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Best cheap Android phones 2022

Best Cheap Android Phones
(Image credit: Jose Negron / Android Central)

As high-end phones get more expensive, the best cheap phones get even better. We've reviewed and ranked all of the best Android phones under $500/£500 you can buy today. Whether you're looking to get connected with 5G or just want to get as much as possible for your money, our buyer's guide will help you find the perfect phone for you. Here are some of our top choices for the most inexpensive phones available now.

What are the best cheap phones?

Last year was tremendous for Android phones in the budget space, and fortunately, this trend has continued on into 2022. We're seeing features like multiple cameras, faster processors, and 5G hit price points that would have been unheard of just a couple of years ago. Because of that,  the best cheap phones don't feel "cheap" in any way but the price.

Our top pick is the OnePlus Nord N20 5G, a phone that feels more like the second coming of the OnePlus X. That phone was an impressive budget pick over half a decade ago when it was released, and its spirit lives on in the Nord N20 thanks to the AMOLED display, great processor, surprisingly excellent cameras, and battery life that'll last well over a day for any user. OnePlus even includes a 33W charger in the box, making it a rarity among phones these days, let alone one that costs under $300. Just be aware that it's a T-Mobile or Metro by T-Mobile exclusive for now, though.

Otherwise, you can't go wrong with the Google Pixel 5a. This phone makes the most of its hardware with excellent image processing on the cameras and reasonably snappy performance with the latest version of Android. This phone also supports sub-6 5G so you'll be able to work with any carrier's latest network technology as it continues to expand over the next couple of years. It costs quite a bit more than the Nord N20, but it's hard to go wrong with Google's award-winning cameras and commitment to years of software updates.

Further down, we really love the Nokia G50 5G. It has a lower-resolution display, plastic back, and slightly less RAM and storage than some other phones on this list. Regardless, it's still a package we can absolutely recommend, especially if you're looking to save as much money as possible on an unlocked Android phone with good cameras, 5G support, great battery life, and smooth software.

We also recommend the Galaxy A53 from Samsung. This phone has a big and beautiful display, great support for 5G, and a surprisingly premium feel. If you're looking for a mid-range phone that can make the most of 5G on any carrier, the A53 is a great starting point.

These are the best cheap phones you can buy

OnePlus Nord N20 5G

(Image credit: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)
The best overall cheap phone

Specifications

Display: 6.43-inch 60Hz AMOLED
Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 695 5G
RAM: 6GB LPDDR4x
Storage: 128GB UFS 2.2
Cameras: 64MP main, 2MP macro, 2MP monochrome, 16MP front
Charging: 33W SUPERVOOC
Battery: 4,500mAh
Water Resistance: IP52
Dimensions: 159.9 x 73.2 x 7.5mm
Weight: 173g

Reasons to buy

+
Gorgeous AMOLED display
+
Excellent cameras
+
3.5mm jack and microSD card slot
+
5G connectivity and NFC
+
Great-looking and feeling build
+
Lots of software features

Reasons to avoid

-
USB port compatibility issues
-
Only one OS update

The odd $282 price tag of the Nord N20 is just the beginning of OnePlus' latest expectation-defying budget phone. Inside is a Snapdragon 695 5G processor — the same one in the Motorola G Stylus 5G (2022), which is nearly double the price — 6GB  of RAM, and even 128GB of fast UFS 2.2 storage. You'll find from our OnePlus Nord N20 5G review that the phone consistently performed more like a phone twice its price.

On top of that, it's got an AMOLED display on the front, which is almost never seen in phones in this price range. As you would expect from an AMOLED panel, the colors are gorgeous, black levels are perfect, and everything just looks great. It could be a little brighter and it's "only" got a 60Hz refresh rate, but it's hard to argue with AMOLED quality when most phones in this price range are stuck with a bland LCD.

The cameras are also above and beyond the level of quality of most phones in this price range. It really only has a 64MP main camera on the back — the 2MP monochrome and 2MP macro cameras are mostly useless on their own — but that main camera produces some seriously great photos with wide dynamic range, impressively smart AI-powered multi-frame software that automatically picks the best shot after you take it, and even takes quality 1080p video.

There are so many reasons to choose a OnePlus Nord N20 5G if you're on a budget but, unfortunately, it's only available for T-Mobile and Metro by T-Mobile customers at this time. OnePlus says the phone is coming to more retail stores in the near future and, while we certainly expect an International release eventually, there's no timeframe on that.

Bottom line: It might be a T-Mobile exclusive for now, but the $282 OnePlus Nord N20 5G is a phone that consistently outperforms phones even twice its price, and that's something to truly celebrate.

Pixel 5a

(Image credit: Android Central)
The best cameras on any cheap phone.

Specifications

Display: 6.34-inch OLED, 2340x1080, 60Hz refresh rate
Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G
RAM: 6GB
Storage: 128GB
Cameras: 12.2MP primary, 16MP ultra-wide, 8MP selfie
Charging: 18W wired
Battery: 4,680 mAh
Water Resistance: IP67
Dimensions: 156.2 x 73.1 x 8.8mm
Weight: 183g

Reasons to buy

+
Simply amazing cameras
+
Fast performance across the board
+
Large OLED display
+
Unbelievable battery life
+
Supports 5G networks

Reasons to avoid

-
Only a 60Hz display
-
Not "cheap" for all shoppers

The Google Pixel 5a is a lot like its predecessor the Pixel 4a, but with a few key upgrades in important places.

First thing's first, there's the processor. The Pixel 5a steps up to the more impressive Snapdragon 765G, which allows for better performance and 5G connectivity. Of course, 5G still has a lot of growing pains it needs to work through, but if you plan to keep your phone for the next few years and take advantage of those faster network speeds as they become more widely available, it is something to consider.

The larger size of the two compared to its predecessor, 5a allows for a bigger display and battery, making it better equipped for watching movies, playing games, and doing all of that while not having to stress about how much gas is left in the tank. You get the same top-notch 12.2MP camera from the regular Pixel 4a, but there's also a 16MP ultra-wide camera that allows for even more shooting possibilities.

In fact, during our Pixel 5a review, writer Ara Wagoner could not kill the battery even after two days of intense usage. That's huge, especially for a phone that lacks wireless charging. The 5a also is the first a-series Pixel to have an official IP67 rating for water resistance.

Bottom line: While some may not consider it to be "cheap," the Pixel 5a packs a big punch for its $449 asking price, including a powerful Snapdragon processor, 5G connectivity, stunning cameras, water resistance, and more.

Motorola One 5G Ace

(Image credit: Android Central)
Best battery life

Specifications

Display: 6.7-inch LCD, Full HD+
Processor: Snapdragon 750G
RAM: 6GB
Storage: 128GB
Cameras: 48MP wide, 8MP ultra-wide, 2MP macro, 16MP front
Charging: 15W
Battery: 5,000mAh
Water resistance : IP52
Dimensions: 166.1 x 76.1 x 9.9mm
Weight: 212g

Reasons to buy

+
Fast Snapdragon 750G with 6GB of RAM
+
Fantastic battery life
+
Headphone jack
+
5G supported

Reasons to avoid

-
Bland design
-
Camera performances isn't great
-
Older Android version

Like we said in our Motorola One 5G Ace review we realized this is a cheap phone with a set of features that makes it one of the best choices for someone that wants a long battery life with decent performance. The Snapdragon 750G with 6GB RAM under the hood keeps this phone humming along with solid performance in most apps, and the huge 5,000mAh battery makes sure you can keep going all day without a charge — and maybe even a second day.

The display is nothing special at 6.7 inches, with a Full HD+ resolution running at 60Hz, but it's still solid for the price. The 128GB of storage is plenty for a lot of apps and pictures and can even be expanded with a microSD card. The cameras are solid with the 48MP main shooter turning in some solid images with good lighting. Ultra-wide photos are also decent and a good color match to the main camera. 

One of the biggest drawbacks of this phone is the software. Motorola released this device with Android 10 but it has since been updated to Android 11. Motorola also lists this as one of the devices it expects to update to Android 12. While it would be nice if Motorola could get its updates out the door faster, it's nice to know this phone is still being supported. It just won't be supported for much longer.

Bottom line: The Motorola One 5G Ace is a cheap phone with a chunk of interesting features including 5G support for low-band and T-Mobile mid-band 5G. It has great battery life thanks to its large 5,000mAh battery and efficient Snapdragon 750G.

Samsung Galaxy A53 5G

(Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)
Best Samsung phone under $500

Specifications

Display: 6.5-inch AMOLED, 2400x1080, 120Hz refresh rate
Processor: Exynos 1280 octa-core CPU
RAM: 6GB
Storage: 128GB
Cameras: 64MP primary, 12MP ultra-wide, 5MP macro, 5MP depth, 32MP selfie
Charging: 25W wired
Battery: 5,000 mAh
Water Resistance: IP67
Dimensions: 159.6 x 74.8 x 8.1mm
Weight: 189g

Reasons to buy

+
Good-looking hardware
+
Vibrant AMOLED display with 120Hz refresh rate
+
Four good rear cameras
+
Large 5,000 mAh battery
+
IP67 water and dust resistance

Reasons to avoid

-
No 3.5mm headphone jack

The Galaxy A series is one of Samsung's greatest achievements with solid specs and nice designs on mid-range and low-end phones. We called it the mid-range phone to beat in 2022 for a reason. This one is a stellar release that feels more like a flagship at half the normal flagship price.

Samsung keeps up the trend with the Galaxy A53 5G, a refresh of the A52 with improved performance thanks to the Exynos 1280 CPU octa-core CPU, which has two cores running at 2.4GHz and the remaining six running at 2.0GHz. This is paired with a solid 6GB RAM and powered by a large 5,000mAh battery. And unlike some cheaper phones, charging is fast at up to 25 watts.

Perhaps the most impressive inclusion with this phone is a very complete 5G chipset. This phone supports sub-6 and mmWave 5G including mid-band with C-band. If you were looking for an affordable phone with full 5G support, this is a great choice. Wi-Fi isn't great with only Wi-Fi 5 supported but it should still be fine for most people.

On the front of this phone, you get a 6.5-inch Super AMOLED display running at 120Hz so you get great colors and contrast with smooth animations. This phone comes with 128GB of storage but it is expandable if you want to get a memory card to drop in. Check out our full Samsung Galaxy A53 review for more info. 

Bottom line: The best of the A-series brings with it a fast CPU, good cameras, and a great screen for the price. It's also one of the most affordable phones with great mid-band and mmWave 5G support for U.S. carriers.

Samsung Galaxy A42 5G

(Image credit: Ara Wagoner / Android Central)
Best Samsung phone under $400

Specifications

Display: 6.6-inch Super AMOLED, 1600x720, 60Hz refresh rate
Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 750G
RAM: 4GB
Storage: 128GB
Cameras: 48MP primary, 8MP ultra-wide, 2MP macro, 13MP selfie
Charging: 15W wired
Battery: 5,000 mAh
Water Resistance:
Dimensions: 164.4 x 75.9 x 8.6mm
Weight: 193g

Reasons to buy

+
Superb battery life
+
5G support included
+
Passable camera setup
+
Good performance with Snapdragon CPU
+
Samsung has announced an Android 12 upgrade

Reasons to avoid

-
Quiet earpiece
-
Low-light camera performance is weak

Unless you caught our Galaxy A42 5G review, this phone might have slipped under your radar. But this phone impressed us with its Snapdragon 750G CPU — that's the same one that's in the more expensive A52 — since it's got plenty of power for most tasks, a solid design, and a much more appealing price tag. This phone comes with a 6.6-inch Super AMOLED display with a resolution of 1600x720 at 60Hz. The pixel density isn't as high as some but for video streaming and day-to-day usage, it should be more than adequate.

This phone shipped with Android 11 but that One UI 4.1 Android 12 update is rolling out this month (May 2022). With its 4GB of RAM, the A42 should be able to keep up with just about any app you throw at it apart from high-end 3D games. You'll also keep compatibility with newer apps for longer with the latest software version if you're the type that likes to keep your phone longer than others.

The Galaxy A42 5G supports sub-6 5G bands so you'll be able to take advantage of the carriers' latest network expansions. This is a great benefit for a budget-oriented phone because most carriers aren't spending much time on LTE expansion anymore and most of the speed and coverage improvements will come with nationwide 5G, especially in rural areas.

Bottom line: The Galaxy A42 5G embraces its budget design with a four-tone back and an edge-to-edge display on the front. It also has reasonably fast hardware and even got the latest Samsung features in the One UI 4.1 Android 12 update.

Samsung Galaxy A32

(Image credit: Android Central)
Best Samsung phone under $300

Specifications

Display: 6.4-inch TFT, 720x1600
Processor: MediaTek MT6853 Dimensity 720 5G
RAM: 4/6/8GB
Storage: 128GB
Cameras: 48MP primary, 8MP ultra-wide, 5MP macro, 5MP depth, 13MP selfie
Charging: 15W wired
Battery: 5,000 mAh
Water Resistance: IP67
Dimensions: 164.2 x 76.1 x 9.1mm
Weight: 205g

Reasons to buy

+
Attractive design
+
Great cameras
+
90Hz AMOLED display is excellent
+
Three platform updates
+
Long battery life

Reasons to avoid

-
Can be a bit laggy with heavy use
-
"Fast" charging is only 15W

Samsung's lineup of mid-tier Android phones has gotten a lot better in recent years, with one of the latest examples being this one as shown in our full Galaxy A32 5G review. This is at the mid-range of Samsung's more affordable Galaxy phones, and it should absolutely be on your shortlist.

As hinted at above, this is the cheap Android phone to get if you enjoy photography. The heart of the Galaxy A32 5G is its 48MP primary camera, and photos taken with it look excellent. There's a lot of detail, good dynamic range, and vibrant colors. To help expand the types of pictures you can take, the A32 5G is also equipped with an 8MP wide-angle camera, a 5MP macro camera, and a 5MP portrait camera.

Outside of the camera department, the Galaxy A32 5G is just as impressive. It delivers a quality 6.4-inch TFT display at 720p, decent performance in day-to-day tasks thanks to its MediaTek MT6853 Dimensity 720 5G, and a beefy 5,000 mAh battery that allows for long endurance. Tie all of that together with USB-C charging and a headphone jack, and you end up with quite the package.

Bottom line: The Pixel 5a may have the best camera quality, but the Samsung Galaxy A32 5G has the versatility. With four cameras overall, you'll definitely get your shot. Plus, the rest of the phone is great, too.

TCL 20S

(Image credit: Android Central)
Best unlocked phone under $300

Specifications

Display: 6.67-inch FHD+ LCD, 2400x1080, 60Hz refresh rate
Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 665
RAM: 6GB
Storage: 64GB
Cameras: 64MP primary, 8MP ultra-wide, 2MP macro, 2MP depth, 16MP selfie
Charging: 18W wired
Battery: 5,000 mAh
Water Resistance:
Dimensions: 162.2 x 76.9 x 9.1mm
Weight: 199g

Reasons to buy

+
Crisp and vibrant display
+
5,000 mAh battery
+
Has an NFC chip
+
Improved primary camera
+
OTG reverse charging

Reasons to avoid

-
No 5G
-
No official IP water-resistance rating

TCL has been at the helm of phones under the Alcatel and BlackBerry brands, but with the TCL 20S, the company is finally entering the Android space with a device under its own name. Surprisingly, it's one of the most feature-rich cheap handsets you can buy right now. Our full TCL 20S review found the phone a bit dated, but the price is very affordable.

Starting with its display, the TCL 20S offers a 6.67-inch FHD+ LCD panel with its NXTVISION screen technology — offering true-to-life colors, great viewing angles, and support for HDR video content. If you want to use the display to showcase games, the Snapdragon 665 processor with 4GB of RAM offers more than enough horsepower to keep everything running smoothly.

Also offered are four rear cameras, including a 64MP primary camera, 8MP ultra-wide camera, 2MP macro camera, and 2MP depth camera. The actual image quality isn't the very best we've ever seen, but the fact that you have so many sensors to work with allows for lots of shooting possibilities. It's also got a faster processor than most phones in this price range, which is helpful for everyday tasks.

Rounding out the feature list is a huge 5,000 mAh battery, USB-C charging, NFC for Google Pay, and it comes in two fabulous colors, North Star Blue and Miky Way black. Plus, you can use your 20S to charge another device thanks to its OTG reverse charging capability.

Bottom line: If you're looking for features galore, from video-enhancing modes to excellent camera and battery optimizations, the TCL 20S is a fantastic option.

Seafoam Green Moto G Stylus 5G (2022) with gradient background

(Image credit: Motorola)

Moto G Stylus 5G (2022)

Best cheap phone with a stylus

Specifications

Display: 6.8-inch LCD, 2400x1080, 120Hz refresh rate
Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 695 5G
RAM: 4GB/6GB/8GB
Storage: 128GB/256GB
Cameras: 50MP primary, 8MP ultra-wide, 2MP depth sensor
Charging: 18W Qualcomm QuickCharge 3.0 wired
Battery: 5,000 mAh
Water Resistance: Water-repellent coating
Dimensions: 168.9 x 75.8 x 9.3mm
Weight: 215g

Reasons to buy

+
Included stylus for writing/drawing
+
Three rear cameras
+
Good all-around specs
+
Works with every U.S. carrier
+
Big battery
+
3.5mm headset jack

Reasons to avoid

-
No water or dust resistance

It can be challenging to keep track of all the value phones Motorola has in its lineup, but one that manages to stand out is the Moto G Stylus 5G (2022). Along with being one of the few Android phones that comes with a built-in stylus, it's also just a perfect combination of specs, features, and value. We've had the chance to go hands-on with the phone and have a full review forthcoming.

You're getting a large 6.8-inch display that looks great, and thanks to the 120Hz refresh rate, this one will feel a lot more expensive than it is because of the smooth presentation. There's also ample performance thanks to the Snapdragon 695 processor, along with 128GB of built-in storage and a very large 5,000 mAh battery. Given the affordable price of the G Stylus, these are all impressive specifications.

As the name implies, the main draw to the Moto G Stylus 5G (2022) is its built-in stylus experience. It's certainly not the most premium stylus we've ever used, but it works well enough for drawing, note-taking, etc. It can also be stored seamlessly at the bottom of the phone when you aren't using it, which is a nice touch that ties the whole experience together.

Motorola includes NFC in the Moto G Stylus 5G (2022) — unlike most of its budget phones — but there's still no IP rating for water or dust resistance. It launches with Android 12 and will see an update to Android 13, including 3 years of security updates to ensure your phone stays safe while you own it.

Bottom line: If you absolutely must have a stylus, the Moto G Stylus 5G (2022) is the best Galaxy Note-style device that doesn't cost over $1,000.

How to decide which cheap Android phone to buy

It can be pretty difficult to decide which of the best cheap phones available today you should buy. While the availability of fantastic phones under $500 has exploded over the past few years, you're still unable to get everything you would get in a more expensive device — to put it simply, there's a compromise you must reach when deciding which device to get.

For most people, the question comes down to whether you want a device that "mimics" the flagship experience but with cheaper, lower-quality components, or whether you can settle for something that has fewer specs but ones that, individually, hold up well.

The OnePlus Nord N20 5G is the best cheap phone not just because of its $282 price, but because of the rather unbelievable specs OnePlus jammed inside of the phone. An AMOLED on a phone is almost unheard of in this price category, much less a Snapdragon 695 processor that'll even run games like Minecraft and Fortnite with little problem. Couple that with a large battery, fast charging, a great 64MP camera, and OnePlus' feature-packed OxygenOS and it's clear this is the best choice for anyone on T-Mobile or Metro by T-Mobile. It's coming to more markets soon but, for now, it's an exclusive.

If you're OK with spending a bit more, the Google Pixel 5a will make you wonder why you would ever want to consider spending hundreds more on a "flagship" phone. At $450, its 1080p display is very good and quite color-accurate for the price. Like the OnePlus Nord N20 5G, it doesn't have a fast refresh rate display, but Google's camera experience blows everything else out of the water. The downside is that there's no ultrawide or telephoto option, so you're limited in the kinds of photos you can frame.

Finally, the Pixel 5a also has something else going for it: Google's commitment to three years of platform and security patches. This means that this phone is still in line for the next wave of Android features and user experience upgrades even after those found in the latest Android 12 update. While some of the other phones on this list have or will get Android 12, not many will get the next update.

And these are just two examples. So you're going to need to take the entire market into account before deciding which phone to get.

The bottom line on cheaper Android phones

There's no shortage of the best Android phones these days. While some phones cost well more than $700, the best phones under $300, or even the best phones under $100 are totally viable options depending on your needs. 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 a Galaxy S22 Plus or Pixel 6 Pro. It offers 90% of what those phones cost and can be replaced more easily. So 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 OnePlus once again proves that you don't need to even spend $300 to get a truly fantastic experience with the Nord N20 5G.

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 Motorola One 5G Ace delivers a reliable experience at one of the best prices around. Similarly, the Samsung Galaxy A53 5G has a great camera, and if you're looking for a fun stylus, the Moto G Stylus 5G (2022) is a great new pick. Every manufacturer has something of value to offer.

Nicholas Sutrich
Nicholas Sutrich
Nick started with DOS and NES and uses those fond memories of floppy disks and cartridges to fuel his opinions on modern tech. Whether it's VR, smart home gadgets, or something else that beeps and boops, he's been writing about it since 2011. Reach him on Twitter or Instagram @Gwanatu
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