It might be trendy to spend $1,000 on the latest flagship smartphone when it’s first released, but it’s not necessary. You don’t even have to spend $500 today to get a decent phone, as there are plenty of options as low as $160 that can suit your needs. But navigating the budget phone market can be tricky; options that look good on paper may not in practice, and some phones will end up costing you more when you consider that many come with restrictive storage. While we at Engadget spend most of our time testing and reviewing mid- to high-end phones, we tested a number of the latest budget phones on the market to see which ones are really worth your money.

What to look for in a budget phone

For this guide, our top picks cost between $100 and $300. Anything less and you might end up buying a dumb phone or a high-end calculator instead. Because they’re meant to be more affordable than flagship phones and even mid-range phones, budget smartphones involve compromises; the cheaper a device is, the lower your expectations for performance and experience should be. For this reason, the best advice I can give is to spend as much as you can afford. In this price range, even $50 or $100 more can get you a significantly better product.

Second, you need to know what you want most from the phone. When buying a budget smartphone, you may have to sacrifice a decent camera for a durable battery or trade a high-resolution display for a faster processor. This is just what comes with the territory, but knowing your priorities will make finding the right phone easier.

It’s also worth noting that some features can be hard to find on cheap phones. For example, you won’t have to look far for a device with all-day battery life — but if you want a great camera, you’re better off paying for one of the recommendations in our mid-range smartphone guide, all of which come in at $600 or less. Wireless charging and water resistance are also not easy to find in this price range, and forget about a fast processor. On the other hand, all of our recommendations come with headphone jacks, so you won’t have to get wireless headphones.

iOS is also off the table, as the $400 Apple iPhone SE is the most affordable iPhone in the lineup. That leaves Android as the only option. Fortunately, in 2024, there’s nothing to complain about with Google’s operating system — and you might even prefer it to iOS. Finally, keep in mind that most Android manufacturers tend to offer much less robust software support for their budget devices. In some cases, your new phone may only receive one major software update and a year or two of security patches after that. That goes for the OnePlus and Motorola recommendations on our list.

If you want to keep your phone as long as possible, Samsung has the best software policy of any Android manufacturer in the budget space, offering four years of security updates on all of its devices. However, if software support (or device longevity in general) is your main focus, consider spending a little more $500 Google Pixel 7awhich is our favorite mid-range smartphone and has software updates scheduled via mid 2026.


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

300 dollars OnePlus Nord N30 5G offers the best value of any of the smartphones on our list. No other phone in the price range packs a processor as fast as the N30’s Snapdragon 695 5G. Plus, OnePlus has specified the N30 with 5G connectivity in addition to a generous 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, meaning you probably won’t need to budget for a microSD card or cloud storage. It also comes with a 120Hz IPS display, a feature that is great for both gaming and everyday use. Best of all, the N30 comes with a 50W power adapter that you can use to get a full day of battery life in 30 minutes. The N30 would be almost perfect if it had water resistance and OnePlus had committed to rolling out more than one major Android update to the phone. — Igor Bonifacic, contributing reporter

$250 at Amazon


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 ultra-wide, 2MP macro | Weight: 7.05 oz

For only $200, Galaxy A15 5G is quite a remarkable device. It has a 6.5-inch display with a slightly slower 90Hz refresh rate than the Nord N30. However, because it has an OLED panel instead of an LCD display, it boasts better brightness and richer colors than almost all of its competitors. In addition, it can be configured with up to 8 GB of RAM and 256 GB of storage, and its 5000 mAh battery provides a very long life. And while its design isn’t too exciting, the polycarbonate Samsung used 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 phones in this price range. — Sam Rutherford, senior reporter

$200 at Amazon


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, 2024 Moto G Play covers all the bases well. It has a fast Snapdragon 680 processor along with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. And while that last number may 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. It’s not much, but it’s good enough to prevent an accidental splash or two. Sure, the G Play is basic, but it’s basic in a good way. — SR

$150 at Amazon


Screen size: 6.5-inch | Storage capacity: 64GB | SIM card type: Nano-SIM | Front Camera Resolution: 8MP | Rear Camera Resolution: 50MP | Weight: 6.9 oz

200 dollars Motorola Moto G Stylus offers something that none of the other choices on this list do: a built-in stylus. If you like drawing and taking notes, then this is the cheap phone to buy. Fortunately, there are a few other things as well. The Moto G Stylus has a large and responsive 6.5-inch display and a durable 5000 mAh battery. It also comes in two gorgeous colors: Midnight Blue and Sparkling Pink.

As with other options in this price range, it would be nice if the Moto G Stylus came with a more powerful camera, fast charger and better water protection. One word of advice: avoid the Moto G Stylus 5G. It doesn’t offer enough of an upgrade to justify the $400 price tag. — IB

$130 at Amazon