The selection of the best cheap phones under $300 is understandably limited compared to the options available in higher price brackets, but you are still able to find some strong devices that'll deliver incredible bang for your buck.
Because we evaluate and test phones at all price ranges, we can find devices under $300 that do offer great value. The trick is to identify which features are important to you and which areas you're willing to compromise on.
As you can see from our picks for the best cheap phones under $300, you can only get Android devices in the price range. You could probably pick up a used iPhone under $300 elsewhere, but the cheapest new iPhone that Apple sells is the $429 iPhone SE (2022) — while the cheapest Google phone, the Pixel 6a, costs $349.
But if you're an Android phone fan, you've got a few low-cost options. These are the best cheap phones under $300 that we've found in our search for the best phones overall.
The quick list
Here are the best cheap phones under $300 you can buy right now based on our testing and reviews. Scroll on for our full in-depth reviews. OnePlus Nord N30 5G
Don't let its low cost fool you because the OnePlus Nord N30 5G crams 5G connectivity, 120Hz display, and a 5,000 mAh hour battery.
You'll have extended time using the TCL 30 V 5G thanks to its excellent battery life performance. It pairs well with Verizon's speedy 5G network.
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Best cheap phone overall
Whether it's as the OnePlus Nord N30 5G in the U.S. or the OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite in other parts of the world, this $299 handset from OnePlus is the best cheap phone under $300. (In the U.S., you can get the phone for slightly less than its unlocked price by buying through T-Mobile or Metro By T-Mobile.) The Nord N30 delivers lots of value by going big on key areas — the 5,000 mAh battery helps the phone last 12.5 hours on our battery test, for example, and 50W wired charging means you'll be able to top up that battery quickly.
We also like the expansive screen OnePlus uses for the Nord N30, not to mention the fact that it's capable of ramping up to 120Hz refresh rate for smoother animations and graphics. That higher refresh rate doesn't impact battery life, either. Stereo speakers and an audio-boosting feature means your gaming sessions will sound great.
Despite a 108MP main camera, we found the photos produced by the OnePlus Nord N30 to be a little inconsistent. And we wish OnePlus would buck the trend of software support for cheap phones by offering more than one guaranteed Android OS update. Still, for less than $300, the OnePlus Nord N30 offers the kind of features you'd expect to pay a lot more to enjoy.
Read our full OnePlus Nord N30 review.
The TCL 30 V 5G is typical of the trade-offs you make when shopping for a cheap phone under $300. But if you want a phone that can last a long time on a charge, TCL’s $299 handset delivers. The phone averaged 11 hours and 46 minutes on our battery test, and when we turned on its smart refresh mode, which scales down the refresh rate to extend battery life, results improved to more than 12 hours.
You’ll need to get your phone service from Verizon to use the TCL 30 V 5G, but if you do, you can take advantage of that carrier’s faster C-Band 5G network, as the phone is compatible with that expanding 5G technology. We wish the TCL 30 V 5G had a little more processing muscle and that its cameras yielded better pictures, but these are sacrifices you have to make sometimes for a less expensive phone.
Read our full TCL 30 V 5G review.
Best for battery life
While we're not fans of Motorola's new direction in 2022, you can't deny that its G Series phones are pretty affordable. The best of the bunch is the Moto G Power (2022), even if this year's edition doesn't live up to the heights of previous models.
For less than $300, the Moto G Power does the basics. It makes calls, browses the web and takes pictures, albeit mediocre ones. It also lasts quite a while on a charge — 13 hours and 15 minutes in the Tom's Guide battery life test. Just be ready to make compromises with this one, particularly when it comes to performance. We'd also expect a 2023 edition of the phone to arrive at some point this year.
Read our full Moto G Power (2022) review.
While the OnePlus Nord N30 is the newer model, there's nothing wrong with the price-to-performance ratio of the OnePlus Nord N20 — especially if you can find the phone at a discount from its original $299 cost. Otherwise, you're better off with the Nord N30.
Like its successor, the Nord N20 delivers strong battery life — 11 hours and 20 minutes on our test and adequate performance for a phone in this price range. It sports a great 6.4-inch AMOLED display with rich colors and deep blacks.
Read our full OnePlus Nord N20 5G review.
How to choose the best cheap phone under $300
Picking the best cheap phone under $300 can be tricky, because it's really all about figuring out which trade-offs you're willing to live with. But it's important to start with the basics.
Take the camera. Budget phones will typically feature one or two lenses, but that's starting to change. The megapixel count doesn't matter that much; pay more attention to the capabilities of the camera, such as a night mode for low-light pictures. See if the phone can shoot ultra-wide shots, which is becoming more common on cheap phones. But don't expect optical zoom; digital zoom is the norm under $400.
As for storage, 64GB is preferred for budget phones and seems to have become the norm, though some phones come with 128GB of base storage. If possible, see if the cheap phone you're considering offers a microSD card slot for expansion. Battery life is a huge concern regardless of price, so check the battery capacity on the phone. In general, anything above 4,500 mAh is preferred. Our best phone battery life list can also tip you off as to which phones did the best on our battery test.
5G used to be reserved for expensive flagships, but these days, high-speed connectivity is fairly standard, even on phones that cost less than $500. Some cheap 5G phones only feature compatibility with sub-6GHz 5G networks instead of faster mmWave-based 5G. C-band coverage is also iffy on phones this cheap.
Once you've found the best cheap phone, you can also look at our tips on how to save money on your cell phone bill.
How we test the best cheap phones under $300
For this best cheap phone overview, we limit our search to phones that cost less than $300. (Our other best cheap phones roundup expands the search to sub-$500 phones, where you'll have more to choose from if your budget allows.) Even with the limitations of cheap phones, any device that makes this list needs to stand out on the different tests that we run on every handset. We perform some of these tests in our labs and some in the real world.
When it comes to performance, we rely on such synthetic benchmarks as Geekbench 5 and 3DMark to measure graphics performance. These tests allow us to compare performance across iPhones and Android devices. We also run a real-world video transcoding test on each phone using the Adobe Premiere Rush app and time the result. (We unfortunately have to skip this test on some phones due to app compatibility issues, but we attempt this benchmark with each device we get in to review.)
|Row 0 - Cell 0||Geekbench 5 (single-core / multicore)||3DMark Wild Life Unlimited (FPS)|
|OnePlus Nord N30||690 / 2011||7|
|TCL 30 V 5G||521 / 1776||6|
|Moto G Power (2022)||177 / 1011||Could not complete test|
|OnePlus Nord N20||696 / 1995||7|
To measure the quality of a phone's display, we perform lab tests to determine the brightness of the panel (in nits), as well as how colorful each screen is (DCI-P3 color gamut). In these cases, higher numbers are better. We also measure color accuracy of each panel with a Delta-E rating, where lower numbers are better and score of 0 is perfect.
|Row 0 - Cell 0||sRGB (%)||DCI-P3 (%)||Delta-E|
|OnePlus Nord N30||152.7 (Vivid)||108.2 (Vivid)||0.09 (Vivid)|
|TCL 30 V 5G||122 (Vivid) / 112 (Natural)||86 (Vivid) / 79 (Natural)||0.23 (Vivid) / 0.24 (Natural)|
|Moto G Power (2022)||95||67||0.23|
|OnePlus Nord N20||179 (Vivid) / 103 (Gentle)||127 (Vivid) / 73 (Gentle)||0.34 (Vivid) / 0.3 (Gentle)|
One of the most important tests we run is the Tom's Guide battery test. We run a web surfing test over 5G (or 4G if the phone doesn't have 5G support) at 150 nits of screen brightness until the battery gives out. In general, a phone that lasts 10 hours or more is good, and anything above 11.5 hours makes our list of the best phone battery life.
|Row 0 - Cell 0||Battery life (Hrs:Mins)|
|OnePlus Nord N30||12:30 (120Hz) / 12:42 (60Hz)|
|TCL 30 V 5G||12:14 (Adaptive) / 11:55 (60Hz)|
|Moto G Power (2022)||13:15 (Adaptive) / 13:20 (60Hz)|
|OnePlus Nord N20||11:20|
Last but not least, we take the best phones out in the field to take photos outdoors, indoors and at night in low light to see how they perform versus their closest competitors. We take shots of landscapes, food, portraits and more, and also allow you to be the judge with side-by-side comparisons in our reviews.