The Best Cheap Phones for 2023 (2023)

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Affordable phones are better than ever. Sure, you can still find plenty of flimsy handsets with dated software, but if you do some digging, there are lots of excellent flip phones and smartphones that work far better than their low prices suggest. If you're buying on a budget, we're here to help.

We've gathered the top phones you can generally buy for $300 or less at carrier stores, and detail all the most important features to look for when you shop. We put these phones through the same intense testing process as far more expensive flagships, so you can rest easy knowing that any of the devices below are worth owning. Read on for our top picks, followed by what to look for when buying a cheap phone.

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  • Samsung Galaxy A53 5G 128GB Unlocked Phone(Opens in a new window)$399.00(List Price $449.99)
  • Motorola Moto G Power 64GB Unlocked Phone(Opens in a new window)$129.99(List Price $249.99)
  • Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max 256GB Unlocked Phone (Renewed)(Opens in a new window)$689.00(List Price $1,099)
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Deeper Dive: Our Top Tested Picks

The Best Cheap Phones for 2023 (1)

Samsung Galaxy A32 5G

Best Affordable 5G Phone

4.5 Outstanding

Why We Picked It

The Samsung Galaxy A32 5G features both excellent battery life and an impressive design that should win over anyone looking for an affordable smartphone. It boasts surprisingly solid specs and a better camera setup than you might expect; you get a 48MP primary shooter as well as an 8MP ultra-wide, a 5MP macro, and a 2MP depth sensor.

Who It's For

If you can make peace with Samsung's skin and don't want to spend tons of money on a flagship Android phone, this is likely your best choice. You won't find a better option under $300 with the same imaging capabilities. And 5G connectivity means the A32 can take advantage of some of the fastest network speeds.

PROS

  • Handsome design
  • Durable Gorilla Glass 5 display
  • Capable cameras
  • Long battery life
  • Impressive performance for the price
  • Excellent software upgrade policy

CONS

  • Low-resolution display
  • Mediocre speaker
  • Back panel scratches easily
Sold ByList PricePrice
Amazon$235.35$235.35See It(Opens in a new window)

Read Our Samsung Galaxy A32 5G Review

The Best Cheap Phones for 2023 (2)

Motorola Moto e

Best Smartphone Under $150

4.0 Excellent

Why We Picked It

The Motorola Moto e dominates the under-$150 range with its 32GB of expandable storage. And outside of its middling camera performance and less-than-vibrant screen, we don't have any significant complaints. That's really all you can ask for when you're talking about a phone that costs so little.

Who It's For

If you need a smartphone with basic functionality and aren't concerned with all the bells and whistles you get with pricier handsets, look no further. At $150 (or even less on sale), the Moto e is a no-brainer.

PROS

  • Solid performance
  • Long battery life
  • Surprisingly good audio
  • Durable build

CONS

  • Mediocre camera performance
  • Screen could be sharper
Sold ByList PricePrice
Amazon$149.99$119.99See It(Opens in a new window)
Motorola Mobility$149.99$149.99See It(Opens in a new window)
Best Buy$149.99$104.99Check Stock(Opens in a new window)

Read Our Motorola Moto e Review

The Best Cheap Phones for 2023 (3)

Motorola Moto G Power (2022)

Best Battery Life

4.0 Excellent

Why We Picked It

We put every single phone we review through an intense battery drain test to see how long it lasts compared with the competition. In the affordable space, no phone outlasts the Moto G Power's 16 hours and 7 minutes. That alone would be enough reason for this sub-$200 phone to make the cut, but its 90Hz display and other features make it a real standout.

Who It's For

If you're concerned about your phone dying before the end of the day, this is the device for you. Rarely do even top-of-the-line phones offer the incredible battery life of the Moto G Power, making this ideal for anyone who needs lots of time between charges.

PROS

  • Long battery life
  • Solid performance
  • 90Hz refresh rate

CONS

  • Ships with Android 11
  • Noticeable pixelation on 720p display
  • Underwhelming audio
Sold ByList PricePrice
Amazon$199.99$129.99See It(Opens in a new window)

Read Our Motorola Moto G Power (2022) Review

The Best Cheap Phones for 2023 (4)

OnePlus Nord N20

Best Cheap Phone With Fast Charging

4.0 Excellent

Why We Picked It

OnePlus has had its share of problems recently, but the company still makes some fantastic phones with some of the speediest charging speeds on the market. We like the Nord N20 because it comes with 33W charging, which is faster than most other budget smartphones.

Who It's For

If you often end up with a dead phone battery by the end of the day and you don't want a charger to slow you down, the Nord N20 is a worthwhile pick. In our tests, we got the phone up to 14% in seven minutes of charging and to 50% in just 27 minutes. Those are impressive results for the price.

PROS

  • Smooth and elegant software
  • Sharp design
  • Excellent battery life
  • Supports fast charging
  • Features headphone jack and microSD card slot

CONS

  • Limited camera capabilities
  • No upgrade path to OxygenOS 13
Sold ByList PricePrice
Amazon$229.99$229.99See It(Opens in a new window)
T-Mobile$282.00$282.00See It(Opens in a new window)

Read Our OnePlus Nord N20 Review

The Best Cheap Phones for 2023 (5)

Nokia 6300 4G

Best Affordable Dual-SIM Phone

4.0 Excellent

Why We Picked It

The Nokia 6300 blurs the line between a smartphone and a basic voice phone. One thing's for sure, though; it's incredibly cheap and its dual-SIM feature makes it ideal for world travelers.

Who It's For

If you prefer real-world experiences over fancy smartphones but still want to stay connected on the go, the Nokia 6300 is the phone for you. It offers access to some smartphone apps, but most importantly, it lets you use two SIM cards at once. That means you can hit the road and get cellular service (albeit 4G) wherever you go.

PROS

  • Dual SIMs
  • Broad carrier support for 4G and Wi-Fi calling
  • Speech-to-text support
  • Native WhatsApp client

CONS

  • No popular US streaming music services
  • Poor group text support
  • KaiOS is slow
Sold ByList PricePrice
Walmart$79.00$64.99See It(Opens in a new window)
Nokia$69.99$64.99See It(Opens in a new window)

Read Our Nokia 6300 4G Review

The Best Cheap Phones for 2023 (6)

Nokia 225 4G

Best Ultra-Cheap Voice Phone

3.5 Good

Why We Picked It

Not everyone wants apps and distractions on their phone. Some people want a device that can simply make calls and not much else. We picked the Nokia 225 4G because it handles calls very well for around $50. It has a familiar design that should feel comfortable to anyone who remembers using a basic feature phone years ago, and boasts some modern upgrades that bring it up to date.

Who It's For

This phone is perfect for senior citizens or anyone else who doesn't need a smartphone. It's a top pick for those who want a device to carry with them in case of an emergency or that lets them keep in touch with friends and loved ones via voice.

PROS

  • Small and light
  • Easy to use
  • Syncs contacts from Android

CONS

  • Lacks Wi-Fi
  • Though technically unlocked, only works on T-Mobile's network
  • Lacks band 71 support
  • Group texting is a mess
Sold ByList PricePrice
Amazon$49.97$49.97See It(Opens in a new window)

Read Our Nokia 225 4G Review

The Best Cheap Phones for 2023 (7)

Nokia 2780 Flip

Best Flip Phone

3.5 Good

Why We Picked It

The Nokia 2780 Flip is the best affordable flip phone. It's not perfect, but it handles calls without issue and doesn't cost much.

Who It's For

If you yearn for the days of phones with a clamshell design, the Nokia 2780 Flip will satisfy your nostalgia itch. Its battery life isn't outstanding, but you do get Wi-Fi support and an FM radio.

PROS

  • Good call quality
  • Wi-Fi connectivity
  • FM radio
  • Affordable

CONS

  • Operating system is a bit clunky
  • Group texting could be better
  • Several key apps are missing
  • Middling battery life
Sold ByList PricePrice
Walmart$89.99$89.99See It(Opens in a new window)

Read Our Nokia 2780 Flip Review

The Best Cheap Phones for 2023 (8)

Apple iPhone SE (2022)

Best Affordable New iPhone

3.5 Good

Why We Picked It

You can't reasonably talk about the best phones in any category without including an iPhone. Yes, the iPhone SE exceeds the $300 limit for what we consider affordable, but that's simply the price you must pay for a new iPhone. That said, it's a fantastic phone for Apple fans who aren't prepared to drop $800 or far more on the latest iPhone models.

Who It's For

Anyone who likes Apple products but doesn't want to spend a ton of money on a higher-end iPhone should be happy with the iPhone SE. Sure, it doesn't come with the latest chip or camera system, but it's still an iPhone for a reasonable price. And if you factor in carrier incentives, you can often find this phone for less than $200 (so long as you don't mind paying it off monthly over time).

PROS

  • Most affordable new iPhone
  • Speedy performance
  • Supports T-Mobile and Verizon mid-band 5G
  • Longer battery life than the previous model

CONS

  • Outdated body design
  • No Night mode in camera
  • Lacks support for AT&T's 3.45GHz mid-band 5G
  • Shortest battery life of any current iPhone model
Sold ByList PricePrice
Amazon$429.00$429.00See It(Opens in a new window)
Apple.com$429.00$429.00See It(Opens in a new window)

Read Our Apple iPhone SE (2022) Review

Buying Guide: The Best Cheap Phones for 2023

What Do You Need in a Cheap Smartphone?

Although budget-friendly phones don't have all the perks that come along with midrange or flagship models, that doesn't mean you can't find a perfectly capable device that suits your needs. Let's start with the features we believe are absolutely essential. Keep in mind that most of these recommendations are for smartphones; if you're in the market for a flip phone, many of these tips don't apply.

Battery Life: There are lots of variables to consider when it comes to battery life, but ultimately, you want your phone to last at least until the end of the day. If you're shopping for a phone with a screen smaller than 6 inches, look for a battery capacity of 3,500mAh or higher. For phones with larger screens, look for a minimum battery capacity of 4,500mAh.

Chipset: In Qualcomm's busy processor line, avoid any number lower than a Snapdragon 480, unless it's a flip or voice phone. Mediatek's Dimensity 700 line is also good, though the company's Helio line is a bit less appealing.

Compatibility: Before you make a purchase, decide whether you're ready to jump on the 5G bandwagon or if you'd rather stick with LTE. No matter your choice, make sure your phone has the appropriate band support for your carrier. Search for 5G and LTE bands by the phone's model number, not its name. Once you have a list of bands, you can check out this handy article from Phone Scoop(Opens in a new window) to make sure the phone works on your carrier. You should also figure out if the phone supports the bands that best suit your needs. For example, T-Mobile customers in rural areas should pick a phone with LTE band 71 support, while Verizon customers should look out for C-band coverage on 5G phones.

Connectivity: Connectivity has a huge impact on call quality and data speeds. For the most part, you should choose a phone with a Qualcomm X12 or higher modem. If you're looking at flip phones, make sure the modem has voice over LTE (VoLTE), voice over Wi-Fi (VoWIFI), and Enhanced Voice Services (EVS) for the best call quality. You also should check for 802.11ac Wi-Fi as well as Bluetooth 5.0 or later.

Operating System: The current version of Android is Android 13, but very few budget phones have that. Don't go back any further than Android 10 for security and compatibility reasons. Also, don't assume a budget phone will ever get an Android version upgrade, no matter what the manufacturer says.

RAM: Simply put, the more RAM the merrier. For phones under $200, look for at least 4GB of RAM. If you're willing to spend more, make sure you get a minimum of 6GB.

Storage: Like RAM, you can't have too much storage. Look for at least 32GB of storage on phones under $200 and make sure the phone has a microSD slot. If you spend more, opt for a phone with no less than 64GB of storage, ideally with a microSD slot.

The Best Cheap Phones for 2023 (9)

Moto G Power(Credit: Steven Winkelman)

Once you verify the essential features, look for extra perks. Keep in mind that you won't find many of these features on the majority of budget-friendly phones, but we anticipate that some will trickle down over time.

Multi-Lens Cameras: Most affordable phones have multi-lens camera stacks that allow you to capture wide-angle and macro shots. For the most part, these phones can capture solid images with their primary and wide-angle cameras if you have a steady hand and good light. The macro lenses are almost always awful.

NFC: NFC is slowly making its way to the affordable phone market. It's a great feature to have as contactless payments become more popular.

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Stereo Speakers: A handful of budget-friendly phones have stereo speakers and even advanced features such as custom tuning and Dolby audio. Though no phone is going to sound as good as even an inexpensive Bluetooth speaker, it's definitely an upgrade over a single driver.

Splash Resistance: Though we've yet to see a budget offering with an official ingress protection (IP) rating, a handful of affordable phones are now splash-resistant. They're usually treated with a nanocoating such as P2i and can withstand rain and other minor splashes, but not a drop in the pool.

Strengthened Glass: If you're spending more than $100 on a phone, it should have strengthened glass to protect the display from cracks and scratches. Gorilla Glass 3 seems to be the standard for most budget models, but we've seen a few with Gorilla Glass 5. In general, each generation of Gorilla Glass is softer than the last; phones with Gorilla Glass 5 displays are less likely to shatter when you drop them, but they're also more likely to accumulate hairline scratches.

What's the Cheapest iPhone?

You may notice that we've made an exception in pricing here for the $429 iPhone SE. If you're looking for an affordable new iPhone, it's the one to get. If all you have is $200, that will get you a used iPhone 8. Don't go earlier than that; older models might start to lose compatibility with new iOS versions in the next year or two. For more, see our in-depth explanation of which iPhone to buy.

The Best Cheap Phones for 2023 (13)

The iPhone SE starts at $429, but it's the least expensive new iPhone you can buy(Credit: Molly Flores)

Finally, see our stories on the best cheap phone plans and how to get the best price on a new phone. We also have a few other affordable options in our story about the best phones for seniors. And we add new phones to this roundup as we review them, so make sure to check back soon.

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