This story is part of Gift Guideour year-round collection of the best gift ideas.
You don’t have to brag about iPhone 14 o Galaxy S23 to get perks like multiple cameras, useful photography tools, the latest version of iOS or Android and access to your favorite apps and games. The best cheap phones provide a lot of value when it comes to the basics but cost significantly less than their main competitors.
Our top picks are as cheap as $160, while more advanced models will run you $600 — which is significantly cheaper than the top models from Apple, Samsung and Google. If you have a specific budget in mind, you can also check out our best phones under $200 and best phones under $500 listings for other affordable phone options.
Samsung’s Galaxy A03S at $160 (£139, about AU$240) comes with a lot of great features and could be a great fit for someone looking for the cheapest possible phone that can handle the most important tasks. The phone’s 6.5-inch screen, equipped with 720p resolution, is great for reading news, watching videos and playing games. Despite some performance lag found during our review, the phone excels at multitasking. But the phone’s measly 32GB of storage space can fill up quickly, so considering this phone, it might be worth considering expanding the storage with a microSD card.
Samsung also plans to support this phone with at least four years of security updates, which in this price range is as good as it gets. On the software side, it’s less clear how many Android versions are scheduled, but the phone ships with Android 11 to start.
Apple’s new iPhone SE for 2022 is a mix of an older design with the latest smartphone features, including Apple’s latest A15 Bionic chip and 5G support, for $429. It’s also one of the few phones on the market that comes with a smaller, 4.7-inch screen.
However, it’s the throwback design, which continues the general shape Apple has used since 2014, that may or may not be what you like most about this phone. If you want a larger iPhone in this price range, you may also want to consider the $599 iPhone 12 to get a bigger screen and Face ID.
The $449 Pixel 6A is the latest device in Google’s more affordable A series, replacing the Pixel 5A. CNET’s Lisa Eadicicco called it her “best Android phone under $500” Pixel 6A reviewnoting how it keeps the same Tensor chip seen in the $599 Pixel 6 and many of its best features.
The phone is slightly smaller than the Pixel 6, featuring a 6.1-inch OLED display and a refresh rate of 60Hz. It also has a similar camera system as the Pixel 5A, which includes a 12.2-megapixel primary camera and a 12-megapixel ultrawide camera. But the Tensor chip brings additional benefits you won’t get on the Pixel 5A, such as Real Tone for more even skin tones, Face Unblur, Night Sight for low-light photography and the Magic Eraser for removing unwanted elements from an image.
You are receiving price alerts for Google Pixel 6a (128GB, Charcoal)
The Galaxy A53 gives you many of Samsung’s features and power at a fraction of the price of the S-series. It boasts a larger screen and more versatile camera cluster than the iPhone SE, though Apple’s budget model delivers better performance.
However, Samsung fans will appreciate what they get here considering the affordable price. The Galaxy A53 5G has an ultrawide lens for taking photos with a wider field of view and also supports night-mode photography. Image quality isn’t as good as what you’d get on a more expensive Samsung phone like the Galaxy S21 FE or Galaxy S22, but it’s certainly clear and colorful enough for basic shots. Other highlights include a long-lasting battery, four guaranteed generations of Android operating system updates and a microSD card slot for expandable storage.
Overall, the Galaxy A53 5G is a decent choice for people who prioritize having a large screen and long battery life for less than $500. Just keep in mind, you may have to deal with some occasional lag, and the camera isn’t as advanced as those found on more expensive phones. Read our Samsung Galaxy A53 5G review.
You are receiving price alerts for Samsung Galaxy A53 5G
Pixel 7 by Google refining the design formula introduced in last year’s Pixel 6, while also throwing in the company’s new Tensor G2 processor. The phone keeps the $599 price as last year’s Pixel 6, but new Pixel-exclusive features like Photo Unblur add more value.
How we test the phones
We review phones based on overall performance, features, design, cameras, battery life and value. We do this by assessing how phones perform in day-to-day use and by comparing them against competing phones. When reviewing low-priced phones, we pay attention to whether these devices include features and specifications typically found at higher price points, such as an all-new processor, a display with high refresh rate or advanced camera features. We also look at how well these features are implemented and what they add to the experience.
We test phone cameras in a variety of situations, including outdoors, indoors and in both bright and dark situations. We also test specific settings and shooting modes, such as portrait mode and night mode. To test the performance, we run benchmark tests that check the overall capability of the processor and observe how well the phone copes with everyday tasks.
Battery life is monitored in two ways: By seeing how much power is left after a day of normal use, and by seeing how much battery is drained during more intense periods of phone use. For the final test, we will see how the phone’s battery performs in a series of video calls, gaming, video streaming and web browsing.
Best cheap phone FAQs
Can you find cheap phones for sale?
Yes, many of the cheap phones included in this list are available at a discount during shopping events. For example, Google’s Pixel 6A received a $150 discount which temporarily reduced its price from $449 to $299. So if you’ve been thinking about a phone but also have the flexibility to wait for a shopping event like Black Friday, it might be worth waiting for a price drop.
Are cheap phones unlocked?
Yes, there are many cheap phones available that are unlocked by the manufacturer. It allows you to use the phone on almost any wireless carrier by inserting your SIM card. IF you want the flexibility to switch carriers, make sure you buy an unlocked model.
Are cheap phones good for kids?
Buying a cheap phone can be a good option when shopping for a child or teenager, but that doesn’t mean the phone is customized to have a kid-friendly experience. Parents must still set up any requirements parental controls, restrictions or apps to help ensure a cheaper phone — whether it’s a iPhone or an Android — is set up appropriately for your children.