Best budget and affordable phones in 2019: a buyer's guide

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Best budget and affordable phones in 2019: 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?

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 affordable devices do not lag terribly, they have decent cameras, and some of them even come with a very likable design.

But which ones are they? We've picked the best affordable phones, where affordable does not mean ‘cheap’ in any embarrassing way. Take a look at these best value-for-the-money devices that you can get right now, and let us know which you think is the best low-cost smartphone.

Under $350:

Under $250:

Under $350

Pocophone F1

Prices from $350


  • Plastic back might not please everyone
  • A bit on the thick side
  • LCD screen, not AMOLED

The Pocophone F1 by quickly growing Chinese company Xiaomi is all the rage in late 2018 with a price that is even more affordable than the OnePlus and many other "affordable flagships".

The Pocophone really is a great device for the money: it is incredibly fast, equipped with the flagship Snapdragon 845 system chip on board, and it has a very good looking LCD display and a decent camera (the camera is where it falls short of premium phones).

We also love the great battery life we get out of this phone: it features a massive, 4,000mAh battery and lasts us between a day or even two with scarcer use.

Nokia 7.1

Prices from $350


  • Battery life is okay, but not great
  • Performance is not quite perfectly smooth

The small and compact Nokia 7.1 is not only a phone that will please many with its dimensions, but it's also one of the most stylish "affordable flagships" out there with its glass and metal design, and attention to detail.

Keep in mind that this is one phone in our list that does not quite run on a flagship-grade silicon and is instead powered by the mid-range Snapdragon 636 chip, and you can tell after using this phone that it does not quite keep up with the rest in terms of pure speed. But that's reflected in the price and the camera performance is quite good, plus you have a good-looking display, all things making the Nokia 7.1 worth considering.

Under $250

Redmi Note 7

Prices from $150


  • Limited availability outside of China

The Redmi Note 7 is the first phone by Redmi as a separate brand and it is sticks to the essence of the brand: an incredible price/performance ratio.

At under $200, the Redmi Note 7 surprises with a stylish glass design with and an elegant gradient finish on the back, it sports a 6.3" LCD Full HD+ screen with a tiny water-drop notch, it runs on the Snapdragon 660 chip and has a massive, 4,000mAh battery while keeping user favorites like the microSD card slot, 3.5mm headphone jack, and an IR blaster. It's also the first Redmi phone with a USB-C port instead of the old microUSB one, and it supports QuickCharge 4.0.

The most impressive feature of the Note 7, however, might be its camera: it comes with a 48-megapixel Samsung sensor. Images are shot at 12-megapixel by default because 4 pixels are blended into one to achieve better quality both during the day and at night. You can also shoot at the full 48-megapixels if you want to zoom in or just get the best detail.

Moto G6

Prices from $230


  • No real waterproofing (nano-coat only)

The new Moto G6 series brings new life in one of the most popular affordable phones out there: the new Moto G6 features a sleeker than ever design with a thin, elegant body and a premium glass construction. It now has slimmer bezels too and a larger display for a more immersive experience, and at under $300, this phone is still a great value.

Moto sticks with its clean and fast version of Android and the G6 feels very zippy. With a decent camera and good battery life, the G6 remains one of the best options for those looking for a good budget phone.

Nokia 6.1

Prices from $230


  • Somewhat outdated design
  • Questionable selection of colors

The Nokia 6.1 is a solidly build phone with an almost premium feel, up-to-the-task screen, and capable 16-megapixel camera that sometimes makes it easy to forget you're holding an affordable phone. But we never lose sight of this affordable phone status in regard to processing power: in more intensive usage scenarios, this will be most evident.

Huawei Mate SE

Prices from $220


  • Camera is a bit of a letdown
  • Software takes getting used to
  • Battery life is average

The Huawei Mate SE is another great bang-for-the-buck offer with a spacious, 6-inch Full HD LCD screen, speedy performance and plentiful 64GB of on-board storage. It is definitely not the best camera performer out there as image quality drops badly in low light and battery life is just okay (it will still easily last you a full day), but for the kind of money in question, it's a great opion.

Xiaomi Mi A2

Prices from $220


  • Battery life could be better

The Xiaomi Mi A2 is an extremely affordable phone based on the Android One program, meaning that rather than having a heavy custom skin, it runs a clean Android version with a promise for timely updates in the future that will make it relevant in the longer run.

Xiaomi has also equipped a camera that exceeds expectations and performs very well in different conditions, plus you can use this phone to capture portrait mode shots as well.

The Mi A2 is also well built, with a sleek metal construction and it performs very well in the daily grind. Battery life could be better, but overall this is a great option for the money.


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