The best cheap phones for 2023

A good smartphone used to cost more than $500, but happily, those days are over. Now, for as little as $160, you can find something that meets most of your needs. But it can be hard to figure out how to buy a cheap phone. Many choices that look good on paper aren’t great in practice, and some phones will end up costing you more when you consider that many have limited storage. This guide will help you find a good deal and show you our favorite cheap phones that you can buy right now.

How to find a cheap phone that works
The items we chose for this guide cost between $100 and $300. If you get anything less, you might as well buy a dumb phone or a high-end computer. Since entry-level smartphones are meant to be cheaper than their flagship and midrange siblings, they have to make some sacrifices. The cheaper a device is, the less you should expect from it in terms of speed and experience. Because of this, the best piece of advice I can give is to spend as much as you can. Even $50 or $100 more can get you a much better product in this price range.

Second, you should know what you want most out of a phone. When you buy a cheap device, you might have to give up a good camera for a battery that lasts longer or a high-resolution screen for a faster processor. That’s just the way it is, but if you know what’s important to you, it will be easy to find the right phone.

Also, it’s important to know that some features can be hard to find on cheap phones. For example, you won’t have to look hard to find a device with a battery that lasts all day, but if you want a great camera, you’re better off spending $600 or less on one of the phones we suggest in our guide to midrange smartphones. In this price range, it’s also hard to find phones that can wirelessly charge and are waterproof. Forget about a fast engine. On the plus side, all of the devices we suggest have headphone jacks, so you won’t need to buy wireless headphones.

iOS is also out of the question, since Apple’s least expensive phone is the $400 iPhone SE. That only leaves Android as a choice. In 2023, there’s not much wrong with Google’s OS, and you might even like it better than iOS. Lastly, keep in mind that most Android makers give software support for their cheaper devices that is much less robust. In some cases, your new phone might only get one big Android update and then security patches for the next year or two. That’s true for both the OnePlus and the Motorola phones on our list. If you want to keep your phone for as long as possible, Samsung has the best software strategy of any budget Android manufacturer. All of its devices get security updates for four years.

The best budget phone: OnePlus Nord N30 5G

The OnePlus Nord N30 5G, which just came out and costs $300, is the best smartphone deal on our list. The N30’s Snapdragon 695 5G processor is faster than any other phone in its price range. Also, OnePlus gave the N30 a lot of RAM (8GB) and storage (128GB), so you probably won’t need to buy a microSD card or pay for cloud storage. It also has a 120Hz IPS screen, which is great for both games and regular use. The best part is that the N30 comes with a 50W power charger that can give you a full day’s worth of battery life in just 30 minutes. If the N30 was waterproof and OnePlus promised to give it more than one big Android update, it would be almost perfect.

Another great option: Samsung Galaxy A14 5G

Don’t be fooled by the Samsung Galaxy A14 5G’s low price and boring appearance; it has a lot to offer. You can get a phone that is surprisingly fast and has a good camera for $200. It also has NFC, which is a feature that you won’t find on a lot of phones in this price range. This lets you make payments without touching the phone. The battery life is also very good; with modest use, it can last for two days. Plus, there’s that great software policy I talked about above. Samsung promises to support the A14 with two big Android updates and four years of security patches. The only thing the A14 doesn’t have is protection, so if you live near the beach or like to doomscroll in the tub, you might want to get something stronger.

An ultra-budget pick: Samsung Galaxy A03s

The Samsung Galaxy A03s, which costs $160, is your best bet if you want to spend as little as possible on a good phone. The A03s works better than you might think, thanks to its MediaTek Helio P35 engine. The phone feels about as cheap as it costs, and the camera isn’t much better. Oh, and did I mention that the A03s only comes with 32GB of storage space? In other words, be ready to buy a microSD card to store all of your pictures and music. Samsung will send security updates for the A03s for four years, just like it will for the A03s’s more expensive brother. You won’t find software help like that on any other phone that costs less than $200.

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