Flagship smartphones have become more experimental to stand out from the competition. Foldable screens, multiple cameras, and improved specifications, unfortunately, also increase the price.

The good news is that formerly premium features are making their way to cheaper phones. There’s a broad range of affordable smartphones that’ll keep you up to date without breaking the bank.

Here are the best budget smartphones available today.

While Android smartphones tend to dominate the cheaper end of the market, Apple has an affordable product of their own. The Apple iPhone SE is a reasonably priced entry in its iOS range. The device looks like an older iPhone, but it is packed with some of the latest hardware.

The 4.7-inch Retina HD display is IP67-rated for water and dust resistance. There is a 7MP front-facing camera with Portrait mode. That’s in addition to the 12MP wide-angle rear camera. This can record 4K video, snap in Portrait mode, and comes with depth control, too.

The iPhone SE is equipped with fast-charge support, uses Apple’s A13 Bionic chip. It is available in three colors; black, white, and (PRODUCT)RED. The latter option is a charity collaboration with (RED). If you opt for this color, Apple will donate 100 percent of available proceeds to the Global Fund’s COVID-19 Response Fund.

Apple’s flagship options come with Face ID included, which is a biometric security option. However, the iPhone SE uses the older fingerprint mechanism, Touch ID. That said, it is one of the only significant features missing from an otherwise remarkable offering.

If you’ve been holding out for an iPhone, but have never been able to justify the cost, the iPhone SE is the best way to get started with Apple’s iOS ecosystem.

Key Features

  • Runs Apple’s iOS operating system
  • 4.7-inch Retina HD display
  • Powered by Apple’s A13 Bionic chip
Specifications

  • Brand: Apple
  • Storage: 64GB, 128GB, 256GB
  • CPU: Apple A13 Bionic
  • Operating System: iOS
  • Battery: 1,821mAh
  • Ports: Lightning connector
  • Camera (Rear, Front): 12MP, 7MP
  • Display (Size, Resolution): 4.7-inch, 1334 x 750
Pros

  • Affordable introduction to Apple’s ecosystem
  • IP67-rated
Cons

  • Slightly dated exterior design
  • No support for Face ID, only the older Touch ID

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Many Android fans were left disappointed when Google discontinued the mid-range Nexus lineup and replaced it with the flagship Pixel phones. However, with the introduction of the Pixel 3a, the company sought to create a premium experience on an affordable phone. The Pixel 4a is the latest iteration of Google’s budget smartphone, offering one of the best stock Android experiences available today.

As the operating system’s designer, the main attraction of the Pixel 4a is its integration with Google services, including the Google Assistant. Likewise, the Pixel range is well-known for its high-performance photo-taking abilities. Both of these remain intact on the 4a, although the phone does lack the Pixel Neural Core of the Pixel 4, which is partly responsible for the phone’s photography prowess. Similarly, Pixel 4 features like water resistance, wireless charging, and Active Edge are all missing on the Pixel 4a.

However, the Pixel 4a has consistently been reviewed as one of the best budget smartphones for photography thanks to its 12MP dual-rear camera and software features like Live HDR+, Night Sight, and Portrait Mode. Google’s strength is data, and the Pixel 4a’s software uses machine learning to understand your habits, routines, and favorite phone-based activities. This also informs the Google Assistant, which helps you manage your virtual life and can even filter out unwanted calls with Call Screen.

Although some people are rightly concerned about Android smartphones’ privacy and Google’s data handling policies, there’s no denying that the company takes security seriously. The Pixel 4a comes equipped with the Titan M security chip, which handles sensitive information like passwords and security updates and keeps them separate from the primary operating system and your installed apps.

Key Features

  • Ships with Android 10, upgradeable to Android 11
  • Titan M security chip
Specifications

  • Brand: Google
  • Storage: 128GB
  • CPU: Snapdragon 730
  • Memory: 6GB
  • Operating System: Android 10
  • Battery: 3,140mAh
  • Ports: USB-C, 3.55mm jack
  • Camera (Rear, Front): 12MP, 8MP
  • Display (Size, Resolution): 5.8-inch, Full HD+
Pros

  • High-quality photography hardware and software
  • Tight integration with Google Assistant
Cons

  • No water resistance
  • Lacking the Pixel Neural Core of the Pixel 4

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HMD Global has been leading Nokia’s revival for several years now. Its Android smartphones pair attractive, high-quality hardware with bloatware-free software experience. The Nokia 5.3 6.55-inch device has a quad-rear camera setup with a 13MP primary lens, an ultra-wide 5MP sensor, a 2MP macro lens, and a 2MP depth sensor. These kinds of arrangements are far more common on flagship devices, with a price-tag to match, making the Nokia 5.3 incredible value for photography enthusiasts. Similarly, there is a high-quality 8MP front-facing camera.

The 4,000mAh battery can see the smartphone through two days of use with the help of the AI-assisted Adaptive Battery settings available as part of Android 10. The Nokia 5.3 ships with Android 10, but once you’ve set the phone up, will update to Android 11, the latest edition of Google’s smartphone operating system. There’s support for biometric authentication as well, with a choice between facial recognition or a fingerprint reader.

As a part of the Android One program, this phone has a bloatware-free experience, updates for up to two years, integration with Google Assistant, and even a dedicated button to activate it. The Nokia 5.3 has 64GB of onboard storage, expanded via microSD card to 512GB, and 4GB of RAM. A Snapdragon 665 processor power the phone, and it recharges via USB-C.

Key Features

  • 4,000mAh battery
  • Quad-rear camera with a 13MP primary lens
  • Upgradeable to Android 11
Specifications

  • Brand: Nokia
  • Storage: 64GB
  • CPU: Snapdragon 665
  • Memory: 4GB
  • Operating System: Android 10
  • Battery: 4,000mAh
  • Ports: USB-C
  • Camera (Rear, Front): 13MP/5MP/2MP/2MP, 8MP
  • Display (Size, Resolution): 6.55-inch, 720 x 1600
Pros

  • Biometric authentication via facial recognition or fingerprint
  • Android One program for a bloatware-free experience

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Samsung is one of the most popular Android manufacturers, with a range of devices to suit different uses and budgets. The Samsung Galaxy A51 is one of the best budget Android smartphones available today. This unlocked 6.5-inch device has an edge-to-edge Infinity-O display with a Super AMOLED screen. Although that sounds like a lot of jargon, the outcome is that you get a high-resolution display with vibrant colors, just as suited to browsing Instagram as streaming the latest movies.

Similarly impressive is the 48MP quad-camera setup found on the back of the device. There’s also a 32MP front-facing camera for selfie fans, which is an astonishing inclusion at this price-point. The phone is powered by a 4,000mAh battery, which can be recharged via USB-C and only weighs 0.3kg. The A51 has relatively little onboard storage—just 16GB—but it can be expanded up to 512GB via microSD.

Interestingly, Samsung hasn’t included a dedicated fingerprint reader or facial recognition. Instead, the Galaxy A51 comes with a fingerprint reader embedded into the display, so you only need to touch the screen with a registered fingerprint to unlock the device. Unlike many recent smartphones, there is also a 3.5mm jack for wired headphones, alongside Bluetooth 5.0 wireless connectivity. The device ships with Android 10 but is upgradeable to Android 11.

Key Features

  • Infinity-O edge-to-edge display
  • 48MP quad-camera
  • 4,000mAh battery
Specifications

  • Brand: Samsung
  • Storage: 16GB
  • CPU: Exynos 9611
  • Memory: 4GB
  • Operating System: Android 10
  • Battery: 4,000mAh
  • Ports: USB-C
  • Camera (Rear, Front): 48MP, 32MP
  • Display (Size, Resolution): 6.5-inch, 1080 x 2400
Pros

  • Fingerprint reader is embedded under the display
  • Lightweight phone, weighing just 0.3kg

For those who spend time outdoors, perform physical work, or are accident-prone, a rugged smartphone is crucial. If you’re in the market for a budget-friendly rugged device, check out the DOOGEE S95 Pro. This feature-packed phone is IP68-rated for waterproofing, dust proofing, and shock-resistance. There’s also IP69K high-temperature resistance, and it has been tested against the MIL-STD-810G military standards.

The outer shell is made from rubber and metal. As a result, it is undeniably heavy, weighing in at 285g with a thickness of 13.8mm. However, partly this is down to the massive 5,150mAh battery with support for wireless charging. There’s biometric authentication through the fingerprint reader or integrated Faces ID. The inclusion of NFC means that you can take advantage of wireless payments with Google Pay.

The 48MP rear triple camera setup complements the 6.3-inch Full HD+ display. There’s also a 16MP front-facing selfie camera, and the onboard software adjusts the depth of field, color, and levels for a visually pleasing image. The phone is powered by a Helio P90 octa-core processor, comes with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, and runs Android 9.0.

Key Features

  • IP68-rated for water and dust resistance
  • IP69K high-temperature resistance
  • Rugged metal and rubber outer shell
Specifications

  • Brand: DOOGEE
  • Storage: 256GB
  • CPU: MediaTek Helio P90
  • Memory: 8GB
  • Operating System: Android 9.0 Pie
  • Battery: 5,150mAh
  • Ports: USB-C
  • Camera (Rear, Front): 48MP, 16MP
  • Display (Size, Resolution): 6.3-inch, Full HD+
Pros

  • Biometric authentication either via facial recognition or fingerprint
  • Support for Google Pay due to inclusion of NFC
Cons

  • Running Android 9.0, released in 2018
  • Heavy, weighing in at 285g

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Motorola has been one of the market leaders in affordable Android smartphones. The company’s Moto G range continually exceeds expectations for cheap devices. Such is the case with the Motorola Moto G7. This Amazon-exclusive affordable Android smartphone comes with Alexa built-in and other Amazon apps preinstalled.

The phone is equipped with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 632 processor and a 3,000mAh battery. When you run out of juice, you can recharge the Moto G7 with the included 18W TurboPower USB-C charger, or any USB-C compatible charger. The phone ships with Android 9.0, which was released in 2018, which may seem like a disadvantage.

However, the Moto G range is notable for its bloatware-free software experience. There’s also a 6.2-inch Full HD+ display, ideal for viewing the photos you capture with the G7’s 12MP and 5MP dual-rear camera setup. When it comes time to take selfies, there’s an 8MP front-facing camera as well.

The phone has 4GB of RAM and 64GB of onboard storage, expandable up to 512GB via a microSD card. The network-unlocked phone is IP54-rated for water resistance and is capable of biometric identification thanks to the facial recognition software and built-in fingerprint reader.

Key Features

  • 12MP and 5MP dual-rear camera
  • 64GB storage expandable up to 512GB via a microSD
  • Biometric authentication via facial recognition or fingerprint
Specifications

  • Brand: Motorola
  • Storage: 64GB
  • CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 632
  • Memory: 4GB
  • Operating System: Android 9.0
  • Battery: 3,000mAh
  • Ports: USB-C
  • Camera (Rear, Front): 12MP/5MP, 8MP
  • Display (Size, Resolution): 6.2-inch, Full HD+
Pros

  • Amazon edition with integrated Alexa
  • IP54-rated for water resistance
Cons

  • Runs Android 9, which was released in 2018

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If you’re after an alternative affordable Nokia smartphone, consider the Nokia 7.2, which is among the best budget phones you can buy. The phone is one of few running Android One, a Google-approved edition of Android.

Importantly, this means it is also among a select few that will be guaranteed to receive two years of software updates. The phone initially launched with Android 9 Pie but has since been upgraded to Android 10. The 6.3-inch Full HD+ screen ensures you get a clear viewing experience. This is especially important if you record videos, snap photos, or stream videos.

The Nokia 7.2 comes with dual-SIM support, a 3,500mAh battery, and USB-C charging. The phone is available with either 64GB or 128GB of storage. This can be expanded by 512GB via microSD. Similarly, you can purchase the phone with either 4GB or 6GB of RAM.

The device is equipped with Bluetooth 5.0 and includes a 3.5mm headphone jack. There is a 48MP rear camera supported by a 5MP depth sensor and an 8MP ultra-wide lens. The front-facing camera uses a 20MP lens. The Nokia 7.2 is available in three colors; Charcoal, Cyan Green, and Ice.

Key Features

  • Dual-SIM support
  • Available in three colors; Charcoal, Cyan Green, and Ice
  • 20MP front-facing camera
Specifications

  • Brand: Nokia
  • Storage: 64GB, 128GB
  • CPU: Snapdragon 660
  • Memory: 4GB, 6GB
  • Operating System: Android 9.0
  • Battery: 3,500mAh
  • Ports: USB-C
  • Camera (Rear, Front): 48MP/5MP/8MP, 20MP
  • Display (Size, Resolution): 6.3-inch, Full HD+
Pros

  • Part of the Android One program for bloatware-free experience
  • Guaranteed to receive two years of software updates
Cons

  • Runs Android 9, which was released in 2018
  • The Snapdragon 660 processor was released in 2017

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FAQ

Q: What Is the Best Affordable Smartphone?

The best affordable smartphone is the one that best matches your requirements and budget. However, some popular devices are generally considered among the best in 2020. From the flagship manufacturers, you have a choice between the Apple iPhone SE, the Google Pixel 4a, and the Samsung Galaxy A51. There are two devices from Nokia—the Nokia 5.3 and the Nokia 7.2—while the Motorola G7 and DOOGEE S95 Pro also offer incredible value.

Q: Which Is Better: Android or iPhone?

Broadly speaking, Apple’s iPhones offer the most easy-to-use experience, while Android smartphones offer the most choice and software flexibility. Apple iPhones are generally more expensive than their Android counterparts, although the iPhone SE is in the same budget-friendly range as Google’s Pixel 4a equivalent. However, over recent years, the smartphone operating systems—Android and iOS—have matured into similar systems, with each borrowing features from the other.

Aside from the hardware, it is now a business model that separates the two. Google provides Android for free, making Android-based smartphones typically cheaper than iPhones, but gathers data about you, your device, and your habits to sell targeted ads. On the other hand, Apple’s hardware is more expensive and encourages you to invest fully in the company’s ecosystem, thanks to high integration with other Apple products and services.

As a result, the company uses the data it gathers not to sell ads but to customize your services. Consequently, iPhones are generally considered the more privacy-friendly option.

Q: How Do I Choose a Good Smartphone?

Before you invest in a new smartphone, it’s essential to draw up your requirements. If you are passionate about photography, then a phone with an outstanding camera is a must. Similarly, those who exercise outdoors may appreciate a long-lasting battery and water-resistance. Another critical consideration is the platform, Android or iOS. For the budget-conscious, Android smartphones are generally cheaper, but Apple devices offer better integration with other Apple services and are more privacy-focused.

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