The Best Cheap Phones for Almost Every Budget

The Best Cheap Phones for Almost Every Budget

There’s little justification for splurging on a smartphone. These iPhones and Android devices, priced from $150 to $300, have proven their worth in WIRED’s tests. Canada wireless carriers often make expensive smartphones appear affordable. While they might advertise a Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra for just $36 per month, don’t be misled. Even over 36 monthly payments, you’ll still shell out over a thousand dollars. Moreover, such pricey devices may lock you into one network until fully paid off.

Instead of opting for expensive choices, consider a genuinely excellent affordable smartphone. After testing numerous options, I’ve identified top picks like the Google Pixel 4A, priced at $179, which rivals more expensive models in performance. Our selections offer a perfect blend of price and features without compromising speed.

Explore our range of cell phones, including top picks for Android, Google Pixel, Motorola, and iPhones.

Best Cheap Phone

Google’s Pixel 4A is the best smartphone you can buy for the money. At just $179, you get a little of everything—The Google Pixel 4a, even as a used phone, offers several compelling benefits. Its 12.2MP rear camera, enhanced by Google’s software, delivers excellent photos, even in low-light conditions. Running on stock Android, it provides a clean interface with regular updates and no bloatware, ensuring a smooth user experience. The Pixel 4a is cost-effective, offering great value for money, especially when purchased used. Its 5.81-inch FHD+ OLED display boasts vibrant colors, while the compact design makes it easy to carry and use with one hand. The 3,140mAh battery ensures all-day usage with typical use, and the inclusion of a 3.5mm headphone jack allows for wired audio connections. Powered by the Snapdragon 730G and 6GB of RAM, the Pixel 4a performs smoothly, handling most apps and games with ease. With 128GB of internal storage, there’s ample space for photos, videos, and apps. Overall, the Pixel 4a is a durable and well-constructed smartphone that remains a solid choice even as a second-hand device.

Best Cheap iPhone

Apple iPhone SE (2022)
Looking for an affordable iPhone? The iPhone SE 2022, WIRED rated 7/10, is a solid choice despite its aging design. It retains the 4.7-inch LCD screen with noticeable top and bottom bezels, maintaining a traditional look with a home button and Touch ID.

Equipped with the A15 Bionic chip found in the iPhone 13 series, the iPhone SE 2022 delivers impressive speed and performance. Although the battery life is improved, it typically lasts about a day, possibly less under heavy usage. It supports 5G and offers wireless charging, distinguishing it among smartphones in its price range.

The rear camera takes excellent photos in daylight and handles high-contrast scenes effectively. However, it lacks Night mode, resulting in less impressive low-light shots compared to more expensive iPhone models.

Despite its limitations, the iPhone SE 2022 benefits from Apple’s long-term support, ensuring longevity. Consider using a case and screen protector to maintain its appearance over time.

★ An alternative:

Motorola Moto G Stylus 2023 ($175)

The Motorola Moto G Stylus 2023 offers several notable advantages. It features a built-in stylus, perfect for taking notes, sketching, and precise navigation. The 6.8-inch FHD+ display provides an excellent viewing experience, while the 5,000mAh battery ensures long-lasting use, even with heavy usage. Powered by a Snapdragon 6-series processor, it handles daily tasks smoothly and efficiently. With 128GB of internal storage, expandable via microSD, there is ample space for apps, photos, and videos. The triple camera system, highlighted by a 50MP main camera, offers versatile shooting options. The phone runs a near-stock Android experience with minimal bloatware, ensuring a clean and smooth user experience. All these features come at a budget-friendly price, making the Moto G Stylus 2023 a great value.

Motorola Moto G 5G Power (2023)

The Motorola Moto G 5G Power (2023) offers several compelling advantages. Its 5,000mAh battery ensures long-lasting use, reducing the need for frequent recharging. Powered by the MediaTek Dimensity 700 processor, it provides smooth and efficient performance for daily tasks. With 5G connectivity, users can enjoy faster internet speeds and improved network performance. The 6.5-inch FHD+ display delivers a clear and immersive viewing experience, ideal for media consumption. Despite its budget-friendly price, the Moto G 5G Power doesn’t compromise on essential features, offering 128GB of internal storage, expandable via microSD. The phone runs a near-stock Android experience with minimal bloatware, ensuring a clean and user-friendly interface. Additionally, the 50MP main camera captures good-quality photos, making it a well-rounded choice for budget-conscious users.

Should You Buy Now?

Yes. Most major smartphone makers have unveiled their budget phone lineup for the year, though there are still a few options coming from Hello Phones. I’m pretty confident in my picks above.

Consider Last Year’s Flagship Phones (or Used)

If none of the phones available meet your requirements or lack sufficient power, your best bet is to explore last year’s flagship smartphones, which often come at significantly discounted prices. While they may not be as readily available due to manufacturers ceasing sales, opting for these models typically offers better software support than cheaper alternatives. For instance, the Google Pixel 4a now sells for $179, while the Samsung Galaxy S23 is gradually dropping to around $600.

Alternatively, you could consider purchasing a pre-owned smartphone. It’s essential to research and compare prices for current top models on Android and iPhone, as well as older versions available on the market.

Do You Need a 5G Phone?

5G is the latest cellular network standard, widely available enough that it’s advisable to choose phones that support it. While it hasn’t completely replaced 4G LTE, you’ll notice both icons in your status bar as you travel. mmWave, typically found in flagship phones, offers very high speeds but is rare outside specific urban areas and venues like stadiums. Sub-6 5G, although not much faster than 4G LTE, has a wider coverage area and is more accessible. Most of the smartphones we recommend, including those starting at $200, support sub-6 5G.

Check Network Compatibility

If you purchase an unlocked phone from this list and encounter issues at your wireless carrier’s store, they might claim it’s not compatible with their network, but it probably is. Simply use a paper clip or SIM ejection tool to remove the SIM card from your current phone and insert it into the new one. If it doesn’t immediately connect, try restarting the phone or waiting for a few hours.

If you need a new SIM, we can help you to activate the Koodo prepaid plan or chatr plan at an affordable price.

Discover a diverse selection of phones and a range of prepaid plans when you visit our store. Stop by today to explore your options!