The 7 Best Quality Budget Smartphones of 2022

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Buying the best budget smartphone under $300 doesn't mean compromising on what you want. Those days are over, and for most people, our experts think you should buy the Motorola Moto G Power. It costs much less than $300 and has long battery life, a good screen, and plenty of power.

Our roundup has plenty of options to help you find what you're looking for. If you are dedicated to the iPhone world, you'll have to go used because there's nothing in Apple's product lineup that goes down to $300.

in this article

Best Overall: Motorola Moto G Power

4.8
Moto G Power

Courtesy of Best Buy

What We Like
  • Huge battery capacity

  • Great sound quality

  • Good display

  • Durable and long-lasting

What We Don't Like
  • Heavy and bulky

  • Camera app is slow

  • No NFC

There was a time (not that long ago, actually) when a $300 smartphone was just not up to any task. You know, it was bad and, after buying it, you felt bad. Those days are over.

The Motorola Moto G Power is much less than $300, but you wouldn't know it. Why? Long battery life, good screen, and plenty of power. Now, it's true, some things are left out: No real water resistance and no wireless charging. If you ask us, those are perfectly fine trade-offs for a good phone at a very reasonable price. Oh, it works with nearly any carrier, too.

Front and center, you get a 6.4-inch display with a camera cutout in the upper-left corner. Under the hood, the phone is no slouch either. Camera capabilities are also impressive for the price, but the real selling point here is the battery. According to Motorola, the runtime should be enough to last three days without needing to recharge.

Screen Size: 6.4 inches | Resolution: 2300 x 1080 | Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 665 | Camera: 16 MP/8 MP/2 MP rear and 16 MP front | Battery: 5,000 mAh

Tested by Lifewire

Although the Moto G Power is heavier and bulkier than many expensive alternatives, it looks great and doesn't feel cheap. The 6.4-inch IPS display is lovely and bright enough to use outside in full sunlight without any real difficulty.

During benchmark tests, the Moto G Power performed better than other budget phones; menus loaded smoothly, apps launched quickly, and I was able to run multiple apps, stream video, and open over a dozen web pages without a hitch.

The Moto G's main feature is its large 5,000 mAh battery. I was actually able to get more than three days of use out of this phone with my regular level of phone calls, texting, web browsing, and app usage. Its weak spot is its camera.

The performance of the main rear camera is just okay for a phone in this price range, turning in decent results if the lighting is great and both you and your subject remain absolutely still. — Jeremy Laukkonen, Product Tester

Moto G Power

Jeremy Laukkonen / Lifewire

Best Design: Nokia 7.2 Phone

4
Nokia 7.2 Phone

Courtesy of Nokia

What We Like
  • Attractive, standout design

  • Large, crisp 6.3-inch screen

  • 128 GB and microSD support

  • Solid battery life

  • Good value for the price

What We Don't Like
  • Cameras can be inconsistent

  • Middling video recording

  • Mediocre speaker

The Nokia 7.2 is the successor to the mid-range Nokia 7.1. It keeps some of the design flourishes but comes with revamped specs and some new features. The design is attractive, with a glass black in a number of sleek, attractive colors. Bezels are minimized along the side, and there's a fingerprint sensor on the back. The screen is a 6.3-inch 1080p panel with 403 pixels per inch, making for a crisp display. It's HDR10 compliant, letting you support compatible content for better colors and saturation.

Under the hood, you have a Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 processor. It's a mid-range chipset, but it works well with Android 9.0 Pie. The 4 GB of RAM is also enough for a reasonable level of multitasking, and it can handle games like "Asphalt 9."

The camera quality is also solid, with a triple camera setup on the back, which includes a 48 MP main sensor, an 8 MP ultra-wide camera, and a 5 MP sensor for depth data on portrait and bokeh shots. All in all, it's a great phone in a nice package.

Screen Size: 6.3 inches | Resolution: 2280 x 1080 | Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 | Camera: 48 MP/8 MP/5 MP rear and 20 MP front | Battery: 3,500 mAh

Tested by Lifewire

The Nokia 7.2 is a strong sub-$400 smartphone, with an eye-catching design and a great screen, along with solid power and battery life. It's one of the most striking mid-range phones that I've handled, thanks to its distinctive cyan green color.

Getting around the interface is smooth and speedy, although I hit occasional sluggish hitches here and there. Gaming was a solid experience. Titles like "Asphalt 9" and "Call of Duty Mobile" delivered a pretty smooth frame rate at the cost of some detail and resolution. I wouldn't recommend playing music out loud using the speaker, but it's totally fine for watching videos. The 5-megapixel camera is capable but inconsistent, while the sizable 3,500 mAh battery comfortably delivers a full day's usage. — Andrew Hayward, Product Tester

Nokia 7.2

Lifewire / Andrew Hayward 

Best Value: Samsung Galaxy A50

4.3
Samsung Galaxy A50

Courtesy of Best Buy

What We Like
  • Large and vibrant screen

  • Sleek aesthetic, albeit plastic

  • Strong battery life

  • Takes pretty good photos

  • Great value for the price

What We Don't Like
  • Spotty in-display fingerprint sensor

  • Recurring performance hitches

  • So-so sound quality

The Samsung Galaxy A50 is a sleek and attractive mid-range phone that manages to retain much of Samsung's design flourishes and features from higher-end flagships. It has a big screen and minimized bezels, though it's made of plastic. The screen is a bright and colorful 6.4-inch Super AMOLED panel that looks almost as crisp and clear as Samsung's flagship panels.

Under the hood, you're looking at an Exynos 9610 chipset with 4 GB of RAM. It's not the most powerful processor, but it'll do decently for browsing and opening apps. It even handled games reasonably well. The triple camera sensor array on the back also proved to be surprisingly good, though it won't be as detailed as higher-end phones.

Screen Size: 6.4 inches | Resolution: 2340 x 1080 | Processor: Exynos 9610 | Camera: 25 MP/8 MP/5 MP rear and 25 MP front | Battery: 4,000 mAh

Tested by Lifewire

Samsung's Galaxy A50 takes the essence of a several-hundred-dollar flagship phone and transplants it into a much, much cheaper midrange handset. It makes some compromises to accomplish this.

It's sleekly designed but uses plastic in places instead of glass or aluminum. The 6.4-inch Super AMOLED display is very crisp and clear and has strong contrast. Performance suffers from semi-regular hitches and slowdowns. It can be slow to open apps and games, as well. Sound quality is nothing special, but the three back cameras do a pretty good job of capturing detail and delivering crisp, colorful images. The meaty 4,000 mAh battery typically had about 355 to 40% charge remaining at the end of the day, which means you have a buffer for a long night out or perhaps a heavier day of streaming media and gaming.

Ultimately, despite its drawbacks, it's impressive how much of the Galaxy S experience remains intact on the Galaxy A50, which still looks like a high-end phone, has a very good triple-camera setup, and boasts an excellent screen. — Andrew Hayward, Product Tester

Samsung Galaxy A50

Lifewire / Andrew Hayward

Best With a Stylus: Motorola Moto G Stylus

4.6
Moto G Stylus

Amazon

What We Like
  • Good battery life

  • Built-in stylus

  • Looks great

  • Decent price

What We Don't Like
  • Poor palm rejection

  • No NFC

We reviewed the 2020 model of this phone and liked it so much we're keeping it on this list.

If you sometimes like to write out your ideas with a pen (in this case, a digital pen called a stylus), then the Motorola Moto G Stylus is what you are looking for.

It has all the great features of the Moto G (OK, the battery isn't quite as big as in the Moto G Power, our top pick), a really good camera, a big screen, and, according to reviewer Jeremy, "The phone automatically launches Motorola's note-taking app if you remove the stylus with the screen off, making it easy to jot things down any time you want." Jeremy also noted the speakers are really quite good, too.

Screen Size: 6.8 inches | Resolution: 2400 x 1080 | Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 678 | Camera: 48 MP/8 MP/2 MP rear and 16 MP front | Battery: 4,000 mAh

Tested by Lifewire

Motorola is pretty good at making budget and mid-range phones that look and feel more expensive than they really are, and the Moto G Stylus is no exception. The 6.4-inch display features decent resolution, and I had no issues using it outdoors. The included stylus—this phone's flagship feature—works well for navigation and taking quick notes, but I wouldn't want to use it as a general writing tool.

I never had issues with performance. There were no slowdowns or lag, and apps always launched quickly. Video streaming never skipped a beat, even when saddled with an unreasonable number of open web pages. The phone's Dolby speakers sound absolutely fantastic, and the camera produced uniformly crisp and colorful images in good lighting. If you need a stylus with your smartphone, the Motorola G Stylus is an easy recommendation. — Jeremy Laukkonen, Product Tester

Moto G Stylus

Jeremy Laukkonen / Lifewire

Best OnePlus: OnePlus Nord N100

3.6
OnePlus Nord N100

Amazon

What We Like
  • Very affordable

  • Long battery life

  • Fast charging

  • 90 Hz screen

  • Plenty of memory storage capacity

What We Don't Like
  • Sluggish performance

  • Low-rest screen

  • Middling cameras

  • No Android 12+

How much of the unique OnePlus flavor remains intact in a sub-$200 budget phone? Just enough, it turns out. The OnePlus Nord N100 is the firm's cheapest phone to date, but it keeps the company's stylish Android skin and packs in a few perks from pricier rivals. You get a smooth 90 Hz screen here, along with fast 18W charging for a beefy battery that can last for two days. The Nord N100 also doesn't look like a clunky, bargain-basement device.

Still, there's only so much that software polish and a couple of hardware perks can enhance a $180 phone, and the Nord N100 suffers from sluggish performance and has mediocre cameras. It still feels like a cheap phone for the most part—but it's usable, and those premium benefits give it a slightly grander allure than your usual budget handset. The much-improved Nord N10 5G is strongly recommended if your budget can stretch to $300, but if not, this is still a pretty solid handset for the price.

Screen Size: 6.52 inches | Resolution: 1600 x 720 | Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 460 | Camera: 13 MP/2 MP/2 MP rear and 8 MP front | Battery: 5,000 mAh

Tested by Lifewire

The OnePlus Nord N100 offers some solidly impressive qualities at a budget price. While it's made of plastic, it doesn't look cheap or blandly designed. The 6.52-inch display isn't particularly crisp, and it lacks the punchy contrast and deep black levels of OnePlus' usual OLED displays. But the 90 Hz refresh rate is a premium perk that makes an unexpected appearance here, delivering smoother transitions and animations than a typical 60 Hz screen.

The phone's overall performance is sluggish, though, due to its lower-end Qualcomm Snapdragon 460 processor and 4 GB of RAM. The speakers are fine for music and watching videos in a pinch, but you're better off with headphones. The 13-megapixel camera takes decent-looking daytime shots, but they show a lot of noise when zoomed in on crisper displays. The robust 5,000 mAH battery can easily get you two days of usage, and the 18W quick charger can top you up quickly.

While it has some issues, the OnePlus Nord N100 is a well-designed, long-lasting, large-screened phone for only $180. — Andrew Hayward, Product Tester

OnePlus Nord N100

Lifewire / Andrew Hayward

Best for Handwriting: LG Stylo 6

4
LG Stylo 6

Image Source / LG

What We Like
  • Great stylus built right in

  • Crisp display with thin bezels

  • Looks really good

  • Great battery life

What We Don't Like
  • Middling performance

  • Cameras aren't that great

  • Teardrop camera cutout is ugly

The LG Stylo 6 is a budget phone with a flagship look. Featuring a massive 6.8-inch IPS display and a mirror-finish glass back, it both looks and feels high-end despite its modest price tag. It also features a built-in stylus with some nice features. The MediaTek Helio P35 processor fails to impress, though, resulting in a phone that looks fantastic but stumbles in terms of performance.

The two reasons to love this phone are the upscale look and excellent stylus functionality. This is one of the best-looking sub-$300 phones around, and that extends to the beautiful FHD display. It's a bit dim in full sunlight but looks fantastic anywhere else.

The stylus is spring-loaded, and removing it brings up a handful of memo and note options automatically. It's quite responsive and accurate, with no real lag unless you move it especially fast. Forget to put it back in its holster, and the phone sounds a little alarm when you try to turn it off.

You can find phones that perform better than the Stylo 6 for the same money, but you'll be hard-pressed to find one that looks this fantastic at this price point. If you don't ask a lot out of your phone and only want something that looks great while performing basic tasks, the Stylo 6 fits that description perfectly.

Screen Size: 6.8 inches | Resolution: 2460 x 1080 | Processor: MediaTek MT6765 Helio P35 | Camera: 13 MP/5 MP/5 MP rear and 5 MP front | Battery: 4,000 mAh

Tested by Lifewire

When holding this phone in your hands, it's hard to believe it's a budget model and not a flagship. Its massive 6.8-inch display looks great, featuring vibrant colors and sharp viewing angles. Performance isn't as impressive; the phone struggled during benchmark tests, although it runs adequately enough for a budget Android device.

While the included stylus is a bit stubby, at about 4.5-inches long, it's just long enough to hold comfortably. The speakers are loud and surprisingly good, and the main rear camera works well enough when there's plenty of natural light. Battery life is fantastic and typically got me through two days of normal usage before the phone needed a charge.

Overall, the LG Stylo 6 is a beautiful phone that stumbles hard when it comes to performance, but it might be a good pick if you won't use it for much more than phone calls, texting, and light web browsing. — Jeremy Laukkonen, Product Tester

LG Stylo 6

Jeremy Laukkonen / Lifewire

Best Budget: LG K51

3
LG K51

Image Source / LG

What We Like
  • Large display

  • Attractive design

  • Decent battery life

  • Decent price

  • Great for those who are technically challenged

What We Don't Like
  • Low resolution

  • Limited to Android 9 on some carriers

  • Not a lot of usable storage

  • Processor tends to drag

The LG K51 is a budget smartphone that features a huge 6.5-inch display, a big battery, and some of the best sound you're likely to hear out of a phone in this price range. It's powered by a somewhat anemic processor, but it performs well enough in daily use if you don't demand too much of it.

The best thing about this phone is undoubtedly the price. With a reasonable MSRP for the unlocked version, and even more attractive pricing when locked to a carrier, the K51 punches way above its weight class in terms of premium look and feel, sound quality, and battery life.

While the K51 underdelivers in terms of performance, thanks to an underpowered processor, this phone is still a fantastic option at such an affordable price point. If your budget won't allow you to step up to a more powerful phone, or you can find this one at a price that really speaks to you, it won't disappoint in terms of premium look and feel, sound quality, or battery life.

Screen Size: 6.55 inches | Resolution: 1600 x 720 | Processor: MediaTek MT6765 Helio P35 | Camera: 32 MP/5 MP/2 MP rear and 13 MP front | Battery: 4,000 mAh

Tested by Lifewire

The LG K51 is a great-looking phone with an affordable price tag. While it lacks the flashy iridescence of something like the LG Stylo 6, the understated glass sandwich design looks and feels far more premium than you'd expect from a phone with such a low price tag. The LG K51 didn't give me too many issues during daily use, but there were a few frame drops while gaming.

The speakers are pretty great for a budget phone. They're loud, plenty loud enough to fill a room, and there's very little distortion even at the highest volume. Both the rear and front-facing cameras perform well enough as long as there's enough light.

I was able to go two and three days at a time without a charge, using the phone for calls, texting, and some light web browsing and email, thanks to its big 4,000 mAh battery. — Jeremy Laukkonen, Product Tester

LG K51

Jeremy Laukkonen / Lifewire

Final Verdict

The best budget smartphone for under $300 is the Moto G Power. It's a fast, responsive phone with smooth software, various Motorola tweaks for improved functionality, and one of the most impressive battery runtimes we've seen. We also like the Nokia 7.2. It has a big, bright 1080p display, a capable Snapdragon 660 processor, and a triple camera setup that allows for bokeh and wide-angle shots. It's not the very latest phone, but the combination of price and performance is hard to beat.

What to Look for in a Budget Smartphone

Display

Budget smartphones typically don't have high refresh screens, though that isn't universally true as OnePlus increasingly brings it to market at lower price points. The most common resolution for budget phones is 1080p, which isn't as crisp as the 2K panels you get on flagships. That said, it's still possible to get crisp screens and even OLED panels with dense, inky blacks and rich, saturated colors.

Processor

Mid-range chipsets consist of Snapdragon and MediaTek processors. While they won't match flagship processors in terms of benchmark testing, many budget phones are optimized in terms of day-to-day performance. This is especially true of Google's Pixel devices. The clean software works great with less powerful hardware. Most mid-range phones can handle the typical set of apps, multitasking, and multimedia. More demanding 3D games might prove a challenge, but there are still several budget phones that are capable of it.

"Watch out for the battery life. The number one request I hear from users is going to be an all-day or longer battery life because what good is having a phone if it's dead! The battery life can easily make or break the phone's functionality, so always check the specs for information about the battery performance before buying." — Richard Roth, CEO of  Progressive Tech

Camera

Camera performance on mid-range phones tends to be the big sacrifice in most cases, but this isn't universally true. An increasing number of budget phones offer multiple rear cameras, giving you the option of telephoto zoom and wide-angle shots, as well as features like bokeh mode. Google's Pixel phones are particularly capable of punching above their weight when it comes to camera performance, boasting the same sensors as flagship models.

FAQ
  • What is the lifespan of a budget smartphone?

    You should get between two and three years of use out of a budget smartphone. In most cases, you'll see a decrease in the phone's performance and battery life around the third year. If you take good care of your phone (for example, if you don't drop it, keep it clean, and update the software regularly), you may be able to get seven years of use, but four to five years is most common.

  • Which budget smartphone has the best camera?

    Cameras aren't typically a strong suit for budget phones, but some devices stand out. The Moto G Power comes with a triple camera sensor array, offering a 16 MP primary, 8 MP ultrawide, and 2 MP macro camera. It can even record 4K video at 30 fps. The Galaxy A50 also has a trip camera sensor array that proved to be surprisingly good during testing.

  • What budget phones are best for gaming?

    Budget phones aren't known for having the best gaming chops, but that doesn't mean you're without recourse if you're looking for a good gaming option. The Moto G Power benefits from a capable Snapdragon 665 processor and 4 GB of RAM. It's able to handle a decent level of 3D gaming and was able to run Asphalt 9. The 6.4-inch FHD display and 5,000 mAh battery were also enough to run demanding games like Genshin Impact, which is impressive. The Nokia 7.2 is an older phone, but it also has a solid Snapdragon 660 chipset, which is a mid-range processor that's good enough for games like Asphalt 9 and Call of Duty Mobile.

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