Budget smartphones are usually last in line to receive the latest innovations and technologies. They typically inherit technologies from their more expensive counterparts, meaning that despite being entry-level offerings, they provide stable performance thanks to tried and tested hardware.
While the overall smartphone market experienced a decline in 2023 compared to last year, there has been a steady release of entry-level offerings. This time around, features like a curved display, 5G connectivity, and premium glass back designs were seen at significantly lower prices.
While well-established brands often dominate this price segment with great phones, this year saw a different scenario. Brands like Infinix, Lava, and even Motorola fiercely competed with the established brands.
Here are some of the best budget smartphones that stood out from the crowd and why:
Lava Agni 2
The Lava Agni 2 (review) is undoubtedly one of the best phones of 2023 priced around Rs 20,000. It competes favourably with high-end smartphones that easily cost double or triple the price of the Agni 2. Additionally, the Agni 2 stands out as it comes with free home delivery.
Featuring a curved display, curved glass back panel, 67W fast charging, an in-display fingerprint sensor, and running on stock Android 13 OS with a promised Android 14 update, this phone impressed us in our review. The primary camera performance was particularly commendable. Overall, the Lava Agni 2 is among the best budget smartphones of 2023.
Infinix GT 10 Pro
Pitched as a gaming smartphone, the Infinix GT 10 Pro (review) handles most games flawlessly with its high-performance Mediatek chip. Its 1080p flat OLED screen with a 120Hz refresh rate and distinctive lighting at the back make it a head-turner.
The GT 10 Pro is a non-compromising smartphone, retaining features like a micro SD card slot and a 3.5mm headphone jack—features disappearing from many mid-range phones. Although it runs on a custom chip, it is Infinix’s first smartphone without bloatware.
Samsung Galaxy M34
For those who value stability and brand value, the Galaxy M34 (review) stands out. While its specs might not be as impressive as the Agni 2 or GT 10 Pro, it excels in battery life, lasting over one and a half days even for heavy users. It boasts a fast high-refresh-rate display, a stable operating system promising three years of OS updates, and a large 6,000mAh battery.
Offering excellent value for money, the Moto G84 is one of the few smartphones in this segment to offer an IP54 rating for water and dust resistance. Available in the beautiful Pantone Viva Magenta colour option, it features the Snapdragon 695, which, while a compromise compared to other smartphones in this segment, delivers smooth performance for day-to-day usage.
OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite
The best budget smartphones of 2023 list would be incomplete without the Nord CE 3 Lite (review), OnePlus’s most affordable smartphone. It might not be a specs powerhouse but delivers a fast and smooth user experience for everyday usage. Featuring 5G connectivity, a modern design, a 120Hz display, running on OxygenOS known for its fluidity, and supporting fast charging (with the adapter included), it is a compelling option.