The 9 Best Budget Smartphones for Under $300 in 2019

Shop for the top budget smartphones on the market without breaking the bank

Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.

The Rundown

  • Best Overall: Motorola Moto G6 at Amazon, "Striking that elusive balance between affordability, design, and function."
  • Best New Release: Nokia 3.1 at Amazon, "A strong newcomer to the budget smartphone leagues."
  • Best Splurge: Nokia 7.1 at Amazon, "Not quite under $300, but very close — and it punches above its weight class in terms of price."
  • Best Value: Honor 7X at Amazon, "Easily measuring up to high-end smartphone brands."
  • Best Camera: Nokia 6.1 at Amazon, "A phone that's all about high-end visuals without the high-end price tag."
  • Runner-Up, Best Splurge: Sony Xperia 10 at Amazon, "If you’re willing to push the $300 envelope, you’ll find the Sony Xperia 10 is a worthwhile smartphone."
  • Best Ultra-Budget: Samsung Galaxy J2 Core at Amazon, "A full smartphone design for a tiny fraction of the average smartphone price."
  • Runner-Up, Best Ultra-Budget: Alcatel 1X Evolve at Metro PCS, "Has its flaws but ultimately excels where it counts, providing reliable performance without breaking the bank."
  • Best Battery Life: Asus Zenfone 3 Zoom at Amazon, "Able to last, on average, for about two days on a single charge."

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Motorola Moto G6

4.5

The Moto G6 strikes that elusive balance between affordability, design, and function. The curved, 3D glass back makes it comfortable to hold, and the thin bezels mean the 5.7” full HD display offers edge-to-edge visuals. The phone prioritizes speed with a 1.8 GHz octa-core processor and features an Android 8.0 Oreo operating system. Let your creativity loose with the dual-sensor setup of a 12MP and 5MP cameras, or switch to portrait mode, where you can focus on a foreground subject and apply three different editing effects to the photo, including a blurred background or a “color pop.”

Need assistance? The Moto G6 is Amazon Alexa capable with two hands-free options, whether you need to ask a question, use an app, or manage your other smart home devices. One of its only drawbacks is the life of its 3000 mAh battery, which falls short of its predecessors. 

To get the biggest bang for your buck, you can learn how to use an Android phone and all of its features, which differ from an iPhone's features.

Best New Release: Nokia 3.1

3.4

The Nokia 3.1 is a strong newcomer to the budget smartphone leagues. Though some cuts were made so it could be more affordable, like eliminating the finger sensor, the phone has a grippy flat plastic back and curved glass on the front that lends it an air of sophistication. Its 2990mAh battery capacity is deceiving: the phone can hold a charge for the entire day despite its relatively small size. The screen is surprisingly high-quality — the 5.2-inch 18:9 display has 1440x720 resolution — and it runs Android 1 software free from any bloatware that would slow it down, so it should receive updates quickly. Headphone users will be happy that the phone includes a headphone jack. Keep in mind that the octa-core Mediatek MT 6750 processor does not offer the best performance, and while a strong choice at its price point, the phone does suffer from sluggishness and only has 2GB of RAM, which can make multitasking difficult. However, MicroSD support for up to 128GB cards is available. 

Best Splurge: Nokia 7.1

3.8

If you’re willing to spend around $300 but also willing to throw down just a tad more on a premium phone experience, then you should certainly check out the Nokia 7.1. This Android phone is one of the nicest you’ll find in this price range. One of the first things you’ll notice is its beautiful 5.84-inch HDR screen with high contrast, so videos and other content look great.

Under the hood, the Nokia 7.1 has 4GB of RAM and a Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 processor, meaning this can run every app you can throw at it. For charging, it has a fast-charging USB-C port. It also has a stunningly good dual-lens camera for a mid-range phone, with one 12-megapixel camera and one 5-megapixel camera on the back that provide great photos. For software, the Nokia 7.1 is running the latest version of the Android OS and is part of the Android One program, which means the phone runs stock Android and you also get two years of Android updates and three years of security patches. While the Nokia 7.1 isn’t quite under $300, it’s very close — and it punches above its weight class in terms of price.

Best Value: Honor 7X

3.8

The Honor 7X can easily measure up to the high-end smartphone brands. At a glance, it looks like any one of the top-brand Android phones, but it costs half as much. The 7X packs a 3GB RAM, a 2.36GHz Octa-Core processor, and 32GB of storage—with room for a micro SD card to fit an additional 256GB. With a six-inch screen, the device might not fit into your jeans pocket, but it offers crisp visual detail (2,160 x 1080 resolution) on an 18:9 widescreen display. In fact, the phone is so large that it offers a “split-screen” function that allows users to operate two apps simultaneously— a stand-out feature among competitors.

The Honor 7X includes a dual-lens 16MP and 2MP camera for capturing high-definition photos. For an additional level of professionalism, the camera offers Portrait Mode, which blurs the background and captures your subject in vivid detail. This phone is also built to last, with a 3,340 mAH battery that can deliver up to 1.5 days of power on a single charge. The Honor 7X is upgradable to Android 8.0 Oreo software and is compatible with GSM cellular networks like AT&T and T-Mobile.

Best Camera: Nokia 6.1

4

When it comes to a decent camera, affordability doesn’t have to mean compromise. The Nokia 6.1 is all about high-end visuals without the high-end price tag. Powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 630 mobile platform with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage, the smartphone features a high-contrast 5.5’” full-HD screen with a sculpted 2.5D Corning Gorilla Glass display. But the Nokia 6.1’s main selling point? Its Zeiss optics 16MP main camera with 4K video recording and dual-tone flash. To truly capture a moment, Dual-sight mode engages both the main and 8MP wide-angle selfie cameras to fuse images into one file. Both of these cameras are able to function in low-light conditions.

For convenience when you’re on-the-go, the USB Type-C charging allows your phone to power up by 50% in 30 minutes, and the Android One software is easy to use, boasts Google’s newest technology developments, and offers free, unlimited high-quality photo storage. With no bloatware, the phone’s performance is strong, fast, and reliable.

Runner-Up, Best Splurge: Sony Xperia 10

If you’re willing to push the $300 envelope, you’ll find the Sony Xperia 10 is a worthwhile smartphone. Make no mistake about it, the Xperia 10 was made with movie lovers in mind. Thanks to a 21:9 cinema-like aspect ratio, video playback from Netflix, Amazon Prime and a host of other video services look great. No more ugly black bars. The six-inch display also provides plenty of space for multitasking as two apps can split-screen. The extra screen space let’s see you more of each app making this functionality a total joy to use.

Holding the Xperia 10 while watching a movie or multitasking feels great. The glass front and metal rear feel less budget and more premium. The slim size adds to the comfort while in hand.

Another advantage to splurging a little more on the Xperia 10 is with the 13-megapixel rear camera. Paired with 4K video recording, it makes full use of the 21:9 aspect ratio and looks beautiful. Throw in a 2870mAh battery and there’s all-day life for video recording or binging your favorite show on Netflix. 

Read more reviews of the best Sony phones available to purchase online. 

Best Ultra-Budget: Samsung Galaxy J2 Core

Snappy and stylish, the Samsung Galaxy J2 Core is a reminder that you can, in fact, get a perfectly usable smartphone for an ultra-budget price. This affordable new model from Samsung is a great option when you’re looking for something less expensive or a starter smartphone. Samsung’s first foray into Android Go smartphones, the J2 Core has the brand’s Exynos 7570 chipset and a quad-core Cortex-A53 CPU, and the 8GB of storage can be upgraded to 256GB using a microSD card. While the phone, which runs on Android 8.1 Oreo, can’t handle intensive gaming session, it’s fine for less-demanding games and apps. And the 2,600mAh battery can last the entire day with lighter use. The five-inch LCD panel offers quad-HD (960 x 540 pixels) resolution and 220ppi for decent visuals. The 8MP back camera and 5MP selfie camera certainly aren’t the best on the market, but they perform well in bright light and offer features like Beauty Mode and LED flash. Overall, it has a full smartphone design for a tiny fraction of the average smartphone price. 

Still can't decide on what you want? Our round-up of the best Samsung phones can help you find what you're looking for.

Runner-Up, Best Ultra-Budget: Alcatel 1X Evolve

Alcatel 1X Evolve

 MetroPCS

As an ultra-budget option, the Alcatel 1X Evolve holds slightly lower specs compared to other devices, but this model’s shortcomings are overruled by its extremely affordable price. The 1X Evolve contains a 1.1GHz quad-core processor, 2GB RAM, and 16GB internal memory, which is a respectable amount of hardware for such a small device. Additionally, the phone features an 8MP rear camera and a 5MP front-snapper equipped with built-in flash.

Regarding design, the Evolve leaves something to be desired. Its bezel-free design looks a bit outdated, lacking the modern sleekness of the newest flagship smartphones. The display is only 5.34 inches long, but the Alcatel 1X Evolve takes full advantage of its available surface area, with super slim borders and an 18:9 aspect ratio. Unfortunately, the screen does not have HD resolution, but that's an expected compromise at this price point.

The Evolve has its flaws, but it ultimately excels where it counts, providing reliable performance without breaking the bank.

Best Battery Life: Asus Zenfone 3 Zoom

Equipped with a whopping 5,000mAh battery, the Asus Zenfone 3 Zoom can last, on average, for about two days on a single charge. This power-saving technology is made possible with its energy-efficient 14nm Fin Field Effect transistors (FinFETs), which guarantee strong, reliable performance while using 35% less power. The Zenfone packs a small but powerful 64-bit, 2.0GHz octa-core Snapdragon 625 processor, 3GB onboard memory, and 32GB storage, with room to expand up to 2TB.

Another major draw lies in the phone’s outstanding picture quality. The Zenfone features a 13MP front camera (for detailed, flattering selfies), and a rear camera with 12MP, 2.3X optical zoom, and 4K UHD video recording. With a 5.5-inch display, rendered in full 1920 x 1080 resolution and 500-nit brightness, you can review your captured images or watch your favorite online videos in vibrant, true-to-life color. Even though the Zenfone 3 Zoom is featured for best battery, it’s certainly not the phone’s only pro. The device is compatible with GSM cellular networks, including AT&T and T-Mobile.

Tested by

How We Tested

We bought six top-rated budget smartphones under $300 and our reviewers tested them daily for weeks on end. We asked our testers to consider the most important features when using these smartphones, from their screen resolution to their camera quality. We’ve outlined the major points here so that you, too, know what to look for when shopping.

What to Look for in a Budget Smartphone Under $300

Screen size - Your average smartphone display is around 5.5 inches, measured diagonally. That’s comfortable for most hands — small enough for one-handed use but large enough to make watching YouTube enjoyable. There are larger phones on the market as well, which are better for streaming media but might be harder to slip in your pocket.

Screen resolution - Displays can be the most expensive and energy-consuming part of a smartphone — and thus a major deciding factor. A screen with a resolution of at least 1,280 x 720 pixels should work well; anything higher will be fantastic.

Camera - Camera technology has advanced leaps and bounds in the past years — some people upgrade their phones just to get a nicer camera. While it won’t match the quality of a dedicated DSLR, certain phone cameras are great in their own right, reaching up to 23 megapixels. Cool features, like low-light performance and portrait mode, abound as well.

Test Results: Motorola Moto G6 (Best Overall)

4.5

What We Like

  • Durable build

  • Great camera quality

  • Fantastic price

What We Don't Like

  • Only 3GB of RAM

  • Slippery texture

  • Sound could be louder

Motorola Moto G6
Motorola Moto
Motorola G6

“You’d be hard-pressed to find another phone this capable for this price today,” raved one of our testers. “It's a great device for the normal to moderate phone user.” Specific highlights, according to one reviewer, were its camera quality, “vibrant” screen, and “durable” build. Our reviewers liked this phone so much that even their largest concern with it — the fact it has only 3GB of RAM — didn’t affect the bottom line: that it’s an excellent value for the price.

Test Results: Nokia 3.1 (Best New Release)

3.4

What We Like

  • Great overall value

  • Good camera

  • Impressive battery life

What We Don't Like

  • Glitchy

  • Low storage capacity

  • Touch screen not very responsive

Nokia 3.1
Nokia
Nokia 3.1 phone
Nokia phone
Nokia 3.1smartphone

“This phone is a good value and has all the required features,” said one of our testers. One reviewer also liked its camera which he felt was “decently robust” and had “a wider 18:9 display ratio, which was perfect for movies.” Its battery life was also a highlight, according to one tester: “It goes up to two days with regular usage like phone calls, browsing, and messaging.” On the other end of the spectrum, one reviewer was “not happy” with its storage capacity and noted that the touchscreen wasn’t always very responsive. Also, according to one tester, the phone could be glitchy: “Sometimes Google Maps or the Facebook app just closes abruptly for no reason,” she explained.

Test Results: Nokia 7.1 (Best Splurge)

3.8

What We Like

  • Excellent value

  • Amazing battery life

  • Great display

What We Don't Like

  • Glitchy

  • Spotty Bluetooth connectivity

Nokia 7.1
Nokia
Nokia 7.1 phone
Nokia phone
Nokia 7.1 smartphone
Nokia 7.1 budget smartphone
Nokia 7.1 home screen

“I am amazed by the battery life of this phone,” declared one of our testers. One reviewer was also impressed with its display: “It's really nice to see such a beautiful HDR display in a mid-tier phone,” he said. Its overall value, according to one tester, was great: “You can't find a phone with clean, solid-feeling design, a bright and vibrant screen, a quick processor, a headphone jack, and a USB-C port anywhere else for this price,” she noted. The negatives? One reviewer said the Bluetooth audio connectivity was “spotty” and that the phone could also be glitchy: “Sometimes it freezes or is unresponsive,” she said, “and I have to close all apps and reopen them.”

Test Results: Honor 7X (Best Value)

3.8

What We Like

  • Big screen

  • Good camera

  • Great overall value

What We Don't Like

  • Pre-installed apps clog storage space

  • Slow download speed on LTE

“The extra-wide 18:9, nearly six-inch screen size is a huge selling point for the Honor 7X,” declared one of our testers, “and makes it an excellent high-end budget phone for watching movies and playing games.” Our reviewers also thought it was a great value overall: “The 16 MP + 2 MP dual-lens rear camera has plenty of advanced features, along with a hefty battery and a solid processor, making the Honor 7X a great phone for its price.” On the other end of the spectrum, one tester “wasn’t happy about numerous extra apps clogging up the storage space” and also “experienced relatively low or inconsistent LTE download speeds,” though he said it wasn’t enough to affect phone calls or basic web browsing.

Test Results: Nokia 6.1 (Best Camera)

4

What We Like

  • Sleek design

  • Durable

  • Great camera

What We Don't Like

  • Not built for advanced gaming

  • Screen size not impressive

  • Battery could be better

One of our testers thought the Nokia 6.1 was “sleek, modern, and durable.” Other highlights, according to one reviewer, were its “relatively powerful camera with a slew of advanced features” and that it “includes Android One OS support.” One of our testers also summed up the negatives: “Although it earns high marks on productivity, the Nokia 6.1 isn't built for advanced 3D gaming, and neither the screen size nor the battery are terribly impressive given the competition in its price range.” Overall, though, according to one reviewer, “it strikes a good balance between power, performance, and price.”

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