The best cheap phones 2024: top budget smartphones in the US

Best cheap phones: quick menu

There are a lot of smartphones to choose from nowadays and as the price point comes down, typically, so does the quality. Worry not, though, as we've collated a shortlist of the best cheap phones from both the Apple and Android side of the fence, with options tailored to different use cases and budgets to ensure there's something for everyone that won't cost the earth to own.

Part of the challenge with budget phones is that they don't usually get the same degree of exposure as the very best phones on the market (devices like the iPhone 15 Pro and Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra), so information about them and the number of users actually putting them to the test to tell whether they're any good is comparatively limited. That's why we created this shortlist, to ensure you have a choice of phones – tested by the mobile experts here at TechRadar – that you know will be a worthwhile purchase, should you decide to pick one up.

While you can't expect the same degree of performance or camera prowess as those flagships mentioned earlier, you might be surprised by the level of capability many of these budget phones offer, and in some areas they even excel past that of what those pricier mobiles are capable of.

Having tested a wealth of devices over the years, covering both Android phones and iPhones, we can spot a worthwhile purchase when we see one and if you're enamored by any of the entries featured here or what to see what other smartphone bargains are out there, consider checking out our rundown of the best phone deals when you're done here.

Quick List

The best cheap phones in 2024

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Below, you'll find full write-ups for each of the best cheap phones in our list. We've tested each model extensively, so you can be sure that our recommendations can be trusted.

The best cheap Samsung phone

Samsung Galaxy A54 review Awesome Violet front straight

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)
The best cheap Samsung phone


Weight: 202g
Dimensions: 158.2 x 76.7 x 8.2 mm
OS: Android 13
Screen size: 6.4-inch
Resolution: 1080 x 2340
CPU: Exynos 1380
RAM: 6/8GB
Storage: 64GB/128/256GB
Battery: 5,000mAh
Rear camera: 50MP + 12MP + 5MP
Front camera: 32MP

Reasons to buy

Best One UI experience on a budget
Premium looks

Reasons to avoid

No wireless charging 
A little thick and heavy

A timely upgrade on its predecessor, the Samsung Galaxy A54 shares in the S23 series' floating camera design language and costs half as much. For your money, however, you can still expected a wealth of great technology, including a sizeable 5,000mAh battery that – based on our testing – lasted all day with juice to spare.

What's more, 23W fast charging is decent enough to get you powered back up quickly, while the assortment of cameras – including a 50MP main sensor – surpass expectations, allowing from some great and impressively versatile shooting for the price.

The cherry on top is Samsung's software support promise, with five generations of security and four generations of operating system updates, which is longer than almost every other entry in this list.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy A54 review

The best cheap iPhone

Apple iPhone 13 Green

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
The best cheap iPhone


Release date: September 2021
Weight: 174g
Dimensions: 146.7 x 71.5 x 7.7mm
OS: iOS 17
Screen size: 6.1 inches
Resolution: 1170 x 2532
CPU: Apple A15 Bionic
Storage: 128GB / 256GB / 512GB
Battery: 3,240 mAh
Rear camera: 12MP (main) +12MP (ultrawide)
Front camera: 12MP

Reasons to buy

Strong battery life
Best performance in this list

Reasons to avoid

Cheaper rivals here have slicker screens
Still relies on Apple's old Lightning connector

Don't be fooled by the iPhone 13's age. Sure, it launched in 2021 but the hardware it brings to the table is remarkably similar to its successor, while the price has continued to drop since its debut, delivering some top-tier performance, even now in 2024.

While it might not have been an earth-shattering addition to the series when it first touched down, every facet of what it brought to the table served as a notable upgrade on previous-generation iPhones; from camera performance to battery life and beyond. Speaking of battery life, this phone can really last, while also putting its A15 SoC to good use, alongside 4GB of RAM to serve up even the latest games and app experiences with aplomb.

Read our full iPhone 13 review

The best cheap Pixel Phone

Google Pixel 7a phone showing screens camera and Android 13

(Image credit: Future / Philip Berne)
The best cheap Pixel phone


Weight: 193g
Dimensions: 152 x 72.9 x 9 mm
OS: Android 13
Screen size: 6.1-inch
Resolution: 1080 x 2400
CPU: Google Tensor G2
Storage: 128GB
Battery: 4,385mAh
Rear camera: 64MP + 13MP
Front camera: 13MP

Reasons to buy

An affordable way to access the Pixel line's camera magic
Google Tensor G2 is a solid-chipset, especially at this price point
Pixel Feature Drops improve the 7a over time

Reasons to avoid

Shorter support than Apple and Samsung
Middling battery
Too expensive at launch

Google's 2022/23 flagship phones – the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro – were capable but expensive devices, so the Pixel 7a arrived to offer similar smarts at a much lower price; coming in at launch at $499, while still offering a complete and well-rounded Pixel experience.

A pleasing 6.1-inch display front's the 7a, while an impressive 64MP sensor sits on the back (the largest megapixel count on any Pixel phone). The Tensor G2 chip also packs enough of a punch that it spans the entire Pixel 7 series and the top-shelf Pixel Fold too.

The biggest shortcomings are probably the Pixel 7a's battery life, and software support, which fall short of competition from Apple and Samsung. However, if you're looking for an inexpensive way to access the Pixel line's famed camera features and AI smarts, there no better option than the 7a.

Read our full Google Pixel 7a review

The best cheap camera phone

OnePlus 10T

(Image credit: Future)
The best cheap camera phone


Weight: 204g
Dimensions: 163 x 75.4 x 8.8mm
OS: Android 12
Screen size: 6.7-inch
Resolution: 1080 x 2412
CPU: Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1
RAM: 8GB / 12GB / 16GB
Storage: 128GB / 256GB
Battery: 4,800mAh
Rear camera: 50MP + + 8MP + 2MP
Front camera: 16MP

Reasons to buy

Lots of processing power
Fast to charge
Good cameras for the price

Reasons to avoid

Poor battery life
Awkward to hold

If you're after a speedy phone with capable cameras that doesn't demand a premium price tag, then the OnePlus 10T – a worthy mid-range Android phone – could be for you.

This phone had an unduly high starting price at launch, but in 2024, it's become a much more affordable proposition. The OnePlus 10T has a good-looking screen, a powerful chipset and fast charging, and on the back, you're getting a 50MP Sony IMX766 sensor. We’ve previously heaped praise on this sensor, as it’s good for low-light photography, and you get an 8MP ultra-wide lens and 2MP macro sensor on the the OnePlus 10T, too.

The lack of zoom is disappointing – with no telephoto lens, you’re relying on digital zoom when you close the distance, which caps out at a measly 10x. However, at such a low price, the OnePlus 10T can be considered one of the best affordable camera phones.

Read our full OnePlus 10T review

The best cheap phone for durability

Nokia XR20 Review Listing

(Image credit: Future)
The best cheap phone for durability


Weight: 248g
Dimensions: 171.6 x 81.5 x 10.6mm
OS: Android 11
Screen size: 6.67-inch
Resolution: 1080 x 2400
CPU: Snapdragon 480 5G
RAM: 4GB / 6GB
Storage: 64GB / 128GB
Battery: 4,630mAh
Rear camera: 48MP + + 13MP
Front camera: 8MP

Reasons to buy

Built to last
Free one-year screen replacement
Excellent software and security longevity

Reasons to avoid

Can’t customize Google Assistant button
Can’t run two SIM cards and a microSD card at the same time

While the Nokia 5210 might be one of the brand's most recognisable tough phones and more recently we've seen feature phones like the Nokia 800 Tough, the Nokia XR20 is the first of its kind to fuse extra-hardy design with smart internals.

Built under HMD Global, the Nokia XR20 may not be a flagship-specced phone but it's seemingly built to outlast them. As you'd expect from a rugged smartphone, credentials like IP68 dust and water ingress protection, along with MIL-STD-810 approved testing come as standard, while toughened Gorilla Glass Victus protects the phone's 6.67-inch Full HD+ display (which can be replaced free of charge within the first year of purchase, should it break).

Dedicate emergency and Google Assistant keys are welcome inclusions, while the four years of security updates and three years of OS updates (at launch) mean it's a great long-term blower for those who spend a lot of time in the great outdoor or challenging environments on a daily basis. Despite all this added protection though, it doesn't cost an arm and a leg.

Read our full Nokia XR20 5G review


What is the best cheap phone?

The best cheap phone for you will depend on what you do and don't value in a smartphone. If you're already embedded in Apple's ecosystem, then the iPhone 13 remains a top choice. If you prefer a Samsung, then the Samsung Galaxy A54 could be for you. Alternatively, the Google Pixel 7a offers an affordable way into the Google ecosystem.

How to choose the best cheap phone

Choosing the best cheap smartphone for you is deciding which aspects are most important to you and what you can live without. Even the best cheap phones don't have it all, since that low price means there are almost always weaker elements.

The first step is to figure out your needs when it comes to display, cameras, battery life, and features. When it comes to the screen, for example, you want to decide on the size. A smaller screen makes it easier to use with one hand and easier to fit in small pockets while a bigger screen can make apps, games, and videos more pleasant to watch and interact with.

Cheaper phones typically have less advanced cameras or just the one rear and one front camera setup. But, if having a powerful lens is important to you, there are a handful of budget smartphones with excellent cameras.

Whatever the case, once you've decided what features you do and don't need, it'll be easier for you to choose between our pick of the best cheap phones.

How we test

Since cheaper phones are typically less powerful and less feature-rich than flagships, we set our test metrics and expectations lower than when we test the pricey models.

Our testing process involves using the phone as our main handset for days or even weeks, and testing all the key factors, from the power to the battery life, the cameras, the screen, and beyond. That means we know exactly how each of these models performs in reality, not just on paper, and we use that knowledge to rank them, while factoring in their all-important price and overall value.

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Alex Walker-Todd
Senior Phones Editor

Alex joined as TechRadar's Senior Phones Editor in June 2022, but brings over a decade's worth of experience to the role, with an expertise in smartphones, tablets and wearables. He's covered keynotes hosted by the biggest brands and attended the launches for some of the most influential mobile products of the last few years. His experience was amassed at some of the most reputable consumer technology publications out there, including GSMArena, TechAdvisor and Trusted Reviews.