The smartphone market is diverse as dozens of companies release their new phones on a monthly, if not weekly basis. While most of the limelight is taken by flagship phones, some decent budget smartphones deserve just as much appreciation.
So, if you’re looking to upgrade your phone and are running tight on budget, we have compiled a list of smartphones that are right up your alley.
Join us in this hunt to help you find the best budget smartphone in this guide.
Factors To Consider When Choosing a Budget Smartphone
Several aspects of smartphones must be considered, but how important a particular aspect is for someone depends on one’s utility. Let’s decode each of these factors to understand how they will impact the overall performance of your smartphone.
Smartphones are powered by microprocessing chips, also known as CPUs. They are essentially the engines and brains of smartphones, which companies consistently work on improving. Typically, the latest chip is introduced in the flagship model and transferred to budget smartphones.
Modern smartphones feature multicore processors; each core is designed to execute specific tasks. As the number of cores increases, the phone’s performance also improves. For example, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845 features eight cores, four clocked at 2.8 GHz, and the remaining four can go as high as 1.7 GHz.
While picking smartphones, you must understand your priorities because you will only make the right choice about processing chips. For example, if you play a lot of video games on smartphones, the processing power is critical. In contrast, for someone who uses the phone strictly to surf the web and check on social media websites, any decently powered phone will do the job.
As for gamers, they may also need to look for GPUs to get a premium gaming experience. However, such a phone in the budget category often comes with many compromises, and one should be cautious while purchasing them.
A smartphone is only as good as its battery. If the battery runs out quickly, no matter how powerful and capable the phone is, there is no use for it. While a 4500 mAh battery serves decent enough, the figure alone should not be the basis of a choice. Other factors, such as screen brightness, sensors, and the number of screens, that influence battery life.
For example, a smartphone with a battery of 4500 mAh and an adaptive refresh rate of 90Hz will last longer than one with the same capacity but lacks an adaptive refresh rate. While at it, also look for maximum charging speed because it is also just as important. You do not want the phone to charge in more than a few hours.
Smartphone cameras have come a long way and have become an essential factor that pretty much everybody considers before purchasing a smartphone. Typically, companies market their smartphone cameras by flexing the megapixel a camera captures. While megapixels are vital, making a choice based solely on them is not wise because there are several other just as important factors.
Probably the most crucial of them is the sensor, a component that captures light to take a photo. The larger sensor will capture more light and deliver better pictures, and vice versa. Another vital factor is AI processes, which influence how the colors, skin tones, sharpness, and contrast appear in final photos.
You should consider all of these features before deciding whether you like the camera of a particular smartphone.
Display Quality is essential for users who consume more media on their smartphones. While looking for a display, one should be familiar with the types of panels, bezel design, front camera’s notch, and refresh rate. Each of these factors equally influences the display quality of the smartphone.
You should look for a smartphone with a refresh rate of at least 60Hz, the minimum in 2023. Some smartphones also offer refresh rates of 90 Hz and 120 Hz, but you should pick them only if they are adaptive. Otherwise, you would not be able to use them because they drain too much power.
Storage and Memory
Storage and Memory are generally not an issue with budget smartphones because they offer almost the same storage and memory as flagship models. You just have to identify your usage behavior to choose the suitable variant.
While looking for a smartphone on a budget, people tend to prefer older flagships because of their reduced prices. However, we do not recommend it mainly because of their operating systems. A smartphone’s operating system is just as important as the hardware, and if it is not the latest one, you will miss out on the new features and applications.
In 2023, you should pick a smartphone that runs Android 13 and is upgradable to Android 14 when it rolls out.
In addition to the specs sheet, one must consider brand reputation before purchasing a smartphone. For example, purchasing Huawei in the United States would not make sense because many of its features are banned. Similarly, one must also look for the track record of a particular brand in handling the issues of their smartphones.
You should look for the pattern of security updates, quality of customer support, and, most importantly, user reviews. Several smartphone startups have been involved in fraud and scam cases, warranting you to be cautious with the new names.
Several subcategories are based on the smartphone’s prices, even within a budget category. Thus, you must identify your budget and look accordingly in the market. You should list the essential features, for example, the camera and display, and look for the smartphone that meets your criteria within that category.
Top 5 Best Budget Smartphones For 2023
Samsung Galaxy A54 5G
- Dimensions: 158.2 x 76.7 x 8.2 mm
- Display: Super AMOLED. 120 Hz
- Resolution: 1080 x 2340 Pixels
- OS: Android 13
- Memory: 128GB/ 6 GB, 256 GB/ 6 GB
- Chipset: Exynos 1380 Octa-core
- GPU: Mali G68 MP5
- Camera: 50 MP Main, 12 MP Ultrawide, 5 MP Macro, 32MP Front
Galaxy A54 is one of the rare smartphones that strikes an outstanding balance between price and performance. The phone is equipped with a powerful processor and offers excellent camera quality under good lights. Furthermore, the phone runs on the latest operating system, and Samsung has promised updates for years to come.
- Brilliant Display
- Excellent Software Policy
- Decent performance and battery life
- Low light camera performance is below par
Google Pixel 6a
- Dimensions: 152.2 x 71.8 x 8.9 mm
- Display: OLED, HDR
- Resolution: 1080 x 2400 Pixels
- OS: Android 12 upgradeable to Android 13
- Memory: 128 GB/ 6 GB
- Chipset: Google Tensor Octa-core
- GPU: Mali G78 MP20
- Camera: 12.2 MP Main, 12 MP Ultrawide, 8 MP Front
Pixel 6a is an excellent option for users who want above-par camera performance in a budget phone. Powered by Tensor Chipset and a capable sensor, the smartphone delivers sharp and highly detailed photos.
- Excellent camera performance
- Bright Display
- Compact dimensions
- Battery performance could have been better
OnePlus N20 5G
- Dimensions: 159.9 x 73.2 x 7.5 mm
- Display: AMOLED
- Resolution: 1080 x 2400 Pixels
- OS: Android 11
- Memory: 128 GB/ 6 GB,
- Chipset: Qualcomm SM6375 Snapdragon 695 Octa-core
- GPU: Adreno 619
- Camera: 64 MP Main, 2 MP Ultrawide, 2 MP Macro, 16 MP Front
N20 5G is a performance-centric phone at a very affordable price. Although the chipset is not the latest, it is good enough to outshine most smartphones in this category. Furthermore, it is powered by Adreno 619 GPU, enabling better gaming performance with minimal lags.
- Excellent gaming performance
- No lags in multitasking
- Decent display
- Underwhelming chipset
iPhone SE 2022
- Dimensions: 138.4 x 67.3 x 7.3 mm
- Display: Retina IPS LCD
- Resolution: 750 x 1334 Pixels
- OS: iOS 15.4 upgradeable to 16.4.1
- Memory: 64 GB/ 4 GB, 128GB/ 4GB, 256GB/ 4GB
- Chipset: Apple A15 Bionic, Hexa-Core
- GPU: Apple GPU (4-Core Graphics)
- Camera: 12 MP Main, 7 MP Front
iPhone SE 2022 is the only budget option for users who want iOS features. Albeit not as powerful as its flagship counterparts, the phone still does a decent job at photo processing, gaming, and overall performance. Furthermore, it is a treat for people who want a compact and sleek phone in their hands.
- Excellent battery life
- Incredible software updates
- Single camera
Samsung Galaxy A14 5G
- Dimensions: 167.7 x 78 x 9.1 mm
- Display: PLS LCD, 9 Hz
- Resolution: 1080 x 2408 Pixels
- OS: Android 13
- Memory: 64 GB/ 4GB, 128GB/ 6GB, 64 GB/ 6GB, 128GB/ 8GB
- Chipset: Exynos 1330, Octa-core
- GPU: Mali-G68 MP2, Mali-G57 MC2
- Camera: 50 MP Main, 2 Depth, 2 MP Macro, 13 MP Front
For a $200 phone, A14 5G promises a lot. It packs a large screen, solid performance, and the latest operating system, all while not crossing that $200 mark. The camera performance is average, but it makes up for it with a brilliant performance, evident in heavy-duty games. Furthermore, it also offers a 90Hz refresh, albeit not adaptive, which is another plus.
- Excellent display
- Brilliant performance
- Incredible software update policy
- Screen isn’t bright enough
Selecting the best budget smartphone is not an easy task, given the variety in the market. You can narrow down your choices by identifying the features you need the most and looking for the features accordingly. While there is no single smartphone suitable for everyone, Samsung Galaxy A52 should work for most people because of its versatility and power-packed performance.