiful glass design
  • Clean and simple Android One software
  • Three rear cameras
  • Expandable storage
  • Google Assistant button

Cons:

  • No CDMA carrier support

Best Value

Nokia 6.2

One of the best values Android has to offer

For folks that love finding a good deal, the Nokia 6.2 is one of the best Android phones available.

Best Features: Samsung Galaxy A50

Samsung Galaxy A50Source: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central

Samsung isn't usually associated with good cheap phones — at least that used to be the case — but starting in 2019, the company has invested tremendously in its new Galaxy A line, bringing the best features of its flagships down to a much more reasonable price bracket. The Galaxy A50 is one such beneficiary, with a beautiful 6.4-inch Super AMOLED display — probably the best on this list — along with an Exynos 9610 processor, 4GB of RAM, 64GB of storage, and a massive 4000mAh battery.

But the pièce de résistance of the Galaxy A50 is its triple rear camera setup, which includes a primary 25MP sensor, an 8MP secondary super wide-angle camera, and a third 5MP sensor for depth. There's also a massive 25MP front-facing selfie camera, too, hidden in the teardrop notch.

To justify its price, Samsung's included an under-display fingerprint sensor, something missing on all the other phones on this list. Samsung's also making a big deal of its One UI software, which runs on top of Android 9 Pie, though an update to Android 10 is coming soon.

Pros

  • Big, beautiful AMOLED display
  • Excellent triple camera setup
  • Samsung's One UI is among the best Android skins around
  • Huge 4,000mAh battery

Cons

  • Unlocked model lacks NFC
  • Primary camera isn't quite as good as Nokia 7.1 or Pixel 3a

Best Features

Samsung Galaxy A50

Samsung's best budget phone in years.

Samsung's bringing its A-game with the Galaxy A50, a fantastic device that you can (and should) pick up for under $300 if you value plenty of features and a beautiful display.

Best From a Carrier: Samsung Galaxy A51

Samsung Galaxy A51 reviewSource: Apoorva Bhardwaj / Android Central

As you can probably guess from the nearly identical name, the Galaxy A51 is very similar to the A50 mentioned above. For some shoppers, however, it could be a better purchase.

Much of the A50 DNA is shared by the A51, including the AMOLED display, 4,000 mAh battery for long endurance, and a nearly identical processor with the Exynos 9611. It's a decent chipset, but on the A51, it results in some laggy performance every now and then.

The cameras see quite a big upgrade, with the A51 touting a total of four sensors on its backside. There's a 48MP primary camera, 12MP ultra-wide camera, 5MP macro camera, and a dedicated 5MP portrait camera. Not only does this setup allow for virtually endless possibilities with the kinds of photos you can take, but the 48MP primary camera is a fantastic shooter that captures wonderful detail and dynamic range.

In the U.S., you can only pick up the Galaxy A51 on Sprint or Verizon. That's not ideal, but with both carriers often running some sort of promotion/deal for their devices, chances are you can save quite a bit of cash on the phone depending on when you buy.

Pros

  • Good-looking hardware
  • Vibrant AMOLED display
  • Four rear cameras
  • Large 4,000 mAh battery

Cons

  • Only available on Sprint and Verizon
  • So-so processor

Best From a Carrier

Samsung Galaxy A51

A carrier phone to keep your eye on.

For anyone that's on Sprint or Verizon, the Galaxy A51 delivers long battery life and fun cameras at a reasonable price.

Best Build Quality: Nokia 7.2

Nokia 7.2Source: Joe Maring / Android Central

The Nokia 7.2 is the successor to the ultra-successful (see what we did there?) Nokia 7.1, and it's better in every way. It continues the company's legacy of outstanding build quality with a super-strong polycarbonate frame — that green colorway is even nicer-looking in real life — that feels like metal but can withstand scratches and drops far better.

The hardware has been given a nice boost over the 7.1, too: a Snapdragon 660 processor powers the Nokia 7.2, along with 4GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, which ensures it's going to last well into the 2020s. Nokia also puts Android One on all of its phones, providing at least two platform updates and regular security patches — something the company has over our top pick, the Moto G Power.

But the real reason to look into the Nokia 7.2 is its triple-camera setup, which includes a massive 48MP primary camera. You can also choose to use the ultra-wide camera for incredible landscape shots, or grab some impressive portrait photos with the dedicated depth sensor.

Pros:

  • Great build quality
  • Awesome big screen
  • Triple camera is super useful
  • Android One software is unbeatable
  • Works on Verizon, T-Mobile and AT&T

Cons:

  • Snapdragon 660 is already quite dated
  • Doesn't work on Sprint

Best Build Quality

Nokia 7.2

Hard to beat, harder to destroy

The Nokia 7.2 is an excellent follow-up to one of our favorite phones. It's fast, beautiful, and can withstand abuse. What more do you want?

Best With a Stylus: Moto G Stylus

Moto G Stylus 2020 Hands OnSource: Joe Maring / Android Central

The Moto G Stylus is an interesting device. It released alongside the Moto G Power mentioned above, offering a very similar experience but with a couple of feature tweaks and a higher price. It's not as easy of a general recommendation, but for some people, it could be a great fit.

Compared to the G Power, the G Stylus has a lot in common. You get the same 6.4-inch Full HD+ display, Snapdragon 665 processor, 4GB of RAM, USB-C charging, 3.5mm headphone jack, and support for every single U.S. carrier.

The biggest difference is that the Moto G Stylus comes with, well, a stylus. It's not as advanced as something like the S Pen you get with the Galaxy Note 10, but it still works great for taking handwritten notes, drawing, or easier navigation. When you aren't using it, the stylus stores neatly inside the phone. Motorola also switched up the cameras, giving the G Stylus a 48MP primary camera, 2MP Macro Vision camera, and 16MP Action Cam. That Action Cam is pretty unique, as it allows you to hold the phone vertically and record horizontal video.

Just like the Moto G Power, you're still missing NFC on the Moto G Stylus and need to put up with Motorola's disappointing software updates.

Pros:

  • Included stylus for writing/drawing
  • Action Cam is pretty unique
  • Good all-around specs
  • Works with every U.S. carrier

Cons

  • No NFC
  • Only one promised OS update

Best With a Stylus

Moto G Stylus

Draw and doodle the day away.

It's not as good of a deal as the G Power, but the Moto G Stylus offers some fun features that certain shoppers may be drawn to.

Best Under $200: Nokia 4.2

Nokia 4.2Source: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central

If you were impressed by the Nokia 7.1's build materials for the money, the Nokia 4.2 features the same design, and similar construction (the frame is metal, but the body is plastic) for just over half the price. Its tiny teardrop notch means you get an almost all-display device, and you still get Android 9 Pie thanks to the phone being part of the Android One program. You also get an update to Android 10 in Q2 2020, which shouldn't be long now.

There's a fingerprint sensor along the back, and a dedicated Google Assistant button on the side for quick voice commands. The power button doubles as a notification LED, glowing different colors to denote specific apps, and remarkably, this $190 phone has NFC to allow for Google Pay — something you rarely see in this price range.

You do have to sacrifice a bit of performance, but in the end, Nokia's latest is a steal at under $200.

Pros:

  • Outstanding build materials
  • NFC-compatible
  • Android One with Pie out of the box
  • Notification LED in the power button
  • Smooth performance over Snapdragon 439

Cons:

  • Micro- USB charging
  • Not CDMA-compatible

Best Under $200

Nokia 4.2

Excellent hardware and clean software on the cheap

The Nokia 4.2 has a fantastic metal and glass design and a clean build of Android 9 Pie with the promise of timely, continued updates thanks to Android One. It even has NFC for mobile payments. For under $200, there's really not a lot to complain about.

Best Under $150: Nokia 2.3

Nokia 2.3Source: Nokia

When buying a phone as cheap as the Nokia 2.3, you need to set your expectations for what kind of device you're getting. It isn't going to knock your socks off anytime soon, but for doing the basics at an exceptional price, the 2.3 is hard to beat.

So, what kind of specs are we working with? The Nokia 2.3 delivers a 6.2-inch HD+ display with a decent resolution of 720 x 1520. It's powered by the MediaTek MT6761 processor, 2GB of RAM, and has a surprisingly large 4,000 mAh battery. You also get 32GB of expandable storage (up to 512GB), 13MP + 2MP rear cameras, face unlock, and Micro-USB charging. It's also an Android One device, meaning you get a clean user interface backed by quick and reliable updates.

Not having NFC is a bummer, as is the lack of a fingerprint sensor, but it's hard to complain too much considering the price.

Pros:

  • Extremely affordable
  • Large display with respectable bezels
  • Generous 4,000 mAh battery
  • Clean, up-to-date software
  • Works with all GSM carriers in the U.S.

Cons:

  • Charges with Micro-USB
  • Doesn't have NFC
  • No fingerprint sensor

Best Under $150

Nokia 2.3

A super-low price tag with outsized value.

You get all the basics, and nothing more — but you save a ton, and get simple software that's kept up to date.

Best for Pro Users: Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 Pro

Redmi Note 8 Pro reviewSource: Apoorva Bhardwaj / Android Central

Xiaomi isn't a well-known name in the West, but it should be: this company is making some of the best Android phones you can buy, for considerably less than competitors like Samsung or even Nokia.

For under $300, you're getting a phone that looks and feels the part of a much more expensive phone, with capable specs and a huge 4500mAh battery. You also get a triple camera anchored by a capable 64MP main shooter, and a big display. The big downside is Xiaomi's software, which is a bit grating compared to the competition, and may not be updated as frequently or for as long as we'd like.

U.S. buyers take note: The version on Amazon U.S. is an international model and won't work on Sprint or Verizon or any of their MVNOs. It will work perfectly on AT&T and T-Mobile. It also has no U.S. warranty.

Pros

  • Modern design
  • Robust hardware
  • Excellent battery life
  • 64MP camera is a great addition

Cons

  • MIUI software isn't for everyone
  • May not receive updates as often as phones in the West

Best for Pro Users

Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 Pro

Everything you could want in terms of specs for the money.

Xiaomi absolutely rocks it when it comes to low-price phones with great specs. Get a big screen, long battery life and a modern design for a good price.

Best Outside the U.S.: Moto G8 Plus

Moto G8 PlusSource: Motorola

The Moto G line is a consistently great choice for those looking to save money while not compromising on the core smartphone experience. The Moto G8 Plus follows the same proven formula, with good enough specs nicely combined in an attractive hardware package.

You're getting a 6.3-inch display, updated Snapdragon 665 processor, 4GB of RAM, 64GB of expandable storage and a healthy 4000 mAh battery. That's really good for the money, and it's paired with Motorola's simple and useful software. You also get a triple camera setup now with a dedicated ultra-wide lens for interesting shots.

U.S. buyers take note: The version on Amazon U.S. is an international model and won't work on Sprint or Verizon or any of their MVNOs. It will work perfectly on AT&T and T-Mobile. It also has no U.S. warranty.

Pros

  • Big display
  • Large battery
  • Expandable storage
  • Triple camera system

Cons

  • Motorola's software updates can be slow
  • Not yet available in the U.S.

Best Outside the U.S.

Moto G8 Plus

It's hard to beat the value of a Moto G.

The Moto G8 keeps up Motorola's value-focused legacy. You get solid specs, a big battery, an attractive design, a triple camera, and simple software.

Bottom line

There's no shortage of excellent Android phones these days, whether you want to spend more than $700, less than $300, or even $100. The above phones represent the best of a set limitation — that of not wanting to overspend on a product that, inevitably, will need to be replaced in a couple of years.

But that's the beauty of a device that costs a third of what you'd spend on a Galaxy S20 or Pixel 4. It offers 90% of what those phones cost and can be replaced more easily. While you may miss out on some of the more advanced features like waterproofing and wireless charging, and you may not receive as many updates, or for as long, these phones represent a new breed of budget devices, you can feel confident in buying.

And the Moto G Power is the best value of the bunch.

Splurging on the best overall phone that throws in everything and the kitchen sink isn't always the ideal solution — especially when you're looking at cost-cutting phones in the first place. Instead, you should figure out what you value the most. If you're looking to spend even less, the Nokia 2.3 delivers a reliable experience at one of the best prices around. Similarly, the Pixel 3a easily has the best camera, and if you're looking for luxurious hardware, it's tough to beat the Nokia 7.2. Every manufacturer has something of value to offer.

Credits — The team that worked on this guide

Daniel Bader is the Managing Editor of Android Central. As he's writing this, a mountain of old Android phones is about to fall on his head, but his Great Dane will protect him. He drinks way too much coffee and sleeps too little. He wonders if there's a correlation.

Andrew Martonik is the Executive Editor, U.S. at Android Central. He has been a mobile enthusiast since the Windows Mobile days and covering all things Android-related with a unique perspective at AC since 2012. For suggestions and updates, you can reach him at andrew.martonik@androidcentral.com or on Twitter at @andrewmartonik.

Hayato Huseman is a recovering trade show addict and video editor for Android Central based out of Indianapolis. He can mostly be found complaining about the cold and enthusing about prog metal on Twitter at @hayatohuseman . Got a tip or inquiry? Drop him a line at hayato@mobilenations.com.

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