It may seem like your choices are slim to none if you’re looking for a reliable phone for $200 or less. But there are a few budget smartphone options available that we wholeheartedly recommend — like handsets from Motorola’s Moto G series and one phone from its even more affordable E series. Upcoming and newly announced devices from Samsung and Xiaomi also look compelling not only because these phones comes from well-known companies and sport sub-$200 price tags, but also because they have decent specs (hello, good camera) and an elegant design.
To see our picks, check out the list below. A few of them have been fully reviewed by CNET editors, while others we hope to get in our hands soon (and we’ll update this roundup once their respective reviews are up as well). Note that we’ve linked to the unlocked version of each smartphone, and they should run on most of the big four US wireless carriers, unless specified otherwise.
Important: If the price of the phone shown here or at the vendor is more than $200, it’s because inventory and pricing (often from third-party resellers) has shifted since we originally published this story or the review linked herein.
At $180, the newly announced Galaxy A11 features a 6.4-inch display and three cameras: a 13-megapixel wide-angle camera, a 5-megapixel wide-angle shooter and a 2-megapixel depth camera. It also offers a sizeable 4,000-mAh battery and expandable storage. It doesn’t have wireless charging, but it does have an oft-coveted headphone jack. Not too shabby for a cheap smartphone. Read the Galaxy A11 first-take.
The often discounted Moto G7 Play is a favorite affordable Android smartphone. It lists for $200 and is currently priced as low as $150 with activation. It has a 5.7-inch display, a water-repellent coating and a single 13-megapixel rear camera. For those who like to take a lot of selfies, on the front of the phone you’ll find a selfie camera flash to brighten up all those memorable moments. Read more about the Moto G7 Play.
As the cheapest of Samsung’s new A series of phones, the Galaxy A01 surprisingly offers a lot for $110. That includes a fast-charging 3,000-mAh battery, a 5.7-inch display and two rear cameras. We’re linking here to a version at Amazon bundled with a microSD card for a total of $130. Read the Galaxy A01 first-take.
Launched in July 2019, the Moto E6 smartphone is now widely available for under $150. It features a 13-megapixel camera, a headphone jack and a 5.5-inch display. Oddly enough, it also has a Micro-USB port for charging (rather than the newer USB-C). Read the Moto E6 first take.
Available for under $200, the midrange LG K40 Android phone debuted in 2019 and features a 5.7-inch display, a fingerprint sensor and a 13-megapixel camera. The phone is powered by an octa-core processor and a 3,000-mAh battery. Read the LG K40 hands-on.
Our favorite budget phone of 2018 is now a whole lot cheaper. The $150 Moto G6 Android smartphone features a near-stock version of Android Oreo and solid dual rear cameras. It also charges fast. Read our Motorola Moto G6 review.
Xiaomi Redmi Note 9
Though Xiaomi has yet to release availability information on the Redmi Note 9, the phone itself sounds promising. The device features four rear cameras, including a wide-angle lens, a stylish hole-punch front-facing camera, a robust 5,020-mAh battery and a nice array of color options — all for $199. Read the Redmi Note 9 first-take.