Smartphone launch events have grown into spectacles that further interweave technology and culture. In essence, new flagships become instant objects of desire, and many of us are eager to explore the innovative tech offered by premium flagships. Truth be told, these innovations tend to carry hefty price tags, but some still find their way to budget phones.
As budget phones are seldom in the spotlight, those on a tighter budget may feel discouraged, unaware that they can find exceptional entry-level and mid-range models at more reasonable prices. Today, our mission is to set this right by presenting nine outstanding Android phones under US$350.
Specs to consider when choosing a budget phone
With so many specs to examine, picking a phone is no easy task. We'll help you with a quick overview of specs to keep in mind, and we'll share our handpicked products' highlights; besides, we've created a chart to make this decision easier for you.
For starters, compare each model's screen size and screen resolution. Settling on screen size is a matter of personal preference: some of us favor larger phones, while others want a smartphone that fits in their pockets. As for resolution, it determines the number of pixels that the display can show both vertically and horizontally. The higher screen resolution, the sharper the displayed images.
Speaking of images, being able to take nice-looking photos is essential for most smartphone users. Megapixels greatly influence the quality of the images you'll be able to create, but it's also critical to consider other camera system specs. Widest aperture size, image stabilization technology, and whether it's a multi-lens model (which increases photography possibilities) are but a few examples. Make sure to check out our article on top smartphone cameras; although it focuses on premium phones, you'll get a more in-depth insight into smartphone photography.
Moving on, RAM and total clock speed are crucial pointers of a smartphone's performance – the bigger, the better. Make sure also to take a look at internal storage and battery power. Fully knowing this sounds repetitive: the more, the merrier.
We've established US$350 as the maximum price after analyzing our users' requests, and we think you'll be pleasantly surprised to find options well under this limit.
Recapping the specs we've considered, alongside each product's price tag:
All the phones listed have screens larger than 5 inches and offer sufficient RAM for most apps to run smoothly. If you're into gaming, you should consider the phones that have the highest RAM and highest total clock speed values. If you're more interested in photography, focus on camera specs. Whichever your interests, we're confident you'll find an affordable device in our selection of the top 9 budget phones.
1. Google Pixel 3a
Don't be fooled by the lack of a multi-lens camera system. As in previous Google smartphones, the Pixel 3A delivers outstanding photos and videos and performs exceptionally well in low light conditions, thanks to the Night Sight mode. It's also possible to adjust focus and blur after taking a photo, with striking depth-of-field portrait results.
The Pixel 3A is available in Just Black, Clearly White, and Purple-ish colors, and at 5.6 inches, its OLED display is one of the smallest in the budget-to-mid-range category. Although it doesn't feature its pricier siblings' Gorilla Glass protection, the 3A is protected by the lower-cost Dragontrail glass. Like most competitors, the phone is neither water-resistant nor features wireless charging. Still, it includes a 3.5mm audio jack, a fingerprint scanner, and stereo speakers.
The Pixel 3A's internal storage is capped at 64GB, and there's no external memory slot. This could be an issue, as the 3A only offers unlimited Google Photos storage at "high quality" compression – other Pixel models provide cloud storage with no compression. With 4GB of RAM, the phone is not the go-to option for gamers, but its performance is adequate for everyday tasks. Finally, the 3,000mAh battery may seem pedestrian, but the model's power consumption optimization makes it last longer than some alternatives with more impressive battery capacity.
2. Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 Pro
Wasn't it for the price tag, you might not know that Xiaomi's Redmi Note 8 Pro is part of the budget mobile category. Powered by gaming-optimized Mediatek's Helio G90T chipset, the Note 8 Pro pledges to deliver 34% more power than its predecessor. The latest design features a 6.53-inch HDR-certified display with FHD+ resolution, front-and-back Gorilla Glass 5 protection, and a 91.4% screen-to-body ratio.
The splashproof phone packs a four-lens primary photography system, and unlike most budget phones, delivers 4K footage (at 30fps). Depending on your territory, you'll have three configurations to choose from. The prime version offers 128GB of stage and a massive 8GB RAM, and variants are available in 128GB/6GB RAM and 64GB/6GB RAM. All models feature a dedicated microSD card slot for an additional 512GB of storage capacity.
3. Samsung Galaxy A50
The Galaxy A50 packs plenty of premium specs, including a 6.4-inch Super AMOLED edge-to-edge display, a multi-lens camera, and an in-screen fingerprint scanner. What's more, its 4,000mAh battery with fast-charging technology can hold up a charge for a whole day.
The budget phone's standard version has 6GB of RAM, making it likely to handle multiple demanding tasks. Furthermore, the Galaxy A50 has 64GB of internal storage, which can be expanded to an extra 512GB via memory card. Depending on the market, you may also find versions with increased storage (128GB) and lower RAM (4GB), and the same 64GB of storage with a 4GB RAM.
All versions feature an audio jack, which is not as rare to find in budget phones as it is in current flagships. Finally, the Samsung Galaxy A50's solid photography system pledges to perform well in low-light environments – just don't expect to shoot videos at 4K, as the A50's video recording resolution caps at 1080p.
4. Motorola Moto G7 Power
Mid-range and budget phones can't always deliver on every expectation, and you need to know where to compromise. If you're not looking for a top-performing gadget for gaming or the best camera on the market, you might want to explore our other suggestions. However, if you value battery power more than anything, the Motorola Moto G7 Power is a solid option.
The smartphone is available in only one version (Marine Blue, 32GB of built-in storage and 3GB of RAM), and the "power" in its name speaks of its remarkable 5,000mAh battery. Moreover, the Snapdragon 632 chipset provides adequate performance for everyday tasks, and you'd probably only face issues with demanding games and apps. The Moto G7 Power has a 3.5mm audio jack for those who favor wired sound, an external memory slot, and a 6.2-inch LCD. Depending on your priorities, this can be a disappointing factor: bezels are quite noticeable, and the resolution is lower than the Moto G7's. Granted, the lower resolution boosts battery life even further, but if you intend to spend a great deal of time watching videos on your smartphone, you'll miss the absent pixels.
The Motorola Moto G7 Power has a single-lens 12MP camera with an f/2.0 aperture, and without a secondary lens or advanced photography AI like the one that powers Google's smartphones, portraits aren't the greatest. It's clear that the main reason you'd opt for this model is its extraordinary battery life for a reasonable price, and that's what many users are looking for.
5. Nokia 7.2
The Nokia 7.2 smartphone is an excellent choice for those who value design, display technology, and photography. Equipped with a 6.3-inch Full HD+ screen with the proprietary PureDisplay technology, the Nokia 7.2 converts all videos to HDR (high dynamic range) in real-time. With a metallic finish and a satin glass back, the Nokia 7.2 won the iF Design Award.
An honoree at the CES 2020 Innovation Awards, the smartphone runs on Qualcomm's Snapdragon 660 processor and promises two days of charge. We haven't tested it to confirm whether it holds up, but according to the manufacturer, AI-assisted adaptive battery technology plays a significant role in such prolonged battery life. Finally, the Nokia 7.2 has a triple-lens camera setup with Zeis optics, promising to capture the most delicate details. The phone is available in two versions: 128GB of storage and 6GB of RAM, and 64GB of storage and 4GB of RAM. Both feature an external memory slot.
6. Realme 5 Pro
Available in two funky versions with holographic effects (Crystal Blue and Crystal Green), the Realme 5 Pro has a striking design, long-lasting 4,035mAh battery, and a favorable benefit-cost ratio. Despite the lack of IP certification, the smartphone has triple-layer protection against water splashes and dust. Interestingly, the Realme 5 Pro has a smaller display than the Realme 5, but at 6.3 inches, it's still massive, and its Full HD+ resolution is higher than the larger model's. Furthermore, the screen has Gorilla Glass 3+ protection, and the combination of a Snapdragon 712 chipset and up to 8GB of RAM makes it a suitable budget-friendly option for gamers.
The Realme 5 Pro has a four-lens rear camera system comprising a 48MP primary lens, a 2MP depth-sensing lens, a 2MP macro lens, and an 8MP ultrawide lens. Unfortunately, some reviewers have observed sub-par audio quality. The Realme 5 Pro is available in four versions: 128GB and 8GB of RAM; 128GB and 4GB of RAM; 64GB and 6GB of RAM; and 64GB and 4GB of RAM. If you're a gamer, we'd recommend opting for at least 6GB of RAM.
7. Motorola Moto G8
The newly released Motorola Moto G8 is an attractive budget-friendly option, featuring a 6,4-inch HD+ display, a robust 4,000mAh battery, 64GB of internal storage, and 4GB of RAM. The Moto G8 runs on Qualcomm's Snapdragon 665 processor and has a three-lens main camera with laser focus. The photography system includes a 16MP primary lens with an f/1.7 aperture, a 118º ultrawide lens, and a 2MP macro lens. Furthermore, the smartphone packs Bluetooth 5.0, a fingerprint reader, an external memory slot, and also allows for 4K video recording at 30fps.
8. Huawei P30 Lite
The budget model of Huawei's successful P30 line stays true to the series' flashy design. Available peacock blue, pearl white, and midnight black versions, the 6.15-inch smartphone is light, slim, and has a curved glass back that makes it even easier to hold.
The P30 Lite packs 128GB of internal storage with an external memory slot, 4GB of RAM, NFC, a fingerprint scanner, a 3.5mm headphone jack (not available in the upper-end versions), and a USB-C port. Unfortunately, it only has a mono speaker, and while it offers the same Full HD+ resolution as its high-end siblings, its display tech is LCD and not AMOLED. Despite the downsides, the model is still a solid choice, and its versatile triple-lens main camera system puts it ahead of most competitors.
9. Nokia 4.2
The most affordable option in our list, the Nokia 4.2 has a stylish design, with glass and polycarbonate instead of the plastic one would expect from the price tag. When it comes to hardware and the display, however, the premium feel isn't there – a clear trade-off. This is a phone for basic everyday use, with a 5.71-inch LCD and unimpressive (HD+) resolution and color reproduction, but the design isn't its only pro.
The Nokia 4.2 has a fingerprint scanner, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and a Google Assistant-dedicated button that activates the virtual assistant even when the screen is locked. It also has a tasteful notification light around its power key, and its dual-lens camera performs well in well-lit environments. This budget model is available in two versions: 32GB of built-storage and 3GB of RAM, and 16GB of storage and 2GB of RAM.
|screen size||resolution||megapixels (main camera)||megapixels (front camera)||RAM||CPU speed||internal storage||battery power|
|Google Pixel 3a||5.6"||1080 x 2220px||12.2MP||8MP||4GB||2 x 2 & 6 x 1.7GHz||64GB||3000mAh|
|Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 Pro||6.53"||1080 x 2340px||64 & 8 & 2 & 2MP||20MP||8GB||2 x 2.05 & 6 x 2GHz||256GB||4500mAh|
|Samsung Galaxy A50||6.4"||1080 x 2340px||25 & 8 & 5MP||25MP||6GB||4 x 2.3 & 4 x 1.7GHz||128GB||4000mAh|
|Motorola Moto G7 Power||6.2"||720 x 1570px||12MP||8MP||4GB||4 x 1.8 & 4 x 1.8GHz||64GB||5000mAh|
|Nokia 7.2||6.3"||1080 x 2280px||48 & 8 & 5MP||20MP||6GB||4 x 2.2 & 4 x 1.84GHz||128GB||3500mAh|
|Realme 5 Pro||6.3"||1080 x 2340px||48 & 8 & 2 & 2MP||16MP||8GB||2 x 2.3 & 6 x 1.7GHz||128GB||4035mAh|
|Motorola Moto G8||6.4"||720 x 1560px||16 & 8 & 2MP||8MP||4GB||4 x 2 & 4 x 1.8GHz||64GB||4000mAh|
|Huawei P30 Lite||6.15"||1080 x 2312px||48 & 8 & 2MP||24MP||4GB||4 x 2.2 & 4 x 1.7GHz||128GB||3340mAh|
|Nokia 4.2||5.71"||720 x 1520px||13 & 2MP||8MP||3GB||4 x 1.95 & 4 x 1.45GHz||32GB||3000mAh|