We are in 2020, where high-end phones are getting costlier by every passing day. Thankfully, budget phones are improving, and their gap with the high-end devices has been significantly reduced in the recent past.
If you want to consider a range $300 or lower, you can still expect sturdy build, capable processor, good cameras, and overall performance that was once considered a luxury.
In today’s article, we list down the best cheap phones that you can consider to buy in 2020.
- Best value for money – Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 Pro
- Best with flagship features – Google Pixel 3a
- Best with odd form factor – Sony Xperia 10 Plus
- Best build – Nokia 7.2
- Best battery life – Samsung Galaxy M30s
- Best under $300 – Xiaomi Mi 9T
- Best under $200 – Moto G8 Play
- Best under $100 – Nokia 5
Comparison of Specifications
|Comparison of Specifications|
|Name||SoC (System-on-Chip)||Display||Rear Camera||Front Camera||RAM options||Storage options||Battery Size|
|Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 Pro||Mediatek Helio G90T||6.53 inches FHD+ IPS LCD||64 MP, f/1.9 (wide) + 8 MP, f/2.2 (ultrawide) + 2 MP, f/2.4 (macro) + 2 MP, f/2.4 (depth)||20 MP, f/2.0||6/8 GB||64/128/256 GB||4500 mAH (supports 18W fast charging)|
|Google Pixel 3a||Qualcomm SD 670||5.6 inches FHD+ OLED||12.2 MP, f/1.8||8 MP, f/2.0||4 GB||64 GB||3000 mAh (supports 18W fast charging)|
|Sony Xperia 10 Plus||Qualcomm SD 636||6.5 inches FHD+ IPS LCD||12 MP, f/1.8 (wide) + 8 MP, f/2.4 (telephoto)||8 MP, f/2.0||4/6 GB||64 GB||3000 mAh (supports 18W fast charging)|
|Nokia 7.2||Qualcomm SD 660||6.3 inches FHD+ IPS LCD||48 MP, f/1.8 (wide) + 8 MP, f/2.2 (ultrawide) + 5 MP, f/2.4 (depth)||20 MP, f/2.0||4/6 GB||64/128 GB||3500 mAh|
|Samsung Galaxy M30S||Samsung Exynos 9611||6.4 inches FHD+ sAMOLED||48 MP, f/2.0 (wide) + 8 MP, f/2.2 (ultrawide) + 5 MP, f/2.2 (depth)||16 MP, f/2.0||4/6 GB||64/128 GB||6000 mAh (supports 15W fast charging)|
|Xiaomi Mi 9T||Qualcomm SD 730||6.39 inches FHD+ sAMOLED||48 MP, f/1.8 (wide) + 8 MP, f/2.4 (telephoto) + 13 MP, f/2.4 (ultrawide)||20 MP, f/2.2 pop-up||6 GB||64/128 GB||4000 mAh (supports 18W fast charging)|
|Moto G8 Play||Mediatek Helio P70||HD+ IPS LCD||13 MP, f/2.0 (wide) + |
8 MP, f/2.2 (ultrawide) +
2 MP, f/2.2 (depth)
|8 MP||2 GB||32 GB||4000 mAh|
|Nokia 5||Qualcomm SD 430||5.2 inches HD IPS LCD||13 MP, f/2.0||8 MP, f/2.0||2/3 GB||16 GB||3000 mAh|
1. Best value for money – Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 Pro
- Excellent hardware
- Unique and catchy design
- Battery life
- Overall camera performance
- MIUI may not be for everyone
- Inconsistent software updates for the European market can be a thing
The ‘Apple of China’ is always known to provide value-for-money products, and the Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 Pro is no different. You get a well-rounded package, and for under $300, they seem to have covered more than what the competition is doing.
You get a large battery with fast charging support, a 64 MP primary sensor, a very capable Mediatek’s gaming-centric Helio G90T, and excellent build quality.
The camera takes some great photos in any condition, and the chipset makes the experience buttery-smooth.
If we specifically talk of the west, the only gripe for them can be the highly-customized MIUI, which, even though has been severely toned down in the last few years, is nowhere close to the stock Android.
But if you can get over that, you won’t find any other device that offers so much as this one.
2. Best with flagship features – Google Pixel 3a
- Flagship camera performance
- OLED display
- Three years of consistent software updates
- Subpar processor
- Battery life is below average
The first midrange phone from Google, the main selling point for the Pixel 3a is the flagship camera that it inherited from its elder sibling, the Pixel 3. The results aren’t surprising; it offers the best camera experience in the price range and does so by a margin.
The rest of the specs are midrange and nothing to boast of, apart from the OLED display, which is a welcome addition. The screen seems dimmer than most others but gets the job done, and so does the processor. The clean UI helps its case and makes the phone feel fast and fluid.
3. Best with odd form factor – Sony Xperia 10 Plus
- The build is impeccable
- 21:9 aspect ratio makes content watching immersive
- Clean software
- Weak processor
- Battery life is just manageable
If you are in the west, there is a shortage of capable mid range devices, and the Sony Xperia 10 Plus tries to fill the void. It brings with it an unusual aspect ratio, which feels a tad too long for most of us but gives us more headspace to work with at the same time.
The build is superb, and the dual cameras perform adequately.
The display is better than most of its competition, and it makes content watching a pleasing affair. But what’s not that great is the processor and the battery life.
For a phone so big, the Japanese giant has opted for a small cell, which though has been optimized, still makes us feel uncomfortable.
On the plus side, the software experience is excellent, and you should not feel any hiccups in your day-to-day usage with this one.
4. Best build – Nokia 7.2
- The build is best in the price range
- Triple rear cameras are a welcome addition
- Works on most networks
- Dated processor
- Front camera is passable
The new Nokia may not be doing a great job in churning out awesome looking phones, but the build quality of each of its products belies the price it demands and does so positively. The Nokia 7.2 is a successor of the well-rounded 7.1, and it is a better version in every department.
The hardware gets a boost to SD 660, which though old, is quite capable. You get 4 GB of RAM and up to 128 GB of storage to run the show. It comes with the cleanest version of Android, the
One, and feels fast irrespective of what you throw at it.
Nokia is touting the triple rear cameras, laced with a 48 MP primary sensor, as its main selling point. It takes stunning pictures for the price, and we have no problems recommending it.
5. Best battery life – Samsung Galaxy M30s
- Big sAMOLED display
- Unparalleled battery life
- Good cameras
- Finicky build
- Terrible FP sensor
Samsung has finally started taking midrange seriously, and its ‘M’ and the ‘A’ series are a testament to it.
The Samsung Galaxy M30s is for those who love to binge-watch without having to worry about battery life. You get the AMOLEDy goodness, which is an obscurity in the price segment. The screen is large, and the Samsung software is relatively clean and fast.The combination of decent hardware and good software means that it flows through your routine tasks without breaking much sweat.
The camera setup is versatile and takes good photos, sans the night time photography, which is passable. Overall, if you want a decent mid-range from Samsung, the Galaxy M30s is the one.
6. Best under $300 – Xiaomi Mi 9T
- Stupendous build
- Blazing fast for the price
- Above-par cameras
- MIUI is nowhere close to stock Android
- The speaker is underwhelming
If you ask for one phone which stands out in the $300 range, it has to be the Xiaomi Mi 9T.
It is the jack of all trades. You talk of the display, and it has an AMOLED one. You speak of cameras, and there is a telephoto lens, which you won’t find in the phones belonging to this price segment. You talk of build, and it is all metal and glass which screams premium.
The display is full screen due to the pop-up selfie mechanism, and the battery is more than sufficient for our day to day usage.
But there is one thing that separates it from the rest, and it is the processing prowess that it has. The Qualcomm SD 730 powers the Xiaomi Mi 9T, which is a powerhouse and is far ahead than the rest. Did we mention the in-display fingerprint scanner? Well, it has that too!
7. Best under $200 – Moto G8 Play
- Helio P70 is a powerhouse
- Clean Android
- Good battery life
- 2 GB RAM is paltry by every standard
- The camera setup doesn’t do much
If we go a few years back, the products that came below the price tag of $200 were straight-out rotten. With the advancements in the tech world, you can now get phones across several price ranges with ease. The Moto G8 Play is one such product that will suffice a specific lot of people.
You will get a potent Mediatek’s Helio P70 chipset, but there is not enough RAM for it to show its true potential. The general day-to-day performance is smooth due to the clean software and an HD+ display. The one thing that budget buyers look for is good battery life, and Motorola doesn’t miss out on that.
8. Best under $100 – Nokia 5
- Dirt cheap
- Comes with FP for authentication which is rare at this price range
- Cameras are basic
- Nothing stands out in the hardware
Nokia makes phones across a varied price range and especially makes inexpensive ones more than the competition.
The Nokia 5 has become a bit older, and the price has gone below the $100 mark. You may think that, like most other cheap smartphones, there won’t be any software upgrades, and you will have a tough time making it work.
It’s the exact opposite, and we have seen Nokia 5 upgraded numerous times.
Do not have any lofty expectations before you get your hands on the phone. You get what you are paying for and nothing else.
We see several phones launching every week, and the fact that there are so many good phones for every price range doesn’t come as a surprise anymore. The phones in today’s list are for those who have a budget constraint to keep in mind and yet want a product that delivers.
The budget segment has evolved so much over the years that today you get a $300 phone providing 80 percent or higher of what a flagship has on offer. While you may not get waterproofing certification or stereo speakers, there won’t be corners cut in the areas that matter, in most of the cases.
As long as you can live with a few caveats under your sleeves, budget offerings are more than enough, and you need not look to spend a couple of hundred dollars more from your hard-earned money to get a good smartphone anymore.