Best budget and affordable phones in 2020: a buyer's guide

Best budget and affordable phones in 2020: a buyer's guide
When it comes to technology, some people just don’t find it reasonable to spend crazy amounts of money on a gadget that gets old in just a couple of years. Yet, those same people still want the full smartphone experience, the camera, the apps, and the speed. Are there any affordable phones that would fit all those criteria?

The good news is that with recent launches the answer is a resounding 'yes'. We now have phones that are cheap without being downright ruined by terrible issues - those budget phones do not lag terribly, they have decent cameras, and some of them even come with a very likable design.

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But which ones are they? We've picked the best affordable phones, where affordable does not mean ‘cheap’ in any embarrassing way. 

Best Budget Phones, a summarized list:

Phones under $350:

Phones under $250:

Under $350

Google Pixel 4a

Like its predecessor, the Pixel 4a is all about bringing Google's computational photography prowess at an affordable price. And it delivers on that promise. Camera comparisons show that there's hardly any difference between the pictures taken from Pixel 4a and those from the Pixel 4. This year, Google got rid of the XL variant for its budget line but the 4a compensates with slimmer bezels and a modern hole-punch display. Performance isn't impressive but the software is well-optimized making the Pixel 4a a joy to use. Plus, this phone will only get better with Google's future software updates. If you're looking for the best budget camera phone, this is as far as you need to look.

Samsung Galaxy A50 / A70

The Samsung Galaxy A50 and A70 now have successors in the face of the A51 and A71 but those phones are more expensive since they come with 5G in the states. For the purposes of this article, the Galaxy A50 and A70 remain the best Samsung budget phones. They strike the best balance between price and features.

The main difference between the two is in the screen size and battery capacity: both are bigger on the A70 model, but for all else these two share a nearly identical experience, starting with the Samsung One UI interface and going to the camera, and the beautiful AMOLED display on both.  

Apart from that, these are also reliable phones with amazing battery life that will serve you well in the long run, just don't expect a flagship-grade camera or a perfectly smooth performance.

Nokia 7.2

Nokia, or should we say HMD Global, has also stepped up its game and offers some very solid devices on the cheap. The best example is the Nokia 7.2. It's part of the Android One program, which means no third-party apps or skins and fast software updates. You're not getting Google's camera app however but despite that the Nokia 7.2 has the tools to satisfy most of your photography needs within reasonable expectations, of course. It comes with 128GB of base storage which is awesome for this price segment. 
If you're looking for a cheaper second phone or one for someone who won't spend too much time using one, then the cheaper Nokia 6.2 is also a great value option.

Moto G8 Plus

The Moto G series have been one of our favorite budget models throughout the years and the Moto G8 Plus is no exception. The phone follows the line's basics: decent specs for the price, clean software and good-enough camera. With the G8, the camera department is where the major upgrades are. There's now a 48MP main sensors paired with an ultra-wide-angle camera and a depth sensors. The ultra-wide camera is only for shooting action videos, however, which is an interesting caveat of the phone. However, you do get to shoot landscape videos while holding the phone vertically just like the Motorola One Action, so it's almost like you're getting two phones in one.

Despite these extras, the quality of the photos still won't be on par with the Pixel 4a but the Moto G8 Plus is still one of the best budget smartphones.

Under $250

Moto G Power

The Moto G Power, or G8 Power as it's known in some regions, takes the torch from the G7 Power as the battery life champ among Moto G phones and many more. The massive 5,000mAh battery is actually one of the few things Motorola has kept the same between the two generations. The Moto G comes with a faster chip, more RAM and storage and a better-looking hole punch display, compared to its predecessor. The jump from a single rear camera to a quad-camera setup is impressive on paper, but not so much when you consider one of them is a 2MP macro camera. Still, a great upgrade overall and the battery will keep the lights on for days, so if that's your main concern, you can't go wrong with the Moto G Power.

Galaxy A20e

The A20e is where you go if you really want to save money. At that price point even Samsung phones don't come with OLED displays. Still, it looks nice, some might even call it cute, especially the pink variant. Despite its price, it still has two cameras, a standard one and a ultra-wide-angle one, but don't expect any photographic wonders from them. The 5.8-inch screen is small for today's standards and combined with the low price makes the Galaxy A20e the perfect first smartphone for your kids. You still get 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage, which is far from ideal but still, the overall package the A20e offers makes it the best low budget phone.

Nokia 4.2

The Nokia 4.2 is a close competitor to the Galaxy A20e but with a couple significant differences. First, the Nokia is losing the ultra-wide camera in favor of a far-less useful depth sensor. We doubt you're getting a phone of that price to make the best possible portrait shots. More importantly, however, Nokia 4.2 is part of the Android One program. This should result in a better software support. Samsung isn't known for its timely software updates, especially when it comes to the lower end of its lineup. 

The Nokia 4.2 should be able to provide a decent user experience despite its 400-series Snapdragon chip, and for the price, well, you shouldn't expect much more than that.


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