Get one of the best cheap phones to ensure that you’re getting a good all-rounder that’s reliable and robust. There’s always the risk of ending up with a junk if you’re looking in the budget aisle, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that there are budget options that punch above their weight.
Being on a budget doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice as much as you’d think. Often, such phones have one or two areas where they truly excel. Of course, that also means that you’ll have to be a little more discerning and properly figure out which features are non-negotiable and which features who can compromise on.
Have a think about if you need a good screen or if you’d prefer a better quality camera. Long battery life essential? You can prioritize that in exchange for cutting back elsewhere. Once you know what’s important to you, it’ll easier to choose and get the budget phone that will see through your needs.
We’ve reviewed countless phones, including the best phones around, and we have it on good authority (ours!) that there are a number of cheap models that offer more than just an affordable price. While the ultimate decision is yours, we thought we’d give you a head start by gathering all the best cheap phones on this list.
Each phone below has been fully reviewed as we use them as our main handset for a good length of time, giving us a chance to test out all the key features. So, you’re safe in the knowledge that we know exactly what we’re talking about.
Able to spend a bit more? One of the best Android phones, best iPhones, and best camera phones might be a more suitable fit. However, if you don’t need all the extras, one of the best cheap phones below could be ideal for your needs. We’ve also included the best prices available so you know immediately if there’s a good deal on that handset that’s most intriguing to you.
The best cheap phones 2023
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Apple’s iPhones aren’t known for being cheap, and the company does a lot of work to keep it from feeling that way. The iPhone SE line are one of its only concessions to the concept of people needing to buy an inexpensive iPhone, and one could find that they do a very good job of it too.
The iPhone SE’s flaws are an outdated design, huge bezels, and weak battery life. Its strengths? It’s an iPhone. The powerful App store, iMessage, and Apple ecosystem in general remain such a draw in 2023 that it instantly catapults the iPhone SE to the top of our list.
Read our full Apple iPhone SE (2022) review here
With the Pixel 7a, you’re getting an improved Pixel 6a on almost all fronts. Google is adding wireless charging, a more powerful Tensor G2 processor, a 90Hz refresh rate, and a far more powerful camera. It costs a little more than the Pixel 6a did at launch, but that is because it offers a little more than the Pixel 6a did at launch.
Google’s most attractive features here are its clean Android builds, camera, and fast updates. With any Pixel, you’re all but guaranteed to capture great snaps, have access to Google’s latest and greatest software, and get updates right on the day they are ready.
It’s not all good though, in our review, we found the Pixel 7a struggling to make a full day. When combined with its terribly slow charger, power users may find themselves plugged into the wall for length swathes of the day. Where rivals from Motorola and Oppo offer brisk charging speeds and long-lasting batteries, that’s a considerable flaw from Google if not for its elegant software and standout design which make up for it.
Read our full Google Pixel 7a review here
Samsung’s Galaxy A54 is a slightly updated version of the A53. Where it shines is a design that recalls the Samsung Galaxy S23 and S23 Plus. Hold it though and you won’t be fooled for too long. The thickness and materials are not the same, and the bezels are different.
Being that it costs half as much as the S23 line though, you should be happy enpug to pocket the rest of that cash. That thickness also goes toward hosting its 5,000mAh battery which means it’ll last all day. That’s not all that will last a long time. Samsung offers a long lasting support promise, meaning it will get 4 years of OS updates and 5 years of security updates. That 23W fast charging it comes with means that even when the battery drops, it’ll get back on its feet faster than the Pixel 6a.
Read our full Samsung Galaxy A54 review here
Google’s phones have carved out a name for themselves in the camera sphere, and the Pixel 6a is no exception. Taking design cues from the Pixel 6 and the imaging strengths from the Pixel 5, it is a cute little photography machine.
Oh, there’s also that Tensor chip Google’s outfitted all its latest Pixel phones with. This means that you’ll have performance that is just short of the flagship tier.
For Android aficionados, you also have access to fast updates as soon as Google can kick them out. This means you’ll get Android 14, Android 15, and uh, well that’s about it. Google sadly only offers three years of software updates whereas Samsung and Apple offer four and five respectively.
As we mentioned earlier, the Pixel 6a has been succeeded by the just-launched Pixel 7a. However, this update hasn’t quite hit the mark, offering poor battery life and less value for money than the Pixel 6a. So, we’ve kept the older Pixel 6a in the list. We think it’s still a pretty good buy for people looking for a great cheap phone – and we should see more price cuts as well, making this smartphone even better value for money.
Read our full Google Pixel 6a review here
Xiaomi continues its reign of offering some of the best cheap phones with the Xiaomi Redmi Note 11. While it’s not quite a match for the Xiaomi Poco X3 NFC overall, this inexpensive phone isn’t a good option if you want to take great photos but it looks pretty good.
Its sleek design still offers room for a 6.43-inch AMOLED screen with a resolution of 1080 x 2400 and 1000 nits peak brightness. A 90Hz refresh rate further helps out for watching streamed movies. Elsewhere, we found performance from its Snapdragon 680 processor was a little sluggish, especially as that’s paired with a choice of just 4GB or 6GB of RAM, but they’re just about enough to get by and keep things ticking along nicely.
It’s only really 5G that you miss out on here. A decent 5,000mAh battery capacity means no need to find a charger throughout the day too.
Read our full Xiaomi Redmi Note 11 review
For something that is so far down on our best cheap phones list – the Samsung Galaxy A13 is truly deserving of the title. It costs nothing on a monthly contract. It’s a Samsung A-series phone, so it benefits from the company’s excellent software support policies that last for up to five years, and it shares a design that’s adjacent to the S-series enough to fool someone from a distance.
How good is the camera quality? Who cares. What’s it made of? Who cares. It costs nothing on a monthly contract. Screen resolution? It’s who cares pixels by who cares pixels (sidenote: if you do care, we have all of that in a table above).
Simply put, the Galaxy A13 is the absolute best cheap phone you can get when you optimize for price. The only weakness we can find is the presence of the A14 which does all the A13 does but slightly better and for a slightly higher price. Then again –well, you get the point.
Read our full Samsung Galaxy A13 review here
The Motorola Edge 30 Neo might not be as good a camera phone as the Pixel 6a, nor as good as gaming as its other Motorola Edge 30 brothers, but it makes up for it with its bright display, slight body, and striking design.
Since it’s part of the Motorola Edge 30 line, it shares a lot of the brand’s flagship style. As it is a cheaper phone, the The 30 Neo stakes its claim as the colorful, fun, member of the Edge family. Motorola’s choice of colors, Ice Palace, Veri Peri, and Aqua Foam colorways (greyish, purplish, and greenish colors), are also pleasing to the eye.
With software as clean as you can get on any non-Pixel Android, a 120Hz display, and 68W fast charging, the Motorola Edge 30 Neo is a pretty and compact option that your pocket will appreciate, in all senses.
Read our full Motorola Edge 30 Neo review here
The Moto G53 5G is one of those really cheap phones you purchase because it is very cheap, offers 5G support, and has a 120Hz display. For anything else, think camera, fast charging, even mobile contactless payments, you’ll have to look elsewhere. At £170 though, it’s a compelling buy for people who just want the basics – and online reviews on retailers show buyers raving about the sheer value.
Reviewing the Moto G53 5G, we found that Motorola made careful choices here to hit a low price point. The 120Hz refresh rate helped keep navigation smooth, and the phone felt nice to hold, There’s even microSD support, a useful feature that’s been losing support in smartphones as higher base storage and cloud storage options both work to make that unnecessary in higher priced phones.
It is a phone that costs more than a little under £200 though, so you’ll have to keep that in mind as you evaluate the camera, the plastic build, and the low-resolution display.
Read our full Motorola Moto G53 5G review here
How to choose the best cheap phone for you
Even the best cheap phones don’t have it all – that low price means there are almost always weaker elements, so the first step to choosing one is deciding which aspects are most important to you, and what you can live without.
Do you need excellent battery life? A sharp screen? Or capable cameras? Perhaps you require a high refresh rate, or consider 5G to be vital.
Another consideration, which isn’t specifically price related, is the screen size – a smaller screen makes it easier to use with one hand, and easier to fit in small pockets, while a bigger screen can make apps, games and videos more pleasant to watch and interact with.
Whatever the case, once you’ve decided what you do – and don’t – need, you can read through the entries above to find a phone that fits. Whatever balance you ultimately decide on there’s likely to be an ideal option above, and we’ve tested all of these phones extensively, so you can be sure they’re good.
What is the best cheap smartphone?
The best cheap smartphone regularly changes and is somewhat subjective, but our pick for the best cheap option is whatever’s currently in the number one spot on the list above.
How we tested
We only include a handset on this best cheap phones list once we’ve fully reviewed it, so you can be assured that every entry has been tested in full.
Our testing process involves using the phone as our main handset for days or even weeks, and testing all the key factors, from the power to the battery life, the cameras, the screen, and beyond.
That means we know exactly how each of these performs in reality – not just on paper, and we use that knowledge to rank them, while factoring in the all important price and value.