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The 9 Best Cheap Phones to Buy Right Now

You don't have to hand over your whole paycheck to get the features you're looking for.

cheap cell phones
Staff, Courtesy of Motorola

With continued advances in technology, smartphones have become increasingly sophisticated—and increasingly expensive. Many now compete with laptops in terms of price, with a wide selection of phones on the market that soar past the $1,000 mark. But if you want to replace your smartphone—perhaps it’s cracked and not covered, or you just want something new—without breaking the bank, there are plenty of worthwhile phones to consider for $400 or less that will do all the things you want your phone to do.

Whether you’re looking for a phone that has strong 5G connectivity or a better camera than what you’re currently carrying, we’ve rounded up the best cheap phones for your budget.

1
Best Overall
Pixel 4a Google Read More
2
Best for $150
Moto G Play (2021) Motorola Read More
3
Best Under $180
Moto G Power (2021) Motorola Read More
5
Best for $200
Moto G stylus (2021) Motorola Read More

What to Consider

When shopping for a cheap phone, if you’re tied to a particular provider, first make sure that the phone you buy is supported by that carrier. Budget aside—and if you’re married to iOS versus Android—start off by deciding which features are most important to you. Is it a phone that takes great pictures, has excellent battery life, or a large, vibrant display for gaming? Phones on the lower end of the price spectrum often aren’t waterproof, so you may want to purchase one with a foolproof case. Also, some less expensive phones don’t have a ton of storage space, though a microSD card can be added for additional storage.

How We Selected

During our research, we read though countless user reviews, plus consulted several expert sources, including Tom's Guide and Wired. We chose phones across multiple price points, ranging from under $150 to $400, and highlighted the most important features for each, including processing speed, display, camera capabilities, battery life, overall design, and more, as well as breaking down the pros and cons for every phone covered below.

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1
Best Overall
Pixel 4a
Google

  • Exceptional camera
  • Excellent battery life

  • No wireless charging
  • No water resistance

Key Specs

  • Display: 5.8-inch FHD+ (1080 x 2340) OLED
  • CPU: Snapdragon 730G
  • Camera: 12MP rear, 8MP front
  • Battery: 3,140 mAH

While Google recently introduced the Pixel 6, Google Pixel 4a offers excellent value. One of the best reasons to buy this phone is for its exceptional 12.2-megapixel camera, upgraded from the Pixel 3 with nifty features like Live HRD+ and Night Sight for taking photos in low light.

It also features a bright 5.8-inch OLED screen, a more streamline design than the Pixel 3, and durable plastic body (not super attractive, but certainly practical), plus a headphone jack and battery life that's said to last up to 24 hours on a full charge. Downsides include no wireless charging or water resistance.

If you’re willing to spend a little more, the Pixel 5a offers 5G speed, a bigger screen, and purportedly twice the battery life, while still being very reasonably priced.

2
Best for $150
Moto G Play (2021)
Motorola

  • Great value for the price
  • Good processing speed and battery life

  • Mediocre camera
  • 32GB of storage

Key Specs

  • Display: 6.5-inch HD (720 x 1600)
  • CPU: Snapdragon 460
  • Camera: 13MP dual
  • Battery: 5,000 mAH

Finding a mobile phone that delivers solid performance for $150 isn't easy, but the Motorola Moto G Play fits the bill, with good processing speed and battery life. It features a 5,000mAh battery, along with a sizable 6.5-inch HD display. The 13-megapixel camera takes decent pictures during the day, but lacks capability in low-light conditions, and it’s considerably responsive to taps and swipes.

Overall, it’s a smart pick if you’re on a budget, but keep in mind that it only has 32GB of storage, so you may wish to spring for a microSD card if you need more space.

3
Best Under $180
Moto G Power (2021)
Motorola

  • Solid battery life
  • Large display with full HD resolution

  • Camera isn't the best
  • On the heavy side

Key Specs

  • Display: 6.6-inch HD+ (720 x 1600)
  • CPU: Snapdragon 662
  • Camera: 48MP wide, 2MP macro, 2MP depth, 8MP front
  • Battery: 5,000 mAH

One of the major selling points of the Moto G Power is that it delivers serious runtime on a single charge. It features a 5,000mAh battery, and while it may be on the heavier side at roughly 7 ounces, if you’re the kind of person who often finds your phone almost completely drained of battery, toting around extra weight may be worthwhile.

Another major highlight is its sharp, full HD resolution and generous 6.6-inch display. The camera is fine, with three lenses including the standard 48-megapixel, but don’t expect anything close to what the Google Pixel 4A delivers.

4
Best Under $200
10L
TCL

  • Nice display with sharp colors
  • Good performance

  • Battery life and camera are just OK

Key Specs

  • Display: 6.5-inch HDR (1080 x 2340)
  • CPU: Snapdragon 665
  • Camera: 48MP wide, 8MP ultrawide, 2MP macro, 2MP depth, 16MP front
  • Battery: 4,000 mAh

The TCL 10L isn’t as fancy as the TCL 10 5G or the TCL 10 Pro, but there’s a lot to like about this phone in addition to its budget-friendly price point. It offers a sharp, color-rich 6.53-inch LCD display and good performance despite its Snapdragon 665 processor, which is slower than the brand’s 5G model for only $50 more.

Reflected in the price point, the phone's battery life is decent, but far from stellar, and the camera is average. You'll be able to snap fairly good photos during the day, but not after dark.

5
Best for $200
Moto G stylus (2021)
Motorola

  • Well-functioning stylus
  • Good battery life and processing speed

  • Lackluster display
  • Camera lacks extras

Key Specs

  • Display: 6.9-inch FHD (1080 x 2400)
  • CPU: Snapdragon 678
  • Camera: 48MP wide, 8MP ultrawide, 2MP macro, 2MP, 16MP front
  • Battery: 4,000 mAH

If you’d rather opt for a stylus over constant swiping and tapping, but don’t want to plunk down a grand for a Samsung Galaxy Note, Motorola’s Moto G Stylus is the mobile phone for you. The stylus is tucked into the right-hand corner of the phone, and offers everything from quick note-taking without unlocking the screen to scribbling on screenshots and photos.

It also checks boxes across the board for performance, with a 4,000mAh battery, adequate processing speed, and an above-average camera, though it lacks extras like optical zoom. Also, the display’s vibrancy is nothing to write home about.

6
Best 5G Under $200
10 5G
TCL

  • 5G for a reasonable price
  • Good processing speed
  • Crisp display

  • Not waterproof
  • No wireless charging
  • Camera doesn't perform well in low light

Key Specs

  • Display: 6.5-inch FHD+ (1080 x2340)
  • CPU: Snapdragon 765G
  • Camera: 64MP wide, 8MP ultrawide, 5MP macro, 2MP depth, 16MP front
  • Battery: 4,500 mAh

If you’re ready to upgrade to 5G but can’t swing a $500 phone—and are a Verizon customer—your best bet is the TCL 10 5G. Along with strong 5G connectivity, the phone also has a Snapdragon 765G processor, typically found in pricier phones, plus there’s great battery life said to last all day on a single charge.

Although the sizable 6.53-inch display appears slightly dim, colors are considerably crisp and vibrant, and while the camera does fine in the daylight, you won’t get any fab shots around the fire pit at night. Aside from having to be a Verizon customer to purchase this phone, its biggest drawbacks are that it isn’t waterproof and it lacks wireless charging.

7
Best iOS for $400
iPhone SE (64GB)
Apple

  • Fast A13 Bionic processor
  • Vibrant, crisp display
  • Very good camera
  • Wireless charging

  • Small screen may be a drawback for some
  • Camera lacks Night Mode

Key Specs

  • Display: 4.7-inch Retina (750 x 1334)
  • CPU: Apple A13 Bionic
  • Camera: 12MP wide, 7MP front
  • Battery: 1,821 mAh

If you’re a diehard Apple fan who wants a new iPhone without the high price tag, you’ll be pleased as punch with the SE. It’s also a great choice for those who’ve grumbled about the iPhone’s increasing size. Its 4.7-inch display is smaller but is just as brilliant, with ultra-vibrant, crisp colors.

In terms of performance, it’s on par with the iPhone 11, with an A13 Bionic processor, plus it offers wireless charging. If a good camera is important to you, the SE's is well above average and won’t disappoint, with a 12-megapixel rear camera and a 7-megapixel front-facing lens. But this is one feature where you’ll have to make a bit of a sacrifice—reflected in the price—as it doesn’t have the iPhone 11’s Night Mode.

8
Best Android for $400
10 Pro
TCL
Now 13% off

  • Fast processing speed
  • Solid battery life
  • Sleek design

  • Camera could be better for the price

Key Specs

  • Display: 6.47-inch FHD+ AMOLED (1080 x 2340)
  • CPU: Snapdragon 675
  • Camera: 64MP wide, 16MP ultrawide, 5MP macro, 2MP depth, 24MP
  • Battery: 4,500 mAh

The TCL 10 Pro is one of the best Android phones you can buy for around $400, with a fast processor, super-solid battery life, a sharp display, plus a great camera. It’s also sleekly designed and looks more expensive than it is.

The phone features a 4,500mAh battery and a Qualcomm Snapdragon 675 chip inside, with a 6.5-inch 1080p OLED display. There's also a headphone jack. In terms of its camera, there are four rear-facing, including a 64-megapixel main camera, along with a 24-megapixel front camera—all of which work decently and give you lots of options for taking photos in a range of conditions—but perhaps not as well as they should for the price.

9
Best Android Under $350
Galaxy A52 5G
SAMSUNG

  • Headphone jack
  • MicroSD card slot
  • Inexpensive

  • Unreliable fingerprint sensor

Key Specs

  • Display: 6.5-inch FHD+ Super AMOLED (2400 x 1080)
  • CPU: Snapdragon 750G
  • Camera: 64MP main, 12MP wide, 5MP macro, 5MP depth
  • Battery: 4,500 mAh

While Samsung’s flagship phones are some of the most expensive on the market, the company also makes some very nice Galaxy models that cost much less. Case in point, the Galaxy A52 5G is a highly affordable phone that gives you a lot for your money.

Available for less than $350, it comes with a really nice 120Hz 6.5-inch Super AMOLED display, the speedy Snapdragon 750G chipset, a decent camera, and ample battery power. You also get 5G, and it even has an IP67 waterproof rating, so you don’t have to worry about getting it wet. Few phones give you so much for so little.

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