The best budget phone 2023on September 7, 2023 at 10:32 Tech Advisor

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Smartphones are more expensive than ever but as the high-end gets better, so do the cheap phones.

If you don’t want to spend hundreds or even thousands on your next phone then you have come to the right article!

We fully test and review loads of budget phones at Tech Advisor, and here you’ll find an up to the minute list of our ten favourite cheap smartphones that cost $250/£250 or under.

We look out for things like battery life, performance, camera quality, and software support as these are often the things that can suffer when a phone doesn’t cost that much.

The best cheap phone right now is the Samsung Galaxy A14 because it ticks all those boxes and is available in the US, UK, and other regions globally.

But the other nine phones here offer different combinations of features – you might want to go for a phone with a flashier design, or one with a headphone jack.

We’ve picked phones made by Samsung, Nokia, Xiaomi, Motorola, and Realme as we feel they offer the best bang for your buck. Make sure to click through to each individual phone’s full review to check out all the details on each model.

Whether you’re buying for yourself or a young or old family member, there’s a budget phone out there for everyone.

Best budget phone 2023

1. Samsung Galaxy A14 – Best overall

Pros

Sleek S23-inspired design

Long battery life

User-friendly software

Cons

Slow charging

Display not as good as rivals

Mixed cameras

Price When Reviewed:



Dès 144,28 €

The best budget phone you can buy is the Samsung Galaxy A14 thanks to a winning combination of good design excellent battery life, simple software, and at least four years of software support to 2027.

Day to day performance is much improved over 2022’s Galaxy A13 with a better chipset, and most tasks tick away nicely with 4GB RAM. As with most cheap phones you will not be able to fire up demanding mobile games like Call of Duty, but calls, texts, messaging and video apps, and social media will be absolutely fine.

There’s only 64GB storage which is a bit low, but there’s a microSD card slot to expand storage and you ca’t really complain when a cheap phone is this good. You can also pay a little more and get a 5G version, which is otherwise identical.

If you don’t mind a 60Hz display when other budget phones have smoother 90- or 120Hz tech, and you’re not fussed about having an outstanding smartphone camera, then the Galaxy A14 is a top choice.

Read our full

Samsung Galaxy A14 review

2. Motorola Moto G62 – A close second

Pros

Well built

Clean Android 12

Strong battery life

Cons

Slow charging

Laggy performance

Average camera

Price When Reviewed:



€249.99

The cons of the Moto G62 are much the same as all cheap phones, because they are cheap! You save money by sacrificing performance, camera quality, and faster charging. What you gain with the Moto though is a solid plastic built quality that surpasses other phones at this price, a clean version of Android 12 with changes only made where Moto can improve, not add things for the sake of it.

This is one of the best budget phones you can get.

There’s a superb always-on display, despite having an LCD rather than OLED panel, that lets you quickly view and open notifications that no other phone brand has. If the performance occasionally stutters you will be able to forgive it for how attractive the software of this phone looks, and it’s a great alternative to Xiaomi’s cluttered UI, despite the strength of that brands budget phones.

Triple cameras on the back of the Moto G62 exist, but it’s a push to call them all good – thankfully the 50Mp main sensor is very solid and will give you excellent daytime shots. Pair that with great battery life from the 5000mAh cell that we sometimes found reached the end of the day at 50% and you have a great cheap phone option.

Read our full

Motorola Moto G62 review

3. Motorola Moto G23 – Premium look and feel

Pros

Elegant design and high build quality

Generous storage

Stereo speakers

Large, fast-charging battery

Cons

Slightly faded screen

Questionable wide-angle camera

Choppy haptics



The Moto G23 is another great choice from Moto that can regularly be found for less than it’s already decent £199.99 RRP. Unfortunately it’s not available in the US, though there are many solid Moto phones sold there in the same price range.

The G23 looks and feels more expensive than it is and delivers where it matters. The screen is bright, it’s main camera will do the job fine, it has loud clear dual stereo speakers, and it charges at 30W with the included charger.

It has a dual SIM slot and storage is expandable via microSD, though the built in 128GB storage is very generous for the price.

The ultrawide and macro cameras aren’t much cop, there’s no 5G support, and the processor is only fast enough to play quite basic mobile games – you won’t want to fire up Fortnite on this phone. But if you want an affordable smartphone that nails the basics and is running a nice plain version of Android 13, this is it.

Read our full

Motorola Moto G23 review

4. Nokia G60 5G – Buy on a subscription

Pros

Large display

Decent main camera

Solid battery life

Three years of OS support

Cons

Mediocre secondary cameras

20W charging

Price When Reviewed:



249 €

It’s great to see the Nokia brand (the phones are actually made by Finnish company HMD) represent good value phones once more. The Nokia G60 is an excellent budget phone choice at £200 (it’s not officially on sale in the US but you can get it via Amazon).

With 5G, a large screen, great battery life and a perfectly capable main camera, the G60 ticks all our top boxes for a phone that doesn’t cost too much, considering. Three years of software support is also above average for this price segment. It’s good to see, and means you can use your phone knowing its Android security is up to date.

You can buy the phone outright or you can get it from £12.50 per month with Nokia’s Circular subscription plan, which lets you upgrade when you want, or lets you accumulate points the longer you hold onto the same phone to encourage less e-waste. You can then spend those points on eco-minded causes.

At this price it’s hard to fault the G60, though it does charge very slowly.

Read our full

Nokia G60 5G review

5. Realme C35 – Best design

Pros

Crisp, colourful display

Bold design

Competent camera

Cons

Basic performance

Screen only 60Hz

Battery life below rivals

Price When Reviewed:



219,99 €

Thhe folks at Realme pulled it out of the bag with the design of the C35, a sub-£150 phone that looks like it costs a lot more.

With flat sides taken straight from the latest iPhone playbook and a smart looking camera module akin to the more expensive OnePlus Nord phones, the C35 also packs in a great 1080p display for the incredibly cheap price.

You can even pay £20 extra to get 128GB storage instead of 64GB, and all models have a microSD slot and a 3.5mm headphone jack. The processor is nothing to write home about, but the 50Mp main camera lens is pretty good on a phone that outperforms its asking price.

Read our full

Realme C35 review

6. Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro – Best camera

Pros

Stunning display

Incredible value

Big battery

Cons

No OIS

MIUI not for everyone

Price When Reviewed:



Dès 279,90 €

The Redmi Note 10 Pro is essentially an upgraded Poco X3 NFC, with a nicer display and better camera.

The 6.67in 120Hz panel boasts AMOLED tech, meaning superb contrast and vibrant colours. The 108Mp lead camera, meanwhile, excels and comes accompanied by a pair of secondary snappers that exceed expectation.

Fun extras like 33W fast charging, a headphone jack and even an IR blaster elevate the Redmi Note 10 Pro from a good to a great budget offering, considering what Xiaomi’s incorporated here.

Read our full

Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro review

7. Xiaomi Poco M4 Pro – Incredible value

Pros

First M series w/ AMOLED

Two-day battery life

Excellent camera

Cons

Thick and heavy

MIUI is clunky

Unreliable fingerprint scanner

Price When Reviewed:



Dès 229,90 €

Not to be confused with last year’s Poco M4 Pro 5G, this device shrugs off 5G in exchange for some notable upgrades in other areas.

The Poco M4 is the first M series device in Poco history to pack in an AMOLED display (which also happens to support a 90Hz refresh rate and Full HD+ resolution), the 64Mp is an impressive improvement for the series and battery life (as well as fast charging) is decent too.

The design is a little divisive and MIUI 13 for POCO won’t be to everyone’s tastes but in terms of value for money, this is an exceptional option, right now.

Read our full

Poco M4 Pro review

8. Xiaomi Poco M4 Pro 5G – Great for budget 5G

Pros

90Hz display

Great battery life

Affordable 5G

Cons

Average cameras

MIUI isn’t great

Only 4GB RAM in base model

Price When Reviewed:



229,90 €

The updated Poco M4 Pro 5G offers a little more than its predecessor from the same year, without changing the overall balance struck, all that much.

This like-minded Xiaomi handset has a run-of-the-mill Dimensity 810 5G chipset but also delivers a high 90Hz refresh rate viewing experience.

Beyond that, a large 5000mAh battery with upgraded 33W fast charging delivers superb battery life and some eye-catching finishes make this a compelling fit for those after a touch more fluidity in their user experience.

Read our full

Xiaomi Poco M4 Pro 5G review

9. Xiaomi Redmi Note 11 – Great all-rounder

Pros

Great display

Brilliant battery life

Value for money

Cons

MIUI still iffy

Lacklustre cameras

Price When Reviewed:



199,90 €

The Redmi Note 11 paints a similar picture to the Poco M4 Pro (4G) with a slightly hardware setup at play and a whole family and variants to move up through, should its humble hardware not cut the mustard.

In its own right though, the Redmi Note 11 offers great value for money, with a 90Hz Full HD+ AMOLED display, respectable performance from its Snapdragon 680 chipset and superb battery (with decent 33W fast charging).

Camera performance is the obvious weak point here but you’re still getting a lot for your money.

Read our full

Xiaomi Redmi Note 11 review

10. Nokia G22 – Repair it yourself

Pros

Unique repairable build

Decent battery life

User-friendly OS

Cons

Slow and laggy performance

Unimpressive screen

Only two years of OS updates

Price When Reviewed:



199 €

If you like the idea of repairing your phone rather than replacing it every few years, the Nokia G22 could be the phone for you. If you can cope with the fact this is quite a slow phone – perhaps you only need one for basic functions like calls and messages and Google Maps – then it’s a good buy.

iFixit sells several official repair kits for the G22 including for screen cracks and new battery. It means you can grab a smartphone for £150 and be safe in the knowledge you can easily repair it yourself. It’s liberating, and Tech Advisor’s Hannah tried it out in our full review.

One thing to note is this phone will only have software support for two years, which somewhat contradicts the idea this is a product you should keep for far longer and replace its failing parts. That aside, this is an interesting concept and a budget phone you should consider if you don’t need a powerful device.

Read our full

Nokia G22 review

FAQ

1.

Should you buy a budget phone outright?

In our experience, the ideal way to get a cheap phone is to buy it SIM-free, then grab a great-value SIM-only deal. You won’t be paying loads every month for a phone for the next two years and you can swap it for a newer model whenever you fancy without a massive impact on your wallet.

2.

Should you buy a locked phone?

You’ll quickly find that some of the best deals on cheap phones are sold via mobile operators (also known as carriers). What you need to watch out for is whether these phones are sold locked to that operator’s network.

In such situations, you won’t be able to put another operator’s SIM card into your carrier-locked handset and will likely have to call the device’s carrier to get the phone unlocked, which can cost money.

3.

What’s the best phone for a child?

Most children want to make up their own mind about choosing a phone when it comes to entering young adulthood, but if they’re a little younger you’ll probably want to make the decision for them.

You’ll want to look at something ultra-affordable for a first smartphone (so you’ve come to the right place), it’ll need to have a decent-sized screen, long battery life and be fairly durable, so you should probably avoid phones with a glass back. 

As it’ll likely be your main point of contact with your child, you’ll also want to look for good call quality, something that’s often overlooked on modern smartphones.

You can also check out our round up of the best phone for kids.

4.

Which phone is best for students?

We’d recommend a more affordable phone here too, but many of the options in this chart may be within reach.

General buying decisions should be whether you prefer a near-stock version of Android (as is available on Google’s Pixel phones, and Nokia and Motorola phones), or don’t mind a heavier skin, as found on devices from Samsung, Xiaomi, or Oppo.

Also, considering what the most important aspect of a phone is to you is key, and how many compromises you’re willing to make in other areas. Many handsets at this price point will target one specific feature, meaning corners are inevitably cut elsewhere. 

5.

What will you get for your money?

If you’re looking for a cheap phone, you have to accept the fact that the manufacturer is going to cut some corners to achieve that low price and you aren’t going to get the same performance, features or display quality as that of a phone costing two, three, or four times the price.

It used to be the case that budget phones were instantly recognisable by their low-resolution displays, meagre storage and chunky, plastic bodies, but things are improving in this area all the time. These days, for $250/£250 or less, it’s quite possible to buy a phone with a Full HD display, a slim body, and a camera that takes pictures you might actually want to share.

Most will support 4G (or even 5G) connectivity but features like NFC, wireless charging and water resistance might be absent, unless specifically stated.

Budget smartphones, Smartphones

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