Want a great phone but don’t want to spend a ton? While the low-cost handsets on this list surely won’t rank among our best phones, every cheap phone here should be just fine for anyone looking to save several hundred dollars on a discounted iOS 13 or Android Q device.
These are the absolute best budget smartphone recommendations, regardless of your budget, which should last you years.
Cheap phones under $600
1. OnePlus 7T
Flagship design and performance at a discount
Weight: 190g | Dimensions: 160.9 x 74.4 x 8.1 mm | OS: Android 10 | Screen size: 6.55-inch | Resolution: 1080 x 2400 | Chipset: Snapdragon 855 Plus | RAM: 8GB | Storage: 128/256GB | Battery: 3,800mAh | Rear camera: 48MP + 12MP +16MP lenses | Front camera: 16MP | Supported Networks: GSM + CDMA networks
Latest Android version
No expandable storage
No 3.5mm headphone jack
The OnePlus 7T is a return to a cheaper phone after the OnePlus 7 Pro (the standard OnePlus 7 wasn’t sold in the US), yet it might still be too pricey for some. But we have to start somewhere, and a standout phone for under $600 is where we begin.
While the 7T doesn’t have quite the standout perks of the OnePlus 7 Pro (notably, the pop-up selfie camera), but the company opted to pack more features in and raise the price to $699. Even so, you’re not missing much by picking the 7T, which got the same slew of three top-tier rear cameras.
The OnePlus 7T deserves a spot on this list simply because it features flagship-level specs (which are even better than some flagship phones with its 8GB of RAM) and a big screen north of six inches, with a price that falls south of every major flagship out there.
But if the $599 starting price of the OnePlus 7T is still a bit much, track down a OnePlus 6T (released in late 2018), which has year-old specs for even lower prices.
Read the full review: OnePlus 7T
2. iPhone 8
Still a viable iPhone, now a lot cheaper
Weight: 148g | Dimensions: 138.4 x 67.3 x 7.3mm | OS: iOS 12 | Screen size: 4.7-inch | Resolution: 750 x 1334 | CPU: A11 Bionic | RAM: 2GB | Storage: 64/256GB | Battery: 1,821mAh | Rear camera: 12MP | Front camera: 7MP
A11 Bionic still powerful
Camera is snappy and clear
You’re never going to get a cheap iPhone if you opt for the newest models. But, if you dig a little deeper, you can get an older model at a good price. The iPhone 8 may have a dated design next to the iPhone X and 2018 iPhones – bigger bezels, fewer cameras – but it offers a strong price-to-performance value.
The A11 Bionic chipset inside of the iPhone 8 is still plenty powerful for anything you’ll throw at it, and Apple keeps legacy devices supported for a long time. So you’ll be able to update the operating system to iOS 12 and probably even to iOS 13 and beyond.
The rest of its specs aren’t too shabby, with a 12MP rear camera, 7MP front-facing camera, 2GB of RAM and either 64GB or 256GB of storage. While the 1,821mAh battery isn’t huge compared to flagships, it can change wirelessly.
Read the full review: iPhone 8
3. Samsung Galaxy S9
A former flagship gets a new value proposition
Release date: March 2018 | Weight: 163g | Dimensions: 147.7 x 68.7 x 8.5mm | OS: Android 9 | Screen size: 5.8-inch | Resolution: 1440 x 2960 | CPU: Snapdragon 845 / Exynos 9810 | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 64GB/128GB/256GB | Battery: 3,000mAh | Rear camera: 12MP | Front camera: 8MP
Sharp, high-quality AMOLED screen
Bezels from 2017
Single rear camera
If you’re patient, Samsung’s flagship Galaxy S devices have been getting some of the biggest and most consistent discounts after their release. The Galaxy S9 is no exception. The phone is only a little over a year old, and already you can find it for under $500.
Better still, it’s not going to feel too dated. You’ll be able to run Android Pie and the Snapdragon 845 chipset with 4GB of RAM is still reasonably powerful. The reduced bezels around the display help it stay relatively trendy, while the high resolution display isn’t likely to show signs of aging in the phone’s lifetime. Add in an IP68 rating against water and dust, and it’s a high value phone that you’re not likely to have to replace because of a little accident at the pool.
Read the full review: Samsung Galaxy S9
4. Honor View 10
Punching well above its weight
Release date: January 2018 | Weight: 172g | Dimensions: 157 x 75 x 7mm | OS: Android 9 | Screen size: 5.99-inch | Resolution: 1080 x 2160 | CPU: Kirin 970 | RAM: 6GB | Storage: 128GB | Battery: 3,750mAh | Rear camera: 16+20MP | Front camera: 13MP
Long battery life
No camera stabilization
No water resistance
If you look to the smartphone manufacturers that don’t have incredible popularity, you can often find strong value options. That’s the case with the Honor View 10. When it launched, it was offering strong performance from a Kirin 970 chipset that came paired with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, which are higher specs than what the base Galaxy S9 included.
The Honor View 10’s design may not win over any who prize elegance with its a simple and dated style, but its aluminum sides and back are still a step above normal budget builds. Plus, it manages to be thinner than the iPhone XS and Galaxy S9 while still having strong battery life and including a 3.5mm headphone jack. The phone also has expandable storage using a microSD card if 128GB isn’t enough.
Read the full review: Honor View 10
5. Moto Z3 Play
A suitable midrange phone with MotoMod add-ons
Release date: June 2018 | Weight: 156g | Dimensions: 156.5 x 76.5 x 6.8mm | OS: Android 9 | Screen size: 6.01-inch | Resolution: 1080 x 2160 | Chipset: Snapdragon 636 | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 32GB/64GB | Battery: 3,000mAh | Rear camera: 12MP + 5MP lenses | Front camera: 8MP
MotoMods can expand battery/functionality
Not very powerful
Barely cheaper than Moto Z3
The Moto Z3 Play isn’t an especially impressive smartphone, especially compared to the OnePlus 6T. With 4GB RAM, a less-powerful Snapdragon 636 chip, smaller battery and a slightly smaller screen, it’s outdone by OnePlus’ phone in almost every way.
Almost – because the ace up Moto’s sleeve are its signature MotoMods which snap to the back of its phones to add functionality. While some are far less useful (like the projector), others can be handy, like those adding big speakers or a lot more battery life.
Still, the Moto Z3 Play starts at $349 now thanks to a price cut, and you can likely find other combos to sweeten the deal.
Read the full review: Moto Z3 Play
6. Nokia 7.1
Nokia’s old champion mid-ranger
Release date: October 2018 | Weight: 160g | Dimensions: 150 x 71 x 8mm | OS: Android 9 | Screen size: 5.8-inch | Resolution: 1080 x 2280 | CPU: Snapdragon 636 | RAM: 3/4GB | Storage: 32/64GB | Battery: 3,060mAh | Rear camera: 12MP + 5MP | Front camera: 8MP
Large, bright LCD display
Very competitively priced
Battery life isn’t fantastic
Chip can lag in games and apps
That’s right, Nokia still has phones coming out. Things where dicey for a while there, but the company has been making a comeback recently, and its Nokia 7.1 handset offers a strong value.
The Nokia 7.1 offers a big, bright screen with the notch we’ve seen on so many other smartphones in the past couple years. The display even supports HDR10 for superior contrast and colors. The Snapdragon 636 chipset isn’t the most powerful, but will do for all but the most serious mobile gamers and power users. And, all of that is packed into an a aluminum and glass design the won’t feel nearly as cheap as the phone is.
Read our in-depth review: Nokia 7.1
7. Moto G7
A budget champ with modern flair
Release date: March 2019 | Weight: 172g | Dimensions: 157 x 75.3 x 8 mm | OS: Android 9 Pie | Screen size: 6.2-inch | Resolution: 1080 x 2270 | CPU: Snapdragon 632 | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 64GB | Battery: 3,000mAh | Rear camera: 12MP + 5MP | Front camera: 8MP
Large, bright LCD display
Good specs for the cost
Occasional lag in apps
Not for serious mobile gamers
When you’re looking for a great budget smartphone, you should always see what Motorola is cooking up in its Moto G line. The family of smartphone almost always has something strong on offer, and the Moto G7 is no exception.
The Moto G7 has a capable is not incredible Snapdragon 632 chipset with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage. And, it’s fit into a modern looking chassis. The edges are aluminum, with glass on the front and back.
The screen really brings the Moto G7 into modernity, with a big, 6.2-inch display that has just a small teardrop notch at the top akin to the OnePlus 6T. You also get a fingerprint scanner on the back, dual rear cameras, a headphone jack, and light water resistance.
Read our in-depth review: Moto G7
8. Moto G7 Power
A Moto G7 with a bigger helping of battery
Release date: February 2019 | Weight: 193g | Dimensions: 159.4 x 76 x 9.3 mm | OS: Android 9 | Screen size: 6.2-inch | Resolution: 720 x 1570 | CPU: Snapdragon 632 | RAM: 3 GB | Storage: 32 GB | Battery: 5,000mAh | Rear camera: 12MP f/2.0 | Front camera: 8MP f/2.2
Good specs for the price
If you like the sound of the Moto G7 but want to be sure you’ve got the battery life to make it through the day and then some, the Moto G7 Power is another strong option at a value-friendly price.
The Moto G7 Power packs a 6.2-inch display into the body, though it has a big screen notch at the top. The resolution is lower than the standard Moto G7, but that can serve to keep the performance smoother and battery life longer. With a 5,000mAh battery, the Moto G7 Power is definitely a top option for budget shoppers looking for a smartphone that’ll last all day without concern.
It’s not the most exciting phone, but it’s also way cheaper than the most exciting phones – and you won’t have to worry about buying an external battery pack.
Read our in-depth review: Moto G7 Power review
9. Moto G7 Play
Release date: March 2019 | Weight: 149g | Dimensions: 147.3 x 71.5 x 8 mm | OS: Android 9 | Screen size: 5.7-inch | Resolution: 720 x 1512 | CPU: Snapdragon 632 | RAM: 2 GB | Storage: 32 GB | Battery: 3,000mAh | Rear camera: 13MP f/2.0 | Front camera: 8MP f/2.2
Strong battery life
Runs Android 9 Pie
Snapdragon 632 for less
Low base storage
If you want one of the Moto G7 phones but needed to go for an even lower price, the Moto G7 Play is a compelling option. It still has the Snapdragon 632 chipset powering the more expensive Moto G7 models, but it comes at a price well below the others. That said, it does come with only 2GB of RAM, which won’t help much with heavy multitasking.
Still, at a budget price, you’re getting a screen that looks fairly modern with a notch at the top, even if it doesn’t serve much purpose beyond a particular aesthetic. Even if the resolution is only HD Plus, it still musters a pixel density of 294ppi at 5.7 inches.
Beyond that, you get a fingerprint scanner, a headphone jack, and USB-C for charging, though you’ll have to buy a Motorola Turbo Charger yourself.
Read our in-depth review: Moto G7 Play review
10. iPhone SE
iOS on an incredible budget
Release date: March 2016 | Weight: 113g | Dimensions: 123.8 x 58.6 x 7.6mm | OS: iOS 11 | Screen size: 4-inch | Resolution: 640 x 1136 | Chipset: A9 processor | RAM: 2GB | Storage: 16/32/64/128GB | Battery: 1,624mAh | Rear camera: 12MP | Front camera: 1.2MP | Fingerprint Sensor: Yes | Supported Networks: All US Carriers
Unrivaled build quality
Impressively powerful for the price
Apple’s last hurrah for the four-inch form factor is still one of our favorites, even if the company doesn’t sell it directly anymore. The phone brings specs that put in on par with the iPhone 6S.
The fact that you can usually get this smartphone for under $300 already makes it an absolute steal if you’re a loyal iOS user, and we’ve seen it under $200. Sure, it doesn’t come with all of the bells and whistles of a brand new iPhone XR or iPhone XS, but complete with the iOS 12 update that came to this (and many other) older iPhone models, it’s made even faster than before.
Plus, if you like being able to use your smartphone with one hand, no new iPhone is as ready for that.
Read the full review: iPhone SE
What to look for in the best cheap smartphone
The best cheap phone in the US can be a bit tough to choose since it won’t always come down to comparing price. Some of the best cheap smartphones are actually older higher-tier models with heavy discounts, while certain new phones offer killer value and the latest perks.
One of the most important things to consider while shopping for the best cheap phone is, obviously, the price. One person’s ‘cheap’ isn’t necessarily someone else’s ‘affordable.’ With flagship phone prices from Apple and Samsung skyrocketing higher than $1,000, some folks may find anything under $600 cheap, while those with tighter budgets could be looking below $400 or even below $200 for a handset.
In any case, nobody gets left out when it comes to great cheap smartphones. Older flagship handsets from Samsung and Apple come in at prices that thrifty shoppers can afford, and new phones from OnePlus, Motorola, and others which might have fallen off your radar pack the latest tech into affordable packages, and are worth considering.
We’ve assembled a ranked list of the best phones under $600, $500, $400, and $200. No matter your budget, we’re recommending a smartphone for you based on these price tiers. These value phones are frequently unlocked, contract-free, and SIM-free, making them even easier to pick up and try out.
David Lumb also contributed to this list