Finding a phone that meets all your requirements on a tight budget often comes down to prioritizing what matters most – like display quality, camera capability, or battery capacity – while accepting compromises elsewhere. These are the best budget smartphones for 2023.
Used to be, low-priced phones were easily identifiable by their low-resolution screens and limited storage, but things have dramatically improved in recent years.
1. OnePlus Nord N20
OnePlus Nord N20 is its latest budget phone, designed to compete against mid-range and budget smartphones on the market. It is at the top of the list of best budget smartphones in 2023. It achieves this through solid performance and features while avoiding common traps encountered with budget smartphones.
This phone’s main drawback is its cameras, which fall below expectations for a $300 phone. While its main camera may not be bad by any stretch of the imagination, its front-facing one lacks depth perception and captures only your face; hopefully, OnePlus will address these shortcomings through software updates in the future.
The Nord N20 stands out among budget phones by boasting impressive other specs beyond just its cameras. While its processor may not match that of OnePlus’s previous two phones, using Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 chipset, its performance is more than sufficient for everyday use and won’t slow down when playing high-end games. Furthermore, 128GB storage is far more than what most other budget phones provide while there’s also a microSD slot to add additional storage if necessary.
This phone runs OnePlus’s OxygenOS on top of Android, which offers a user interface that’s straightforward and quick. Google News feed is easily accessible; settings have few icons and animations; everything works smoothly — even on its 60Hz display! I wish that OnePlus had chosen an LCD instead of AMOLED as LCDs tend to be more energy efficient but nonetheless, this phone gets the job done effectively.
Concerns have been expressed by me over OnePlus’ decision to provide only one major Android OS update for this phone despite promising three years of security updates, especially considering Android 13 is expected later this year. Other than this issue, though, the Nord N20 is an excellent budget phone with some upgrades over its vanilla competitors; available now through T-Mobile stores and website as well as Metro by T-Mobile prepaid brand.
2. Google Pixel 7a
The Pixel 7a may disappoint iPhone fans, but for everyone else, it remains one of the best budget smartphones in 2023. Google has upgraded its entry-level Pixel A series significantly this time around, moving closer than ever towards parity with flagship-level devices.
These improvements include an upgrade from 60Hz to 90Hz display – an enormous leap when considering that most mid-range and budget smartphones now sport 120Hz refresh rates. Furthermore, it features upgraded cameras featuring a primary 64MP Quad Bayer sensor that should provide superior computational photography performance compared to competing products. Finally, water resistance has been added, along with two distinctive colors: subtle Charcoal and eye-catching Sea.
As with the Pixel A devices before it, the 7a’s key strengths lie within its cameras. It takes some of the finest photos available on a smartphone today, with software making it simple to achieve great results without needing to think too hard about settings or options.
The device comes equipped with an AMOLED screen boasting high resolution and an impressive 90Hz refresh rate, plus Google’s top Tensor G2 chip and 8GB of RAM to power it all. That should provide ample power for streaming, swiping and mobile gaming!
And finally, the Pixel 7a offers some extra features not found on other phones in its price point, such as free Google Photos storage and Bluetooth file transfer between Android phones. If you’re upgrading from an older smartphone and have plenty of pictures and videos you want to transfer over to your Pixel 7, this last feature can be particularly beneficial. Google Store customers can start purchasing the Pixel 7a starting today; please be aware that its price may differ by $50 from that of its direct predecessor due to inflation and upgraded Tensor chips. Also note that it will only be sold through Google and won’t be made available through carriers or third-party retailers.
3. Samsung Galaxy A54
Samsung’s Galaxy A54, one of the best budget smartphones for 2023, is the follow-up to last year’s best budget phone and looks set to repeat its success with improved camera technology, 5G performance, and an elegant new design closer to its S series phones. Samsung’s updated dual lens system delivers sharper low-light photos as well as some fun software tricks to add flair and dimension to your social media posts; plus its 120Hz AMOLED display and 50MP camera make this an impressive phone for under $500!
Samsung has built this smartphone using Android 13 with their proprietary One UI skin, providing access to many of the same features found on higher-end Galaxy S phones – such as being able to personalize your power button to launch Bixby or other applications.
This phone boasts an efficient fingerprint scanner on its front face that works smoothly, and its 5,000mAh battery should provide ample power to get through a full day of intensive usage. Unfortunately, there’s no wireless charging capability and Samsung’s Exynos 1380 processor has not been optimized to conserve energy yet.
If you’re curious about the A54, make sure it comes from a carrier that has removed some of the AT&T-installed apps – these apps tend to reside in separate folders making removal simpler than on other Galaxy models.
The Galaxy A54 costs $449, the same price as Google’s Pixel 6a and about $50 less than what OnePlus charges for their Nord N20 phone. That makes it one of the most cost-effective ways to gain access to a premium flagship-style device capable of 5G speeds with top-of-the-line camera technology.
Samsung phones differ from OnePlus in that they offer four years of major OS updates and five years of security patches – an exceptional level of support that’s often only offered with flagship devices like Pixel 7a by Google. As such, these assurances should give you the confidence to hold onto your Galaxy A54 for half a decade or longer.
Cheap phones may have cut-corner manufacturing, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find great performance and cameras at an affordable price point. Now it is easier than ever to find an inexpensive device with everything from liquid-smooth core processing and powerful cameras to reliable battery life – you just need to understand your priorities and determine which features can be compromised on and which are an absolute must-have.
The best budget phones of 2023 still deliver strong performance, quality cameras, and often an appealing design and brand name. Some even feature modern connectivity such as 5G or other advanced services and can run demanding games at high frame rates with breathtaking visuals. Of course, all these models have their own shortcomings and we’ve selected models which deliver an enjoyable overall experience while remaining within your budget constraints.
Google’s Pixel 6a offers all the best features from their flagship line-up – including high-performance CPU and camera processing – at a more accessible price point. And with Android 12 preloaded and two years’ bi-monthly security patches included, it makes an excellent budget smartphone choice.
Samsung’s Galaxy A54 brings some of the best features from their flagship models like A13 5G into an affordable package. You’ll be able to find this phone for less than $200; often even free through carrier offers! Featuring fast CPU performance, two days of battery life, and an excellent camera experience; it makes this model one of the top budget phones available today.