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The Best Budget Smartphone: 5 Great Options in 2020

James Frew Updated 11-05-2020

Flagship smartphones have become more experimental to stand out from the competition. Foldable screens, multiple cameras, and improved specifications, unfortunately, also increase the price.

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The good news is that formerly premium features are making their way to cheaper phones. There’s a broad range of affordable smartphones that’ll keep you up to date without breaking the bank.

Here are the best budget smartphones available today.

1. Nokia 7.2

Nokia 7.2 Nokia 7.2 Buy Now On Amazon $349.99

HMD Global has been leading Nokia’s revival for several years now. Their Android smartphones pair attractive, high-quality hardware with a bloatware-free software experience. The Nokia 7.2 is among the best budget phones you can buy. The phone is one of few running Android One, a Google-approved edition of Android.

Importantly, this means it is also among a select few that will be guaranteed to receive two years of software updates. The phone originally launched with Android 9 Pie but has since been upgraded to Android 10. The 6.3-inch Full HD+ screen ensures you get a clear viewing experience. This is especially important if you record videos, snap photos, or stream videos.

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The Nokia 7.2 comes with dual-SIM support, a 3,500mAh battery, and USB-C charging. The phone is available with either 64GB or 128GB of storage. This can be expanded by 512GB via microSD. Similarly, you can purchase the phone with either 4GB or 6GB of RAM.

The device is equipped with Bluetooth 5.0 and includes a 3.5mm headphone jack. There is a 48MP rear camera supported by a 5MP depth sensor and an 8MP ultra-wide lens. The front-facing camera uses a 20MP lens. The Nokia 7.2 is available in three colors; Charcoal, Cyan Green, and Ice.

2. Apple iPhone SE

Apple iPhone SE Apple iPhone SE Buy Now On Amazon $399.00

While Android smartphones tend to dominate the cheaper end of the market, Apple has an affordable product of their own. The Apple iPhone SE is a reasonably priced entry in its iOS range. The device looks like an older iPhone, but it is packed with some of the latest hardware.

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The 4.7-inch Retina HD display is IP67-rated for water and dust resistance. There is a 7MP front-facing camera with Portrait mode. That’s in addition to the 12MP wide-angle rear camera. This can record 4K video, snap in Portrait mode, and comes with depth control, too.

The iPhone SE is equipped with fast-charge support, uses Apple’s A13 Bionic chip. It is available in three colors; black, white, and (PRODUCT)RED. The latter option is a charity collaboration with (RED). If you opt for this color, Apple will donate 100 percent of available proceeds to the Global Fund’s COVID-19 Response Fund.

Apple’s flagship options come with FaceID included, which is a biometric security option. However, the iPhone SE uses the older fingerprint mechanism, Touch ID. That said, it is one of the only major features missing from an otherwise remarkable offering.

If you’ve been holding out for an iPhone, but have never been able to justify the cost, the iPhone SE is the best way to get started with Apple’s iOS ecosystem.

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3. DOOGEE X95

DOOG X95 smartphon

The DOOGEE X95 is one of the best value smartphones available today. The sub-$100 device has features and specifications usually only found on mid-range smartphones. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, though; DOOGEE has been producing well-received Android smartphones for many years now.

The X95 runs Android 10, the latest edition of Google’s smartphone operating system. It has a 6.52-inch edge-to-edge display protected with Gorilla Glass. There’s 32GB of onboard storage, coupled with 2GB of RAM. The quad-core MediaTek MT6737 CPU powers the phone along with a Mali T720 MP GPU.

Thanks to this combination, the DOOGEE X95 is capable of running some of the most popular mobile games as well. There’s a triple-lens rear camera consisting of a 13MP primary sensor and two depth-sensing 2MP lenses. These depth sensors mean you can take photos that blur the background.

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Although the phone uses the older micro-USB charging port, rather than the now-commonplace USB-C, this is the only deviation from modern design on the X95. The smartphone should even see you through a whole day on a single charge, too, thanks to the 4,350mAh battery.

4. Motorola Moto Z4

Motorola Moto Z4 Motorola Moto Z4 Buy Now On Amazon $399.99

Motorola has been one of the market leaders in affordable Android smartphones. The company’s Moto G range constantly exceeds expectations for cheap devices. However, the Moto Z offerings, while costing slightly more, are worth the additional investment. Such is the case with the Motorola Moto Z4.

The smartphone comes with a 6.4-inch full HD+ OLED display with a 19:9 aspect ratio, so it’s perfect for enjoying videos while on the go. To complement this, there is 128GB of internal storage, expandable up to a phenomenal 2TB via microSD.

If photography is important to you, you’ll be pleased to see a 48MP rear sensor, coupled with a 25MP front-facing lens. You can recharge the device via USB-C and top up the 3,600mAh battery. Like other Motorola phones, you can accessorize your Z4 with Moto Mods. For instance, you can add wireless charging capabilities with the relevant Mod.

This unlocked edition of the Z4 is in partnership with Amazon, so it comes with the retailer’s apps pre-installed. If you use any Amazon services or are a Prime subscriber, this makes it an ideal choice. There’s even access to Alexa built-in, so you always have their virtual assistant within easy reach.

5. Google Pixel 3a

Google Pixel 3a Google Pixel 3a Buy Now On Amazon $229.00

Despite developing the Android operating system, Google rarely ventures into hardware. However, the Pixel lineup is considered the company’s alternative to the iPhone, with prices to match. The Google Pixel 3a, however, is a budget-friendly smartphone with some of the Pixel’s best features.

Unlike the premium metal design of its more expensive siblings, the Pixel 3a’s body is plastic. However, that is the only major concession Google made to bring the price down. The phone ships with Android 9 Pie pre-installed, but is upgradeable to Android 10, the latest edition of the operating system.

The standout feature of the Pixel line is the camera, and the Pixel 3a doesn’t disappoint, either. The rear 12MP sensor is capable of taking wide-angle shots, while the 8MP front-facing camera supports the Pixel’s Portrait Mode. However, compared to the triple-lens setups available elsewhere, the Pixel 3a could seem underwhelming.

The phone comes with 64GB of storage and is coupled with 4GB of RAM. It is powered by a Snapdragon 865 chipset, supported by a 3,000mAh battery. This can be recharged using the USB-C port. There’s even biometric security thanks to the rear-mounted fingerprint reader. The Pixel 3a is available in three colors; Clearly White, Just Black, and Purple-ish.

The Best Budget Smartphone for You

There has never been a better range of affordable smartphones. Just a few years ago, cheap phones were feature-limited. However, the range we’ve looked at above shows that you can now get modern attributes at a reasonable cost, too.

However, if you’re after flagship devices but at lower prices, you could always consider buying a second-hand phone. The terminology used to describe a refurbished or second-hand phone can be confusing. Before committing, be sure to familiarize yourself with the terms used to describe non-new devices Refurbished vs. Used vs. Certified Pre-Owned: Which Is Better? If you want to save money on electronics, don't buy new! Here are the difference between pre-owned, refurbished, and used. Read More .

Explore more about: Back to School, Buying Tips, iPhone SE, Modular Phones, Samsung, Smartphone, Unlocked Phones.

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  1. Hamster
    May 12, 2020 at 2:19 pm

    In Austria (EU), Nokia 7.2 64GB costs only 250euros (270usd). After six months I can say: Great phone for less money.

    • James Frew
      May 12, 2020 at 3:33 pm

      Nokia's current lineup are great value for money, bloatware-free Android smartphones for sure.