If you want a new phone, but you’re on a budget, this article will reveal plenty of affordable options that won’t lack in features. We’ve comprised the list based on the market’s trends, and we’ve only included those phones that have all the modern functions you will need and that were praised by both experts and everyday users. If you’re out of time and you want to get straight to business, you should know that one model that stood out is the Huawei Mate SE. The gadget has a powerful camera that takes clear photos, it comes with improved reception, and it is easy to use and quite intuitive. Moreover, its display is bright and colorful, and it has a large internal memory that you can fill with photos and music. If you want an equally valuable alternative in case this one is out of stock, the new Samsung Galaxy S9 should do the trick.
Smartphones are getting smarter by the minute. With so many capabilities and models out there, it’s often times difficult to make the right choice and finally decide on a model that suits your needs as best as possible. We’re here to give you a helping hand, which is why we’ve put together a list of tips and tricks you may want to use when choosing one unit over the next. We feel compelled to advise you to read the following buying guide if you’re looking for the right value for a reasonable price.
The dimensions of the display should play a key role in your buying journey. We’re not here to argue that bigger or smaller phones are somehow better or worse. We do feel the need to underline that what you most feel comfortable with is the right size of all. Do you like a smartphone that somewhat resembles a tablet or would you prefer one that fits perfectly in your hand? Do you keep your phone in a bag or backpack or do you slide it in a pocket in your jeans? You need to ask yourself these questions before deciding between a 4.5-inch, 5-inch or 6-inch model. Whatever your personal preferences, you ought to consider that, the larger the size of a phone, the higher its performance. It’s hard for manufacturers to fit two quad-core processors into a tiny phone and offer all the benefits of a high-resolution camera with the same model.
When it comes to how you interact with your new smartphone, you need to know that the heart and brains of a good option are the processor. Since new CPUs come out every year, it’s difficult to say which one’s good and which one’s bad at doing what it’s supposed to do. Instead of focusing on the processor per se, we recommend correlating it with the operating system version to realize whether the two are a good fit for one another or not. If you have little experience when it comes to understanding the terminology that’s now used to depict the performance of a CPU, all you have to do is read some of the user reviews to see whether they were impressed with the speed and functionalities of the smartphone or not.
Choosing a smartphone based on the OS it comes with is a mistake many of us still do, regardless of the fact that it’s sometimes the least important consideration of all. It goes without saying that the updates in the operating system should be entirely compatible with the smartphone’s hardware and thus not affect its capabilities. Regrettably, we’ve noticed that many mobile device users these days are either Android or iOS fans. The two operating systems are different among one another mostly because while Android can be used with multiple kinds of devices, iOS is strictly developed for a limited number of units. As such, fragmentation isn’t an issue with iOS products. Even so, the greatest disadvantage of this Apple operating system is that it allows little to no customizations on the part of the user, whereas Android is a net winner as it lets owners do everything they feel like. Blackberry and Windows 10 Mobile are still being used these days, although they’re less popular in spite of the fact that they’re just as efficient as Android. In a sense, they might be less versatile, but they’re flexible enough and feature neat integrations with Office and other Microsoft products. Thanks to its efficient power usage, Windows Mobile can make it possible for the phone to offer the best battery life.
As is the case with any other digital camera you might want to buy, what matters most when it comes with the one of your smartphones is the number of megapixels. Your creativity is close to limitless with a 5-megapixel camera, which couldn’t be the case with a 2 megapixel one. While many users tend to argue that a phone that comes with the best camera isn’t one feature the highest resolution, we’d like to emphasize that the pictures taken with a better cam are clearer, more luminous, and less shaky.
Depending on the cell phone of your choice, you may pick one with a limited internal memory or one that comes with expandable memory. While it might be tricky for kids or for beginners to understand this, you can’t install apps on a microSD card. As such, flash memories can only be used for storing media files or documents.
Top rated smartphones for the money in 2018
The best smartphones for the money are showcased below. We’ve noticed that these options are critically acclaimed and have been built by some of the most reputable brands in the industry. Some units come with accessories, whereas others are available for sale at a reasonable cost without any extras.
Huawei Mate SE
Huawei is a brand known for delivering top-notch phones at an affordable price. And the Mate SE is no exception. The fast Android operating system is backed by a chip that packs a lot of horsepower that will make sure all your games and apps will run smoothly.
Another standout has to be its battery, which at 3340 mAh is well above the market’s average and it will last you a full day of use. It also supports up to two nano-SIM cards, a microSD slot and it is compatible with all US carriers, which is definitely a bonus.
The main highlight of this phone has to be the improved 8MP front camera. It lets you take great selfies, and it includes plenty of sticker effects to spice up your photos.
Of course, the 3340 mAh battery will provide enough power that you can play your favorite games without worrying, and it will last you a full day. This way, you can leave your phone charger at home.
You’ll also enjoy its dual-SIM capabilities because if you are a fan of two carriers, or if you have a home and a work number, you can use the same phone to make things easier.
One of the main downsides has to be the fact that it doesn’t run the latest version of Android. However, Android N is still powerful and reliable, and it consumes less power when compared with other versions.
Another setback could be the fact that it only comes in two colors.
Buy from Amazon for ($224.99)
Samsung Galaxy S9
If you want the hottest phone this manufacturer has to offer, the S9 might be a good choice. It has an elegant and modern design that is also clean and simple, and it rocks the brand-new Infinity Display, which means you get an edge-to-edge screen for an immersive media experience.
The camera is enhanced from every point of view, and it features fast dual pixels that allow you to take exceptional photos even in low-light conditions. When it comes to internal storage, it comes with 64 GB. However, you can further expand it to 400GB with the help of a microSD card.
The first thing you will notice is just how smooth the phone operates. It can run multiple apps at the same time without stuttering and without any lag that will hinder your experience with this phone.
It also features an impressive camera that will help you impress everyone on social media. The camera packs many pixels and an innovative dual aperture that will allow you to take photos like a pro.
The S9 has an IP68 rating. It will be capable of withstanding splashes, spills, and even rain so the phone can take a dip, worry-free.
As one buyer said, the phone is expensive for those on a tight budget. But he also said that it is a compromise which works because for that price you get a gadget that meets all the high standards of the market.
It is also updated to meet all the needs of a modern person, but that might be too confusing at times.
Buy from Amazon for ($619.99)
Motorola Moto E
This white beauty is what you need if you like simple phones that pack a lot of power. The unit works with all GSM networks, and it has excellent reception even in remote areas. Moreover, it is optimized to work with both 2G and 3G networks, even while outside of the country.
The colorful display is covered in Corning Gorilla glass, meaning even if you drop it from a considerable height, you won’t have to worry the screen will crack. It also features a 1980 mAh battery, which charges fast so you can enjoy your must-have apps instantly and share on Instagram all the vivid pictures you’ll take with its help.
You will be able to use this piece right of the box since it is unlocked. One of the benefits of unlocked phones is you can change the carrier as you wish and that you can use the phone for international trips.
Also, the fact that it uses Corning Gorilla glass extends the lifespan of the phone by a few years. The display is color-accurate, and it will let you play all your movies and clips at HD quality.
Another bonus is the phone’s appealing design and its ergonomic shape that makes sure it won’t fall from your hands easily.
Some users wished it had a longer-lasting battery as the built-in rechargeable lithium-ion only has 1980mAh. It is enough for a few hours of medium use, but it’s not impressive.
Also, this device ships with a USB charger only, and the fact that there’s no wall plug included is a bit of a bummer.
Buy from Amazon for ($129.99)
Samsung is one of the leading companies in the industry of manufacturing top-notch cell phones and accessories that meet and even exceed the requirements of users all over the world. That’s why it’s easy to see that the new S6 G920G couldn’t have been better. For one, it has two quad-core processors that make it possible for the OS to load as quickly as possible. Secondly, the display measures 5.1 inches, thus being small and large enough for most owners. It might be worth noting that this is an Android phone that comes with the Lollipop version installed.
Buy from Amazon for ($371.95)
Honor 7X Unlocked
The Honor line of phones is renowned for their sleek design, durability, and fast speeds. And this model is no exception. It has 6 inches of screen real estate, which is perfect since you’ll be able to see text very clearly and videos at a 2160 x 1080 FHD resolution.
The Honor 7X also sports a dual-lens rear camera, one with 16MP and the other with 2MP, both of which will make sure you’ll capture high-quality photos even in low-light conditions. The portrait mode is another welcomed addition if you want to take portraits with a blurred out background.
The most remarkable and yet subtle feature of the phone is the full-view 18:9 screen that provides more real-estate when compared to a traditional 16:9 screen, which is ideal for consuming media.
The dual-lens rear camera will also impress you. The dual system is efficient at capturing life’s magical moments in great detail, clarity and color accuracy without any artificial oversaturation.
The innovative Portrait Mode allows you to capture professional-looking photos with a single tap of the shutter. The photo-taking process will also be lightning quick, so you’ll never miss those fleeting moments that make a picture great.
One of the things that weren’t praised by reviewers is its Kirin 659 chipset. It’s not bad when it comes to performances, but it is an older budget-friendly version.
Additionally, it only comes with 32GB of storage, which is not up to par with what other brands offer.
Buy from Amazon for ($249.98)
The Moto G-Verizon Prepaid phone is both a top rated and cheap model, which makes it worth buying. The Moto G Verizon Prepaid Phone is outfitted with a capacitive 4.5-inch 720p HD TFT display that offers easy viewing and clear images. The unit is equipped with a powerful Quad-core 1.2 GHz processor that delivers fast and reliable performance and is complemented with an ultra-dependable 450 MHz graphics processor to ensure smooth operation. Take photos and do video chat while looking good on both the 5-megapixel rear camera and front facing camera. With 8GB of internal memory, the Moto G- Verizon prepaid phone enables you to maximize your communication experience with WiFi capability.
Buy from Amazon for ($69.99)
Apple iPhone SE
Apple is perhaps the most famous phone brand. And this phone benefits from all the expertise the manufacturer has accumulated over the years. It has the praised retina display, which is 4 inches in size. It also comes with a high-quality 12‑megapixel iSight camera that will let you take unforgettable pictures.
The unit is capable of recording 4K video at 30 fps, and it even supports slow-motion at a 1080 resolution. The FaceTime HD camera will let you keep in touch with other Apple users, and for security purposes, the phone comes with a fingerprint sensor built into the home button.
Straight away, you will fall in love with the clear photos the phone takes. It relies on its 12‑megapixel iSight camera to offer crisp and detailed images even at night.
Turning the phone on the other side, the 1.2‑megapixel camera is ideal for video calls and quick selfies. The unit also comes with a fingerprint sensor and the improved Retina Flash.
Its A9 chip with the 64‑bit architecture makes the phone snappy and responsive so you can access your apps without them freezing when you’re least expecting it. It also has a powerful battery with a long life cycle.
Keep in mind that this model has only 4 inches of screen real estate. For some, it might be too little, but for others, it might be just enough. It is all a matter of personal preference.
Another thing that seems to annoy users is that it doesn’t have the universal Micro USB B charging port.
Click to see the price on Amazon!
Apple iPhone X
This top-notch phone takes technology to new heights. The intelligent design features a seamless body with a large screen that will impress through its vivid colors and minimal bezels. Moreover, the OLED multi-touch display is backed by an impressive battery so you could even watch movies with its help.
As the latest trends dictate, the phone comes with a dual lens camera system – a 12MP wide-angle and telephoto one, both enhanced by optical stabilization and improved low-light performance. And as expected, the unit is water and dust-resistant so it will be able to keep up with all your wild adventures.
We could talk about its features for hours. For example, reviewers praise its OLED screen for the fact that it looks impressive without tiring your eyes. It is also energy-friendly because it won’t drain the battery in a matter of hours.
Speaking of the battery, the X has wireless charging capabilities, so you can forget about cables and chords, which is handy while traveling.
The TrueDepth camera enables its Face ID system, and it a security feature that is simple to set up. The technology projects and analyzes more than 31,000 invisible dots to create an exact depth map of your face.
This could be the ultimate phone. But no product is perfect, and it too has its flaws. The buyers complain that the iPhone X is too expensive. However, keep in mind it is an ultra-modern flagship which incorporates all the latest technology.
Buy from Amazon for ($1069)
Designed to be exceptionally versatile, the Nokia Lumia 635 AT&T Version Unlocked Cell Phone runs on the 2G, 3G and LTE network platforms. This means it can do simultaneous voice and data transmissions to other network without being locked to a specific network carrier. The 4.5-inch IPS LCD multi-touch screen is complemented with a clear black display to ensure superb user interface. The protective Corning Gorilla glass delivers reliable tensile strength and scratch resistance. The cell phone is equipped with a Microsoft Windows Phone 8.1 OS and a Quad-Core 1.2 GHz Cortex-A7 Processor to enable you to perform on-the-go computing with uncompromising performance. The 5-megapixel camera comes with Autofocus functionality, as well as Geo-tagging, video capability and panorama function.
Click to see the price on Amazon!
Products which are no longer available
Easily among the best unlocked cell phones under $100, the Nokia X6 Unlocked GSM Phone is compatible with popular GSM carriers including T-Mobile and AT&T. This cheap cell phone can be used with GSM SIM cards from Straight Talk, H20 and select prepaid carriers. Useful for social and multimedia networking, the Nokia X6 Unlocked GSM Phone is 3G-enabled, making it a superbly versatile tool for and taking photos. The 5-megapixel camera/camcorder allows you to tell your story in images and moving pictures. The cell phone offers WiFi capability and up to six hours talk time through texting, voice calls, video calls and email. This phone can also be used for mobile browsing, entertainment 3G.
LG Optimus Exceed 2
If you want a phone that offers security under the CDMA platform, the LG Optimus Exceed 2 is the one you should get. Designed to carry a CDMA network, the LG Optimus Exceed 2 comes with all the best features that make it a heavy favorite. It has a capacitive 4.5-inch WVGA display that shows you great details and superior viewing performance. The Gorilla Glass touch screen is designed to be tough and to remain resilient against scratches with its good tensile strength. It offers Play on Screen function and Video player with touch lock that enable optimum versatility. Powered by a reliable processor, the LG Optimus Exceed 2 delivers stable performance.
Samsung Galaxy Note N7000
The Samsung Galaxy Note is a new and terrific smartphone, which touches the height of innovation and technological edge. It comes with Android 2.3 Gingerbread software. This model is smart and brings a new meaning to smartphone. The Samsung Galaxy Note has a subtle WXGA (1280*800 PPI) Super Amoled display capable of high definition images. It has a 5.3 inch screen and the camera is 8 megapixels. It has a LED flash and another 2 megapixel camera at the front. It is nice for video calls. The Samsung Galaxy Note is a reflection of perfection and efficiency.
Samsung Galaxy S II GT-I9100
It was nominated by media magazines as one of the best smartphones for the money. It was sold rapidly all over the world as it is fast, speedy and elegant. The Samsung Galaxy SII model is without a shadow of doubt a nice smartphone from Samsung. It is sleek, lightweight and quite thin. The Samsung Galaxy SII impresses with its Gingerbread operating system. It has a big screen of 4.2 inches. The resolution is 480*800, while the screen is super Amoled. It offers stunning photos and videos and has a nice contrast added. The camera is 8.1 megapixels and it is capable of 1080p HD video recording.
HTC Sensation XE Z715E
HTC Sensation XE Z715E is yet another nice smartphone, which is outfitted with the famous Beats by DrDre audios technology. It has a 1.5 GHz processor and it is one of the best smartphones of 2018 from HTC. It has an 8 megapixel camera, which is simply superb in capturing both video and pictures. It also has a high definition media entertainment capability. It has LCD display and does not lag while running demanding applications. Also, the screen is Gorilla glass, which is also used by the iPhone. The keyboard of the HTC Sensation smartphone also supports trace technology and the battery life is up to 12 hours.
Samsung Galaxy Nexus S
Finally, the Samsung Galaxy Nexus S smartphone is the smartphone which brings Google to life. It has a 1 GHz Hummingbird processor and works on the Gingerbread 2.3 Android software. It has the Google voice service incorporated in it. The Samsung Galaxy Nexus S is a nice and slim smartphone. It has terrific features and abilities. It has thin design and stylish display. It is a smartphone, which is worth showing to friends. It has a 4 inch super Amoled screen with a curved display. The smartphone analysts have termed it as a top notch smartphone.
The BlackBerry is a smartphone for business class people. These are the people looking for a smartphone which fits in their hands and unites technology with a user friendly interface. The BlackBerry Curve 8520 has a physical QWERTY keyboard that can make sending emails and text messages easy and comfortable. It has a nice bright TFT screen with 65,000 colors. It has a trackpad, which is innovative. It has a variety of menus and nice looking icons. The video formats that can run on the BlackBerry are H.263, AVI, MPEG4, WMV3 and H.264. The battery can last for at least five hours of conversation time.
The Honor 5X has been built to last, but that’s not the only reason you might feel tempted to purchase it. The model has a 5.5-inch screen that’s large enough to be used by elderly persons and visually impaired individuals. In addition, this device comes with all you might need right out of the box, and even includes an internal memory of 16GB. That shouldn’t stop you from taking snaps all of the time, however, because this model is perfectly compatible with all microSD memory cards up to 128GB. Besides, the fact that it is priced under two hundred dollars is another factor to bear in mind.
Motorola has had some ups and downs over the years, which is why some smartphone users might be a little weary as to whether they should get a model released by this brand or not. Fortunately, the situation has changed radically thanks to the cutting-edge technology employed in the development of the Moto G. This model features a breathtaking 1.5 GHz octa-core processor and a random access memory of 2GB, as well as a 5.5-inch full HD screen that makes it possible for people to play mobile games, watch videos, and even tend to work tasks using this smartphone.
HTC Desire Eye E1
If you don’t need a whole lot of memory and can do with just 16GB, perhaps you’d like to give a chance to the HTC Desire Eye E1. This model is considerably more affordable compared to the Samsung one we’ve showcased earlier on but believe it or not, the HTC even features a larger display, measuring 5.2 inches. While the phone comes with the KitKat Android version, the operating system can be upgraded to Lollipop. With a 13 MP primary camera and a reasonably efficient processor, the HTC is clearly worth checking out if you’re in the market for a new smartphone.
LG G3 D850
If you want a good balance between memory and a high-resolution camera, you ought to check out the LG G3 D850. This model is a 5.5-inch smartphone that does its job wonderfully, without advancing too many technical issues to users, regardless of whether they are tech-savvy or not. As is the case with the HTC and Samsung mentioned above, this is an Android unit that comes with KitKat, but the OS can be upgraded to Lollipop. What’s downright baffling about the LG is the 13 MP camera with autofocus and LED flash. In other words, if you’re an Instagram aficionado, you need to get this smartphone today.
If you’re looking for a new convenient smartphone and you’re tired about moguls Samsung and Apple, it is high time you chose a product from LG. This particular phone comes unlocked for all GSM carriers worldwide, meaning you will be able to use it all over the world.
It features two dual rear cameras of 16MP and 8MP with wide-angle lens and selfie light so that you can take high-quality photos regardless of the time of the day. The Gesture Shot technology allows you to take a selfie without even touching your home.
The phone runs on Android 7.0 Nougat and features a large 5.7-inch Quad-HD display, as well as a powerful quad-core processor.
Nokia Lumia 635
This lightweight smartphone is perfect for those who do not care much about performance, but rather about the price of a phone. It features a 4.5-inch IPS LCD touchscreen with protective Gorilla Glass 3 to resist shocks and water.
It runs on Window’s former OS Windows Phone 8.1 and comes with a quad-core processor of 1.2 GHz. The rear camera of the phone is 5 MP and allows you to take decent pictures in many modes. The product doesn’t come with a front camera for selfies, and provides an internal memory of only 8GB, expandable up to 128 GB.
Lenovo S8 S898T + MTK6592
The Lenovo S8 S898T + MTK6592 Unlocked Smartphone is one of the best cell phones you can get for the money. It comes with an Android 4.2 OS that provides effortless user interface. The 8-Core 1.4 GHz CPU is supplemented with the Mail-450 MP4 GPU to deliver superior speed and on-the-go computing performance. The 2 GB RAM and 16GB ROM ensure sufficient storage space for your documents, videos, music, movies and more, and can be bolstered further using a TF card up to 32 GB. Built with dual cameras, the Lenovo S8 S898T + enables you to capture excellent images and do video calls via the 5 megapixel front and the 13.0 megapixel rear cameras.