Google Pixel 6a's rear camera bar-2
Justin Duino / How-To Geek
Update, 08/21/2022: We’ve reviewed our recommendations and have updated our best under $500 and best under $300 picks.

What to Look For in a Budget Android Phone in 2022

As technology continues to evolve, features that were once acquainted with flagship phones have since trickled down into more affordable alternatives. This couldn’t be any truer when it comes to the smartphone market.

In this day and age, budget smartphones, particularly budget Android phones, can master the fundamentals of a great smartphone while not draining your bank account. Depending on which manufacturer you buy from, you could get a fantastic phone for a great price. You just need to know where to look!

Of course, finding that perfect deal can be a tedious process with so many different Android options on the market. It can also be confusing if you’re unsure which processor, RAM and storage capacities, camera specs, and battery sizes to look out for.

That’s where we come in. Below, we’ve compiled a list of the best budget Android phones you can buy right now, depending on how much you want to spend and which features matter to you. This list covers a range of manufacturers and price points, so you’ll be able to find what you need.

RELATED: The Best Android Phones of 2022

Best Budget Android Phone Overall: Moto G Play (2021)

wet blue motorola phone on blue background
Motorola

Pros

  • Big screen
  • Good performance for the price
  • Clean software

Cons

  • Underwhelming cameras
  • Slow recharge speed

Our pick for the best overall budget Android phone is the Moto G Play (2021). For under $200, this device offers a well-rounded experience with a nice combination of features, design, and specs.

Fans of large screens will like the 6.5-inch 720p display, despite its lack of brightness in direct sunlight. It’s an LCD panel, but at this price, OLED screens aren’t really possible anyway.

Under the hood, the Motorola Moto G Play includes a Snapdragon 460 and 3GB of RAM. This combination will prove to be sufficient when you’re flipping through apps, touching up your photos, playing light games, and most tasks for the casual phone user. The Moto G Play also comes with 32GB of internal storage, which may not be enough for everyone. Luckily, there is a microSD slot available, so you can upgrade your storage as needed.

On the back, you’ll find a 13MP camera paired with a 2MP telephoto lens for improved zoom photography. Photos taken with the G Play won’t blow your socks off, but when you’re saving this money over typical flagship phone prices, you don’t expect perfect pictures. Regardless, the photos this device produces should look good enough for Instagram and Snapchat.

This phone also has a big 5,000mAh battery, a rear-mounted fingerprint reader, the Android 10 operating system, and a water-repellent coating that should help with light splashes and trips in the rain.

Priced at $170, the Moto G Play is a solid phone with some compromises that, while inconvenient, won’t likely be dealbreakers for anyone interested in picking it up.

Best Budget Android Phone Overall

Moto G Play (2021)

Coming in at around $170, this budget Android phone is packed with more features than you'd expect! You'll get a decent camera, good battery life, upgradeable storage, and more for a surprisingly low price.

Best Budget Android Phone for Battery Life: Moto G Power

Moto G Power on yellow background

Pros

  • Fantastic battery life
  • Good performance
  • Big, sharp screen

Cons

  • Cameras do poorly in limited light or with video recording
  • Display not all that bright

When it comes to battery life, Motorola has another solid option for cheap: the Moto G Power. This device, priced at around $250, offers a 5,000mAh cell paired with efficient specs that allow the phone to last two to three days on a single charge. When it comes time to recharge, there’s a USB-C port on the bottom of the phone, which supports 15W fast charging.

Motorola is able to achieve this with the proven-efficient Snapdragon 662 processor. Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 600 series has always been known for providing an incredible balance between performance and power efficiency, and the 662 inside the G Power is no different.

The Moto G Power also comes with a sharp 6.6-inch 720p LCD display, up to 4GB of RAM, and up to 64GB of storage. You’ll find three cameras on the back with a main 48MP lens, a 2MP macro lens, and a 2MP depth-sensing lens. All three combined can help you take decent portrait mode and zoom photos, although things tend to fall apart at night and while recording video, which tops out at 1080p.

Overall, the Moto G Power is a solid option for anyone who wants the most endurance they can get out of a phone on a budget while still being given the necessary tools they need to perform their daily tasks.

Best Budget Android for Battery Life

Moto G Power (2021)

With a huge 5,000 mAh battery coupled with the efficient Snapdragon 662 processor, the Moto G Power can last two or three days on a single charge. It's capable of fast-charging, too!

Best Budget Android Camera: Google Pixel 6a

Close-up of the back of the Google Pixel 6a
Justin Duino / How-To Geek

Pros

  • Shares two cameras with the Pixel 6
  • Same great Google camera software
  • Only costs $450

Cons

  • Battery life could be better
  • Only IP67 water resistance

When it comes to the best cameras on phones, Google’s Pixel series is always at the top. The Pixel 6a not only has great cameras, but it has a great price tag as well.

For a price of $450, the Pixel 6a shares two of the cameras with the more expensive Pixel 6. That means a 12.2MP main camera, 12MP wide-angle camera, and an 8MP front-facing camera. All of this comes with Google’s top-notch camera software too.

This software includes Google’s great portrait mode, Night Sight, and Astrophotography. The nice thing about Google’s camera experience is it’s not overly complicated. Anyone can essentially point and shoot to get a really great photo, ready for social media.

The other important specifications include the 6.1-inch display, Google Tensor chip, 6GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, and 5G support. It has IP67 water resistance, which isn’t the best, but it’s better than nothing at all.

With the Pixel 6a you’re getting one of the best cameras out there, regardless of price. On top of that, you get fast software updates, clean software, and an easy user experience.

Best Budget Android Camera Phone

Google Pixel 6a

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The Google Pixel 6a is an incredible value at just $450. It packs the flagship Tensor processor, Google's advanced camera technology, and AI features like Live Translate.

Best Android Phone Under $500: Samsung Galaxy A53 5G

Samsung Galaxy A53 on green background
Samsung

Pros

  • Beautiful Super AMOLED display with 120Hz refresh rate
  • Android updates for four years
  • Long battery life

Cons

  • Occasionally sluggish performance
  • No charger in the box

Samsung’s Galaxy A50-series phones have consistently proven themselves to be excellent performers, and the latest entrant in this lineup—the Galaxy A53 5G—is no exception. It’s a solid mid-range smartphone that costs well under $500.

The smartphone packs the same impressive 6.5-inch Super AMOLED display as its predecessor—the Galaxy A52 5G—and produces vibrant colors and inky blacks. The screen also gets sufficiently bright to offer good visibility under direct sunlight. Plus, the 120Hz refresh rate keeps everything looking smooth.

The A53 5G uses Samsung’s own Exynos 1280 processor with 6GB of RAM, and this pairing results in decent overall performance. Admittedly, it’s not the fastest phone, and you may notice occasional hiccups. But there is nothing you wouldn’t be able to live with.

You also get 128GB of onboard storage, which will be enough for most people. If you need more, there is a microSD card slot for storage expansion. Unfortunately, 5G support is limited to low- and mid-bands in AT&T, T-Mobile, and unlocked variants. However, you can get faster mmWave 5G connectivity in the version sold via Verizon, which costs $50 more.

Android 12 handles the software duties with One UI 4.1, and the company promises to offer four years of Android and five years of security updates. This is the best you can get outside of a Google Pixel phone.

The A53 5G has the same camera system as the A52 5G, and that isn’t a bad thing. The 64MP primary shooter takes excellent photos in good lighting, and the low-light performance isn’t too shabby either.

Lastly, there is nothing to complain about on the battery front. Thanks to the 5,000mAH battery, the phone lasts well over a day on a single charge, and you get 25W wired fast charging support.

Best Android Phone Under $500

Samsung Galaxy A53 5G

The Samsung Galaxy A53 5G is an easy pick if you want to spend less than $500 on a phone. It has a beautiful screen, good battery life, and decent cameras.

Best Android Phone Under $300: OnePlus Nord N20 5G

OnePlus Nord N20 on yellow background
OnePlus

Pros

  • Vibrant OLED screen
  • In-display fingerprint sensor
  • Bundled charger offers 33W fast charging

Cons

  • 5G limited to T-Mobile
  • Only one useful camera

The OnePlus Nord N20 5G is an excellent option for bargain hunters. It packs several exciting features you will be hard-pressed to find in its competitors. For example, the phone has a full-HD+ OLED screen, which delivers vivid and vibrant colors.

You also get an in-display fingerprint sensor for a seamless unlocking experience. Plus, there is 33W fast charging support with the included wired charger and NFC for contactless payments.

There is much to like even outside of the phone’s marquee features. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 695 chip and generous 6GB of RAM help the Nord N20 5G deliver decent performance. In addition, the 4,500mAh battery is good enough to last through the day on a single charge.

There are three cameras on the back of the OnePlus phone, but only the 64MP primary shooter is any good. It takes pleasing photos with plenty of detail in good lighting. However, results are slightly less nice in low-light scenarios.

Regarding software, the Nord N20 5G ships with Android 11-based Oxygen OS 11, and the company is promising to release one major Android update and three years of security updates.

Unfortunately, 5G support is limited to T-Mobile, and the phone doesn’t work on Verizon. So if you want an under-$300 5G phone for AT&T or Verizon, Samsung’s Galaxy A13 5G is a good option. It has a great battery life and performs well but packs a lower-resolution LCD screen.

Best Android Phone Under $300

OnePlus Nord N20 5G

From a gorgeous OLED display to 33W fast charging support, the OnePlus Nord N20 5G has a lot going for it.

Best Android Phone Under $200: OnePlus Nord N100

OnePlus Nord N100 on a colorful background
OnePlus

Pros

  • 90Hz screen
  • Decent specs
  • Clean software

Cons

  • No water resistance
  • Poor cameras

If all you have to buy a new phone is $200, we’ve got you covered. The phone you should be looking at is the OnePlus Nord N100.

Priced at $180, the N100 is one of OnePlus’ latest offerings in its mid-range Nord series. The company has impressed us with the quality of smartphones it can cook up at such low prices, and the N100 is no exception.

The device sports a big 6.52-inch 720p display with a 90Hz refresh rate (something commonly found in much more expensive phones), a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor, and a USB-C port. Inside, you’ll find a Snapdragon 460 processor that can handle basic tasks just fine, though you won’t be able to run resource-heavy apps and games on it. You also get 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage.

On the back, OnePlus includes a triple camera setup on the N100 that can take photos that won’t impress, but are at least sharable. The company also includes stereo speakers and Android 10 with a promised upgrade to Android 11. Notably, that will be the only major upgrade the N100 will get, so you better be okay with never getting Android 12. This is relatively common among budget phones, though.

The phone doesn’t come with the ability to connect to 5G networks, lacks any water resistance, and the specs aren’t particularly impressive. However, for under $200, the Nord N100 is a solid device that doesn’t leave out any fundamental features. It does its best to offer a basic smartphone experience, and the barrier to entry couldn’t be lower.

Best Android Phone Under $200

OnePlus Nord N100

If you're running on a really tight budget, you'll want to go with the OnePlud Nord N100. This is a solid Android phone that doesn't do anything spectacular, but provides a decent phone experience for just $180.

Profile Photo for Max Buondonno Max Buondonno
Max Buondonno is a technology enthusiast and writer who’s been covering the future of computing since 2015. His blog, Matridox, serves as a creative outlet for him where he can share thoughts on the latest technology news, gadgets he reviews, and more.
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