10 Best Budget Phones

Wally Nowinski
editor

The budget phone market is highly competitive, with a plethora of great models available, including from premium brands like Apple and Samsung. Nowadays, budget phones often include features that used to be exclusive to high-end models, such as AMOLED displays, 5G connectivity, and large batteries providing all-day battery life. With so many models available, choosing a specific one can be difficult. Our experts used the PerfectRec decision engine to comb through our phone database and find the best phone under $400 available in 2023. Here are our top picks.

Our criteria for the best budget phone:

  • Budget: We focused on budget and budget only. These are the best phones in our database under $400.
To consider others factors, try the PerfectRec decision engine to get your personalized phone recommendation
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10 Best Budget Phones

1
BEST RATING
Battery Life:
4.4
Size: Large Android
Camera: Good
Battery: Very Good

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Expert Summary
The Samsung Galaxy S21+ is a budget-friendly phone with a glass body and released in January 2021. It operates on Android, featuring a sizable 6.7-inch OLED display with a high refresh rate of 120Hz for smooth visuals, though it doesn't have a curved screen edge. With a battery capacity that allows for around 8 hours of battery life, it should last most users a full day on a single charge. Photographers will appreciate its good-quality triple camera setup including a 12MP main, 64MP telephoto, and a 12MP ultrawide lens; it also supports HDR10+ video, captures still photos well, and can record video at high resolutions, including 8K at 24fps. The phone offers solid performance with the Snapdragon 888 processor and 8GB RAM, ensuring apps and games run smoothly. It does not have a headphone jack, but it supports NFC, 5G connectivity, and wireless charging, including reverse wireless charging. Lastly, while it does not support SD cards, the internal storage of 128GB should be adequate for most users.
Pros
  • High-quality OLED display
  • Strong overall camera performance
  • 5G connectivity for rapid data
  • Robust processor for smooth performance
  • IP68 water and dust resistance
Cons
  • No headphone jack
  • Average battery life
  • Lacks microSD card slot
  • No charger included in the box
2
Samsung

Galaxy A42

BEST RATING
Battery Life:
5.0
Size: Large Android
Camera: Poor
Battery: Best

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Expert Summary
The Samsung Galaxy A42 is a budget-friendly phone released in November 2020, featuring a large 6.6-inch OLED screen, although its vertical and horizontal resolution are lower compared to high-end phones. It runs on Android and has a plastic body. The device offers a generous 5000 mAh battery capacity that should last well through the day but charging might be slower as it doesn't support wireless charging. With 64GB of storage, expandable via an SD card, and 4GB RAM, it's suitable for everyday tasks. The A42 has a satisfactory main camera with 48 megapixels for still photography but has fair camera performance overall. It records up to 4K video at 30fps and supports 5G connectivity. The phone includes handy features like a 3.5mm headphone jack and a fingerprint sensor under the display. If you're looking for a smartphone that covers the essentials without breaking the bank, this model is worth considering.
Pros
  • Large OLED screen for immersive viewing
  • High battery capacity for longer usage
  • 5G capable for faster connectivity
  • Includes 3.5mm headphone jack
  • Expandable storage with SD card support
Cons
  • Lower screen resolution affects sharpness
  • No high refresh rate for smooth scrolling
  • Still photo quality is just fair
  • Video quality is poor
3
Google

Pixel 6

BEST RATING
Overall Camera:
4.3
Size: Medium Android
Camera: Good
Battery: Fair

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Expert Summary
The Google Pixel 6 is a budget-friendly phone with a glass body and Android operating system. Its camera setup offers very good photo and fair video quality overall. The primary camera has 50 megapixels, and there's a 12-megapixel ultrawide camera. It doesn't have a telephoto or periscope camera, but it does include Google's exclusive camera features like Magic Eraser. The battery capacity is decent and it supports wireless charging. With a 6.4-inch OLED display having a 90Hz refresh rate, you get a smooth and vivid experience. The phone lacks a headphone jack and an SD card slot but comes with dual SIM support and an under-display fingerprint sensor. It's powered by Google's custom Tensor processor and has 128GB of storage and 8GB of RAM. If you're looking for a phone with strong photographic capabilities, a smooth screen, and exclusive software features at a more accessible price, the Pixel 6 could be a compelling choice.
Pros
  • Android operating system
  • Good battery life
  • High-quality OLED display
  • Strong main camera
  • Wireless charging
Cons
  • No telephoto camera
  • Average video quality
  • No headphone jack
  • Moderate peak brightness
4
BEST RATING
Battery Life:
4.3
Size: Large Android
Camera: Fair
Battery: Good

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Expert Summary
The Samsung Galaxy S20 FE is a budget-friendly option with a plastic body, and it operates on Android. Launched in 2020, it features a 6.5-inch screen without curved edges, a high 120 Hz refresh rate, and a Full HD resolution display. Battery life is substantial, and it also supports wireless charging. Photo enthusiasts may find its camera capabilities adequate, with fair photo quality and good video quality, while its camera setup includes a 12 MP main, 8 MP telephoto, and 12 MP ultrawide camera. It lacks a headphone jack but has NFC, Wi-Fi 6, and Bluetooth 5.0. It's equipped with 128 GB of storage and 6 GB of RAM, and it can connect to 5G networks. If you're looking for a durable phone with solid performance and moderate camera quality without breaking the bank, the Galaxy S20 FE is a considerable choice.
Pros
  • Good video recording quality
  • High screen refresh rate
  • Supports wireless charging
  • Supports reverse wireless charging
  • 5G connectivity available
Cons
  • No headphone jack
  • Only fair still photo quality
  • Lower dust resistance
  • Average battery life
5
Samsung

Galaxy A54

BEST RATING
Battery Life:
4.6
Size: Medium Android
Camera: Fair
Battery: Very Good

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Expert Summary
The Samsung Galaxy A54 is a midrange phone with a glass back and a 6.4-inch OLED screen with a 120Hz refresh rate, giving you a smooth display experience. Its camera system is decent with a 50 MP main camera and a 12 MP ultrawide lens. It captures fair quality still photos and videos. Battery life is substantial with a 5000mAh capacity, offering extended use between charges. The device runs on Android and packs an E1380 processor with 6GB of RAM, which should provide good performance for everyday tasks. It features 128GB of storage, a fingerprint sensor under the display, IP67 water and dust resistance, and supports 5G connectivity, giving you fast internet speeds. Notably, there's no 3.5mm headphone jack or wireless charging. If you're looking for a modern phone with a solid camera and screen at a midrange price, the A54 could be a good fit.
Pros
  • Good screen quality
  • Decent performance
  • Large battery capacity
  • Expandable storage option
  • Water and dust resistance
Cons
  • Average still photo quality
  • Average video quality
  • Lacks wireless charging
  • No telephoto or periscope camera
6
Samsung

Galaxy A53

BEST RATING
Battery Life:
4.4
Size: Large Android
Camera: Poor
Battery: Very Good

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Expert Summary
The Samsung Galaxy A53 has a budget-friendly price and offers a balance of features that cater to general use. It sports a plastic body, runs on the Android operating system, and has a decent storage capacity of 128 GB. Released in March 2022, it comes with a 5000 mAh battery capacity that's conducive for extended use, delivering up to 8 hours of battery life. The screen is a 6.5-inch OLED display with a high refresh rate suitable for smooth scrolling and animation. Its camera system includes a main 64MP camera and 12MP ultrawide, with photo and video quality rated as very good and good, respectively. While it supports 5G for faster internet speeds, it lacks certain features such as the 3.5mm headphone jack and wireless charging capabilities. If you're looking for a handset with solid performance, a good camera, and a long battery life without breaking the bank, the Galaxy A53 is worth considering.
Pros
  • Large 6.5-inch OLED screen
  • 5,000mAh battery capacity
  • 120Hz refresh rate display
  • Good camera quality overall
  • Tough water and dust resistance
Cons
  • Average performance score
  • No wireless charging
  • No front-facing stereo speakers
  • No telephoto or periscope camera
7
OnePlus

9 Pro

BEST RATING
Performance:
4.2
Size: Large Android
Camera: Good
Battery: Fair

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Expert Summary
The OnePlus 9 Pro offers a well-rounded experience at a budget price, with a premium glass build and a large, curved 6.7-inch OLED display that's bright with high resolution and a 120Hz refresh rate for smooth visuals. The cameras are versatile and produce good quality photos and videos, with features like HDR video and RAW output, and the main camera boasts 48 megapixels. Performance is robust with a Snapdragon 888 processor and ample 12GB of RAM, ensuring smooth operation. For durability, you get IP rated dust and water resistance. However, there is no 3.5mm headphone jack or SD card slot, and while it supports fast wireless charging, the charger for this is sold separately. The OnePlus 9 Pro runs Android and offers some unique features like an alert slider for easy notification control. Battery life is decent, but not exceptional. Overall, the phone is a good value for those prioritizing display quality and camera performance on a budget.
Pros
  • High-resolution OLED display
  • Fast 120Hz refresh rate
  • Powerful Snapdragon 888 processor
  • Good camera performance
  • Supports fast wireless charging
Cons
  • No 3.5mm headphone jack
  • No SD card slot
  • Average battery life
  • Requires proprietary accessory for optimal wireless charging
8
BEST RATING
Overall Camera:
4.3
Size: Largest Android
Camera: Good
Battery: Fair

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Expert Summary
The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra is a premium device with a high-quality camera setup, including a 108-megapixel main camera and a 10x optical zoom telephoto lens. Its large 6.8-inch curved OLED screen offers a 120Hz refresh rate for smooth visuals. The phone supports 5G connectivity and has a long-lasting 5000mAh battery. It runs on Android with the powerful Snapdragon 888 processor and comes with 128GB of storage. If you often take photos or videos, its camera capabilities are impressive, but if you're looking for something more budget-friendly, consider other models as this one is on the higher end of the price spectrum. The S21 Ultra lacks a 3.5mm headphone jack but does offer Wireless DeX for desktop-like functionality. It is built with glass and provides both face unlock and an under-display fingerprint sensor for security, but it doesn't include a stylus or offer an expandable storage option.
Pros
  • Excellent camera with 10x optical zoom
  • Bright OLED screen with 120Hz refresh rate
  • Long battery life with wireless charging
  • Large 6.8-inch display for immersive experience
  • Supports 8K and 4K video recording
Cons
  • No headphone jack or expandable SD card storage
  • Considerably heavy at 8.01 ounces
  • Released in 2021, may not be latest model
  • Expensive compared to other models
9
Samsung

Galaxy S21

BEST RATING
Performance:
4.2
Size: Medium Android
Camera: Good
Battery: Fair

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Expert Summary
The Samsung Galaxy S21 is a budget-friendly phone with a plastic back, released in 2021 with Android OS. It features a 6.2-inch OLED screen without curved edges. The camera system includes a 12MP main, 64MP telephoto with a 29mm focal length, and a 12MP ultrawide lens, offering good photo and video quality. The phone supports HDR10+ for videos and RAW output for photos. Its 4000mAh battery can last up to around 6.7 hours. It is equipped with the SD888 processor, 8GB of RAM, and 128GB of storage, but does not have expandable memory via an SD card. The S21 has 5G capability, under-display fingerprint sensor, wireless charging, and is rated IP68 for dust and water resistance, but lacks a headphone jack and front-facing stereo speakers. Its screen supports a 120Hz refresh rate and has a punch-hole design for the selfie camera. The device offers a solid performance, and is a suitable choice if you are looking for a modern smartphone without breaking the bank.
Pros
  • High-quality OLED display
  • Good overall camera quality
  • Fast processor for performance
  • 120Hz refresh rate for smooth scrolling
  • 5G capable for faster data
Cons
  • No 3.5mm headphone jack
  • Lacks SD card expansion
  • Battery life could be better
  • No charger included in the box
10
Google

Pixel 6a

BEST RATING
Overall Camera:
4.2
Size: Medium Android
Camera: Good
Battery: Good

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Expert Summary
The Google Pixel 6a is a budget-friendly smartphone with a plastic body, and it runs on Android. It offers a modest screen size of 6.1 inches with an OLED display that is not curved. The camera system is capable, providing very good still photo quality and good video quality, including 4K video recording. For those prioritizing photography, the Pixel 6a has exclusive camera features like Magic Eraser. It has decent battery life and comes with 128GB of storage. However, it lacks features such as a high refresh rate screen, and it does not support expandable storage with an SD card. Despite its plastic construction, it has a quality build and supports 5G connectivity. The Pixel 6a uses Google's own Tensor processor, and with 6GB of RAM, it performs well for everyday tasks. It offers classic Pixel features such as call screening and "Hold For Me" for user convenience.
Pros
  • OLED display with always on feature
  • Pixel-exclusive call and camera features
  • Under display fingerprint sensor
  • Solid camera quality with HDR video
  • Android operating system with updates
Cons
  • No wireless charging capability
  • No 3.5mm headphone jack
  • No 8K video recording
  • Maximum 60Hz screen refresh rate