The best cheap phones for 2024

The best cheap phones for 2024

It may be fashionable to spend $1,000 on the latest flagship smartphone when they first get released, but it’s not necessary. You don’t even have to spend $500 today to get a decent handset as there are plenty of options as low as $160 that could fit your needs. But navigating the budget phone market can be tricky; options that look good on paper may not be in practice, and some handsets will end up costing you more when you consider many come with restrictive storage. While we at Engadget spend most of our time testing and reviewing mid- to high-end handsets, we’ve tested a number of the latest budget-friendly phones on the market to see which are actually worth your money.

What to look for in a cheap phone

For this guide, our top picks cost between $100 and $300. Anything less and you might as well go buy a dumb phone or high-end calculator instead. Since they’re meant to be more affordable than flagship phones and even midrange handsets, budget smartphones involve compromises; the cheaper a device, the lower your expectations around performance and experience should be. For that reason, the best advice I can give is to spend as much as you can afford. In this price range, even $50 or $100 more can get you a dramatically better product.

Second, you should know what you want most from a phone. When buying a budget smartphone, you may need to sacrifice a decent camera for a long-lasting battery or trade a high-resolution display for a faster processor. That’s just what comes with the territory, but knowing your priorities will make it easier to find the right phone.

It’s also worth noting some features can be hard to find on cheap handsets. For instance, you won’t need to search far for a device with all-day battery life — but if you want a great camera, you’re better off shelling out for one of the recommendations in our midrange smartphone guide, which all come in at $600 or less. Wireless charging and waterproofing also aren’t easy to find in this price range and forget about a fast processor. On the bright side, all our recommendations come with headphone jacks, so you won’t need to get wireless headphones.

iOS is also off the table, since the $400 Apple iPhone SE is the most affordable iPhone in the lineup. That leaves Android as the only option. Thankfully, in 2024, there’s little to complain about Google’s OS – and you may even prefer it to iOS. Lastly, keep in mind most Android manufacturers typically offer far less robust software support for their budget devices. In some cases, your new phone may only receive one major software update and a year or two of security patches beyond that. That applies to the OnePlus and Motorola recommendations on our list.

If you’d like to keep your phone for as long as possible, Samsung has the best software policy of any Android manufacturer in the budget space, offering four years of security updates on all of its devices. That said, if software support (or device longevity overall) is your main focus, consider spending a bit more the $500 Google Pixel 7a, which is our favorite midrange smartphone and has planned software updates through mid-2026.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

By John Routledge

Founder and owner of - I'm an avid tech junkie, a lover of new gadgets and home automation. You will often find me reading, writing, and learning about new technologies. I've been featured in many leading technology magazines where I've written about my favorite topics.