Update, 04/18/2023: We’ve reviewed our recommendations and have replaced our best under $500 pick with the new Samsung Galaxy A54.
What to Look For in a Budget Android Phone in 2023
As technology continues to evolve, features once acquainted with flagship phones have since trickled down into more affordable alternatives. This couldn’t be any truer when it comes to the smartphone market.
In this day and age, budget smartphones, particularly budget Android phones, can master the fundamentals of a great smartphone while not draining your bank account. Depending on which manufacturer you buy from, you could get a fantastic phone for a great price. You just need to know where to look!
Of course, finding that perfect deal can be a tedious process with so many different Android options on the market. It can also be confusing if you’re unsure which processor, RAM and storage capacities, camera specs, and battery sizes to look out for.
That’s where we come in. Below, we’ve compiled a list of the best budget Android phones you can buy right now, depending on how much you want to spend and which features matter to you. This list covers a range of manufacturers and price points, so you’ll be able to find what you need.
Best Budget Android Phone Overall: Moto G Play (2023)
- ✓ Big, 90Hz screen
- ✓ Good performance for the price
- ✓ Clean software
- ✗ Underwhelming cameras
- ✗ Low-res display
Our pick for the best overall budget Android phone is the Moto G Play (2023). For under $200, this device offers a well-rounded experience with a nice combination of features, design, specs, and improvements over the 2021 edition.
Fans of large screens will like the 6.5-inch, 90Hz display, despite its lack of brightness in direct sunlight. It’s an LCD panel, but at this price, OLED screens aren’t possible anyway.
Under the hood, the 2023 Motorola Moto G Play replaces the 2021’s Snapdragon 460 with a MediaTek Helio G37 and sticks with 3GB of RAM. This combination will be sufficient when you’re flipping through apps, touching up your photos, playing light games, and most tasks for the casual phone user.
The Moto G Play also comes with 32GB of internal storage, which may not be enough for everyone. Luckily, a microSD slot is available, so you can upgrade your storage as needed up to 512GB.
On the back, you’ll find a 16MP rear-facing camera paired with a 2MP macro lens for clear close-up details in your photos. Photos taken with the G Play won’t knock your socks off, but you shouldn’t expect perfect pictures when you’re saving this much money over typical flagship phone prices. Regardless, this device’s photos should look good enough for Instagram and Snapchat.
This phone also has a big 5,000mAh battery, a rear-mounted fingerprint reader, the Android 12 operating system, and a water-repellent coating that should help with light splashes and trips in the rain (along with an IP52 water resistance rating).
Priced at $170, the Moto G Play is a solid phone with some compromises that, while inconvenient, likely won’t be dealbreakers for anyone interested in picking up a feature-packed budget smartphone.
Best Budget Android Phone Overall
Moto G Play (2023)
Coming in at around $170, this budget Android phone is packed with more features than you’d expect! You’ll get a decent camera, good battery life, upgradeable storage, and more for a surprisingly low price.
Best Budget Android Phone for Battery Life: Moto G Power
- ✓ Fantastic battery life
- ✓ Good performance
- ✓ Big, sharp screen
- ✗ Cameras do poorly in limited light or with video recording
- ✗ Display not all that bright
When it comes to battery life, Motorola has another solid option for cheap: the Moto G Power. This device, priced at around $250, offers a 5,000mAh cell paired with efficient specs that allow the phone to last two to three days on a single charge. When it comes time to recharge, there’s a USB-C port on the bottom of the phone, which supports 15W fast charging.
Motorola is able to achieve this with the proven-efficient Snapdragon 662 processor. Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 600 series has always been known for providing an incredible balance between performance and power efficiency, and the 662 inside the G Power is no different.
The Moto G Power also comes with a sharp 6.6-inch 720p LCD display, up to 4GB of RAM, and up to 64GB of storage. You’ll find three cameras on the back with a main 48MP lens, a 2MP macro lens, and a 2MP depth-sensing lens. All three combined can help you take decent portrait mode and zoom photos, although things tend to fall apart at night and while recording video, which tops out at 1080p.
Overall, the Moto G Power is a solid option for anyone who wants the most endurance they can get out of a phone on a budget while still being given the necessary tools they need to perform their daily tasks.
Best Budget Android for Battery Life
Moto G Power (2021)
With a huge 5,000 mAh battery coupled with the efficient Snapdragon 662 processor, the Moto G Power can last two or three days on a single charge. It’s capable of fast-charging, too!
Best Budget Android Camera: Google Pixel 6a
- ✓ Shares two cameras with the Pixel 6
- ✓ Same great Google camera software
- ✓ Only costs $450
- ✗ Battery life could be better
- ✗ Only IP67 water resistance
When it comes to the best cameras on phones, Google’s Pixel series is always at the top. The Pixel 6a not only has great cameras, but it has a great price tag as well.
For a price of $450, the Pixel 6a shares two of the cameras with the more expensive Pixel 6. That means a 12.2MP main camera, 12MP wide-angle camera, and an 8MP front-facing camera. All of this comes with Google’s top-notch camera software too.
This software includes Google’s great portrait mode, Night Sight, and Astrophotography. The nice thing about Google’s camera experience is it’s not overly complicated. Anyone can essentially point and shoot to get a really great photo, ready for social media.
The other important specifications include the 6.1-inch display, Google Tensor chip, 6GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, and 5G support. It has IP67 water resistance, which isn’t the best, but it’s better than nothing at all.
With the Pixel 6a you’re getting one of the best cameras out there, regardless of price. On top of that, you get fast software updates, clean software, and an easy user experience.
Best Budget Android Camera Phone
Best Android Phone Under $500: Samsung Galaxy A54 5G
- ✓ Big, bright, and beautiful display
- ✓ Great software support
- ✓ Good performance and battery life
- ✗ Cameras struggle in low lighting
- ✗ No wireless charging
The Samsung Galaxy A54 5G, which is replacing its predecessor—the Galaxy A53 5G—packs all the right stuff for a solid mid-range smartphone. It has a big and beautiful 6.4-inch Super AMOLED screen with an adaptive refresh rate of up to 120Hz. The company has also increased the peak brightness to 1000 nits, which is plenty to keep everything on the screen readable in even bright outdoor conditions.
The 5,000mAh battery also performs admirably and will last through a day, even with heavy usage. You also get fast 25W wired charging support. But sadly, there is still no wireless charging.
Another positive for the phone is its Exynos 1380 SoC, which packs tons of processing power. This results in smooth multitasking and an overall responsive experience. The Exynos chip is also suitable for gaming, and it will easily handle almost every game you throw at it. However, in graphics-intensive games like Genshin Impact, you may have to turn down the graphics settings for a completely lag-free experience.
In other features, the A54’s camera performance is good but certainly not flagship level. You’ll be able to capture excellent shots in good lighting conditions with plenty of detail. However, the smartphone struggles in low lighting as it allows visual noise to creep in and takes longer to lock autofocus.
You’ll also be happy to know that the phone runs on Android 13 with One UI 5.1 out of the box. And the company has promised to deliver four Android version updates and up to five years of security patches. This is even better than what Google offers with its Pixel phones.
Lastly, as the name suggests, you can enjoy 5G connectivity on the A54 5G. The phone is certified to work with the 5G networks on all three major carriers. But only the Verizon model, which costs $50 more than other versions, supports mmWave 5G.
Best Android Phone Under $500
Samsung Galaxy A54 5G
The Samsung Galaxy A54 5G is an excellent mid-range phone that ticks all the right boxes. You get a vibrant display, impressive battery life, and great performance.
Best Android Phone Under $300: OnePlus Nord N20 5G
- ✓ Vibrant OLED screen
- ✓ In-display fingerprint sensor
- ✓ Bundled charger offers 33W fast charging
- ✗ 5G limited to T-Mobile
- ✗ Only one useful camera
The OnePlus Nord N20 5G is an excellent option for bargain hunters. It packs several exciting features you will be hard-pressed to find in its competitors. For example, the phone has a full-HD+ OLED screen, which delivers vivid and vibrant colors.
You also get an in-display fingerprint sensor for a seamless unlocking experience. Plus, there is 33W fast charging support with the included wired charger and NFC for contactless payments.
There is much to like even outside of the phone’s marquee features. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 695 chip and generous 6GB of RAM help the Nord N20 5G deliver decent performance. In addition, the 4,500mAh battery is good enough to last through the day on a single charge.
There are three cameras on the back of the OnePlus phone, but only the 64MP primary shooter is any good. It takes pleasing photos with plenty of detail in good lighting. However, results are slightly less nice in low-light scenarios.
Regarding software, the Nord N20 5G ships with Android 11-based Oxygen OS 11, and the company is promising to release one major Android update and three years of security updates.
Unfortunately, 5G support is limited to T-Mobile, and the phone doesn’t work on Verizon. So if you want an under-$300 5G phone for AT&T or Verizon, Samsung’s Galaxy A13 5G is a good option. It has a great battery life and performs well but packs a lower-resolution LCD screen.
Best Android Phone Under $300
OnePlus Nord N20 5G
From a gorgeous OLED display to 33W fast charging support, the OnePlus Nord N20 5G has a lot going for it.
Best Android Phone Under $200: OnePlus Nord N100
- ✓ 90Hz screen
- ✓ Decent specs
- ✓ Clean software
- ✗ No water resistance
- ✗ Poor cameras
If all you have to buy a new phone is $200, we’ve got you covered. The phone you should be looking at is the OnePlus Nord N100.
Priced at $180, the N100 is one of OnePlus’s latest mid-range Nord series offerings. The company has impressed us with the quality of smartphones it can cook up at such low prices, and the N100 is no exception.
The device sports a 6.52-inch 720p display with a 90Hz refresh rate (commonly found in much more expensive phones), a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor, and a USB-C port. Inside, you’ll find a Snapdragon 460 processor that can handle basic tasks just fine, though you won’t be able to run resource-heavy apps and games on it. You also get 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage.
On the back, OnePlus includes a triple camera setup on the N100 that can take photos that won’t impress, but are at least sharable. The company also includes stereo speakers and Android 10 with a promised upgrade to Android 11. Notably, that will be the only major upgrade the N100 will get, so you better be okay with never getting Android 12. This is relatively common among budget phones, though.
The phone doesn’t come with the ability to connect to 5G networks, lacks any water resistance, and the specs aren’t particularly impressive. However, for under $200, the Nord N100 is a solid device that doesn’t leave out any fundamental features. It does its best to offer a basic smartphone experience, and the barrier to entry couldn’t be lower.
Best Android Phone Under $200
OnePlus Nord N100
If you’re running on a really tight budget, you’ll want to go with the OnePlud Nord N100. This is a solid Android phone that doesn’t do anything spectacular, but provides a decent phone experience for just $180.