Best cheap Android phones 2023

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(Image credit: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)

1. Best overall

2. Best runner up

3. Best alternative

4. Best under $300

5. Best under $200

6. Best stylus phone

Nowadays, cheap Android phones are everywhere, proving that you don't need to spend an arm and a leg to get an excellent smartphone experience. Sure, there have been a few disappointing releases — the OnePlus N300 comes to mind — but most recent devices have left us excited for the future of affordable smartphones. Suffice to say, no matter what you're looking for in a smartphone, the best cheap Android phones that money can buy can be found below.

Ultimately, we settled on the Google Pixel 7a as our top pick, with the Samsung Galaxy A54 5G not too far behind. The Pixel 7a retails for just $449 and offers loads of flagship-level specs, such as the powerful Tensor G2 processor, incredible haptics, and the best cameras in this price range by far. 

At a glance

Best overall

The back of the Charcoal Google Pixel 7a

(Image credit: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)

Google Pixel 7a

Best overall

Display: 6.1-inch AMOLED, 2400x1080, 90Hz refresh rate | Processor: Google Tensor G2 | RAM: 8GB | Storage: 128GB | Cameras: 64MP primary, 13MP ultra-wide, 13MP front | Charging: 18W wired | Battery: 4,385mAh | Water Resistance: IP67 | Dimensions: 152 x 72.9 x 9.0mm | Weight: 193.5g

Incredible cameras
Tensor G2 chipset
Pixel-exclusive features
Wireless charging support
Best haptics in its class
90Hz refresh rate
Battery life isn't amazing

Considering how much we loved its predecessor, the Pixel 6a, Google had some seriously big shoes to fill with the Google Pixel 7a. Thankfully, not only did they deliver, but Google actually exceeded our expectations with the release of the Pixel 7a. We even went so far as to call the phone the "best Pixel Google has ever built" in our Google Pixel 7a review

How is this possible? It all comes down to balance. With a starting price of just $499, the Pixel 7a offers some truly outstanding bang for the buck, thanks to specs like the Google Tensor G2 chipset (the same processor found in the more-expensive Pixel 7 Pro), glorious haptics, and camera tech that rivals some of the best Android phones that money can buy. In fact, pound for pound, we found that the Pixel 7a performed just as well as the base model Pixel 7 ($599) in most of our initial tests. 

You also get Android 13 with all of the usual Pixel-exclusive features straight out of the box, plus five years of Pixel updates guaranteed. It's also the first A-series Pixel to come with wireless charging (limited to 5W). Sure, you only get a 90Hz refresh rate and the battery life may not be the best in the business, but for less than $500, you're getting a truly unrivaled experience. 

Best runner up

The Samsung Galaxy A54 5G's display outdoors

(Image credit: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)

Samsung Galaxy A54 5G

Best runner up

Display: 6.4-inch Super AMOLED, 1080 x 2340, 120Hz refresh rate | Processor: Exynos 1380 octa-core | RAM: 6GB | Storage: 128GB | Cameras: 50MP primary, 12MP ultra-wide, 5MP macro, 32MP selfie | Charging: 25W wired | Battery: 5,000mAh | Water Resistance: IP67 | Dimensions: 158.2 x 76.7 x 8.2mm | Weight: 202g

Good-looking hardware
Vibrant AMOLED display with 120Hz refresh rate
Flagship-level camera features
Large 5,000 battery
No 3.5mm headphone jack
Camera still doesn't beat a Pixel

The Galaxy A Series continues to be one of Samsung’s greatest achievements with solid specs and nice designs on mid-range and low-end phones. We were massive fans of the Galaxy A53, and its follow-up does not disappoint, delivering flagship-level specs at half the normal flagship price.

The Samsung Galaxy A54 boasts a typically vibrant 6.4-inch AMOLED screen with a 120Hz refresh rate, alongside the ultra-efficient octa-core Exynos 1380 processor, a large 5,000mAh battery, and 6GB of RAM with 128GB storage capacity. The camera software is excellent here as well, with a 50MP primary lens and a 32MP selfie shooter. Plus you get a lot of the camera features found in Samsung’s latest flagship series, such as Nightography capabilities and Object Eraser. 

As with all of the best Samsung phones, device longevity is the focus of the Galaxy A54. The phone is set to receive four OS upgrades and up to five years of security updates, so you can plan to use the A54 for years to come. The phone typically retails for around $449.99, but look around for Samsung Galaxy A54 deals to see if you can save some extra cash. 

Best alternative

OnePlus Nord N20 5G

(Image credit: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)

OnePlus Nord N20 5G

Best alternative

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

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
USB port compatibility issues
Only one OS update
Limited 5G support

As we found in our Nord N20 5G review, this affordable phone from OnePlus consistently performs like a phone twice its price, thanks to specs like a Snapdragon 695 5G processor, 6GB of RAM, and even 128GB of fast UFS 2.2 storage 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.

Best under $300


(Image credit: Android Central)

Samsung Galaxy A32 5G

Best Samsung phone under $300

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

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

The heart of the Galaxy A32 5G is its 48MP primary camera, and photos taken with it look excellent despite what you might expect at this price. 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.

Best under $200

The default home screen of the Samsung Galaxy A13

(Image credit: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)

Samsung Galaxy A13 5G

Best carrier phone under $200

Display: 6.5-inch HD+ PLS LCD, 720 x 1600, 90Hz refresh rate | Processor: Mediatek Dimensity 700 | RAM: 4GB or 6GB | Storage: 64GB or 128GB | Cameras: 50MP primary, 2MP macro, 2MP depth sensor, 5MP selfie | Charging: 15W wired | Battery: 5,000mAh | Water Resistance: ❌ | Dimensions: 164.5 x 76.5 x 8.8 mm | Weight: 195 g

Less than $200
Side-mounted fingerprint sensor
Two-day (or longer) battery life
Good camera during the day
5G connectivity
microSD card support
Not good for gaming
Dim display
Slow charging
Macro camera is useless

Samsung offers great phones at just about any price point, and the Galaxy A13 5G is no exception. Many U.S. carriers offer this phone for free or just a few dollars per month, so picking one up when you're on a very tight budget is practically a no-brainer. 

As with any phone under $200, you shouldn't expect the world from the Galaxy A13 5G. While the processor is just fine for scrolling through social media, browsing the web, or chatting with friends, it's not going to do much for gaming. Sure, simple 2D games like Angry Birds are just fine but anything more graphically intense won't run very well (or at all).

The display is also a bit dim and it charges slowly compared to more expensive phones, but you won't have to worry about charging often thanks to the huge battery inside. That, combined with the low-power processor means you'll have no trouble getting two days of battery life out of the A13 5G. I've seen the phone last nearly a week on a charge with very light use, so there's potential here for longer than 2-day battery life depending on usage. If you can believe it, that 50MP camera will also get you some pretty impressive pictures during the day, which isn't always expected in this price range. Low-light photos leave a lot to be desired but at least there's a flash on the back to help make up for that.

Best stylus phone

Moto G Stylus in use

(Image credit: Motorola)

Moto G Stylus 5G (2022)

Best stylus phone under $500

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

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

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.

What is the best cheap Android phone to buy?

The side-mounted fingerprint sensor on the Samsung Galaxy A13

(Image credit: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)

Without a doubt, the Google Pixel 7a is the best phone under $500 — but fortunately, we're living in a day and age that's full of excellent and affordable smartphones. 

So how you should you choose a cheap Android phone? 

Most people have a budget to stick to, and that’s where deciding the right budget-minded phone comes into play. You want to pick a phone that’s not just in your budget, but one that will last a while, too. That way you’re not spending even more on yet another phone down the road.

But before you ever think about a phone’s processor, cameras, or storage space, you need to think about connectivity. All modern phones support Bluetooth earbuds and Wi-Fi, but not all phones support all cellular networks. Make sure the phone you’re looking for supports your network of choice, especially if choosing an unlocked phone from the list.

The quickest way to end up with a phone that feels sluggish and old is to undersell yourself on the phone’s chipset.

Next, keep a phone's processor in mind before pressing that buy button. The quickest way to end up with a phone that feels sluggish and old is to undersell yourself on the phone’s chipset.

Lots of phones feature Qualcomm’s Snapdragon processors, but that doesn’t mean all of them are worthwhile. Unless your budget absolutely doesn’t allow for anything faster, you probably want to avoid any phone powered by a Snapdragon 400-series or lower chipset. Those phones are really only good as communication devices and for browsing the web or social media.

Likewise, MediaTek’s Dimensity series of processors are the only ones you want to consider from the company. Phones like the TCL Stylus 5G — which is only available at T-Mobile — sport the excellent MediaTek Dimensity 700 5G chipset, which is speedy enough for just about anything you throw at it.

Moto G Stylus 5G (2022)

(Image credit: Derrek Lee / Android Central)

Storage isn’t much of a concern these days thanks to excellent cloud storage services like Google Photos.

You’ll also want to make sure your new phone has at least 4GB of RAM if you’re ever planning on doing more than one thing at a time on it. Less RAM means the phone has less operating space for apps, creating a scenario where apps take a long time to load and often have to reload if you switch back and forth between apps.

Storage isn’t much of a concern these days thanks to excellent cloud storage services like Google Photos, which can offload the photos and videos you’ve taken to a safe and secure cloud drive. That means they not only won’t be taking up precious space on your phone but they’ll also be backed up in case something happens to your phone.

Services like Google Photos also archive your photos and make it easy to search for even the most minute details, like your old black and white cat, or the blue shoes you wore to that wedding several years ago.

With a few exceptions, the camera on the phones above will all deliver a good experience in most lighting conditions.

Cameras on smartphones have become increasingly important over the years and, with a few exceptions, the phones above will all deliver a good experience in most lighting conditions. As these are less expensive phones, you’ll need to be aware that most models will only take great pictures in adequate light. Phones like the Google Pixel 7a or Samsung Galaxy A54 5G offer great low-light support, and that function is becoming more common on phones even under $300 these days.

No phone on this list has poor battery life, but some folks might have a unique need for a smartphone to last more than a single day on a full charge. We’ve noted that several options above will offer that but specifically highlight one phone as having the best battery life of them all.

The bottom line on cheaper Android phones

The Motorola Edge (2022) and Pixel 6a

(Image credit: Nick Sutrich / Android Central)

Most Android phones these days are pretty good, but a few stand above the rest. We've outlined many of our favorites here but if you want a few more options and are on a tighter budget, we've got picks for the best phones under $300 and the best phones under $100 . Each of these categories comes with a few concessions but, if you're looking for a specific niche — like a stylus — you'll find a few more options there.

Just remember, though, that you're paying hundreds less than what it costs to buy a Samsung Galaxy S23 or Pixel 7 Pro. While those phones might offer faster processors, better cameras, or brighter screens, they're extremely expensive to replace if they accidentally get broken. 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 to cut costs.

Nicholas Sutrich
Senior Content Producer — Smartphones & VR
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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