The best cheap smartphones in 2022
(Pocket Ribbon) – Just because you want a cheap phone doesn’t mean you have to completely compromise on the features available. There are plenty of cheap phones under $200/£200, and they’re often so good that it seems bizarre that a flagship phone costs at least four times as much.
Budget phones may not have the sharpest screens or the most pristine designs, but an affordable smartphone can still look good, offer decent specs, good battery life and solid performance – all while saving your wallet.
Who can argue with that? Here’s our guide to the best budget phones out there. If you’ve got a bit more to spend, check out our guide to mid-range smartphones.
What is the best cheap smartphone phone right now? Currently our top recommendation is the Redmi Note 10. However, we also recommend to Motorola Moto G30, Oppo A5 (2020), Realme 8 5G and the Samsung Galaxy A12.
Our top pick: the best cheap phone
Redmi Note 10
Five onboard cameras Expandable storage and a headphone jack Up to 5,000 mAh battery
In return for
The screen could be better No ultra wide angle lens
The Redmi Note 10 is one of the most versatile and versatile smartphones you can find in this price range. It includes 5 cameras, microSD and dual SIM support, 33W fast charging and even has a headphone jack – something you won’t often find on more expensive counterparts.
Combine all this with a beefy 5,000 mAh battery, IP53 water and dust resistance, and Gorilla Glass 3, the Redmi Note 10 is ready for whatever life throws at you. This is a phone that stands way above its weight.
Cheap phones we also recommend
While the Redmi Note 10 tops our list, we know it won’t be the right phone for everyone. We all look for different things in a smartphone. Maybe you crave 5G speeds, or maybe gaming performance is your top priority. With that in mind, we’ve also selected the following devices for you to consider.
Motorola Moto G30
Super long battery life Smooth Android 11 user experience Support for 3.5mm jack and microSD card
In return for
The screen could use a little more resolution Wide-angle and macro cameras are worthless
The Moto G30 may not have as many features as some of our other picks, but what it lacks in hardware it makes up for in software. What is on offer here is a really solid and smooth Android 11 experience and excellent battery life.
In terms of everyday usability, the Moto G30 is hard to beat as a budget option. The Snapdragon processor handles gaming quite well and won’t let you down with overall productivity. It’s a solid choice for almost anyone.
Oppo A5 (2020)
Two-day battery life Good processing power Responsive fingerprint scanner
In return for
Screen resolution is quite low Cameras are not too impressive
The Oppo A5 is exceptionally well priced and performs like a much more expensive model thanks to its fast processor. Battery life is fantastic here too, we found we lasted almost two days on a single charge.
We wanted the screen to have a slightly higher resolution and we found that the coating was a little more prone to fingerprints than the average phone. The cameras are also a bit of an overkill, with only the 12MP headlamp being particularly useful. Nevertheless, for its price it is a solid performer and could be the perfect choice for many people.
Realme 8 5G
5G connectivity Excellent battery life Good user interface
In return for
No ultra-wide camera No IP protection
If you want blazing fast 5G connectivity then the Realme 8 5G is one of the cheapest ways to get involved. You’ll also find a nice big 5,000 mAh battery to keep you going all day and a big bright 1080p 90Hz screen. The performance is pretty solid and you can play some games without any problems.
However, there are some trade-offs, such as the lack of IP certification for water resistance and mediocre camera performance. That said, if you need 5G on a budget, you can’t go far wrong here.
Samsung Galaxy A12
Long battery lifeStylish design and Samsung quality 48MP main camera
In return for
Too much bloatware Slow performance compared to rivals
There is something to be said for owning a Samsung smartphone, because the manufacturer is one of the largest in the world for a reason. You usually get great design and top notch reliability, on the cheaper end of the scale the same goes for the Galaxy A12.
We think this is the most stylish smartphone on our list, but besides the looks, it also ticks a lot of other boxes. The A12 packs a massive 5,000mAh battery, expandable storage, a headphone jack and an impressive 48MP main sensor. Unfortunately, when it comes to performance, it’s just a little slow compared to similarly priced options.
Other products we considered:
When trying to figure out what we think are the best budget phones available right now, we spent hours testing real-world performance, battery life, and gaming; but also to go out on the street and take pictures. Then we discuss the results with a fine-toothed comb. We consider a range of factors when it comes to recommending devices – as well as when a new device makes it into our top five picks. This isn’t just our own testing, which also takes into account consumer reviews, brand quality and value.
In all our roundups, there are also many products that we test that do not make the final cut. Since they may be suitable for some people, we have listed them below.
How do you choose a cheap phone?
Choosing a cheap phone is no small feat, there are a staggering number of options on the market, each with their own pros and cons.
To help you narrow down your options, here are a few things to think about before buying a new phone.
Determining Your Essential Features
A phone is a very personal thing and everyone uses their phone slightly differently. For example, if you’re a die-hard fan of wired headphones, then you obviously need a device with a headphone jack. Fortunately, on the budget end of the spectrum, the headphone jack is much more common than on the high-end. If you’re into Bluetooth headphones, though, you won’t care much, but instead you may want to pay attention to the Bluetooth versions supported by the handset to ensure you get the best wireless experience.
Another example is that if you are a fan of the great outdoors, you may want to look for devices that have some degree of water and dust protection for added peace of mind. Likewise, long battery life is a must if you spend a lot of time away from power outlets.
Think about how and where you will be using your device the most and the must-have features will become apparent.
Today, your smartphone is probably one of the main ways you take pictures, so you may want to pay close attention to the cameras offered on your next phone.
The cameras offered by budget phones are getting more and more impressive, some of the options on our list offer up to five separate cameras for capturing the perfect shot.
This is an area where looks can be deceiving, just because a phone has a lot of lenses on the back doesn’t mean they’re good quality – or even particularly useful to start with.
Specs that we find most important are the resolution of the main sensor and whether or not it has an ultrawide camera. We tend to find that the wide modes are widely used, while telephoto and macro offerings aren’t all that useful for most people.
Choose where to compromise
The fact is that all phones at this price, as impressive as they can be, have to cut corners somewhere. Just as it’s important to figure out your must-have features, it’s equally important to figure out where you can afford to compromise.
For example, maybe you love taking pictures and never play games on your phone. In that case, you can afford to skimp on the computing power in favor of a higher-megapixel sensor.
Budget smartphones are all about striking the right balance between features, specs and affordability. Hopefully, with these things in mind, you’re well on your way to budget phone happiness.
More about this story
Each product in this list has been tested in real-life situations, just as you would use it in your everyday life.
A phone is something you use all day, every day, so we took all the options on this list extensively to see how they hold up in the real world. We tested battery life, game performance, connectivity, camera performance, and everything else you might need to know. Then we’ve provided you with all the information you need to help you with your purchasing decisions.
As with any collection, it’s not possible to provide a list that will work for every type of user, but we draw on the experiences and opinions of the wider Pocket-lint team – as well as a thorough assessment of the areas above – to help our best in this regard.
What we always avoid when putting together these picks are unnecessary spec comparisons and marketing rules; we just want to provide an easy-to-understand summary that will give you an idea of what each gaming laptop is like to use. Our statements are concise, but this is purely for the sake of brevity. Rest assured, all the things on this list are fully tested.
Written by Luke Baker. Editing by Conor Allison.