When it comes to picking one of the best cheap phones, you should always look for the features which are most important to you. Not every handset will be able to provide all the bells and whistles offered by top flagship models, however, you will find that most affordable options will still deliver a fairly robust smartphone experience.
A good cheap handset will still provide all the essential functions we've come to expect from today's best phones, such as the ability to make calls, send text messages, browse the internet, take photos and even play games. That said, the price difference can usually be measured by how well it does those things.
While it's true that budget smartphones have come a long way in the last few years, some may prioritise certain features over others. That means you should expect some trade-offs — you won’t always find the most powerful processors, 120Hz displays or versatile zoom cameras.
That said, you'll likely be surprised by what today's more affordable phones are capable of. Below you'll find a list of the best cheap phones in Australia for 2022. Whether you're looking for an Android or iOS device, every smartphone on this list is priced under AU$750, which is less than half of what you'd pay for a current flagship phone in 2022. Read on to find out why we've chosen these particular models.
The best cheap phones you can buy today
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If you’re willing to overlook its disappointing battery life, the Google Pixel 6a is hard to beat as the best cheap phone overall. Credit the cameras, which always stand out on Google’s budget devices. Like its predecessors, the Pixel 6a relies on computational photography to deliver some of the best images in this price range — its photos can even challenge those produced by much more expensive phones. And unlike the iPhone SE (its closest competitor on the cheap camera phone front), the Pixel 6a supports a night mode.
You’ll also find a Tensor chipset powering the Pixel 6a. That’s the same silicon inside Google’s Pixel 6 flagships, which start at AU$150 more than the Pixel 6a. As a result, the same AI-powered tricks Google’s flagship phone can pull off are available to the Pixel 6a, too, including the photo-editing Magic Eraser tool and on-device translation.
For AU$749, you get a lot of value with the Pixel 6a. It’s the phone to get if you place a premium on camera capabilities and special features. The biggest question these days is whether to pony up an additional AU$150 to get the affordably priced Pixel 7 that's powered by a newer Tensor G2 chipset (our Pixel 7 vs. Pixel 6a comparison looks at what's different besides the price).
But if you really want to stick to that sub-AU$750 budget, the Pixel 6a is the way to go, especially with Pixel 6a deals dropping the price even lower than RRP. In fact, it's common to see the Pixel 6a discounted by hundreds of dollars — especially if you're willing to purchase an international model.
Read our full Google Pixel 6a review.
If the Pixel 6a doesn't sway you, then you may want to give Samsung's Galaxy A53 a shot. This great mid-range handset is priced at AU$549 for the 128GB model, and can often be found even cheaper than that. It also does just about everything well enough. It has a nice 6.5-inch AMOLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate, supports 5G speeds and has a large 5,000mAh battery (our Pixel 6a vs. Galaxy A53 face-off goes into greater detail on the differences between these best cheap phone contenders for Android fans.)
Of course, the cameras could be better, especially in light of the Pixel 6a. However, they do just fine if you're okay with Samsung's characteristic oversaturated look. The performance won't wow you like the iPhone SE (2022), but it's good enough for most daily tasks.
Read our full Samsung Galaxy A53 5G review.
The iPhone SE 2022 takes cheap phones to the next level of performance by including Apple's powerful A15 Bionic chip. This is the same processor found in the iPhone 13, and it blows all Android phones away, whether you're playing games or editing video on the go.
This chip also gives the new iPhone SE 2022 a number of photography powers that the previous model lacked, including Smart HDR 4, Magic Fusion for better detail and Photographic Styles. In fact, in some scenarios the iPhone SE takes better pics than the Google Pixel 6a, as you can see in our Pixel 6a vs. iPhone SE 2022 face-off. Unfortunately, Apple didn't include Night mode for low-light situations.
The latest iPhone SE features the same design as before, so that means a small 4.7-inch display and big bezels, but some may prefer the old-school Touch ID button for quickly unlocking the device. Despite some trade-offs, the iPhone SE 2022 is one of the best cheap phones around for people who like small phones, and unlike the rumored iPhone SE 4, it's available right now. Priced at AU$719, Apple's cheapest new handset can often be found even cheaper than that.
Read our full iPhone SE 2022 review.
While Samsung's Galaxy S20 FE (which stands for 'Fan Edition') is a little harder to find since the arrival of its successor, the Galaxy S21 FE, there remains a number of retailers in Australia selling the still-great handset at a significant discount.
As one of the better-value Android phones on the market, the Galaxy S20 FE offers a 120Hz Super AMOLED display, 5G connectivity and a triple camera array with 30x Space Zoom — not bad for a phone that can routinely be found in the AU$600-$700 price range.
Of course, there are a few areas where the S20 FE cuts corners in order to keep the price down, namely its plastic back, its older Gorilla Glass 3 front, and its lower-resolution main camera, but you'll still get the kind of performance you'd expect from an S-series Samsung handset.
Read our full Samsung Galaxy s20 FE review.
More affordable 5G phones are arriving all the time, but don't lose sight of the Samsung Galaxy A32 5G. It's well past its first birthday, but with a sub-AU$500 price, it's still a great bargain if you're willing to put up with a mediocre display.
With its big 6.5-inch screen, the A32 is not a small phone. But it packs a 5,000mAh battery that lasts a really long time — almost 12 hours in our testing with its adaptive refresh rate enabled. You can also expect the Galaxy A32 to last longer overall than many other budget options, with Samsung promising three years of Android updates and four years of security patches.
Read our full Samsung Galaxy A32 5G review.
What to look for in the best cheap phones
After you've found a phone at the right price for your budget — that's why you're considering one of the best cheap phones in the first place, after all — consider what features one of these devices has to offer and which ones you're sacrificing for a lower price tag. Battery life, the number and types of cameras, display refresh rate and the type of chipset powering the phone are all ways that cheap phones can distinguish themselves.
In some cases, you'll be able to compare phones to more expensive options to help crystalize what compromises you're making for a lower-cost model.
Generally, one area in which phone makers cut back for budget models is materials. They'll use plastic for the phone's case instead of metal and glass. Cheaper phones may also turn to LCD panels instead of OLED screens, though that's becoming less frequent among some of the best cheap phones running Android.
One other area to consider is software updates and support. We've seen cheaper Android phones either ship with older versions of Android or promise very few upgrades to future versions. Samsung has one of the better upgrade policies with its Galaxy A lineup, and the iPhone remains a standout for usually supporting five years of iOS updates.
How we test the best cheap phones
We evaluate budget-priced phones the same way we do flagships. We perform real-world testing and synthetic benchmarks over several days to evaluate it's performance and value. This includes our own battery test, which involves continuous web surfing over cellular at 150 nits of screen brightness. The devices that make our best phone battery life list tend to last over 11 hours.
In terms of performance, we use Geekbench 5 to measure overall speed and compare versus phones in the same price range. And the same thing goes for GFXBench for graphics testing. We also perform our own video editing/transcoding testing using the Adobe Premiere Rush app to gauge real-world speed.
For evaluating cameras on cheap phones, we will take multiple photos in different conditions and will use other affordably priced phones in the same scenarios in order to make side-by-side comparisons.
For more information, check out our how we test page for Tom's Guide.
In UK, there are options like the Oppo Reno 2 Z, Huawei Nova 5T, Honor 20, Mi 9T. There are various excellent compilations on Youtube (i.e. for one, Tech Spurt's "Best Smartphones under 400 pounds (Spring 2020)") which set out the key features of each.
Excellent cameras, multiple cameras, long lasting battery, HD OLED screens, high screen to body ratio, high quality bodies (sometimes metal/glass) are par for the course now. Some have flagship chipsets, but others have fast upper mid range chipsets, but should be more than sufficient for everyday use.
Its clear that most of the phones on your above list will not be competitive in that space. Even 2 of my top picks in your list have big gaps i.e.
Apple SE has a great chipset and decent camera, but everything else is so 2015. Maybe if the antique look is coming back, it becomes stylish again ?
Pixel 3a has a good engine and camera, but in a $100 android phone body.
Rather, 'Tom's' could (and should starting soon) strive to separate your reviews of handsets and Smart devices by going outside the norm and telling 'The People' about lesser known brands and companies who are Truly putting fantastic value and major Bang for the buck into their devices and enlightening the people to these emerging options here in our market, and not just overseas.
Androidchap laid down some good examples, and noted the UK market also, and I would quickly emphasise other Asian companies who are putting out Beautiful designs with awesome specs for less than half the cost of even these "mid-range" value B.S models on the list.
Again, I'm not picking on you, your list is just like PC mags, cnet, techgurus, etc... you all have the same models but just in slightly different order as to your "best of-pick".
So piggybacking on the manufacturer's Androidchap noted, I would additionally offer up for 'the People' to check out: Xiaomi and their entire Mi line of electronics, such as the Mi 9, REDMi 9/Note 9s/9 Pro, 10 ... you get the idea. Add to that a newish player called Elephone (who's latest offering in the "value" space can now be had in pre-sale for the apsurd low cost of $130-$170 US and is spec'd more like a "flagship" phone in our market. Crazy.
Just look at the build quality, color choices, camera options galore (like 48 & 64 mp, 4 lens, with macro and good night vision capability) and you begin to see the vast differences out there. And did I mention the value? The bang for the buck that truly can be had if people just knew what to ask for? Oh yeah... I Did mention that.
Here's another- ASUS, who some should recognize for their Chromebooks, laptops, tabs, etc, ...well, turns out they make really killer phone designs too! Soon to launch should be the next ZenPhone 7 plus a higher-end (they claim) option in their Logic line I believe they call it?
Doesn't matter, the point is that you guys (Tom's) should be the ONES telling us about these alternatives, instead of just re-presenting the same year-over-year options which Anyone who's owned a Smartphone should already kinda have a feel for OR could get the same generic dialog from walking into a Verizon, AT&T, t-Mobile, or Sprint store and chatting it up with the sales kid. Just my opinion, but if I were you I would try to do something New to separate yourself from the other "big boys" in the Consumer Electronic Review space and make a name for yourselves AS PROGRESSIVE.
Your list sucks. The phones are ugly and mostly lame.
(sure, some of the Mi models I mentioned aren't 5G capable at the SUB-$350 range! (no duh), but who cares! Spend just a little more with them, like still under $500, $600, $700 and guess what- comes Standard with a Snapdragon 855 and All the bells and whistles to boot. That's a hell of a lot better than the stupidly ridiculous price that Apple & Samsung have "trained" most of us to expect for their "elite" models... give me a break. The iPhone hasn't barely had a 'sexy' or interesting design change in like... Forever!
Sadly, the phone scene in the States in largely boring and homogenized like most things.
Just take a moment to Go Look at the beautiful design Aesthetics of some models available in UK, Europe, and for certain Korea, Japan and China and you will see what I'm seeing...
America is sadly NOT a leader or out in front in the CE (electronics) marketplace at all.
We lag; big time.
Anyhow, that my 2 cents and a little more for you and some readers perhaps.
Take my suggestion and reinvent what you're bringing to the rest of us here in the USA and begin covering the "Cutting-edge stuff" and leave the lame re-runs and slow to change models and brands to others. (Obviously, you still need to cover Apple, Samsung, HTC, ONE, Moto, etc.,) but bring some new blood into the mix is all I'm getting at.
I'm off to order a totally KIck Ass Smart (and stylish) modern handset... it just isn't represented on Your or most anyone else's "Review" lists circulating here in the States.
It unfortunately crossed my mind that maybe you're promoting and writing about the 'regular' stuff because it helps drive your affiliate/partner advertising and links for readers to go purchase from the "Samsung's of the world" as their only or 'best' current option?
Maybe it would be a lot more fun and add A Lot more valuable to your audience if you covered the Latest and (Less well Known) Greatest, rather than just the same-ol', same 'ol brands and models.
Give it a thought?
Lastly, your site or blog or forum or whatever this is happens to way too busy with large flashy Ads, pop-ups and general distractions, which also under value your potential to be taken more seriously. I know it helps pay the rent and expenses, but maybe take back some control and tone down the mass advertising on-slaught here. Thanks for the consideration.
Take care and Best of luck starting to cover "The Good Stuff". See Ya boys and girls!
Yeah, NO. That's not what i was saying AT ALL in my long post... maybe you didn't fully give it a read or failed to understand my points?
Please Forward my message to the author of the Article: @Mark Spoonauer. and CC Tom or anyone else in Upper Management please. I would like to know how they feel towards my actual points, which include Tom's Guide stepping out of the "box" and exploring and reviewing all the other emerging Brands and offering readers a much broader and more informative review of tech and our Best Value Buys.
I never said Cheap. The article has that title, but some of the phones I mentioned could compete as PHone of the Year in some cases, especially with OVerall Value is taken into consideration. Your list does NOT do that nearly as well as it could have if the author explored and dug a little deeper for All the options that are emerging.
- Have them write a comment if you can?
Was great reading your opinion and I agree with you pretty close to 100%. Thanks for posting.
I normally use forums to find answers to whatever hardware/software related problems I experience at that particular moment, rarely comment under articles and almost never reply to other comments. But, after having read this comment, I wanted to sign up & let the author know how much I appreciated what they've written - and not just in terms of its content, but also for the passionate tone that conveys that they really care. I do hope that tom's guide does also appreciate the fact that one of their readers put in the time & effort to write this well thought out, constructive criticism full of salient points & good, practical suggestions.
I had never heard of elephone before. Just checked & discovered that they are sold in my homeland. Would probably have skipped them without a second glance, had I not read your comment @HelloJelloFellow, but will research them now. So thanks & all the best.
I was looking at the Pixel 6a in it and saw a link to it being compared to the Pixel 7
That post talked about the 7 as if it wasnt out yet, no prices and other data. But had a link to 7 vs 7pro
Turns out the 7 is already out and the price has since been dropped to $499 (you can see this in the 7 vs 7pro article)
Thought I'd make my first reply letting them know that the 7 can replace the 6a on the list
But turns out the article was from 2020 and now locked