The past few years have been really great for smartphones as the technology that goes into them has improved a lot. As a result, the best smartphones have gotten a lot better, and the phones in the budget space have also gotten very good as well. It’s gotten to the point where you can spend less than half of what the best Android smartphones cost and still come away with a good solid phone capable of delivering years of faithful service. Of course, “cheap” is a subjective term, but you will find very good options in this list for all budgets. Whether you’re looking for a great screen, some power, or even the versatility of a stylus, we have options for you that slot in on the lower side of the smartphone pricing. Here at XDA, we test almost every phone that comes to market so we can be pretty confident in saying that you won’t find a loser on this list.
So without further ado, here are our picks for the best cheap Android phones you can get right now.
Navigate this article:
- Best Overall: Google Pixel 6a
- Best for Samsung fans: Galaxy A53 5G
- Best Battery: Moto G Power
- Best Screen: TCL 20S
- Best for Stylus users: Moto G Stylus
- Best Android One device: Nokia 5.3
- Best Features & Specs: OnePlus Nord N200
- Best Rugged Phone: Blackview BV5900
- Best Value (not sold in US): Poco X4 Pro
Best Overall: Google Pixel 6a
If you’re looking for peak Android performance and good camera performance on a budget, it really doesn’t get better than the Google Pixel 6a. Traditionally, Pixel phones have come in two flavors – the flagship series and the A-Series. The A-series usually comes with a few compromises that allow the phone to ship with a lower price tag. The Pixel 6a is Google’s latest budget smartphone and it is no exception. It comes with the latest version of Android available, Android 12. That also means it’ll be among the first to get OS and security updates until August of 2027.
Under the 6.1-inch OLED display, the Pixel 6a runs Google’s Tensor processor, 128GB of UFS 3.1 storage, and 6GB of RAM along with a 4,410 mAh battery that easily lasts the day.
The Pixel 6a carries the same camera as flagship Pixels up to the Pixel 5 series. It can easily stand toe-to-toe with phones that are twice as expensive. Google’s photo processing is second-to-none and it shows in every shot you’ll take with this phone. For its price point, this is simply the best camera you can buy on a phone.
The biggest compromise you’ll find is the lack of wireless charging. Wireless charging is becoming more ubiquitous making its exclusion noticeable. The Pixel 6a also has a plastic back which can be off-putting in a world of aluminum and glass, but if you don’t mind those two compromises, you’ll find the rest of the phone to be more than capable.
Perhaps the biggest story is how similar to the Pixel 6 flagship this phone is, while also $150 cheaper. They have the same processor, same 5G support, and the same software experience. There are some key differences, in that the Pixel 6 has upgraded camera hardware which is a convincing argument if you have the budget to spare. The flagship series also gets a glass back and wireless charging, quicker wired charging, and a 90Hz AMOLED display, as well as a bump up in its IP rating. All of these make the Pixel 6 a much better choice. But the Pixel 6a still retains its own ground if you are hard on cash. The smooth software and great specifications round out the phone to be the best you can buy on this list.
Best Samsung: Samsung Galaxy A53 5G
The Samsung Galaxy A-series of phones is Samsung’s mid-tier budget line and the Galaxy A53 5G is the captain of that lineup. This phone debuted in March of 2022 and seemed poised to take on the iPhone SE (2022) in the mid-tier space. Apple and Samsung compete in the flagship space, so the midrange space is open season as well.
While the iPhone SE tries to offer the fastest processor in a familiar (read: old) form factor, the Samsung Galaxy A53 goes a different way. The Galaxy A53 offers a premium design, great screen, and huge battery in an affordable package.
Under the hood, you get the Samsung Exynos 1280, 6BG, or 8BG of RAM and 128GB or 256GB of storage. Combined with 5G support, a 5,000mAh battery, and Samsung’s guarantee of four years of OS upgrades and five years of security updates and this is a phone that will last a long time.
Like the Pixel 5a 5G, the camera setup on this phone is no slouch. There’s a 64 MP main camera sensor and 12MP ultrawide camera, along with dual 5MP cameras for depth and macro respectively. The main sensor is capable of taking some really great shots, even measuring up to the main camera on Samsung’s flagship, the Galaxy S22 Ultra (BB).
Samsung’s camera processing is driven toward a “social media sharing” look that punches up, brightens, and saturates colors more than you might see in reality. This generally makes photos taken quite sharable and attractive. You might just have to give up a little “realism” to get there. It all comes down to personal preference.
The other part of the phone that you don’t often see at this price point is the 120Hz refresh rate you get in the display. Samsung as a rule makes great displays, and the 120Hz refresh rate makes everything extremely smooth. It’s a demonstrably awesome experience at a very reasonable price point.
The design of the phone is another area where some compromises have been made. The phone has a flat-screen and plastic build coated to look like metal. It looks nice, but plastic doesn’t give you the same kind of durability you might look for in a modern smartphone.
Speaking of durability, Samsung also promises four years of Android OS updates along with five years of security updates. That kind of longevity is rarely seen at this price point. It’s just as much as Google offers its own phones, and it sets a new standard that other manufacturers should follow. That alone is enough to make the phone worth considering.
Samsung had to cut a few corners to get here, but it cut the right corners to bring down the cost to the mid-range tier. So what you’re left with is a really solid mid-range phone from a company that dominates the market at every price point. While Samsung has products at both ends of the spectrum and just about everywhere in between, this phone offers arguably the best balance of price and features making it a great value in the midrange space.
Best Battery: Moto G Power (2022)
Motorola has enjoyed most of its success in the midrange space. The Moto G series of phones is Moto’s best seller, and the Moto G Power brings exactly that to the table. Moto has diversified its G-Series of phones to meet almost every niche. One of the most important concerns new consumers have for their phones is battery life. To that end, Moto built the Moto G Power. It’s appropriately named because this phone has a massive 5,000mAh battery that lasts for days. But it’s not just a phone with a big battery.
The Moto G Power has a 6.5-inch LCD display that refreshes at up to 90Hz. High refresh rates are becoming more common among midrange phones, but it’s still noteworthy when a budget phone carries one. This is a 720p panel which is not the highest resolution, but unless you’re watching super high-quality video, you may not even notice.
Under the screen, you get a Mediatek Helio G37 processor that sips battery life, 4GB of RAM, and 64GB of storage. Both of those are on the low side, but when you factor in the Moto G’s price tag, that’s not surprising. What is surprising is the main camera on the back of this phone.
Motorola put a 50MP main camera on the back with two additional 2MP sensors for depth and macro shots. The camera is good in good lighting conditions, but struggles in low light, due partly to its lack of optical image stabilization. Again, considering the price point, it’s hard to be too critical about the camera quality.
On the front, you get an 8MP selfie camera which is also decent, but also not great in low light. At night both cameras start to get really grainy and lose a lot of detail. If you plan to take the bulk of your photos with good lighting (which you should do anyway) this won’t be too much of a problem, but if you frequently find yourself out at night, or in nightclubs or restaurants, you might want to look elsewhere.
On the software side, Motorola phones are a slick, clean Android experience with some industry-best software enhancements. The Always-on display is one of the best out there, and Moto’s gestures for the camera and flashlight are fun and intuitive. You don’t get NFC, so you won’t be able to use Google Pay, but aside from that, this phone has a lot going for it, for under $200.
This phone is for customers who only care about battery life. That’s not a small thing. Battery life is consistently in the top five items on a smartphone wish list. Without a battery charge, the phone is basically useless. So this phone doubles down on that, while still producing a phone that can do the basics with great software. Add to that a decent camera and decent specifications, and this is a phone that can easily charm those who want a long-lasting phone without having to compromise too much.
Best Screen: TCL 20S
TCL is well-known for its TVs, but it’s also making some solid in-roads in the phone department. The TCL 20S came out in 2021, but it still shines in 2022 with one of the best displays you can get on a smartphone at this price. That’s largely thanks to TCL’s Nxtvision software that allows you to tune the screen to your liking.
Nxtvision gives you the control to adjust your screen however you want. There are default settings for “Vivid” and “Normal” but you can even customize the color tuning to your preference. Along with that tuning, you can further customize your experience by enabling reading mode which gives you a more paper-like reading experience. Add in a blue-light filter and a darker display mode for super low brightness in dark environments and you start to get the idea
On the inside, the TCL has a Snapdragon 665 processor with 4GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. You also get a 5,000 mAh battery and 64MP main camera. You get all this for around $200 which is a pretty sweet deal. The 18W fast charger also comes in the box. These are pretty standard specifications for this price point. You won’t be able to play top-shelf games on this phone; it doesn’t have the power for that. Again, that’s not surprising for a phone at this price point.
There’s a quad-camera setup on the back of the phone, headlined by the 64MP main camera. Adding to that are an 8MP ultra-wide sensor and dual 2MP sensors for depth and macro shots. The 64MP primary is the star of the show taking great shots outside. The ultrawide camera is also capable of good shots, though its struggles a bit with distortion on the edges of photos. The rear camera can also capture 4K video at 30fps which is pretty great for a $200 phone.
On the audio side, you get a 3.5mm headphone jack and Super Bluetooth. That allows you to connect up to four Bluetooth devices at a time. It’s great for adding multiple speakers for broadcasting audio in a group setting, or for sharing audio with multiple headsets. Put simply, this phone is an audio pro.
We’d like to see a 90Hz display here, like what the OnePlus Nord N200 below offers. Beyond that, we have few complaints. We’re glad to see TCL take its technical expertise with screens and shrink them down to the phone size.
This phone is mainly for someone who loves to consume content on their phone. Nxtvision enhancements really drive that point home because of how much you can adjust what’s on the screen and tailor it to your preferences. Add to that a big battery, large screen, and good camera, and this is a phone that is no slouch. It’s also worth repeating that this phone can be had for $200 which is also no joke. Buy this phone if you want to consume content, but you’re on a tight budget.
Best for Stylus users: Moto G Stylus
The stylus was one of the most beloved accessories that came with a smartphone or PDA. Most stylus-bearing phones sit in the premium tier of pricing, but the Moto G Stylus is a great option for the budget tier. But if you’re a fan of the stylus and don’t want to spend top-dollar, the Moto G Stylus is a great option. Motorola did the right thing by putting the stylus inside the body of the phone, so you always have it with you.
The stylus in question is not an active stylus which means it doesn’t require charging but also doesn’t have Bluetooth functionality or palm rejection. It does have low latency, and when you pull the stylus while the phone is off, it lets you take notes without first unlocking the phone. It’s great for jotting down quick notes like phone numbers or working out issues on a makeshift whiteboard.
Of course, to take full advantage of the stylus, you’ll want a large screen, and the Moto G Stylus has that with a 6.8-inch LCD display. The 20:9 aspect ratio is great for holding the phone and using it one-handed while still being large enough to use the stylus. You also get a headphone jack which is a nice bonus.
On the inside, the Moto G Stylus has a Snapdragon 678 processor, 4GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, and a 4,000mAh battery. All that speaks to pretty decent performance for the price, which is usually below $200.
On the back, you get a quad-camera setup including a 48-megapixel main sensor, 8MP ultrawide sensor, and a macro and depth camera at 2MP a piece. The camera set is just ok, certainly nothing to write home about, but they’re very serviceable at this price point.
The software is Motorola’s signature clean version of Android that it has carried since it and Google briefly shared the same address. Moto’s smart gestures are here including the chop-chop to turn on the flashlight and the wrist twist to activate the camera quickly. You also get one of the best active displays you can find on an Android phone.
Unfortunately, Motorola isn’t famous for its long software support, so that’s a big trade-off. While companies like Samsung and Google offer five years of software support, Motorola promises a single operating system upgrade. That will bring you up to speed with what’s available now, but after that, it’s a big question mark. Yes, this is a budget phone, but even budget phones run into security bugs every now and then.
But overall, if you’re a stylus fan, this is a good option that won’t break the bank. We really like the garaged stylus that’s always there when you need it and out of the way when you don’t. We also dig Motorola’s software which is second only to the Pixel experience (and some would argue it’s better than that). For its price, there’s little to gripe about. It’s a great option with a stylus that will last you a good long time.
Best Android One device: Nokia 5.3
Android One is one of the lightest skins you can get for an Android phone, though it hasn’t been updated in a while. All the same, this is a near-stock version of Android that is designed to run on phones as smoothly and efficiently as possible, along with software updates for at least two years.
Nokia relaunched its brand in 2016 going with the Android One program after going with Windows Phone as its primary operating system. Android One is a very light skin of Android designed to run on hardware that doesn’t have a lot of power that you might be used to in a smartphone. Moreover, Nokia, backed by HMD Global has committed to Android and providing the purest Android experience on a smartphone.
That gives you a stock Android experience which is basically Android as Google intends it to be. Not only are you missing a lot of the customizations that OEMs put into their operating systems, but Android One also uses default Google apps for functions like Messages, Photos, and Chrome. It’s an ecosystem that, if you’re a fan of Android, you are probably at least tangentially familiar with.
As for hardware, for less than $130, you get a Snapdragon 665 processor with Adreno 610 GPU. Internal storage is limited to 64GB with microSD expansion. There’s also a 4,000mAh battery, 6.5-inch 720p screen, and a decent 13MP main camera. Overall, these are decent specifications for that low a price tag. The Snapdragon 665 processor is quite capable, debuting in quite a few mid-range phones in 2020. Plus, the phone is massive with a 6.5-inch screen. It’s hard to argue with that big a phone for that low a price.
The phone is made from a polycarbonate frame and is available in blue, gold, or grey. The plastic body is a bit of a fingerprint magnet, which can make it hard to keep clean. There’s a quick and responsive capacitive fingerprint sensor on the back of the phone just below the camera module. Speaking of which, that module juts out from the back of the phone enough to make it wobbly on a table.
The camera setup is a Quad camera module with a 13MP main shooter, 5MP ultrawide, and 2-2MP sensors for depth and macro shots. The cameras are really just ok. They’re capable of decent, social-media-ready shots when you have good lighting conditions. If you have ambitions beyond that, you’re going to run into trouble. Nokia used to be one of the best camera sets around. Sadly HMD Global has not kept those roots around.
But if you’re into the stock Android experience and you’re on a tight budget, this is a great phone to pick up. It doesn’t have any bloatware or any other software you don’t need. You can get the same experience in a Pixel, but you’ll pay for the privilege. This phone can be had for almost a fifth of the Pixel 5a. That’s saying quite a bit and it’s about as clean a software experience as you’ll find on an Android phone.
Best Features and Specs: OnePlus Nord N200
The OnePlus Nord N200 starts at a retail price of $239, but if you shop around, you can probably find it for less. The OnePlus Nord series is a sort of return to roots for OnePlus. Originally the company started off as a flagship killer brand with top-tier specs and a few compromises at a budget price. Since then, OnePlus has matured into a flagship company of its own right. That’s great for the company, but it left OnePlus without a budget offering.
Enter the OnePlus Nord line. While nothing in the Nord lineup will be mistaken for a flagship-class smartphone, OnePlus still puts a respectable amount of power into these budget smartphones. “Fast and smooth” is OnePlus’s motto, and the Nord embodies that spirit. It’s a midrange 5G phone with a great build and good specifications.
The display is a 6.40-inch LCD display with a 90Hz refresh rate which keeps things fast and smooth. There’s a Snapdragon 480 processor, 4GB of RAM, and 64GB of storage. Plus you get a 5,000mAh battery that won’t quit. Speaking of which, the phone comes with an 18W fast charger in the box as well. The phone has a side-mounted fingerprint sensor that is fast and accurate. If you like side-mounted fingerprint sensors, this is one of the best. One thing that is missing is OnePlus’s signature slider for silencing audio.
On the back, you get a triple camera setup that’s not bad for this price range. There’s a 13MP main shooter along with two 2MP sensors for depth and macro. So really, there’s only one camera to worry about. That camera is really just ok. It produces passable photos when the lighting is good, but it struggled when it is not. That’s fairly standard for phones at this price point, so it’s good to see that OnePlus is maintaining that minimum standard when it comes to cameras. Really, it’s hard to find a bad camera on a phone these days regardless of the price point. But if you’re looking for something that will perform well after the sun goes down, look elsewhere.
From an audio standpoint, you get a 3.5mm headphone jack and wide Bluetooth codec support including Qualcomm aptX HD support. Qualcomm aptX HD is the most prolific codec in Bluetooth audio streaming because of its capacity to quickly deliver a lot of audio data quickly. That means there’s less signal loss from your phone to your headphones, so you get higher quality music. If audio is high on your list of priorities, this phone ticks a lot of boxes.
Mainly what impresses us about this phone is the 90Hz screen and the software that is fast even on a lower-end processor. 90Hz goes a long way toward fulfilling that fast and smooth mission statement. When you consider that a phone’s screen is where you spend most of your time, it can’t be understated how important it is for that screen to be responsive and bright. You’ll get that with the OnePlus Nord N200.
Best Rugged Phone: Blackview BV5900
These days most smartphones look great but can be easily damaged or scuffed. So for the crowd that puts their phones through the wringer, we have an entry for you too. The Blackview BV5900 is a heavy-duty phone that looks the part. It costs less than $200 and is built out of aluminum and rubber, just the thing to withstand daily bumps and grids, drops, and spills.
We’ve all had that heart attack when you drop a phone onto concrete or tile and hoped beyond hope that the phone would survive unscathed. That’s not an issue at all with the Blackview BV5900. This phone is built to stand up to anything. It looks like it belongs in a toolbelt rather than a briefcase. But that’s fine because it can rest easily next to hammers and screwdrivers and survive even the toughest scrapes.
When you are in the market for a rugged, durable phone, you’re not going to get a top-of-the-line phone in the specifications department. That’s definitely the case here. The screen is a 5.7-inch LCD panel with a 720p resolution. Inside you get a Mediatek Halio A22 processor with a PowerVR GE8320 GPU. There’s 3GB of RAM and 32GB of onboard storage and a massive 5,580mAh battery that lasts for days.
The camera setup is also not impressive. There’s a single 13MP main sensor along with a 0.3MP depth sensor. This is not a phone for influencers or anyone who wants to share photos. This is a phone for people who need to get things done and know for a fact that their phone will be fine at the end of the day. So let’s get to what this phone does best. It’s tough with a capital T.
The phone carries an IP68/IP69K dust and water resistance which means it can be submerged up to 1.5 meters for up to 30 minutes. It has drop-to-concrete resistance of up to the same 1.5 meters. It is MIL-STD-810G complaint. It can take a beating and come out smiling on the other side. In short, if you’re shopping in this category, this is as tough as they come. It’s true that this phone is not the biggest nor the fastest. It doesn’t have to be because it is unquestionably the toughest.
But let’s be frank about another attractive point of this phone – its price. This is a sub-$200 phone and if you shop around a little you can find it for a lot less than that. While we realize that not everyone wants to deal with owning two phones, if you’re someone who really puts their phone through the wringer during the day, but then relaxes on the couch in the evening or on weekends, this may be a good secondary device for your sim card. You can stay in contact during the day, and at night, settle down with different devices for gaming, social networking, or whatever you want. In essence, this might be a good “day phone” option before you switch to another phone in the evenings or weekends.
Best value (not sold in the U.S.) Poco X4 Pro
The reality is that phones available in the US are pretty limited. Once you leave those shores, you get a lot more options and a lot of different price points. That includes the Chinese brand Xiaomi and more specifically its sub-brand, Poco. The Poco X4 Pro delivers arguably the best balance of dollars to power. It has a lot going for it.
Poco is what OnePlus used to be – a flagship killer. Don’t get us wrong, Poco phones are not flagship-class phones, but they offer a lot of raw power at a very low price. As such, they can be very compelling. Starting off with a 6.67-inch AMOLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate and you might have already done a double-take. Considering this phone can be had for less than $350, this is already an interesting conversation.
Add to that the Snapdragon 695 processor, 6GB of RAM, and 256GB of storage, and this is a phone worth taking a seriously long look at. The Snapdragon 695 processor is very respectable with a decent amount of power. You’ll be able to play some heavier games with that and even do some light video processing.
Plus, you get a 5,000mAh battery with 67W charging which is insanely fast. While companies like Apple and Samsung have stopped including charging bricks in the box, overseas, companies like Poco (and others) are upping the charging game by a lot.
Make no mistake, 67 Watts is the peak charging rate and you only charge your phone at 67W for a few seconds, but the ultimate result is your phone can go from dead to 100% in less than 30 minutes. That means you don’t even have to charge your phone at night. Just plug it in for literally a few minutes before you leave the house and you’ll be good to go. You can get an extra 20% battery charge in the time it takes you to put on your shoes. It’s hard to imagine how useful that is until you’ve tried it.
Now, let’s talk about the 108MP main camera module. While the main camera module doesn’t stand up to the 108MP camera on something like the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra, it’s not far off. Specifically, at night, photos tend to get blown out highlights when there’s a light source in the frame, but beyond that, this is a pretty good camera that punches way above its weight class. Plus any shortcomings you might find will usually be in the processing of the photo, in which case a software update might improve results over time. Of course, there’s no guarantee that will happen, but the possibility exists.
Overall, the Poco X4 Pro 5G has a lot to offer for not a lot of money. This is decidedly a mid-range phone with a decidedly low-budget price tag. You can even pick one up in the US from Amazon from time to time, though carriers will not promise that the phone will work very well.
Of course, all of these phones are decidedly mid-tier. Some of them can stand up to flagship phones in one area or another, but there are always compromises. For our money, we love the Pixel 6a for the camera and software and the OnePlus Nord N200 for the overall experience.
This post has been read 40 times!