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    The best budget Android phones in 2024: Our top picks under $500

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    The best budget Android phones close the gap with premium phones.

    Antonio Villas-Boas/Business Insider

    The best budget Android phones have closed the gap between budget and premium significantly in the last few years, and there’s no better time to buy one, whether you’ve always bought phones in the budget category or even if you’re used to more expensive flagship devices. These days, the best budget Android phones come with performance, camera quality, features, displays, and designs that surprise us for their price tags — in a very good way.

    When we say “budget” Android phones, we’re referring to models that cost less than $500, with sub-$400 prices preferable. We’re hesitant to recommend phones around $200, as phone performance, camera quality, and the general experience with the phone starts to suffer beyond reasonable expectations.

    With that in mind, Google’s Pixel 8a at $500 is our top choice among the best budget Android phones thanks to its flagship-level performance and cameras for the price; it’s basically a slightly smaller version of the $700 Google Pixel 8 flagship. Realizing the Pixel 8a is on the expensive side for the budget category, we also recommend the Motorola Moto G Power 5G (2024) as a more economical option for its solid performance, cameras, and value. 

    Our top picks for the best budget Android phones

    Best overall: Google Pixel 8a – See at Amazon

    Best overall alternative: Motorola Moto G Power 5G (2024) – See at Amazon

    Best battery life: Samsung Galaxy A35 5G – See at T-Mobile

    Best camera: Google Pixel 8a – See at Amazon

    Best large screen: Nuu B30 Pro 5G – See at Amazon

    Best overall

    The Pixel 8a‘s $499 starting price realistically places it in the mid-range category rather than budget, but it deserves the top spot in this guide regardless. You’d be happy you got the Pixel 8a, even if you were planning to spend less, for a few good reasons. At the time of writing, the Pixel 8a hasn’t seen any discounts, but that’s likely to change over time.

    Primarily, the Pixel 8a’s high-end performance means it’ll stay quick and smooth much longer than other budget and mid-range phones, and you won’t feel the need to upgrade (and spend money on a new phone) as often. That’s thanks to the Google Tensor G3 processor that also spins the wheels in the company’s flagship Pixel 8 phones.

    Google’s Pixel 8a is expensive for a budget phone, but it’s stunning performance and camera quality are well worth the price.

    Antonio Villas-Boas/Business Insider

    The Pixel 8a also includes cameras that would feel appropriate on a $1,000 phone. It’s simply leagues beyond the cameras you’d find on other mid-range and budget phones. Even those with the least concern for photo quality will appreciate the Pixel 8a’s high-end photos, and it’s also quick to focus and forgiving with movement — budget cameras to produce blurry photos unless you and the subject are perfectly still. 

    It’s also just a nice phone to behold. With its metal frame, it looks and feels like a premium device. The frosted matte texture on its plastic back is pleasing to the eye and hands, and everything on the screen looks fantastic with its 120Hz OLED display. It’s only available with a 6.1-inch screen, and it’s a shame there isn’t a larger version for those who prefer larger screens, as the Pixel 8a is our undisputed budget pick among the best Android phones

    Read our full Google Pixel 8a review and see our guide to the best Google Pixel 8a cases to protect the phone. 

    Best overall alternative

    For $300 at full price, Motorola’s Moto G Power 5G makes a very solid proposition. It doesn’t punch above its weight like the Pixel 8a, but if you’re looking to spend thriftily, the Moto G Power’s performance, cameras, and the large 6.7-inch LCD 120Hz display will serve you well. 

    Despite lackluster benchmark results, the Moto G Power’s MediaTek Dimensity processor feels quick and smooth and complements the phone’s 120Hz display well. It feels laggy and overburdened soon after turning on or restarting the phone, but it’s up to speed after a few minutes.

    The Moto G Power 5G offers a remarkably solid experience overall for its affordable $300 price.

    Antonio Villas-Boas/Business Insider

    The Moto G Power can easily handle casual light games like Jetpack Joyride, and while graphics-heavy games like Asphalt 9 can take a little while to load, the Moto G Power delivers the game’s full potential for fun. It’s possible some games may not run well on the Moto G Power, but we’re not going to pretend we’ve tested them all. 

    The 50MP main camera takes good photos that are difficult to complain about, especially for the phone’s price. Details can be a smidge softer than those on more expensive phones, but photos are easily sharp enough. Where the Moto G Power’s camera falters is with movement or shaky hands.

    Our biggest complaint is that Motorola will only support the Moto G Power for one Android version upgrade and three years of security updates. That realistically gives the phone a three-year lifespan, which is rather short. If you’re one to hold on to phones until their bitter end of performance, you could get better value with Google’s Pixel 8a, which will be supported until May 2031. 

    Best battery life

    The Galaxy A35 5G is easily the top choice if battery life is a priority, whether you’re looking for a budget Android phone or a premium one. It ended our battery test with 65% remaining. The test involves two hours of video streaming, one hour of music streaming while connected to Bluetooth headphones, two runs of the intensive 3DMark Wild Life Stress Test, and five runs of the Geekbench 6 benchmarking app. Among Android phones, only the $1,300 Galaxy S24 Ultra scored better with 66%. 

    As for other important aspects like performance, design, display, and camera quality, the Galaxy A35 at $400 is generally an overachiever for its price range, but it still doesn’t come close to the Pixel 8a. 

    The Galaxy A35 runs on Samsung’s own Exynos 1380 processor, which doesn’t score nearly as well as the Pixel 8a’s Google Tensor G3 processor in benchmark tests, but it still opens and runs apps and Android quickly and smoothly with the 120Hz display. It’s hard to spot now, but the Galaxy A35’s scores suggest its performance will likely become slower sooner than the Pixel 8a. 

    The Galaxy A35’s battery life easily takes on premium devices, with fast and smooth performance and very good cameras.

    Antonio Villas-Boas/Business Insider

    The Galaxy A35 has three cameras: a 50MP main camera, an 8MP ultrawide lens, and a sub-par, niche 5MP macro camera. The main camera takes good photos overall but can overexpose brighter details depending on a scene’s lighting. That’s an issue with Samsung phones at large, however, even premium models like the Galaxy S24 series. 

    Samsung’s support window for the Galaxy A35 isn’t as good as its premium lineup, with four years of Android version upgrades and five years of security updates compared to the seven years the Galaxy S24 series gets. Still, four to five years is a solid amount of time, and we wouldn’t expect the phone’s processor to stay fast and smooth longer than that.

    Best camera

    The cameras on Google’s Pixel 8a simply cannot be beaten for the price, and they are a major reason to buy this phone if you’re not looking to spend over $500. In fact, the Pixel 8a’s cameras would be comfortable on phones that cost twice or even three times as much. 

    Google’s Pixel 8a undeniably has the best camera out of any budget or mid-range phone.

    Antonio Villas-Boas/Business Insider

    Photos taken by the Pixel 8a have a rich, natural color tone without being oversaturated. Brightness and contrast are beautifully balanced to deliver gorgeous depth and dynamic range — something even some expensive premium phones struggle with.

    With a 64MP main camera, the Pixel 8a captures photos that are rich in detail, and it performs well in low-light conditions. It’s also quick to focus and handles movement much better than other budget and mid-range phones, whether from jittery hands or moving subjects. 

    Read our full Google Pixel 8a review and see our guide to the best Google Pixel 8a cases to protect the phone. 

    Best large screen

    At 6.7 inches, the Nuu B30 Pro has the same display size as large premium phones like the Galaxy S24 Plus. Apart from its size, the display also incorporates top-tier tech that makes for a dreamy experience, like an AMOLED panel (which Samsung uses for its legendary displays) and a refresh rate of up to 120Hz. 

    Combine the high-performing display with the enthusiastic mid-tier MediaTek Dimensity 7050 processor and 12GB of RAM, and the Nuu B30 Pro offers a surprisingly high-end experience for running Android, apps, and games. 

    Even further, with the Pixel 8a as the exception, the B30 Pro pulls off the most convincing premium aesthetic out of any budget phone we’ve seen. It’s largely thanks to the glass back with a frosted texture, which gives the teal color a gradient look that changes depending on the lighting. To be sure, the frame is plastic, but it certainly coaxes you into thinking it’s metal. 

    The Nuu B30 Pro offers stunning value for its performance and looks, but its camera could use some work.

    Antonio Villas-Boas/Business Insider

    Our only complaints include the curved screen edges, an outdated and misguided design trick to make a phone look and feel more premium. Photos also appear like they’ve been processed with the sharpness slider set to maximum, which imparts a harsh and grainy look. Still, the B30 Pro’s cameras are fine for capturing memories. 

    It’s also worth mentioning that Nuu lags behind with updates for both Android and security. The B30 Pro runs the previous generation Android 13 at the time of writing in June, and it only has a security patch from February 2024. The company says it will update the B30 Pro to Android 14 “once it becomes available,” but it’s still unclear when. 

    Nuu also has a short two-year support window for Android upgrades and security updates. The latent updates and short support window aren’t ideal, but they’re a typical compromise for budget Android phones. 

    Best budget Android phones compared

    Specs

    Google Pixel 8a

    Motorola Moto G Power 5G (2024)

    Samsung Galaxy A35 5G

    Nuu B30 Pro 5G

    Starting price

    $499

    $299.99

    $399.99

    $299.99

    Processor

    Google Tensor G3

    MediaTek Dimensity 7020

    Samsung Exynos 1380

    MediaTek Dimensity 7050

    Release date

    May 2024

    March 2024

    March 2024

    March  2024

    Screen 

    6.1 inches, OLED, 1080p, 120Hz

    6.7 inches, LCD, 1080p 120Hz

    6.6 inches, OLED, 1080p, 120Hz

    6.7 inches, OLED, 1080p, 120Hz

    Rear cameras

    64MP main, 13MP ultrawide

    50MP main, 8MP ultrawide

    50MP main, 8MP ultrawide, 5MP macro

    108MP main, 8MP ultrawide, 2MP macro

    Storage

    128GB, 256GB

    128GB

    128GB, upgradeable to 1TB with microSD card

    256GB

    FAQs

    What is the best cheap Android phone?

    The best Android phone we can reasonably describe as “cheap” is Motorola’s Moto G Power 5G (2024), our best overall alternative option, at $300. There are less expensive Android phones out there, but quality and the experience degrades dramatically when prices get closer to $200.

    If $300 is more than you plan on spending, you should know the Moto G Power is often discounted to around $280. It’s not much of a discount, but it’s a discount nonetheless. 

    If you can stretch your budget to $500, we’d avidly recommend the Google Pixel 8a. Almost everything about the Pixel 8a is notably superior, including performance, cameras, and, to a minor extent, battery life. The only exception is its smaller 6.1-inch screen size. 

    Are Android phones cheaper than iPhones?

    The short answer is yes; many Android phones are less expensive than even the cheapest iPhone, Apple’s third-generation iPhone SE from 2022, which starts at $429.

    Additionally, many Android phones in the iPhone SE’s price range offer significantly better value in terms of camera versatility, screen size, and design. Every phone in this list arguably offers better value than the iPhone SE, even the Pixel 8a and its higher price. 

    Some premium Android phones, like Samsung’s $1,300 Galaxy S24 Ultra, can be more expensive than even Apple’s most expensive iPhone, like the $1,200 iPhone 15 Pro Max.

    Best overallGoogle’s Pixel 7a offers a strikingly high-end experience for hundreds less than a premium phone.

    Antonio Villas-Boas/Business Insider

    The Pixel 7a‘s $499 starting price is certainly on the high side when talking about budget Android phones, but if you’re looking for a near-premium experience without going overboard on cost, the Pixel 7a is your best overall option, as it’s among the best Android phones on the market regardless of price. 

    While the Pixel 7a runs on the newer Google Tensor G2 processor, it doesn’t offer a notable performance boost over the original Tensor in the Pixel 6a. Additionally, while the Pixel 7a has updated cameras with more megapixels, you’d be hard-pressed to notice much of a difference.

    However, to justify the $499 price tag over the Pixel 6a’s $349, Google gave the Pixel 7a two meaningful premium features, a smooth 90Hz display and wireless charging, on top of an additional 10 months of security update support. Google will keep upgrading the Pixel 7a with security updates until May 2028, while the Pixel 6a’s security update support ends in July 2027.

    Wireless charging is a “nice-to-have” feature for those who actively want it, but a smooth 90Hz display and a longer lifespan are what mark the 7a as a superior option. The 90Hz display, specifically, makes the Pixel 7a feel more like a premium device than a true “budget” phone.

    Read our full Google Pixel 7a review.

    Best overall alternativeGoogle’s Pixel 6a is another exceptional budget Android phone.

    Antonio Villas-Boas/Business Insider

    No phone can match the Pixel 6a‘s balanced blend of performance, features, design, and camera quality for its $349 price. To top it off, the Pixel 6a can often be found in the $300 range, which makes it an even better deal. 

    However, the Pixel 6a couldn’t snatch the top spot in our recommendations due to its shorter lifespan — it’ll stop receiving security updates a full 10 months (basically a year) before the Pixel 7a.  

    Still, the Pixel 6a’s performance breezes through the Android operating system and apps like a higher-end phone, albeit with a standard 60Hz display that isn’t as smooth as the high refresh-rate displays on other phones on this list. Points lost from a 60Hz display are quickly gained by the high quality of its dual-lens camera, which includes 12-megapixel main and ultrawide lenses that easily compete with phones that cost three times as much. 

    Android users who prefer large displays may find the Pixel 6a’s 6.1-inch display too small. For those seeking a larger display and better battery life, Samsung’s Galaxy A54 or OnePlus’ Nord N30 are the next best options.

    Read our full Google Pixel 6a review.

    Best battery lifeSamsung’s Galaxy A54 has the best battery life of any budget phone we’ve tested, and it has fast 25W charging for the price range, even with third-party chargers.

    Antonio Villas-Boas/Business Insider

    The Galaxy A54’s $450 starting price is on the high side for a budget phone, but it obtained the best result out of all the phones in this list, with 65% remaining after our battery test, which involves two hours of video streaming, one hour of music streaming while connected to Bluetooth headphones, two runs of the intensive 3DMark Wild Life Stress Test, and five runs of the Geekbench 6 benchmarking app. 

    That’s an excellent result for a phone with a premium-quality, 6.4-inch OLED display with 1080p resolution and a 120Hz refresh rate. It even nearly matches and beats some flagship phones with similar and larger displays, like the Google Pixel 8 (6.2 inches, 61%), the Galaxy S24 Plus (6.7 inches, 60%), and the Galaxy S24 Ultra (6.8 inches, 66%). 

    The Galaxy A54 also supports up to 25W charging speeds. Though Samsung doesn’t include a charger with the Galaxy A54, any charger that supports at least 25W can charge the phone at full speed. 

    The Galaxy A54 runs apps smoothly and quickly, but it lacks the confidence shown by Google’s Pixel A-series and OnePlus’ Nord N30 5G — occasional stutters mar the experience, and we would have expected smoother overall performance for the price. 

    You’ll find three usable cameras on the rear of the Galaxy A54, including a 50MP main camera, a 12MP ultrawide, and a 5MP macro camera. The main and ultrawide cameras can deliver excellent photos with balanced colors and lighting as often as they can shoot rather mediocre ones, where colors are oversaturated, and bright areas are overexposed. The 5MP macro camera takes better photos than the 2MP macro cameras on other budget phones, but it’s still a niche option that isn’t especially impressive. 

    Samsung has one of the best support windows for Android phones, with four years of Android version upgrades and five years of security updates, giving the Galaxy A54 the potential for a long life.

    Read our full Samsung Galaxy A54 review

    Best cameraThe Pixel 7a’s cameras can compete with high-end phones that cost hundreds more.

    Antonio Villas-Boas/Business Insider

    The cameras on Google’s Pixel 7a simply cannot be beaten for the price, and they are a major reason to buy this phone. In fact, the Pixel 7a’s cameras compete with those on phones that cost twice, and even three times as much. 

    Photos taken by the Pixel 7a have a rich, natural color tone without being oversaturated. Brightness and contrast are beautifully balanced to deliver gorgeous depth and dynamic range, which is something even some premium phones struggle with.

    With a 64MP main camera, the Pixel 7a captures photos that are rich in detail, and it also performs remarkably well in low-light conditions.

    We only know of one inexpensive phone that comes close to the Pixel 7a’s camera quality: the Pixel 6a. If the Pixel 7a’s premium features and price tag are out of your budget, you can’t go wrong with its A-series predecessor. 

    Read our full Google Pixel 7a review.

    Best large screenThe OnePlus Nord N30 5G is easily the best budget Android phone with a large screen.

    Antonio Villas-Boas/Business Insider

    The OnePlus Nord N30 5G, with its solid everyday performance, large 6.7-inch display running at a smooth 120Hz, surprisingly premium-looking design, and tempting $300 starting price tag, was seriously considered for the top spot on this list. At the end of the day, it couldn’t beat the Google Pixel 6a and its superior cameras and overall value, but the N30 is easily the best budget Android phone with a big screen.

    The N30 runs through the Android operating system, as well as basic apps and tasks, with confidence, speed, and stutter-free smoothness. It was surprising to experience such performance considering it’s running on a mid-range Qualcomm Snapdragon 695 processor that was announced in 2021. 

    Its solid performance pairs beautifully with the N30’s large 6.7-inch 120Hz display, which animates everything with fluid smoothness, as a premium phone does. Its sharp 1080p resolution is the same as phones that cost three times as much, and the N30’s display also gets bright enough to comfortably use in bright sunlight, and content is still easily viewable.

    While the N30 doesn’t use a premium OLED panel, its LCD panel still delivers vibrant colors and excellent contrast.

    OnePlus includes a super fast 50W charger with the N30, a rare inclusion nowadays. Just note that the N30 charges at a much slower 18W when using any other third-party charger, even those that support 100W charging speeds. 

    The N30 has a decent main camera with a whopping 108 megapixels. It also has a 2MP macro camera, a largely niche option that isn’t very good. It technically has a third lens, but it’s a depth sensor that’s purely dedicated to helping with portrait mode photos for the main camera. 

    Our biggest complaint is that OnePlus will only support the N30 for one Android version upgrade and three years of security updates, which realistically gives the N30 a comparatively short three-year lifespan.

    Best budget Android phones compared

    Specs

    Google Pixel 7a

    Google Pixel 6a

    Samsung Galaxy A54

    OnePlus Nord N30 5G

    Starting price

    $499

    $349

    $450

    $300

    Processor

    Google Tensor G2

    Google Tensor

    Samsung Exynos 1380

    Qualcomm Snapdragon 695

    Release date

    May 2023

    July 2022

    March 2023

    June 2023

    Screen 

    6.1 inches, OLED, 1080p, 90Hz

    6.1 inches, OLED, 1080p 60Hz

    6.4 inches, OLED, 1080p, 120Hz

    6.7 inches, LCD, 1080p, 120Hz

    Rear cameras

    64MP main, 13MP ultrawide

    12MP main, 12MP ultrawide

    50MP main, 12MP ultrawide, 5MP macro

    108MP main, 2MP macro, 2MP depth

    Storage

    128GB

    128GB

    128GB, 256GB, upgradeable with microSD card

    128GB, upgradeable with microSD card

    FAQs

    What is the best cheap Android phone?

    The best Android phone we can reasonably describe as “cheap” is Google’s Pixel 6a, our best overall alternative option. There are less expensive Android phones out there, but none come close to the Pixel 6a and its stunning balance of performance, camera quality, screen quality, and value. 

    If $349 is more than you plan on spending, you should know the Pixel 6a is often discounted to around $300.

    If $300 is still more than you’re willing to spend, Samsung’s Galaxy A15 5G is your best bet at $200. We haven’t tested the Galaxy A15 5G yet, but based on our experience with the Galaxy A14 5G, it should have serviceable performance and camera quality while offering a large, smooth 90Hz display.

    Are Android phones cheaper than iPhones?

    The short answer is yes; many Android phones are less expensive than even the cheapest iPhone, Apple’s third-generation iPhone SE at $430, released in 2022. 

    Additionally, many Android phones in the iPhone SE’s price range offer significantly better value in terms of camera quality and screen size, like the $349 Google Pixel 6a

    Some premium Android phones, like Samsung’s $1,300 Galaxy S24 Ultra, can be more expensive than even Apple’s most expensive iPhone, like the $1,200 iPhone 15 Pro Max.

    Read the original article on Business Insider

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