The 9 Best Budget Smartphones for Under $300 in 2020

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

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The Rundown
Best Overall:
Nokia 7.2 at Amazon
"A strong, budget-friendly phone with a nice design, great screen, and solid performance."
Runner-Up, Best Overall:
Motorola Moto G Power at Amazon
"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."
"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."
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."
Best Mid-Range:
Nokia 7.1 at Amazon
"Not quite under $300, but very close — and it punches above its weight class in terms of price."
Best Nokia:
Nokia 4.2 at Amazon
"Boasts two back cameras for added depth sensing and advanced editing capabilities and a battery that will last all day at work."
"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 don't need to break the bank nor do they require huge sacrifices in performance. That might sound too good to be true, but for under $300, it's possible to get a phone that still has a good combination of specs, performance, and features.

Manufacturers like Nokia, Motorola, LG, Samsung, and ZTE all have phone options at various price ranges, from ultra-budget to mid-range, giving you options no matter the budget. It's true there are some compromises in design usually, and some cutting-edge features are missing, but in most regards you can get a lot of phone for not very much money.

More impressively, many of these so-called "budget" phone have adopted features you'll more commonly find on flagship devices. These include edge-to-edge screens, in-screen fingerprint sensors, and multiple rear cameras for improved ultrawide and telephoto photography. For the time being, 5G connectivity still hasn't reached this price point, but we wouldn't be surprised if that arrives soon as well.

If your budget is more flexible and you want to see other options, take a look at our list of the best smartphones. Otherwise, read on to see the best budget smartphone for under $300 to buy.

Best Overall: 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.

"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

Runner-Up, Best Overall: Motorola Moto G Power

What We Like
  • Big, crisp display

  • Solid specs for multitasking

  • Good camera capabilities

  • Long-lasting battery

What We Don't Like
  • No wireless charging or fast charging

  • No waterproofing

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).

Best Value: 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.

"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

What We Like
  • Big 1080p screen

  • Capable processor and specs

  • Solid camera capabilities

What We Don't Like
  • No wireless charging or fast charging

  • No waterproofing

The Moto G Stylus is the most direct competitor to the LG Stylo 6, and to a lesser extent to the Samsung Note series. Like its competitors, it offers a big screen to give you plenty of space for content, and comes equipped with a stylus so you can draw, sketch, and take notes. On its face, the G Stylus has a 6.4-inch 1080p display that works out to a crisp 399ppi.

Other specs are very similar to the Moto G Power, with a few alterations. You get a Snapdragon 665 processor, 4GB of RAM, and 128GB of storage. That's enough to handle most apps, day-to-day multitasking and multimedia, and some games. Camera performance punches above its weight. You get a 48MP primary sensor, 16MP ultrawide sensor, and 2MP macro. The phone can shoot 4K at 30fps or 1080p at 120fps. There's also a 16MP selfie camera punched out on the top left of the panel.

Battery isn't as big as the G Power, but you still get a fairly sizable 4,000mAh cell which should be enough for a day of use. Charging is 10W, so it's not quite fast charging and there's no wirless charging. There is a water-repellent coating, but not waterproofing.

Best with Stylus: LG Stylo 6

What We Like
  • Big, bright display

  • Solid productivity with stylus

  • Decent camera performance

What We Don't Like
  • No waterproofing or wireless charging

  • Can't handle gaming

The LG Stylo line has been LG's affordable answer to the Samsung Note series for some time now. Phones like the Stylo 6 focus on offering big, bright screens, solid specs with a slide-out stylus to let you do some note-taking and drawing. It won't match the Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra in terms of sheer power and capabilities, but it gives you a reasonable taste at it without breaking the bank.

The Stylo 6 adopts the increasingly common edge-to-edge display, featuring a 6.8-inch IPS panel with a 1080p resolution that works out to 395ppi. The screen is big enough to give you plenty of room for scribbling notes and drawing with the stylus. The processor is a Mediatek MT6765 Helio P35 chipset with 3GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. That's good enough to tackle most apps, browsing, and streaming, but it won't handle gaming too well.

The camera is respectable, with a 13MP primary sensor, 5MP ultrawide sensor, and 5MP depth sensor, giving you some of the capabilities of more advanced phones. The selfie camera is 13MP. When it comes to other features, you won't get things like waterproofing or wireless charging, but there is a sizable 4,000mAh battery giving you a decent runtime.

Best Ultra-Budget: LG K51

What We Like
  • Big screen

  • Decent processor

  • Solid camera capabilities

What We Don't Like
  • Won't handle games well

  • Limited internal storage

  • No extra features

The LG K51 is the phone for those on a strict budget. Despite costing less than $150, it can keep you connected for your day-to-day use. Up front, you get a 6.5-inch 720p display. That's not the highest resolution screen, but it's big and edge-to-edge, giving you plenty of room for content.

Hardware is respectable, consisting of a MediaTek Helio P22 processor, 3GB of RAM, and 32GB of storage. You may not be able to load it with games or photos, but you'll be able to run most apps and use it for streaming. Camera quality is decent, with a 13MP primary sensor, 5MP ultrawide, and 2MP sensor for depth information. There's also a 13MP selfie camera, and the phone can record 1080p video.

The K51 matches other affordable phones on the market with its USB-C charging port, fingerprint sensor, and dual-band Wi-Fi. You won't get wireless charging orr waterproofing, but that's easy to understand given the reasonable price.

Best Mid-Range: Nokia 7.1

What We Like
  • Great screen

  • Stylish design

  • Surprisingly good camera

  • Android One for guaranteed updates

What We Don't Like
  • Lower-end battery life

  • Weak speaker

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 our tester noticed was its beautiful 5.84-inch HDR screen with high contrast. He thought videos and other content looked 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.

"The Nokia 7.1 is a mid-range handset in terms of price, but it packs a lot of features that you’d expect from a much more expensive phone."Jeremy Laukkonen, Product Tester

Best Nokia: Nokia 4.2

What We Like
  • Includes Google Assistant

  • Has two back camera for depth sensing

  • All-day battery life

  • Clean Android One software

What We Don't Like
  • Average performance at best

Despite being one of the cheapest options in Nokia’s range of flagship smartphones, the Nokia 4.2 doesn't skimp on any essentials. Because it includes the trusty Google Assistant, you don’t have to worry about missing any important dates. Its advanced AI, meanwhile, learns the more you use it, so you can set reminders, respond to texts, and, with the help of its visual snapshot of the day, make sure you’re ready for your plans.

On top of that, the phone boasts two back cameras for added depth sensing and advanced editing capabilities and a battery that will last all day at work. If it starts getting low, the Adaptive Battery savings will help you preserve those last few percentage points so you can really use the full potential of the Nokia 4.2. You have to worry about third-party apps cluttering your phone, thanks to Android One, so updates will be quick and easy, too.

Best MVNO Phone: ZTE Blade A3Y

What We Like
  • Very affordable price

  • Nice color and design

  • Includes rear fingerprint sensor

  • Supports expandable storage

What We Don't Like
  • Weak processor and RAM

  • Camera doesn't seem impressive

Yahoo isn't a company you usually associate with modern smartphones, but they've partnered with Verizon and ZTE to release the Blade A3Y, a branded purple Yahoo phone that can operate on the Yahoo Mobile network. If you're a subscriber to the MVNO, you get Verizon's 4G LTE service for a very reasonable price and you can pick up the Blade A3Y for $50.

The phone features a 5.45-inch 720p screen, runs on Android 10, and has 2GB of RAM and 32GB of storage powered by a MTK6761 processor. It's not the best specs we've seen, but it's good enough for basic apps and lightweight web browsing. Just don't expect to do any gaming or multitasking. The phone has an 8MP rear sensor, 5MP front camera, and a decently-sized 2,660mAh battery.

You won't get much in the way of features, but you do get a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor, dual LED flash for the rear cameras (but not dual cameras), and a microSD card slot for expandable storage.

Final Verdict

The best budget smartphone for under $300 is 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. Another option we like is the Moto G Power (view at Amazon). It's not quite as powerful, but it has smooth software, various Motorola tweaks for improved functionality, and one of the most impressive battery runtimes we've seen.

How We Tested

When testing these budget smartphones, there are a handful of tests our trusted experts use in addition to everyday use to determine which are the best for you. Apart from the ever-important camera quality, our testers look for things like audio output, storage size, and battery life to make sure you're always getting the best bang for your buck.

About Our Trusted Experts

Eric Watson has written for Lifewire since 2019. Previously published on PC Gamer, Polygon, and others, he's had five years of experience writing for tech and gaming websites. He liked the camera quality of the Nokia 6.1.

Jeremy Laukkonen has written for Lifewire since 2019. He's had years of experience writing for major trade publications and personally owns a Pixel 3 and One Plus 6T. He liked the Nokia 7.2 for its great screen, solid camera, and generally stylish design.

Bill Thomas has written for Lifewire since 2018. He's previously been published on TechRadar and has extensive experience reviewing consumer tech products.

Andrew Hayward is an experienced tech reviewer who's been covering gadgets since 2006. He's previously been published by TechRadar, Stuff, Polygon, Macworld, and worked as an editor for Mac|Life. He reviewed a number of the phones on this list, singling out the Nokia 7.2 for its strong overall performance and design quality, and the Moto G7 Power for the long-lasting battery.

Ajay Kumar is Tech Editor at Lifewire with a specialty in mobile products. He's previously been published in PCMag where he reviewed hundreds of phones, tablets, and other devices.

What to Look for When Buying Smartphones 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.