Best cheap phones 2024

There's a fierce battle for the best cheap phones title, and who you pick comes down to how much you want to pay for your phone. The Google Pixel 7a delivers premium features in a sub-$500 phone, but it costs more than its predecessor. And with the Galaxy A54 also offering a top experience for $50 less, it's hard to deny that phone's appeal to budget-minded shoppers.

No matter which one of this trio you ultimately pick, you can't really lose. And that underscores what I've been saying for some time: Opt for one the best cheap phones, and you'll find enough high-end capabilities to make you feel like you're getting plenty for your money.

After testing multiple phones that cost less than $500, I believe that most shoppers can find everything they need in these lower-cost devices, whether you're looking for an affordable iPhone or an inexpensive Android handset. No matter the model, no one needs to spend upwards of $800 on a flagship device when you can easily find a handset that delivers comparable features while costing hundreds of dollars less.

You'll need to make some trade-offs to get a cheap phone — forget about the most powerful processors or versatile zoom cameras — but in many cases, you'll find cameras that are good enough to get the job done and even big displays with adaptive refresh rates. And 5G connectivity is basically a given these days.

Even though I reviewed my fair share of affordable phones, my other colleagues also contribute collectively as a group for our picks for the best cheap phones under $500. If that's still too much to pay, check out our guide on the best cheap phones under $300. And with the launches of the Pixel 8a and Galaxy A55 likely coming in the next few months, there are many more cheap phones coming in 2024.

The Quick List

The best cheap phones you can buy today

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Best cheap phone overall

Samsung Galaxy A54 reviewEditor's Choice

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)
The best cheap phone overall

Specifications

Display: 6.4 inches (2340 x 1080)
CPU: Exynos 1380
RAM: 6GB, 8GB
Storage / Expandable: 128GB, 256GB / Yes
Rear camera: 50MP main (f/1.8), 12MP ultrawide (f/2.2), 5MP macro (f/2.4)
Front camera: 32MP (f/2.2)
Weight: 7.1 ounces

Reasons to buy

+
Improved 50MP main camera
+
Fun colors
+
Solid battery life

Reasons to avoid

-
Only modest performance gains from predecessor
-
Noticeable bezel

As good as last year's Galaxy A53 was, the Galaxy A54 improves upon that midrange device in all the critical areas for smartphone users. The main camera is now the same 50MP shooter that Samsung uses on the more expensive Galaxy S23, and that helps the Galaxy A54 take on the Google Pixel 6a's impressive cameras. In head-to-head shots, the Galaxy A54 holds its own, even surpassing the output of the Pixel 6a in some cases, particularly when it comes to low-light shots.

The 6.4-inch OLED panel is brighter than the Galaxy A53's screen, and it's as colorful as ever. Battery life is better, too, as the Galaxy A54 outperforms the average smartphone on our battery test by half-an-hour. (Battery life improves even further when you turn off the Galaxy A54's adaptive refresh rate.) We also like the colorful look of the Galaxy A54, particularly the Awesome Violet variant.

We wish the Exynos 1380 processor boosted performance more than it does, and as good as the Galaxy A54's display is, those bezels are very noticeable. Still, with the Galaxy A54 price holding at $449, this is an impressive phone that delivers plenty of value for bargain hunters. Just be aware that rumors suggest a Galaxy A55 could be arriving later in the spring.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy A54 review.

Runner up

Google Pixel 7a

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)
Premium features for less

Specifications

Display: 6.1 inches (2400 x 1080)
CPU: Tensor G2
RAM: 8GB
Storage / Expandable: 128GB / No
Rear camera: 64MP main (f/1.89), 13MP ultrawide (f/2.2)
Front camera: 13MP (f/2.2)
Weight: 6.8 ounces

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent Tensor G2-powered features
+
90Hz display is very bright
+
Wireless charging support

Reasons to avoid

-
$50 price hike over predecessor
-
Cameras produce dark colors

The Google Pixel 7a sees a $50 price hike from its predecessor — and more crucially, it costs $50 more than the Galaxy A54. But you can see how Google's justifying that price. The budget phone now has a bright display with a 90Hz refresh rate and it supports wireless charging, too. Even with those additions, it still costs less than $500 even though it runs on the same Tensor G2 chipset that powers the more expensive Pixel 7.

The best change of all involves improved cameras, specifically the 64MP main shooter on the back of the phone. That's a larger sensor than what you get with the Pixel 6a, so the Pixel 7a thrives in low-light settings. It's a neck-and-neck competition with the Galaxy A54 as to which phone takes the better photos, but you won't be disappointed with the Pixel 7a's efforts, particularly with Tensor-powered tools like Magic Eraser and Photo Unblur at your disposal.

If you absolutely want to spend the least amount of money for top features, the Galaxy A54 is the best cheap phone to get, but the Pixel 7a offers the most premium features for the money.

Read our full Google Pixel 7a review.

Longest-lasting phone

OnePlus 12R review

(Image credit: Future)
Cheap phone with the best battery life

Specifications

Display: 6.78 inches (2780 x 1264)
CPU: Snapdragon 8 Gen 2
RAM: 8GB, 16GB
Storage / Expandable: 128GB, 256GB / No
Rear camera: 50MP main (f/1.8), 8MP ultrawide (f/2.2), 2MP macro (f/2.4)
Front camera: 16MP (f/2.4)
Weight: 7.3 ounces

Reasons to buy

+
Epic battery life
+
Flagship-quality performance
+
Bright display

Reasons to avoid

-
So-so camera performance
-
$499 version isn't widely available

The OnePlus 12R is the first R series phone from OnePlus to get a global release, and it's a welcome addition to the world of smartphones. The phone draws its design cues from the OnePlus 12 flagship, while scaling back some features for a lower price tag. For instance, the OnePlus 12R runs on last year's Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset, but this isn't really a hardship — the Qualcomm silicon delivers outstanding performance and long battery life, with the 12R lasting more than 18 hours on our battery test.

Cameras don't perform as well as the ones on the Pixel 7a, so turn elsewhere if you want a low-cost camera phone. Also be aware that the $499 model of the OnePlus 12R is not available in Europe — there, you'll have to buy the more expensive 256GB version of the 12R. But if you can get your hands on the sub-$500 model, you'll find that the OnePlus 12R excels at performance and staying power — two things that are good to have in any phone.

Read our full OnePlus 12R review.

Best cheap phone design

Nothing Phone 2a review.

(Image credit: Future)
The best-looking cheap phone

Specifications

Display: 6.7 inches (2412 x 1080)
CPU: MediaTek Dimensity 7200 Pro
RAM: 8GB, 12GB
Storage / Expandable: 128GB, 256GB / No
Rear camera: 50MP (f/1.88) main, 50MP (f2.2) utra wide
Front camera: 32MP (f/2.2)
Weight: 6.7 ounces

Reasons to buy

+
Premium design
+
Surprisingly long battery life
+
Premium display

Reasons to avoid

-
Disappointing photos in low-light conditions
-
Choppy GPU performance

Who says that you have to sacrifice looks for a cheaper price? The Nothing Phone 2a still delivers the stylish translucent look and helpful Glyph interface found on the Nothing Phone 2, but for hundreds of dollars less. We're also impressed by the big, bright 6.7-inch display, which offers an adaptive refresh rate, as well as how long this phone lasted on our battery test.

Nothing is giving this phone a global launch, though U.S. shoppers will need to order it through the phone maker's developer program. With a price of $349, that phone may be worth tracking down, even with some disappointing low-light camera performance and choppy graphics. The Nothing Phone 2a looks good enough to overcome those flaws, and it delivers in some other key areas like battery life, fast charging and value.

Read our full Nothing Phone 2a review.

Bigger Pixel Savings

Google Pixel 6a review

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)
An even lower price on a still-great phone

Specifications

Display: 6.1 inches (2400 x 1080)
CPU: Tensor G1
RAM: 6GB
Storage / Expandable: 128GB / No
Rear camera: 12.2MP main (f/1.7), 12MP ultrawide (f/2.2)
Front camera: 8MP (f/2.0)
Weight: 6.3 ounces

Reasons to buy

+
$100 price cut
+
Bright display
+
Smart Tensor chip and solid cameras

Reasons to avoid

-
Poor result on our battery test
-
Noticeably cheap materials

The Pixel 7a may be here, but that doesn't mean the Pixel 6a has to go away. Google's keeping the phone around for $349, so you can still get an excellent if older devices, provided the 7a's new features don't matter to you. Some Pixel 6a deals allow you to save even more on the phone.

The Tensor G1 chipset inside the Pixel 6a adds to its appeal. That’s the same silicon inside Google’s more expensive Pixel 6 flagships. 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.

Even as an older device, the Pixel 6a provides excellent photos that measure up well against other budget devices. Android OS support will run out in two years, so this phone won't have the shelf life of the Pixel 7a, but it's still a viable option among the best cheap phones.

Read our full Google Pixel 6a review.

Best cheap iPhone

iPhone SE 2022 in hand at beach Midnight color

(Image credit: Future)
The best cheap iPhone

Specifications

Display: 4.7-inch LCD (1334x750)
CPU: A15 Bionic
RAM: Unknown
Storage / Expandable: 64GB, 128GB, 256GB / No
Rear camera: 12MP (ƒ/1.8)
Front camera: 7MP (ƒ/2.2)
Weight: 5.09 ounces

Reasons to buy

+
Very affordable
+
Fast A15 Bionic performance
+
Very good camera quality

Reasons to avoid

-
Big bezels around a small screen
-
No camera night mode

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 series and the iPhone 14, 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 a great choice for people who like small phones. With rumors circulating that an iPhone SE 4 likely won't ship until 2024, it may be your best option for a cheap iPhone for the foreseeable future.

Read our full iPhone SE 2022 review.

Best phone under $300

OnePlus Nord N30 5G review

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)
The best phone under $300

Specifications

Display: 6.72 inches (2400 x 1080)
CPU: Snapdragon 695 5G
RAM: 8GB
Storage / Expandable: 128GB / Yes
Rear camera: 108MP (f/1.7) main; 2MP (f/2.4) depth; 2MP (f/2.4) macro
Front camera: 16MP (f/2.4)
Weight: 6.9 ounces

Reasons to buy

+
Extensive battery life
+
Fast charging speeds
+
Large 120Hz display

Reasons to avoid

-
Inconsistent camera performance
-
No ultrawide lens

The OnePlus Nord N30 5G isn't as capable as the phones we've ranked above it, but it also isn't as expensive, either. At $299, this is the phone to get for people with a hard budget of $300, as OnePlus' budget phone nails the important details people look for in a mobile device.

You get a big screen with a 120Hz refresh rate, and while the OnePlus Nord N30 isn't a performance powerhouse, it does manage power efficiently. The Nord N30 lasted 12.5 hours on our battery test, with its display in adaptive mode, which is a very impressive result.

The 108MP main lens looks good on paper and captures more detail than you may be used to from a budget camera. But it's inconsistent camera performance that keeps us from being more enthusiastic about the OnePlus Nord N30. Nevertheless, for less than $300, you get a very capable phone that delivers more value than you might imagine.

Read our full OnePlus Nord N30 5G review.

Best for note-takers

Moto G Stylus 5G (2023) review image.

(Image credit: Future)
Good budget phone for note-takers

Specifications

Display: 6.6 inches (2400 x 1080)
CPU: Snapdragon 6 Gen 1
RAM: 6GB
Storage / Expandable: 256GB / Yes
Rear camera: 50MP (f/1.9) main, 8MP (f/2.2) ultrawide
Front camera: 16MP (f/2.5)
Weight: 7.1 ounces

Reasons to buy

+
Built-in stylus
+
Surprisingly good battery life
+
Narrow frame

Reasons to avoid

-
Inconsistent focus with camera
-
Only one Android OS update

Both the Moto 5G Stylus 5G (2023) and Galaxy S23 Ultra ship with a built-in stylus. The difference is that Motorola's phone costs $800 less than Samsung's flagship. And while the stylus that comes with the Moto 5G model isn't as feature-rich as Samsung's S-Pen, it's still good for jotting down notes and editing photos more precisely. If you're looking for a way to boost your productivity on a budget, this year's edition of the Moto G Stylus 5G fits the bill.

You'll get some inconsistent camera performance, and we wish Motorola provided more than one guaranteed Android OS update, but we were pleased with how long the Moto G 5G Stylus lasts on a charge. It's also a pretty slender design that's much easier to type on than a lot of today's phones. Be sure not to confuse this 5G-capable model with the regular (and less expensive) Moto G Stylus (2023).

Read our full Moto G Stylus 5G (2023) 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.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Battery Benchmarks
Row 0 - Cell 0 Battery Life (hours:minutes)Recharge level at 15 minutes (%)Recharge level at 30 minutes (%)
Galaxy A5412:1916%31%
Pixel 7a10:0521%43%
OnePlus 12R18:4257%96%
Nothing Phone 2a15:0028%61%
Pixel 6a6:41N/AN/A
iPhone SE (2022)9:0531%61%
OnePlus Nord N3012:4216%33%
Moto G Stylus 5G (2023)12:1212%23%

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 3DMark's Wild Life Unlimited for graphics testing. We also perform our own video editing/transcoding testing using the Adobe Premiere Rush app to gauge real-world speed.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Performance Benchmarks
Row 0 - Cell 0 Geekbench (single-core / multicore)3DMark Wild Life Unlimited (FPS)Adobe Rush Premiere (minutes, seconds)
Galaxy A54781 / 2,66416.931:11
Pixel 7a1,018 / 3,06541.10:56
OnePlus 12R1,553 / 5,13584.41:09
Nothing Phone 2a1,103 / 2,58625.51:40
Pixel 6a1,057 / 2,91841.730:49
iPhone SE (2022)1,718 / 4,48250.030:27
OnePlus Nord N30904 / 2,0777.2N/A
Moto G Stylus 5G (2023)929 / 2,70714.21:51

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.