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?
2021 wasn't the best year for budget phones but, thankfully, 2022 is proving to be a far better year for folks who aren't comfortable with or able to spend $1,000 on a new phone. 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. We've put these phones through our series of tests (opens in new tab) to ensure you're getting only the best recommendations.
Our top pick is the Samsung A53 5G, which comes in at under $500, and offers some of the best features of Samsung's more expensive flagship phones. It's got a gorgeous 120Hz AMOLED display, four cameras on the back (that are actually good), a big old battery that'll last many users well over a full day, and software support for years. It's hard to argue with Samsung's position in the Android world these days for this last reason, alone.
But if you're looking to save even more money and are on the T-Mobile or AT&T networks in the U.S., our top pick under $300 is the OnePlus Nord N20 5G. The Nord N20 sports a vibrant 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 only has proper 5G support on T-Mobile's network.
If cameras are your most important pick, though, you'd be remiss to not consider the Google Pixel 5a first. 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.
These are the best cheap phones you can buy
Best phone under $500
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
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. It's even more impressive than the more expensive Galaxy A73 (opens in new tab) because of the value for the 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 (opens in new tab) for more info.
Best phone under $400
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
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 — 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 (opens in new tab) 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 and, while the phone is available unlocked after a period of T-Mobile exclusivity, it only supports 5G speeds on T-Mobile. AT&T customers can use the phone but will only get a 4G LTE signal.
Best cameras on any budget phone
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
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, Pixel 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 (opens in new tab), 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.
It's well worth noting that the Pixel 6a's release is right around the corner and, when compared to the Pixel 5a (opens in new tab), the Pixel 6a is a far better device. If you can wait until the end of July, there's little doubt that this will soon be the best camera pick.
Best battery life
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
Like we said in our Motorola One 5G Ace review (opens in new tab) we realized this is a budget 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.
Best Samsung phone under $400
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
Unless you caught our Galaxy A42 5G review (opens in new tab), 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 saw an update to Android 12 with One UI 4.1 in 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.
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
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 (opens in new tab). 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 budget 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.
Best unlocked phone under $300
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
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 budget handsets you can buy right now. Our full TCL 20S review (opens in new tab) 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.
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
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) (opens in new tab). 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. Motorola also offers a less expensive Moto G Stylus (2022) (opens in new tab) but, as you would expect, it's missing 5G and some other important features when compared with the Moto G Stylus 5G (2022).
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 three years of security updates to ensure your phone stays safe while you own it.
How to decide which cheap Android phone to buy
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. Several factors can make a phone feel like it ages quickly, leaving you unsatisfied with your purchase after a short period of time.
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! Otherwise, you might need to switch carriers to get that dream phone, and — so long as your carrier sells it — you might even get the phone on special for making the switch.
Now for the phone itself. The quickest way to end up with a phone that feels sluggish and old is to undersell yourself on the phone’s chipset. As with buying a PC, you want to ensure that the on-board processing package isn’t just good enough for today’s tasks, but is somewhat future-proof, as well.
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 (opens in new tab) — which will make our list once it's more widely available — sport the excellent MediaTek Dimensity 700 5G chipset, which is speedy enough for just about anything you throw at it.
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 (opens in new tab), 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.
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 5a or Samsung Galaxy A53 5G offer great low light support, but that feature isn’t common on phones under $500.
Lastly, is the consideration of battery life. 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
There's no shortage of the best Android phones (opens in new tab) these days. While some phones cost well more than $700, the best phones under $300 (opens in new tab), or even the best phones under $100 (opens in new tab) are totally viable options depending on your needs.
And that's the beauty of a device that costs a third of a Galaxy S22 Plus (opens in new tab) or Pixel 6 Pro (opens in new tab). 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.
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