Best Budget Android Phones

Best budget smartphone 2023

Samsung S23 ultra is a great mobile but not budget. See our top 4 picks if you are an android user but don’t fancy paying out big bucks. 

OnePlus Nord N20 5G

The OnePlus Nord N20 5G has good performance and a sharp 1080p OLED screen with an in-display fingerprint reader, a feature that’s usually reserved for more expensive phones.

The OnePlus Nord N20 5G is more powerful than Samsung’s budget phones, and its 1080p OLED screen is sharper than those of other phones in this price range, which typically have lower-resolution LCDs with worse contrast. The N20 5G even offers an in-display fingerprint sensor, a rare feature on budget phones. It has an available update to Android 12, along with three years’ worth of security updates (through spring 2025). However, it doesn’t function on Verizon’s network.


Samsung Galaxy A14 5G

Samsung’s cheapest 5G phone performs better than most phones in this price range, and Samsung offers an impressive four years of guaranteed software updates.

The Samsung Galaxy A14 5G has a boring, generic design, but it’s more responsive than you might expect for just $200. The screen picks up more fingerprints than more expensive phones, but it’s big and bright, and the A14 5G runs Android 13. Samsung promises several more updates in the future, too, with an astonishing four years’ worth of update support (through early 2027). Most budget phones are lucky to see half that.

Upgrade pick

Google Pixel 6a

The Pixel 6a offers the latest Android software, an excellent screen, and a camera that rivals those of phones that cost twice as much.

Buying Options

*At the time of publishing, the price was $449.

Like Google’s past budget-phone options, the Google Pixel 6a has great software—but it adds more powerful hardware. The Pixel 6a beats the budget competition in almost every way, and that makes it a terrific choice, provided you can spend a little more money. For $450, the Pixel 6a offers one of the best cameras on any smartphone, including phones that cost more than twice as much. In addition, the software experience is smoother and more pleasant than what you can find on OnePlus or Samsung phones, and the Pixel 6a has the same powerful Tensor processor as the more expensive Pixel phones do. Google guarantees security updates until summer 2027, as well. However, the Pixel 6a falls short of our other picks in battery life, and it has no headphone jack.

Budget pick

Samsung Galaxy A03s

The Samsung Galaxy A03s has better performance and update support than other ultra-budget phones, and it works on all cellular networks.

Buying Options

*At the time of publishing, the price was $158.

At a mere $160, the Samsung Galaxy A03s is the cheapest phone in Samsung’s current lineup, but it doesn’t perform like a bargain-basement phone. The A03s is fast enough to browse the web, send messages, and play simple games. And despite the phone’s low price, Samsung isn’t skimping on updates: The A03s will receive updates through early 2026, a full four years’ worth of support from launch, unheard of for a phone this cheap. The build quality takes a step down in comparison with the Galaxy A14 5G, the camera isn’t very good, and this model has no 5G support, but the battery life is excellent.

How to choose the best budget smartphone for you

Picking the perfect budget phone isn’t easy, and there are all sorts of factors to consider when making your purchase. Before you head to the checkout, you will want to make sure you have all the bases covered. To make your decision a bit easier, we’ve highlighted the main criteria you need to look out for.

Should I buy a phone on contract or SIM-free?

Budget smartphones are, as you would expect, cheaper to buy outright than other handsets, with prices starting as low as £100 or so. As a result, if you have the cash, we recommend you buy one SIM-free. You can then find the right SIM-only deal from any network and sell your phone when you want to upgrade. If you don’t have the cash, you will need to go for a contract deal, but these don’t tend to be great value for budget phones as you end up spending much more by the time your contract ends.

Which smartphone operating system do I need?

With budget phones, there isn’t much choice when it comes to mobile operating systems. Bar one exception, every budget smartphone runs Google’s OS, Android. Rest assured, though: Android is easy to use, whether you’re a first-time user or mobile veteran. Just check which Android version the phone is running as older versions may no longer be supported with regular security updates and lack essential features.

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Stevie Flavio
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