Best Cheap Phones: Get the Most Bang for Your Buck

Smartphones are an integral part of modern life, to the point where you’re at a disadvantage if you don’t own one. The only problem? High-end smartphones are expensive, even when purchased with a cell phone data plan, and most people are working with a limited budget. 

Fortunately, the best cheap smartphones compare favorably to more expensive models. They won’t offer the latest advances in screen resolution and camera capabilities, but what they lack in technological specifications they more than make up for in reliability and reasonable price points. Here’s five of the best cheap phones on the market today.

Best Budget iPhone: The Apple iPhone SE (2020)

  • Display: 4.7-inch LCD
  • Processor: A13 Bionic 
  • Storage: 64GB, 128GB, 256GB
  • Rear Camera: 12MP
  • Front Camera: 7MP
  • Weight: 5.22 ounces
  • Battery Life: 9 to 10 hours

While the iPhone SE’s A13 Bionic processor isn’t as fast as the iPhone 12’s A14, it’s the same processor that powers the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro. A single rear camera lens with no Night Mode isn’t likely to appeal to photo enthusiasts, but the phone does offer Portrait mode for both cameras and Smart HDR. Wireless charging helps offset a battery life that isn’t the most impressive on this budget phone list. 

The iPhone SE screen provides vibrant colors, although the phone’s bezels are larger than you’d expect on a modern phone. Still, if it’s time to purchase a new phone and you want to keep the price in check, the iPhone SE is one of the best budget cell phones on the market.

Apple iPhone SE

Motorola Moto G Power

Best Budget Phone Battery: The Motorola Moto G Power (2021)

  • Display: 6.6 inch full HD
  • Processor: Snapdragon 662 
  • Storage: 64GB with expandable microSD capabilities
  • Rear Camera: 48MP main, 2 MP macro
  • Front Camera: 9MP
  • Weight: 7.3 ounces
  • Battery Life: 14 hours

If battery power is your primary concern, the Motorola Moto G Power gives you power to spare with an impressive 14-hour battery life. The display is not as bright as the iPhone SE, and the powerful battery does add some weight to the Moto G, but you won’t find a better budget phone if you need your phone to run for long periods of time.

  • Display: 6.53-inch LCD
  • Processor: Snapdragon 765G
  • Storage:128GB
  • Rear Camera: 48MP main, 8MP super wide, 5MP macro
  • Front Camera: 16MP
  • Weight: 7.4 ounces
  • Battery Life: 11 hours

Exclusive to Verizon, the TCL 10 5G UW allows you to access 5G networks without purchasing a top-of-the-line phone. The Snapdragon 765G is the same processor found in the Google Pixel 5 and LG Wing,and 5G connectivity won’t adversely impact your battery life. The screen produces good color, but you may find it a little dim compared to more expensive phone models. Three rear cameras make the TCL 10 5G UW an appealing buy for photographers on a budget.

TCL 10 5G UW

Motorola Moto G Stylus

The Best Galaxy Note Substitute: Motorola Moto G Stylus

  • Display: 6.4-inch LCD
  • Processor: Snapdragon 665 
  • Storage: 128GB with expandable microSD capabilities
  • Rear Camera: 48MP main, 16MP ultrawide, 2MP macro
  • Front Camera: 16MP
  • Weight: 6.8 ounces
  • Battery Life: 12 hours

With triple rear cameras and a stylus, the Motorola Moto G Stylus is one of the best cheap phones for users who like the versatility of the Galaxy Note but balk at the price tag. The camera does not offer optical zoom and the screen colors could be more vibrant than they are, but at this price such limitations are to be expected. You may also find it's not available through Verizon online, in which case you’ll need to buy the phone in-store.

The Best Budget Android: The Samsung Galaxy A51

  • Display: 6.5-inch FHD sAMOLED
  • Processor: Exynos9611, Octa-Core
  • Storage: 128GB with expandable microSD capabilities
  • Rear Camera: 48MP main
  • Front Camera: 32MP
  • Weight: 6.06 ounces
  • Battery Life: 11.5 hours

If you’re a devout Android user, the Samsung Galaxy A51 is probably your best choice from the many cheap smartphones on the market. The Exynos9611 Octa-Core isn’t the most powerful processor in the world, making the phone’s performance a little slow, but this is balanced out by a bright screen, 120Hz refresh rate, and 5G compatibility. The Galaxy takes excellent photos and is supported by monthly security updates. A plethora of pre-downloaded apps can be an annoyance, as you won’t use most of them, but a quick uninstallation session takes care of that issue.

Samsung Galaxy A51

How to choose the best cheap phone for you

Choosing cheap smartphones requires some tradeoffs: you need to balance the cost against the lack of certain features that would be present on upgraded phones. If you want a long-lasting battery, for instance, you may need to settle for less impressive camera capabilities or a slower processor. 

Be sure you know what’s important to you when choosing from the best cheap phones. Keep the data plan you’re considering in mind as well: cheap smartphones with relatively fast processors are better suited to unlimited data plans than phones that focus on screen resolution and cameras. As long as you keep price and function in mind you should have no trouble settling in the best budget cell phone for you.