The best cheap phones are those models that use Android as their operating system. In terms of specifications, the best cheap phones usually have a dual-core processor, a rear camera of at least 8 megapixels and a 3020 mAh battery, successfully covering customer needs.
If you're looking for a cheap phone without it being awful, the good news is that the best low-budget smartphones of 2021 are actually pretty good. Over the years, we've spent a lot of time playing with low-end devices, and we've found that even if you spend less, you don't get a worse phone.
In the past, the term "best cheap phones" was usually a warning rather than a tempting proposition, with questionable quality, slow performance, ridiculous screen resolution, and underperforming cameras often found on such phones. But this is not the past, this is the present, and the market abounds with top cheap phones.
The Best Cheap Phones in 2021
Samsung Galaxy A10 – Nea Pleasant Recommendation
Huawei P Smart (2019) – Premium Features
Moto G7 Power – Long Battery Life
iHunt Alien X Lite – Good Photos
Huawei Y5 2019 – Reduced Budget
CUBOT J3 – Super Cheap
The best cheap phone is the Samsung Galaxy A10 . It is made entirely of plastic, but has a premium feel due to the glossy finish and unibody design that extends to the sides of the phone. Despite the large 6.2-inch screen, the phone is quite light (only 168 grams).
On the back of this phone, you'll see a single 13-megapixel camera (quite different from the rest of the A-Series, which has several cameras on the back) with an LED flash underneath. At the top right of the phone are the power and volume control keys. This phone can support two SIM cards, so you have the option of having two mobile operators at the same time. Although it has an internal memory of 32 GB, you can choose to expand the phone's storage up to 512 GB because it has a dedicated microSD slot. .
This phone has a V-shaped notch at the top, with a 5 megapixel selfie camera, a design it shares with a lot of recent phones starting with the iPhone X. Some people like this kind of phone, others don't. This is because the "cut" blocks a certain portion of the screen, which can be irritating when watching videos.
It has a 6.2-inch IPS display with a resolution of 720 x 1,520 pixels. Despite being a cheap phone, the screen can become quite bright and can have what Samsung calls an "adaptive display". This means that it can automatically adjust its brightness according to the amount of light in the surroundings, which makes it efficient.
So, if you are looking for cheap and good phones, Samsung Galaxy A10 is a good entry level phone with a great screen and excellent performance, a phone that can be found at a very reasonable price.
The best cheap phone, but with a large number of premium features is Huawei P Smart (2019) . The phone looks great, with a teardrop-shaped teardrop design, as we find on many more expensive smartphones. Its back and sides form a case with a high gloss, but with a strong plastic feel. The screen is an LCD that can't compete with OLEDs when it comes to depth and contrast, but P Smart (2019) remains one of the best cheap and good phone options.
At 8mm thick and 162g, the P Smart is lightweight, largely due to the fact that the back and sides are a unibody plastic housing. With a resolution of 2230 x 1080 pixels, the P Smart screen is not only competitive for the price – the pixel density of 415ppi also wins compared to the displays found on more expensive phones, such as iPhone XR's. The phone screen is very bright even for a mid-ranger. Wide angle viewing and in bright light conditions are good and it is easy to see the screen in all conditions.
Huawei P Smart (2019) uses the Kirin 710 chipset, combined with 3 GB RAM and 64 GB storage. The phone works well when running basic tasks, but I noticed a slowdown when I switched between power-hungry apps and games. The basic games are managed without problems and as long as you don't bother the occasional wait of a second or two when you jump from one application to another, the speed of Huawei P Smart (2019) will not frustrate you too much.
At 3,400mAh, the battery conforms to what we would expect for a screen of this size. In actual use, the phone easily managed a full day – between 7:00 and 22:00 – with about 15% battery left in the tank. As an idea, 90 minutes of Full-Brightness HD video playback was 19% – not an amazing result, but respectable enough.
Huawei P Smart (2019) is an ideal smartphone for teenagers: it will not bankrupt you, it has a respectable camera and it looks great. Also, if someone is thinking of picking up a state-of-the-art smartphone in a year or two and wants a comparatively cheap mid-ranger that will easily last until then, Huawei P Smart (2019) could be an ideal candidate.
Moto G7 – Long Battery Life
If long battery life is one of the most important features for you, then there is no better budget phone than Moto G7 Power. The 5,000mAh battery surpassed all the other smartphones we tested in our streaming test, managing to run video from YouTube at maximum brightness for 13 hours and 59 minutes.
The Moto G7 can last two days between charges, maybe even longer, depending on how you use it. Inside there is the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 632 processor, 3 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage space. The Moto G7 Power offers excellent performance at this price, without a doubt.
Compromise is inevitable, and in the case of the Moto G7 Power you may not appreciate the plastic body or the 6.2-inch display that has only a resolution of 1,570 x 720 pixels. The phone runs Android 9.0 Pie with a handful of additional accessories from Motorola.
There is a 12 megapixel camera that works quite well when there is a lot of light, but the portrait mode is far from flawless and cannot cope with low light environments. The 8-megapixel front-facing camera is perfect for automatic or video calling.
The G7 Power also supports Motorola's TurboPower charging standard and charges at 15W with the kit in the box, which can take the battery from zero to 58% in an hour. If battery life is what you're looking for, this is the phone for you. No wonder the G7 Power is very common in most tops with good and cheap phones.
A cheap and good phone, especially for pictures, iHunt Alien X Lite is a quality device, which offers quite good performance, all along with a durable battery, 4080 mAh and 3 cameras (2 main and one front).
For the purchase price it presents (less than 400 lei at the time of publication of the article), iHunt Alien X Lite is the ideal smartphone for those who can not afford a high-level model, but also for children. The battery capacity is more than decent, and the fact that it lasts even up to three days and that it charges 100% in about an hour is more than perfect. Certainly, the iHunt Alien X Lite is the best phone with a big, cheap battery.
IHunt used a MediaTek MT6580A processor for this phone, clocked at a frequency of 1.3 GHz, but we can't compare its performance with that of a Qualcomm Snapdragon chip. However, for an entry-level model, this processor does its job quite well. The memory chapter does not excel either, iHunt Alien X Lite having a RAM of 1 GB and a storage capacity of 16 GB, which can be expanded with a microSD card.
The display has a diagonal of 6.1 inches, is IPS type, with a resolution of 600 x 1280 and a 19.2: 9 aspect ratio, which gives you good colors and viewing angles. On the back we have two main cameras of 13 and 5 MP, respectively, and a front camera (selfie) of 5 MP. With their help you will be able to take beautiful photos and videos, at a medium quality.
Huawei Y5 2019 is a significant upgrade compared to Y5 2018 and offers several advantages. For starters, we should mention the higher performance of the system, the more modern design with a waterdrop notch and also the dedicated speaker, which, although it offers a mediocre sound, is still better than its predecessor. The screen has a more accurate color reproduction and can also become brighter than its predecessor.
Huawei would certainly have done a favor to its customers by adding a fingerprint sensor, but on the other hand, at 13 Megapixels, the camera now offers a fairly high resolution compared to the class and can also take acceptable photos.
While the Huawei Y5 2019 is quite well equipped with 2 GB of RAM, the 16 GB of storage are, unfortunately, the standard in this price class. If you count the operating system, there are only between 10 and 11 GB left only for applications and for storing your own data. Nowadays, this is not very much. At the very least, those who like to record many images and videos can store them on a microSD card, which like the predecessor model has its own slot and does not occupy one of the dual-SIM slots.
Huawei has pre-installed Android 9 with its own EMUI 9 on top, which changes the look and adds more options. I couldn't find a dark way. There are several pre-installed advertising applications, but fortunately they can be uninstalled without any problems. With the exception of a very fast 802.11-ac band, all current WLAN standards are supported, and the device can also use the 5 GHz band.
The quality of the voice offers a positive surprise. Both the headphones and the built-in speaker reproduce the voice quite clearly, and while none of them are overly loud, none of them are muffled. The microphone also records our voice well, whether we speak loud or low, without disturbing noises.
The Y5 screen has a resolution of 1520 × 720 pixels and up to 630 cd / m², and can become quite bright if necessary. At 88%, the brightness distribution is relatively uniform. Black areas glow quite brightly at maximum brightness levels, giving them a gray tint. While this limits the impression of contrast, 955: 1 is still an acceptable value. Subjectively, the colors do not look very vibrant. The white balance can be adjusted as desired.
With Mediatek Helio A22 MT6761, Y5 2019 does not use a Qualcomm chip and no HiSilicon developed in-house. However, it handles this choice well, and the increase in performance compared to last year's Huawei Y5 is considerable, of 20-30%. Other devices in this price range have difficulty approaching similar performance.
Huawei offers a capacity of 3020 mAh. Although this is not a record in this class, it is a good unit with a lifespan of 11:49 hours in our WLAN test. The device, which does not offer fast charging functions, stays in recharging for a long time and you should wait at least two hours when the battery is completely empty.
CUBOT J3 – Super Cheap
The best cheap phone (even super cheap) is Cubot J3 , a good choice for those who want to spend as little money on a smartphone. Unfortunately, the price is the main selling point of the J3 . The device has a relatively bright display, but the use of a TN LED panel makes the J3 almost illegible from any angle outside the center, which limits the use of the strong brightness that this type of panel benefits from.
The cameras, GPS module, microchip and lack of LTE leave much to be desired, as does the unclear coverage. The J3 has a removable plastic back that comes in black or blue. However, the plastic has a matte texture, which makes it waterproof for fingerprints.
With a standard 16GB of storage, the J3 also supports microSD cards up to 64GB if you run out of internal storage. Cubot has included a dedicated microSD card slot, which means there is no need to compromise between extending the microSD card and using a second SIM.
The phone runs on Android 8.1 GB, an Android light version that Google has designed to run on entry-level smartphones. Android Go takes up half the storage space of a full system, which Google has achieved by replacing its standard pre-installed applications with web redirects. Google Maps, for example, is just a link to the service running on Chrome.
Probably the biggest disadvantage is that the J3 does not have LTE, so you have to deal with 3G, which is surprising even for an entry-level device. Moreover, our test unit has a mediocre reception of the network when used inside a building. However, the reception is improving outdoors. Cubot J3 has an acceptable call quality, although it offers a mixed experience. The voices always sounded clear during our tests, but the microphone isn't exactly great.
The J3 has an 8 MP camera on the back, which takes mediocre photos at best. Our test images are grainy and blue in color, while the details are often washed out. Dark areas also look pixelated, which is especially noticeable in low light photos. The main camera also takes a while to adjust to changing lighting conditions when shooting videos, which makes the results look ingrained. J3 can record videos up to 720p and 30 FPS. The J3 also has a 5 MP front camera, which takes photos as pixelated and washed out as the rear-facing sensor.
Cubot is equipping the J3 with a MediaTek MT6580M chip, one of the slowest chips currently used in smartphones. We also experienced more stuttering and delays with J3 than we would have liked to see. Applications frequently crash even in the presence of 1 GB of RAM. Overall, the J3 doesn't offer a smooth system performance, but for the price range it works much better than we would have expected.
Questions and answers
There are a lot of different things to consider when buying a cheap smartphone , such as screen size, long battery life or camera quality. Need a lot of storage space for your music collection? Maybe you are a frequent traveler and a dual-SIM phone would be useful? We have included below the most important things to consider.
For a cheap phone we would choose an Android-based operating system. It offers a wider range of devices at different prices, more customization options, and the excellent suite of Google services and applications is built-in.
You'll spend many hours looking at it, so make sure your smartphone screen is the right size for you and has a high resolution. We recommend a minimum of Full HD, ie 1920 x 1080 pixels, or maybe 2160 x 1080 pixels if the phone has a modern aspect ratio of 18: 9. Any screen 1080p or larger will be clear enough. In terms of basic technology, OLED screens have a better contrast, with deeper shades of black than LCD screens, but it will be hard for you to find a cheap phone with an OLED.
This will be mainly determined by two things: the processor and the RAM. The processor is the most important and, in general, the newer, the better both in terms of speed and energy efficiency. For a cheap and good Android phone, Snapdragon 765, 730 or HiSilicon Kirin 810 from Qualcomm are currently some of the best processors. In terms of RAM, we recommend choosing a phone with at least 2 GB, although if you can afford 4 GB it would be ideal.
Smartphone cameras have continued to grow in recent years. The range of options can be tiring, but it's important to keep in mind that the performance of a good camera comes from more than just a large number of megapixels. If you can't test your phone yourself, you'll find reviews and useful information on the internet, or you can check out an article like the one about the phones with the best cameras .
Detachable batteries are rare nowadays, so you should choose a phone that will last over time. Check consensus on battery life in reviews. The mAh rating will give you some clues, but the capacity is also affected by the screen size, resolution and software, so you need to look beyond the number.
The latest generations of smartphones generally come with enough built-in storage. When phones usually came with 16 GB – of which 10 GB were used by the operating system from the start – you could run out of alarming space fast. We recommend a minimum of 32 GB, but 64 GB is better.
For some direct recommendations we suggest you also consult our list of the best cheap mobile phones .
When it comes to how cheap a phone will last, like the Xiaomi Redmi 7A or Allview X3 , you can expect an average lifespan of 2 years if the phone is well cared for. This is largely due to user abuse, battery life, and advancing technology.
The first cause is obvious. We throw away smartphones all the time. We see broken screens every day. Other common problems include broken ports and water damage.
Charging the battery once a day, if not two or three times a day for 2 years in a row results in a battery that cannot maintain its charge as efficiently over time.
Advancing technology is the last hurdle to overcome. Newer applications are optimized to work best on the latest devices with the latest hardware. This means that older phones will often be at a disadvantage and often run the application slower than newer devices. In some cases, the older device will not be allowed to install the latest applications or updates. Cheap phones do not benefit from the latest technology even when they are new, which makes them all the more prone to premature aging.
As technology has improved, so have cheap phones with high-performance cameras. Google, Samsung and Nokia (to name just a few) are still available even for those on a budget. While you may not get the latest specs, most of the best cheap phones with high-performance cameras offer features such as 4K video, dual cameras, image stabilizers and even portrait modes. Since we would not want to exclude anyone from this list, we have kept a slightly more comprehensive definition of "cheap". See our list below:
The best cheap phones for pictures:
We've already taken a look at some of the best Samsung phones available today, but they can be quite expensive. Look for cheaper options and that's understandable. Don't worry, there are good and cheap Samsung phones.
To help you orient yourself in the right direction, the publishers of Nea Plăcut compared dozens of cheap Samsung phones and chose their favorites.
The Best Samsung Cheap Phones:
Let's be honest, none of this is bad, but you pay a little extra for the Samsung brand. If you want the best phone with the lowest price, see also our article about the best cheap phones .
The best operating system for a phone under 1500 lei is one that does not make the system very difficult. For this reason, we recommend that you look for a phone that comes with plain / naked Android (without other interfaces / operating systems on top) as all these additions make it difficult for the phone's processor and RAM. Below we have included some such models.
Phones Under 1500 lei with Android Simple:
Android (whether it is simple or not) is preferable for a phone under 1500 lei since a new Apple phone (with iOS) under 1500 lei will be quite old. We are talking here about the iPhone 5S or iPhone 6 , phones that will surely move slower than say a Samsung A50 .