The best budget Android phone for 2024


One of the best things about the Android ecosystem is the availability of truly affordable phones for as little as $150. By comparison, the cheapest iPhone is based on a dated design and starts at $429. However, picking the right one can be a bit tricky, as reducing the price of a phone can sometimes result in too many trade-offs. So to give you a hand, we tested a bunch of the most popular options and put together a list of our favorite cheap Android phones.

Editor’s note (5/9/24): Google has announced the Pixel 8a, its latest midrange smartphone. The 6.1-inch handset starts at $499 and, as expected, takes many of its cues from last year’s flagship Pixel 8 series. We’ll have a full review in the coming days and will update this guide accordingly. For now, you can check out our hands-on preview for more details on what to expect. Google says it’ll continue to sell the Pixel 7a, our current splurge pick, at a reduced price, so it may continue to be worthwhile. Most should hold off until we put the new Pixel through its paces, though.

We tend to define a budget phone as costing between $150 and $350. Any lower and the device runs the risk of suffering from too many compromises, and above that, you cross over to pricier midrange handsets (if you’re open to spending more, we shouted out a couple of our favorites at the very end of this guide).

But for those with a little wiggle room, there are some things to consider. For example, a child may be better off with a cheaper device, especially if it’s intended mainly for emergencies or texting parents (and not social media). On the higher end of this price spectrum, sub-$350 phones have come a long way thanks to improved performance, better cameras and nicer displays. This makes them a viable alternative to premium flagships, even if you have the freedom to spend more.

When it comes to affordable devices, you get what you pay for. Most phones in this price range are made out of plastic, though the fit and finish of a specific model can vary a lot based on price. A bright screen is also important. Typically you’ll get LCD panels with a 60Hz or 90Hz refresh rate, but some phones may have OLED screens with increased color saturation. Long battery life is critical as well, so we tend to favor devices with larger power cells of around 5,000 mAh. In this price range, performance can vary a lot, so look for devices with at least 8GB of RAM and processors that can deliver stutter-free visuals. It’s also important to consider support length, as periodic operating system and security updates can extend the longevity of your device, which will save you money in the long run.

OnePlus

Screen size: 6.72 inches | Storage capacity: 128GB + microSD | SIM card type: Nano-SIM | Front camera resolution: 16MP | Rear camera resolution: 108MP main, 2MP macro | Weight: 6.8 oz

When it first came out, the Nord N30 had basically everything you could want in a phone that cost $300. Its Snapdragon 695 5G chip delivers strong performance along with speedy wireless connectivity that’s compatible with all the big US carriers, not to mention good specs including 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. It also has a big 6.7-inch display with a 120Hz refresh rate, which is rare on a budget phone as most rivals feature slower 60Hz or 90Hz panels. And thanks to its 50-watt wired charging, you can top it up quickly, too. But most importantly, the Nord 30 recently got a price drop from $300 to $250, making it an unquestionably good deal.

$250 at Amazon

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SAMSUNG

Screen size: 6.5 inches | Storage capacity: 128GB/256GB + microSD | SIM card type: Nano-SIM | Front camera resolution: 13MP | Rear camera resolution: 50MP main, 5MP ultrawide, 2MP macro | Weight: 7.05 oz

For just $200, the Galaxy A15 5G is a pretty remarkable device. It has a 6.5-inch display with a slightly slower 90Hz refresh rate the Nord N30. However, because it features an OLED panel instead of an LCD display, it boasts better brightness and richer colors than basically all of its rivals. It can also be configured with up to 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, and its 5,000 mAh battery delivers a ton of longevity. And while its design isn’t too exciting, the polycarbonate Samsung uses on the back has a nice matte finish that feels more like glass than cheap plastic. Finally, the A15 comes with four years of security updates and three years of OS upgrades, which is longer than most handsets in this price range.

$200 at Amazon

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Motorola

Screen size: 6.5 inches | Storage capacity: 64GB + microSD | SIM card type: Nano-SIM | Front camera resolution: 8MP | Rear camera resolution: 50MP | Weight: 6.53 oz

For those on a really tight budget, the 2024 Moto G Play covers all the bases well. It has a speedy Snapdragon 680 processor along with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. And while that last number might seem small, the phone has a microSD card slot so you can add more space if and when you need it. Its 6.5-inch LCD screen is also surprisingly sharp with a 90Hz refresh rate. The Moto G Play even has an IP52 rating for dust and water resistance. That isn’t much, but it’s good enough to protect against an errant splash or two. Sure, the G Play is basic, but it’s basic in a good way.

$150 at Amazon

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Google

Screen size: 6.1 inches | Storage capacity: 128GB | SIM card type: Nano-SIM | Front camera resolution: 13MP | Rear camera resolution: 64MP main, 13MP ultrawide | Weight: 6.84 oz

For people willing to look at phones on the higher end of the budget bracket, there are some other candidates worth checking out. The Pixel 7a is our favorite midrange phone and while it cost $500 at launch, recently we’ve seen deals that brought it down to as low as $375. That’s just $25 above our typical range, so if you’re looking for an affordable handset with good performance, handy bonuses like wireless charging and the best cameras on any device in this price range, you’d be foolish not to consider Google’s most affordable handset.

$420 at Amazon

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Photo by Sam Rutherford / Engadget

Screen size: 6.7 inches | Storage capacity: 256GB | SIM card type: Nano-SIM | Front camera resolution: 32MP | Rear camera resolution: 50MP main, 50MP ultrawide | Weight: 6.7 oz

Another contender we really like is the Nothing Phone 2a, which provides great specs, a unique design and a ton of personality for just $349. The main reason it didn’t make our list is because in the US, it’s only available as part of Nothing’s developer program, which requires you to sign up (for free) before being able to buy one. Furthermore, the Phone 2a only supports 5G on T-Mobile (via the N41 band), which means it’s not a great choice for anyone on AT&T or Verizon.

$349 at Nothing



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