Best cheap phone: Most impressive mobile phones for a budget

Best smartphone prices are skyrocketing. Gone are the days where flagship phones had an upper price limit of $699.99. To get all the bells and whistles that come with an iPhone X or a top-popular Android phone you should prepare yourself to pay $1,000 or more for the phone. Obviously, not everyone is happy about having to pay a fortune on a mobile device.

Luckily, you are not forced to spend a fortune on a smartphone. There are phones for every budget. Cell phones of below $500, $400, and $300 are very common. These are the backbone of mid range phones that offer excellent performance for the value. Despite phone prices escalating in the last few years, it is definitely possible to find impressive mobile phones for under $300 and even $200.

There’s actually an unlimited supply of low-end entry-level performing mobile devices out there. But, we aren’t looking at them. We’re looking to find the top smartphones that sell for a budget and perform well.

What to expect from a budget smartphone?

Despite being labeled as cheap, most of the low-price phones will have a full high-definition camera on the back, usually a 13MP or a 16MP unit and an 8MP or 5MP selfie snapper at the front. Now, these are not the best cameras phones have had but they can still manage to snap some good pics and record relatively clear videos when the environment is properly lit.

Most of the budget Chinese phones run on MediaTek-made processors while those made by manufacturers in the US are powered by Qualcomm chipsets. They all have a premium design and often have exactly what new top-end phones have dropped, the front-mounted fingerprint reader, a screen without the notch, and the headphone jack.

Nokia 6.1

Nokia 6 2018 hands on review

The Nokia 6 2018 edition is a solid Android phone for less than $200. It bears the signature of Nokia branding for quality and long-lasting maintenance. Nokia 6.1 not only is the top dog of cheap mobiles but is also the best budget Android One smartphone out there.

The 2018 edition of Nokia 6 drops the Home button but fails to deliver an edge-to-edge touchscreen experience. It continues the 5.5-inch screen size from the predecessor of 2017 where the screen is the same FHD LCD panel. However, the new Nokia 6 is faster, it upgrades to Snapdragon 630 and is backed by 3 and 4gigs of RAM with 32 and 64GB of respective extendable built-in memory. The phone debuted with Android Oreo but is now upgraded to Android P and because it is an Android One device, its UX is not touched by the manufacturer and has its security is managed by Google.

The 16MP primary camera will now record videos at 4K resolution while the selfie snapper is an improved 8MP sensor that shoots FHD vids. This cheap Nokia phone sports a back-mounted fingerprint reader, gets its energy from a built-in 3,000 mAh battery and supports wired headphones via the 3.5mm headphone jack.

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Huawei Honor Play

Huawei Honor Play

The Honor Play by Huawei isn’t that of a cheap mobile, but it certainly is a bargain for the value. Powered by Kirin 970, the Honor Play is the fastest budget smartphone the market has in offer at this time. Its extensively large FHD screen that measures 6.3-inches in diameter with edge-to-edge touchscreen availability makes it a trending device. Its top-end specs transform this not-so-expensive Huawei mobile device into an excellent game performing phone for a budget.

The Honor Play has a duo of a 16MP and 2MP cameras on the back to snap 4K videos and a 16MP camera sensor on the front for FHD video chatting and high-resolution selfie-taking. It features a rear-mounted fingerprint reader, boasts a 6GB of RAM version, gets its power from a 3,750 mAh battery, supports NFC for Google Pay, and features the headphone jack.

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Huawei Mate 20 Lite

Huawei Mate 20 Lite hands on review

The Mate 20 Lite is the affordable edition of the flagship killer Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro. Huawei Mate are some of the most successful mobiles made by Huawei.

Huawei has a series of top-end line of devices that receive a low-budget edition and currently, there are quite a good number of cheap Huawei phones that you can opt from for a purchase. Amongst the best of them is the Mate 20 Lite, a large phablet that sports a 6.3-inch FHD LCD screen and that’s designed to look way better from the back than the triple-camera Mate 20.

The Mate 20 Lite runs on the Kirin 710 chipset, a mobile processing SoC that’s comparable to the Snapdragon 710. Although it is slightly outperformed by the Qualcomm chip, still every phone that has it will be performing quite fast. This handset has 4GB and 6GB of RAM editions with each having 64gigs of internal memory capacity. The phone supports memory extension by up to 256GB via a microSD card and has a dedicated slot for it.

Mate 20 Lite is a quad-camera smartphone with dual camera setups implemented on both sides of it, something rare for the line of the affordable mobile phones. Huawei appears to have designed this device as a selfie-focused smartphone as the handset sports better camera sensors on the front. Respectively, a 24MP and 2MP setup on the front and 20MP and 2MP cameras at the back. Both cameras record full high-definition videos.

There’s a decent battery of 3,750 mAh to keep this handset going throughout the day, and support for NFC, rear-mounted fingerprint sensor, and the headphone jack.

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Samsung Galaxy A6 (2018)

Samsung Galaxy A6 2018 first impressions on hands on review

Samsung Galaxy A series (meaning Alpha) are supposed to have products belonging to the upper-midrange segment, but because of many impressive China phones selling for a sub-$400 price, not all of them manage to provide what the rest of the mid-range competition has to offer. Thus, Samsung’s midrange Galaxy A6 drops to the low-price line of mobile phones where it actually lists as one of the top dogs.

Powered by the Exynos 7870 (comparable to the Snapdragon 625) and backed by 3GB/4GB with 32GB/64GB of storage models and Android 8, the Galaxy A6 sets to take over the market. It boasts a decent 720p OLED screen of 6 inches and has 16MP cameras on both sides. With both camera sensors being full high definition.

It sports a side-mounted fingerprint, NFC for contactless Google payments, headphone jack, and a quite-good battery with a capacity of 3,000 mAh that keeps it going for up to 10 hours on heavy use.

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Blu Vivo XI+

Blu Vivo XI Plus hands on review

Blu phones have been rocking as the top affordable mobiles for the US market, Blu is one of the very few US-based manufacturers that exclusively focuses on designing and producing quality low-cost mobile phones. They’re also popular for being easily obtainable with Blu often selling its products exclusively on Amazon.

Vivo XI+ is Blu’s flagship smartphone. It packs a large screen of 6.2inches with curves on the edges and FHD resolution. Phones with dual curved edge displays do not come that often for a budget. Anyway, this excellent low-price mobile sports a 16MP and 5MP dual cameras on the back for snapping 1080p videos and a second 16MP sensor at the front. In addition, this Blu smartphone features facial recognition and a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor.

Blu Vivo XI Plus runs on MediaTek’s Helio P20, a midrange processor that according to benchmarking sites outperforms the Snapdragon 660. This phone comes with 4 gigs and 6 gigs of RAM with 64 gigs and 248 gigs of built-in storage. Memory extension via a microSD card is supported with Android 9.0 Pie OS upgrade highlighting this phone’s overall experience.

This Blu smartphone does not support wired headphones. It gets powered by a 3,050 mAh battery that supports Qi wireless charging and supports two SIM cards.

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Huawei P20 Lite

Huawei P20 Lite smartphone hands on review

The P20 Lite is a light and cost-efficient edition of the Huawei P20 top-end flagship handset. The Huawei P20 Lite is a compact low-price mobile that sports a FullVision screen of only 5.84-inches. The screen of it is made of an LCD panel with 1080p resolution and has a notch that hosts the 16MP and 24MP selfie cameras.

This selfie-focused smartphone has two cameras on both sides. With the 24MP and 16MP sensor at the front outperforming the 16MP and 2MP units at the back, despite both units being capable of recording videos at full high definition.

The P20 Lite runs the Kirin 659 SoC, a mobile processor manufactured by Huawei that offers a similar performance to the one provided by the Snapdragon 625. There are 4 gigs of RAM with versions of the phone having 32GB, 64GB, and 128GB of extendable internal storage. P20 Lite runs on Android 8.0 with EMUI 8.1 skin on top.

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Xiaomi Mi 8 Lite

Xiaomi Mi 8 Lite hands on review

The Mi 8 Lite is the budget alternative of the flagship killer, Xiaomi Mi 8 phone. The Mi 8 Lite even packs a slightly larger screen than its top-end counterpart, however, the 6.26-inch FHD screen of this phone is an LCD and not an OLED unit.

The MI 8 Lite runs on the swift Snapdragon 660 chipset and has 4GB and 6GB of RAM models with versions having 64GB and 128GB of respective built-in storage that supports expansion. The Android 8.1 Oreo with Xiaomi’s custom MIUI OS on the top further highlights the overall excellent specs of this low-cost smartphone.

The 12MP and 5MP cameras of the Mi8 Lite shoot clearer images than the 12MP sensors embedded on either Redmi Note 6 Pro Mi A2. The later, two other budget Xiaomi phone alternatives. In addition, the primary camera of this cheap mobile from China supports 4K video recording. A 24MP camera sensor at the front makes it an excellent choice for an affordable selfie phone pick.

The Lite edition of the Xiaomi Mi 8 sports a rear-mounted fingerprint reader, gets powered by a 3,350 mAh battery and has two SIM cards.

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Moto G6

Moto G6 hands on review

For a long time, Motorola provided with the top choice low-price phones for purchase. However, times have changed now, despite top-end smartphone prices skyrocketing, the cost of alternative phones has declined significantly. Nevertheless, Motorola Moto G6 that costs nearly $200 still is a decent handheld device for anyone that doesn’t need an extensively fast device.

The Moto G6 packs a 5.7-inch 1080p LCD display that does not have a notch in it and it is one of the very few phones with a physical Home button and front-mounted fingerprint reader out there. The Snapdragon 450 with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of expandable built-in memory combined with Android 9.0 Pie upgrade will prevent your phone from running out of available storage or application supports but it won’t provide you with much support for top-end games. An upgraded version of it, the Moto G6 Plus, that runs the much-faster Snapdragon 630 will provide you with a much faster product. You can purchase the Moto G6 Plus from Amazon for only $245. It also has a larger display of 5.9-inches and its dual camera setup supports 4K video recording.

There’s a 12MP + 5MP dual-camera setup on the back and an 8MP sensor at the front. Moto G6 records FHD videos with the cameras on both sides. It gets powered by a 3,000 mAh battery, it has NFC and supports wired headphones.

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Xiaomi Mi A2 (Mi 6X)

Xiaomi Mi A2 (Mi 6x) hands on review

Xiaomi Mi A2, sometimes referred to as the Xiaomi Mi 6X is a handsome Android One smartphone that comes for an affordable budget. Mi A2 spotlights an FHD LCD screen of 5.99-inches and a 12MP + 20MP dual cameras on the back that can snap 4K videos and 20MP selfie snapper at the front for recording full high-definition clips.

The Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 with 6GB of RAM, 128GB of non-expandable built-in storage and OS upgrade to Android 9.0 Oreo highlight the hardware and software capacity of this affordable mobile device.

Mi A2 sports a fingerprint sensor on the back, it gets powered by a non-removable 3,000 mAh battery, but there is a drawback. No headphone jack.

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Alcatel 1x

Alcatel 1x smartphone hands on review

In case the sub-$200 phones are still too much for you, there still are good smartphones that you can buy for under $100. The Alcatel 1x debuted on the MWC 2018 event as the first Android Go smartphone. Android Go is a thinned version of the Android operating system that’s modified to run Google’s mobile operating system on entry-level mobile devices.

The Alcatel 1x has a 5.3-inch touchscreen display with a resolution of 960 x 480 pixels, features a dual camera setup on the rear that involves a 13MP and an 8MP sensor capable of recording 1080p videos and a 5MP selfie camera at the front for HD video chat.

This entry-level Android smartphone runs the MediaTek MT6739 (a chip somewhat comparable to the Snapdragon 425), it has 1GB and 2GB of RAM editions with 16GB and 32GB capacity of internal memory. The storage can be expanded further by up to 32GB via a microSD card. This small budget phone runs Android 8.1 Oreo (Go Edition) and will support the vast majority of the Android apps Play Store has in its index.

A fingerprint reader mounted on the back, 3.5mm headphone jack socket, and a decent battery of 2,460 mAh will make your cheap smartphone relevant and keep it going throughout the day.

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