Best cheap phone 2023 - Our top budget smartphone picks

best cheap phone

best cheap phone

With more and more smartphones entering the market that promise stellar performance at affordable price points, finding the best cheap phone is getting trickier by the day!

Much like choosing some of the best mid-range phones out there, the main reason you would go for the best cheap phone is probably that you don't want to spend too much.

Splashing out on a four-figure flagship is of course going to give you loads of extra features, but you may not end up needing to use them all, so you might as well save yourself some cash.

Cheaper phones do still have a decent feature set, though, and they should still be capable of carrying out general day-to-day tasks. Some can even compare pretty well against phones which are triple the price, as they have good cameras, for example, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 9T, which is included on this list.

You will be making some sacrifices with cheaper handsets, like when it comes to the materials used to build the phones or they may have some slightly older internal components. In the grand scheme of things, this won't make too much difference for general productivity tasks and a budget phone should serve you fine.

With all that in mind, we’ve selected these phones based on specs, general reviews, and features that we think make them worth considering, and have taken the time to answer some of your most frequently asked questions.

So, let’s get to it – here are some of the best cheap phones you can buy today.

Best cheap phone

Best cheap Samsung phone - Samsung Galaxy A32 5G

best cheap phone samsung
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Image Credit: Samsung
Brand: Samsung | Processor: MediaTek Dimensity 720 5G | Screen Size: 6.5 inches | Screen Resolution: 720x1600 | Camera: 48MP, 5MP, 2MP | Storage Options: 64GB, 128GB (expandable with microSD) | Battery Capacity: 5000mAh

Samsung is noted for making some of the best phones around, and this also extends into the world of cheaper handsets, as is demonstrated by the Galaxy A32 5G.

Inside, it packs a MediaTek Dimensity 720 5G chipset which, with its octa-core setup should provide something nice and snappy for day-to-day tasks, and the options of 4, 6, and even 8GB of RAM give you loads of headroom for some more intense tasks and can hold a candle to more expensive phones.

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Its camera is also rather good for the price, opting for a quad snapper setup that's comprised of a 48MP wide lens and an 8MP ultrawide, as well as a 5MP macro and 2MP depth sensor. These should all combine to take some rather clear photos, which is arguably why phones have multiple rear cameras these days.

You also get a large 6.5-inch screen with a 720x1600 resolution which should look pretty decent with good contrast, and the options of 64 or 128GB of storage aren't too shabby either. It's also worth noting it features a MicroSD slot, so if you want to add in more storage, then you can.

If you're thinking ahead for the future and you're a fan of Samsung smartphones, then you may also want to check out our Samsung Galaxy S23 release date hub for all the latest news and leaks.

Best cheap Google phone - Google Pixel 6a

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Credit: Google
Brand: Google | Processor: Google Tensor | Screen Size: 6.1 inches | Screen Resolution: 1080x2499 | Camera: 12MP, 12MP | Storage Options: 128GB | Battery Capacity: 4410mAh

It may not seem right to consider the Google Pixel 6a, but as things stand, it's the most affordable phone in the Pixel lineup and represents some serious value for money.

With it, you'll be getting a 6.1-inch OLED display that should offer a good level of screen real estate as well as also being quite a vibrant panel too, with some good colours.

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In addition, the phone is also powered by Google's own Tensor chip which, alongside 6GB of RAM should provide some rather snappy performance for the price. 128GB of storage also provides plenty of capacity for you to store important files, apps and games.

Round the back, there's also a dual set of 12MP cameras that should be able to take good photos, as well as Google's software trickery such as Real Tone and Magic Eraser that has been brought over from the standard Pixel 6.

Real Tone was designed for people of colour so that when an image is processed, it can more accurately portray their skin tone, using facial detection, auto-white balancing, and plenty more cool effects.

Best cheap Xiaomi phone - Xiaomi Redmi Note 9T

best cheap phone xiaomi
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Image Credit: Xiaomi
Brand: Xiaomi | Processor: MediaTek Dimensity 800U | Screen Size: 6.5 inches | Screen Resolution: 1080x2340 | Camera: 48MP, 2MP, 2MP | Storage Options: 64GB, 128GB (expandable with microSD) | Battery Capacity: 5000mAh

The Xiaomi Redmi Note 9T is arguably one of the best cheap phones you can buy today.

This comes thanks to its speedy MediaTek Dimensity 800U processor that should be nice and quick for even the most demanding of tasks and can be seen to be a quicker chip than phones costing double this one.

Moreover, the Redmi Note 9T looks gorgeous with a choice of either purple or black colouring around the back, as well as a 6.5-inch FHD panel round front with 450 nits of brightness helping images to look crisp and sharp with good contrast and pixel density for the price.

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You'll also find a cracking triple camera setup that's made of a 48MP wide, 2MP macro and another 2MP snapper for depth, which should offer some great shots. Alongside this comes the ability to shoot at 4K, 30fps, which for a phone this price, sounds incredible.

A 5000mAh battery is also excellent and should last for a very long time, and if you do get caught short, Xiaomi has you covered with 18W fast charging, which should give you 33% of charge in just a half hour or so.

Best cheap Oppo phone - Oppo A54 5G

best cheap phone oppo
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Credit: Oppo
Brand: Opppo | Processor: Snapdragon 480 5G | Screen Size: 6.5 inches | Screen Resolution: 1080x2400 | Camera: 48MP, 8MP, 2MP, 2MP | Storage Options: 64GB, 128GB (expandable with microSD) | Battery Capacity: 5000mAh

The Oppo A54 5G also looks to be a fantastic choice for those searching for a cheap phone.

With it, you'll be getting a 48MP quad camera setup that should provide you with some great shots, especially in low light with a dedicated night mode built in.

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In addition, the Oppo A54 5G also comes with a larger 6.5-inch display, complete with a 90Hz refresh rate for smoother motion, as well as a 1080x2400 resolution.

There's also a 5000mAh battery present here which should give you some good longevity, and when you need to charge it, this phone has 10W charging from its bundled adapter.

Best cheap Nokia phone - Nokia 1.4

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Image Credit: Nokia
Brand: Nokia | Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 215  | Screen Size: 6.5 inches | Screen Resolution: 720x1600 | Camera: 8MP, 2MP | Storage Options: 16GB, 32GB, 64GB (expandable with microSD) | Battery Capacity: 5000mAh

For those wanting a phone for under £100, then the Nokia 1.4 should be quite a good choice.

It sports a modest quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 215 chip which, with its 1.3GHz clock speed, should be able to handle the basics well, and 2GB of RAM also should provide you with enough headroom for some heavier workloads every now and again.

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In addition, it features what should be a sturdy plastic construction for the price. A 6.5-inch display is sizeable and it's a pretty bright IPS panel with a peak brightness of 500 nits or so, offering some good colours and sharp contrast.

The Nokia 1.4 also sports a double camera with an 8MP wide and 2MP macro offering you the ability to take decent quality images that should feature some good colours and decent clarity. You also have the ability to shoot video in 720p at 30fps, if you ever want to take some quick footage.

Storage options range from 16 to 64GB, which is an okay capacity for the price, but Nokia does bundle you with a microSDXC slot so you can upgrade the Nokia 1.4's storage and bundle all the files you need onto it.

Best cheap Realme phone - Realme 8 5G

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Image Credit: Realme
Brand: Realme | Processor: MediaTek Dimensity 700 5G | Screen Size: 6.5 inches | Screen Resolution: 1080x2400 | Camera: 48MP, 2MP, 2MP | Storage Options: 64GB, 128GB (expandable with microSD) | Battery Capacity: 5000mAh

The Realme 8 5G definitely looks like quite the powerful all-rounder for a cheaper phone.

First off, you're getting a 6.5-inch screen with a 90Hz refresh rate for extra-smooth input and a peak brightness of 600 nits should mean images will be nice and bright and colours should pop nicely.

In addition, there's also a great triple camera with this particular handset opting for a 48MP main wide sensor and a 2MP sensor for macro and another 2MP offering for depth. Moreover, a 16MP front camera should also allow you to take some sharp selfies, too.

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A MediaTek Dimensity 700 5G chip also means the Realme 8 5G should be rather speedy for anything you throw at it, and the options of 4, 6, and 8GB of RAM are certainly welcome in making more intensive tasks and multitasking a breeze.

It's also got a large 5000mAh battery which should last you for a long time. For just general use, you may be able to get two days before needing to plug it in, which is pretty remarkable.

Best cheap Motorola phone - Motorola Moto G50

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Image Credit: Motorola
Brand: Motorola | Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 480 5G | Screen Size: 6.5 inches | Screen Resolution: 720x1600 | Camera: 48MP, 5MP, 2MP | Storage Options: 64GB, 128GB (expandable with microSD)| Battery Capacity: 5000mAh

Motorola also makes some of the best and most affordable phones available today, and the Moto G50 is certainly a nice option.

First off, you're getting a handy 6.5-inch panel with a 90Hz refresh rate for smooth inputs that should also look great, along with some relatively thin bezels on top and bottom which aid in providing a good screen-to-body ratio.

Moreover, the Moto G50 should provide you with a decent slice of performance thanks to a Qualcomm Snapdragon 480 5G processor and 4GB of RAM will also give you enough headroom for some more intensive tasks.

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Storage options of 64 and 128GB are a decent starting point for loading loads of files, and the inclusion of a microSD card slot just allows you to slot in more storage and install even more apps or load more music on without the G50 breaking a sweat.

Its 5000mAh battery capacity is nice and beefy, and it's also worth noting this phone also has 15W fast charging for when you do need to load some more juice back into it, which is a similar power level to some of the best wireless chargers out there.

Frequently asked questions

There are always a few questions that pop up time and time again when it comes to cheaper phones, so here are our two cents to help you make an informed decision.

Are budget phones worth it?

In short, yes. Budget phones can provide you with a great all-round user experience for a fraction of the price of flagship offerings.

They can still have some big batteries and great cameras for instance, as well as some bright displays, as demonstrated by the options we've picked above.

What should I look for in a cheap phone?

Fundamentally, a cheap phone is designed to be functional, but that doesn't mean you should have to compromise on features.

We'd say to look for a phone with a reasonably sized screen alongside a good refresh rate for smooth output - at this price, it's likely to be 90Hz or so.

In addition, you'll want a phone with a multi-core processor with a decent quantity of RAM for multitasking. On cheaper phones, expect to find between 6 and 8GB.

Some cheaper phones may also be able to provide you with high-quantity batteries, as well as decent triple camera setups that will take pretty clear pictures, which are well worth looking out for.

Having multiple cameras allows you to have more options when it comes to taking pictures with different depths and fields of view.

What is the difference between a cheap and an expensive smartphone?

The main difference, besides price, between cheaper and expensive smartphones is down to features, and more specifically, the internal components of phones.

Cheaper phones may have slightly older processors and lesser quantities of RAM, whilst flagship handsets typically utilise the latest tech possible. In addition, more expensive phones may have higher quality cameras with more and better lenses that can take sharper images, as well as being built of more premium materials.

Why use a cheap smartphone?

In essence, using a cheaper or more affordable smartphone can be useful if you're just looking for a device that's going to do the basics well.

Some may not be able to afford a flagship device either, so going for a cheaper phone is going to provide a great user experience for a fraction of the cost of more expensive flagships.

Is 4GB RAM enough for a phone?

In short, yes. In 2022, 4GB of RAM is considered the minimum a smartphone should have in order to run multiple apps at once, which all take up a certain portion of your memory. depending on how intense the tasks are.

The more RAM you have, the more capacity you have to run a larger quantity of apps, for instance.

Do I need 5G?

You'll notice that a couple of the phones we've listed above do feature the ability to connect to 5G networks, which can get you much quicker network speeds with more bandwidth and much lower latency.

Whether you need to take advantage of this depends on a few things, including the point that coverage is majorly limited to more urban areas at the moment, so you'll only be able to utilise 5G connectivity where it's present.

At the moment, 4G should still be fine for most, but if you want. to get a 5G phone for futureproofing, then you certainly can.

Will my phone get Android 13?

This depends on which phone you have and, if the updated operating system is a primary concern for you, we recommend checking against our list of Android 13 supported devices.

Is 5G better than 4G?

In short, yes. 5G is an advanced connection standard that can offer up to 100x faster speeds than 4G, and also offers much lower latency than its predecessor.

What is LTE?

In short, LTE, or long-term evolution, is industry jargon that refers to a specific type of 4G tech. It isn't as quick as a standard 4G connection but offers significant benefits over the older 3G standard that is now beginning to be phased out.

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