Great Low-Priced Smartphones

·3 min read

These phones deliver very good performance—even without the very latest cameras and processors—for $600 or less

By Melanie Pinola

Looking for a good phone at a reasonable price? Though the cost of premium options continues to rise—now topping $2,000—that doesn’t mean you have to raid your savings account to get what you want.

There are plenty of phones on the market today that are more affordable ($600 or less) and offer features users have come to expect. The 10 best low-priced smartphones listed below might not have the fanciest cameras, the fastest processors, or handy features like wireless charging. But for a lot of people, they make excellent choices. All are 5G-capable and scored well in our performance, battery, and durability tests.

Before we get to the list, though, here are some tips for finding a great low-priced smartphone.

Buy an older model. Richard Fisco, Consumer Reports’ head of electronics testing, says there’s often little difference in technology between today’s phones and the models they replace. And buying last year’s model can yield significant savings.

Case in point: The iPhone 12, which cost $830 when it came out in 2020, can now be had for $700. Go back a year and the iPhone 11, which cost $700 in 2019, can be purchased for $500. Both are still great choices.

Look at lesser-known brands. Samsung and Apple aren’t the only companies that make top-rated phones. Google, OnePlus, and others have designed models that impressed our testers, too. A couple of those options are listed below.

Buy refurbished. One person’s trade-in is another person’s treasure, especially when it saves money. But do your homework. Not all retailers refurbish phones with the same care.

Refurbished phones sold in Apple’s stores and on its website have a new battery, a new outer shell, a new white box, and even a new one-year warranty in case anything goes wrong. Samsung has similar standards for the refurbished phones sold on its website.

But refurbished phones offered by other retailers might not have new batteries or a full-year warranty, and they sometimes come packaged without a charging cord. So before buying a refurbished phone, always inquire about its condition, the return policy, and whether the device is covered by a warranty. Look for the “certified pre-owned phone” designation to make sure the hardware and software have been carefully inspected for any issues.

Need more ideas? Here’s a look at some of Consumer Reports’ highest-rated phones for $600 or less. Members can check out our full smartphone ratings for additional details.

Editor’s Note: This article has been updated since it first appeared in the January 2018 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.

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