The 9 Best Budget Smartphones for Under $300 in 2021

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
"For a phone that doesn't need to be recharged all the time, the Moto G Power comes with a capacious battery to keep you running for multiple days."
Best Design:
Nokia 7.2 at Amazon
"A strong, budget-friendly phone with a nice design, great screen, and solid performance."
"The affordable Pixel 4a offers snappy performance and a great camera at a reasonable price."
"This mid-range phone from Samsung offers a great mix of performance and features."
"The Moto G Stylus is Motorola's budget competitor to LG's Stylo and Samsung's Note series, offering productivity and performance in one package."
"The Nord N100 gives you a long battery, 90Hz screen, and decent performance for a very affordable price."
Best with Stylus:
LG Stylo 6 at Amazon
"If you envy the productivity and handwriting capabilities of Samsung's Note series, LG's Stylo 6 offers an affordable alternative."
Best Ultra-Budget:
LG K51 at Amazon
"For a basic phone that won't hit your wallet too hard, the LG K51 offers reasonable day-to-day performance."
"If you're willing to sign up to Yahoo Mobile, an MVNO for Verizon, the quirky purple ZTE Blade A3Y can be yours for just $50."

The best budget smartphones under $300 doesn't mean you have to compromise on you want. Despite being cheaper than premium flagships, budget phones from manufacturers like Nokia, Google, OnePlus, Motorola, LG, Samsung, ZTE, and others incorporate many high-end features. You can get affordable phones with edge-to-edge screens, multiple rear camera sensors, updated software, and attractive designs that punch above their weight.

Our roundup has plenty of options to help you find what you're looking for, but you should also take a look at our general overview of the best smartphones to see your other OS options. Here, read on to see the best budget smartphones under $300 to get.

Best Overall: Motorola Moto G Power

Moto G Power
What We Like
  • Huge battery capacity

  • Great sound quality

  • Good display

What We Don't Like
  • Heavy and bulky

  • Camera app is slow

  • No NFC

The Moto G Power is the phone for everyone who doesn't want to be tied to a charging cable or tote around a portable charger. The phone builds on the features and capabilities of the Moto G7 Power, adopting a big screen to go along with the big battery. Front and center, you get a 6.4-inch IPS display with a camera cutout in the top left corner. The display resolution is 2300x1080 pixels, which works out to 399ppi, making for a crisp display for multimedia, gaming, and browsing.

Under the hood, the phone is no slouch either. It comes with a Snapdragon 665 processor, 4GB of RAM, and 64GB of internal storage. This is a fairly decent mid-range processor giving you the ability to run most apps, do some multitasking, and even handle some games. Camera capabilities are impressive for the price, consisting of a 16MP primary sensor, 8MP ultrawide, and 2MP macro. It can record 4K at 30fps and boasts a 16MP selfie camera.

But the real selling point here is the 5,000mAh battery. According to Motorola, the runtime should be enough to last three days without needing to recharge. You get 10W charging, but no wireless charging or waterproofing (there is a water-repellent coating though).

Screen Size: 6.4 inches | Resolution: 2300x1080 | Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 665 | Camera: 16MP/8MP/2MP rear and 16MP front | Battery: 5,000mAh

"I was actually able to get 3+ days of use out of this phone with my regular level of phone calls, texting, web browsing, and app usage." Jeremy Laukkonen, Product Tester

Best Design: Nokia 7.2 Phone

What We Like
  • Attractive, standout design

  • Large, crisp 6.3-inch screen

  • 128GB 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 4GB of RAM is also enough for a reasonable level of multitasking and it can handle games like Asphalt 9. Camera quality is also solid, with a triple camera setup on the back, which includes a 48MP main sensor, an 8MP ultra-wide camera, and 5MP 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: 2280x1080 | Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 660| Camera: 48MP/8MP/5MP rear and 20MP front | Battery: 3,500mAh

"The Nokia 7.2 is a strong sub-$400 smartphone, with eye-catching design and a great screen, along with solid power and battery life." — Andrew Hayward, Product Tester

Best Google: Google Pixel 4a

Google Pixel 4a
What We Like
  • Excellent camera

  • Great OLED screen

  • Solid performance

  • All-day battery

  • Incredible value

What We Don't Like
  • No 5G

  • Bland design

Google’s Pixel 4a is the best smartphone you can buy for less than $400. Building off of the momentum from the surprisingly great Pixel 3a, the sequel costs $50 less but is an even better handset, pairing improved design and a better screen with the solid performance, excellent camera, and all-day battery that Google delivered the last time around.

Once again, the flagship-quality camera is the secret weapon. Affordable phones usually feature inconsistent cameras that wilt in low light, but the Pixel 4a will give you a good result in nearly any scenario, including at night via the Night Sight mode. Given the price, it’s no surprise that the base model Pixel 4a lacks 5G support and doesn’t have some other perks, such as multiple back cameras or wireless charging, but it’s a tremendous value for a phone with no major flaws.

Screen Size: 5.81 inches | Resolution: 2340x1080 | Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 730G | Camera: 12.2MP rear and 8MP front | Battery: 3,140mAh

"While there are pricier phones with more intriguing designs, faster processors, 5G capabilities, and camera perks, the Pixel 4a represents an incredible bargain at just $349." Andrew Hayward, Product Tester

Best Value: Samsung Galaxy A50

Samsung Galaxy A50
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, 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 and Samsung's flagship panels.

Under the hood, you're looking at an Exynos 9610 chipset with 4GB 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: 2340x1080 | Processor: Exynos 9610| Camera: 25MP/8MP/5MP rear and 25MP front | Battery: 4,000mAh

"What’s impressive is 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

Best Unlocked: Motorola Moto G Stylus

Moto G Stylus
What We Like
  • Good battery life

  • Built-in stylus

  • Looks great

  • Decent price

What We Don't Like
  • Poor plam rejection

  • No NFC

The Moto G Stylus is an affordable alternative to expensive devices like the Galaxy Note 20, with a stubby little stylus tucked away conveniently inside its chunky frame. In addition to the stylus, it features a big, beautiful 6.4-inch IPS display, 48MP rear camera, and a beefy 4,000 mAh battery.

The killer feature here is clearly the stylus, and it’s right there in the name of the phone. While the nearly identical Moto G Power boasts a massive battery, the Moto G Stylus trades on the inclusion of a stylus with some handy note-taking features. Palm rejection could be better, but it’s super easy to pull the phone out and jot a note any time you want.

Aside from the stylus, this phone looks and performs great. It also has surprisingly sonorous stereo Dolby speakers, and a battery that lasts longer than you might expect. While that isn’t its strongest feature, the battery is plenty big enough to go a few days between charges.

Screen Size: 6.4 inches | Resolution: 2300x1080 | Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 665 | Camera: 48MP/16MP/2MP rear and 16MP front | Battery: 4,000mAh

"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 Laukkonen, Product Tester



Best OnePlus: OnePlus Nord N100

OnePlus Nord N100
What We Like
  • Very affordable

  • Long battery life

  • Fast charging

  • 90Hz screen

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 90Hz 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: 1600x720 | Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 460| Camera: 13MP/2MP/2MP rear and 8MP front | Battery: 5,000mAh

"The 90Hz refresh rate is a premium perk that makes an unexpected appearance here, delivering smoother transitions and animations than a typical 60Hz screen." Andrew Hayward, Product Tester

Best with Stylus: LG Stylo 6

LG Stylo 6
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 automatically brings up a handful of memo and note options. 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 even 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 just want something that looks great while performing basic tasks, the Stylo 6 fits that description perfectly.

Screen Size: 6.8 inches | Resolution: 2460x1080 | Processor: MediaTek MT6765 Helio P35 | Camera: 13MP/5MP/5MP rear and 5MP front | Battery: 4,000mAh

"Holding this phone in your hands, it’s hard to believe it’s a budget model and not a flagship."Jeremy Laukkonen, Product Tester


Best Ultra-Budget: LG K51

LG K51
What We Like
  • Large display

  • Attractive design

  • Decent battery life

  • Decent price

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, big 4,000 mAh 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: 1600x720 | Processor: MediaTek MT6765 Helio P35 | Camera: 32MP/5MP/2MP/2MP rear and 13MP front | Battery: 4,000mAh

"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." Jeremy Laukkonen, Product Tester

Best MVNO Phone: ZTE Blade A3Y

ZTE Blade A3Y
What We Like
  • Performs surprisingly well

  • Price is definitely right

What We Don't Like
  • Feels incredibly cheap

  • Sound quality isn't great

The ZTE Blade A3Y is a budget smartphone from Yahoo Mobile. It features a 6.4-inch high definition display, decent performance for a budget handset, and cheerful purple coloration that Yahoo Mobile calls grape jelly. It also has a fantastic price tag when you consider how well it performs compared to other budget phones.

The standout feature here is the price, as the Blade A3Y clocks in at the very bottom of the budget category, offering a decent mix of performance and affordability if your budget is pretty close to nonexistent. Even at full price, it’s significantly more affordable than any of our other favorite budget phones.

Despite its low price, the ZTE Blade A3Y is a solid little performer. It lacks the processor power and RAM to truly impress, but it’s perfect if you’re mainly looking to place calls, send messages, write emails, and browse the web. If you’re working with a really tight budget, and you aren’t averse to using an MVNO like Yahoo Mobile, the ZTE Blade A3Y is worth a look.

Screen Size: 5.0 inches | Resolution: 960x480 | Processor: Unisoc SC9832E | Camera: 8MP rear and 5MP front | Battery: 2,000mAh

"The removable plastic back is the most interesting design choice here, as it’s a bit of a throwback to the days when cell phone batteries were user serviceable." Jeremy Laukkonen, Product Tester

Final Verdict

The best budget smartphone for under $300 is the Moto G Power (view at Amazon). 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 (view at Amazon). 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.

FAQs

What is the best budget Samsung smartphone? 
The best budget Samsung smartphone on our list is the Samsung Galaxy A50. It's a great mid-range offering with great overall value due to its sleek design, large and vibrant screen, and strong battery life. The Samsung Galaxy A series, in general, is a good option for those looking to save some money while still getting a newer design and features.

Which budget smartphone has the best camera?
Cameras aren't typically a strong suit for budget phones, but there are some devices that stand out. The Moto G Power comes with a triple camera sensor array, offering a 16MP primary, 8MP ultrawide, and 2MP macro camera. It can even record 4K video at 30fps. The aforementioned Galaxy A50 also has a trip camera sensor array which 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 4G 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 5,000mAh battery was 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.

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 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.

Camera

Camera performance on mid-range phones tends to be the big sacrifice in most cases, but again 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.

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