Today, you no longer have to spend a thousand grand to buy a smartphone that offers you all the most important features – and then some. Big brands like Samsung, Google, and even Apple are now manufacturing budget devices for $500 or less by making smart sacrifices to keep costs down.
All this also means that it has now become even harder to pick the right phone for yourself. Here is a quick guide on the best low-priced phones popular in 2021. Keep in mind, though, that your phone may not be able to do everything at a low price point — however, you will still have a great phone that can serve you for years.
Let’s get started:
Google Pixel 5A
The Google Pixel has had a strong standing in the smartphone market ever since it was first released. The Pixel 5A features a 6.34-inch OLED screen, which is on the smaller end of the spectrum if you think about the phone’s price point. However, it is still bigger than its predecessor, the Pixel 4A 5G. The phone is also equipped with a bigger 4,680mAh cell that can last a full day of heavy use and two days of normal use. Another benefit is that it is also IP67 water-resistant, which can be particularly useful if you are prone to spilling things on your phone.
Aside from this, the Pixel 5A has also made some updates to the Pixel 4A 5G, including the Snapdragon 765G processor, 6GB RAM/128GB storage, and a dual ultra-wide rear-facing camera. All this promises solid performance and a great camera experience.
The phone comes with Google’s very own Android 11 OS and is thankfully free of the clutter that other phone manufacturers add in. It also guarantees three years of platform and security updates, which is quite the deal, especially compared to many other Android phones out there.
The Pixel 5A, however, is a limited-release phone and is available only in the US and Japan.
Samsung Galaxy A52 5G
Price: Starting from $374.99
One of the best things about the Samsung Galaxy A52 5G is that it comes with premium features that aren’t too common in budget phones. This includes a 120Hz refresh rate screen that gives the content and animation a brighter and smoother appearance. Coupled with the 6.5 inch OLED screen that offers a nice contrast, the display is a treat to look at. Additionally, even with this powerful display, the 4,500 mAh battery can easily last you through the day.
As expected from a Snapdragon 750G processor and 6GB RAM, the phone performs well, though you may encounter an occasional hitch if you open too many apps simultaneously. Otherwise, the navigation, app-switching, and scrolling are pretty smooth.
One of the not-so-great features of the A52 5G is that Samsung has loaded the phone with a plethora of pre-downloaded apps that you probably do not need. Its camera is also not that great as it gives an oversaturated look to your photos.
However, it does offer 5G support, if that is something you absolutely need in your phone and supports sub-6GHz bands. If you plan to use the phone for a few years, these connectivity options will come in handy.
iPhone SE 2nd Gen
The iPhone SE 2nd Generation is a great phone if you want a cheap phone from Apple but without all the flashiness of the higher-end iPhones. The phone comes with Touch ID, so this version has the Home button (Apple should just include this feature on ALL their iPhones). However, the phone itself is quite tiny, with just a 4.7-inch screen. You also get a few modern features like IP67 water resistance and wireless charging, which not many phones in this range offer.
However, its processor is a thing of wonder. The A13 Bionic chip is the same one that powers the iPhone 11 Pro, which means you will not find such stellar performance in any other phone in this price range. No matter how graphically intensive your games and apps are, they will run without a hitch. And best of all, Apple promises to keep the phone updated for three or four years post-release.
On the downside, the glass back design is prone to cracking and shattering, and the phone is not equipped with Night mode, so it doesn’t do so well in low-light scenes.
Moto G Power 2021
If you want a phone with extraordinary battery life, it is hard to beat Moto G Power, which can last you three full days on a single charge, courtesy of its 5,000 mAh battery. The smartphone’s price frequently goes even lower to $200, which makes it a particularly value-adding buy.
The phone comes with a Snapdragon 662 chip with 4GB of RAM, which allows you to easily run all your apps and games without a hitch. The 720p LCD is not as great as other phone displays on our list but is still bright enough to be visible in the sun and doesn’t hinder the viewing experience too much. In the same way, the rear camera works well enough in normal light but is not as great in low light.
The phone is rather short on storage (64 GB), so you may need a MicroSD card. It is also equipped with a fingerprint sensor and a headphone jack, but no NFC, unfortunately. That means no online payments with Google Pay or other such services.
Its biggest downside, however, is probably that company only offers two years of security updates and just one operating system upgrade to Android 11.
Nokia is known for its solid build and strong battery life, and the G20 does not disappoint on both of these fronts. The 5050 mAh battery is extremely impressive and hardly drains when left idle and should keep the phone up and running for three days on middling use on a single charge. The phone comes with a satisfying number of simple Android apps, a decent camera, and a beautiful design with a side-mounted fingerprint sensor.
The screen does not get very bright, but the camera is quite nice and offers the added value of coming with Night mode for low-light photography. The phone guarantees three years of security updates and two operating system upgrades.
Its biggest drawbacks, though, are that it doesn’t work on Verizon and offers no support for 5-Hz Wi-Fi, which is essential for services like Android Auto.