The best budget smartphones for under $300

Update: As of June 2021
The best budget smartphones for under $300

Smartphones between $200 and $300 mark the entry into the highly competitive mid-range segment. With several smartphone models vying for your attention, selecting the right sub-$300 smartphone in the U.S. is not as easy as it sounds. But hey, that's why we are here for! In this article, we list all the phones under $300 that we think are worth buying in 2021.

Table of contents:

  1. Editor's choice: The best smartphone under $300
  2. The best alternatives
    1. Motorola One 5G
    2. OnePlus Nord N10 5G
    3. Samsung Galaxy A32 5G
    4. LG Stylo 6
  3. How NextPit selects the best smartphones?
  4. What to expect from a phone under $300?
  5. Alternatives to buying a new phone
  6. Other phone best lists on NextPit

Editor's Choice: The best smartphone under $300 is...

Google Pixel 4a

NextPit Google Pixel 4a front
The Google Pixel 4a is a great mid-range smartphone, and it costs just $299! / © NextPit

Currently priced at $299, the Google Pixel 4a is our pick for the best overall sub-$300 smartphones currently available in the US. Surely, there are other devices out there that may beat the Pixel 4a in terms of hardware specs and 5G support. However, we still think the Pixel 4a makes for a great purchase if you have less than $300 to spend on a new smartphone.

Oh, and keeping aside the older Pixel 3 series devices (which are also going for less than $300), no other smartphone can match the camera capabilities of the Pixel 4a. The only downside we can think of is the lack of support for 5G. Also, with a display that measures at just 5.8-inches, the Pixel 4a is quite diminutive by modern standards. 

The best alternatives

While we chose the Google Pixel 4a as the overall best smartphone under $300, there are several other devices in the $200 to $300 segment that you should consider buying. Here are a few of them.

Motorola One 5G

Motorola One 5G
The Motorola One 5G has a massive 90Hz display, a 5000 mAh battery, and even supports 5G!  / © Motorola

Priced at $299, the Motorola One 5G makes for a very good (and many will say, better) alternative to the Google Pixel 4a and this one has a faster SoC and 5G support to boot. The phone has a 6.7-inch 90Hz FHD+ display and even supports HDR content. The large size of the phone also ensures that you get a massive 5,000mAh battery on the Motorola One 5G. At 207g, the phone is by no means lightweight. 

Powering the Motorola One 5G is the Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G SoC with 4GB RAM and 128GB storage. The phone also gets a microSD card slot for memory expansion. The Motorola One 5G gets a quad-camera setup at the rear consisting of a 48MP primary camera, an 8MP ultra-wide-angle camera, a 5MP macro camera, and a 2MP depth camera. The front-facing camera gets a 16MP sensor.

At the time of publishing this, the Motorola One 5G runs Android 10 and is slated to receive an update to Android 11. We've reviewed the European version of the Motorola One 5G

We've reviewed the European version of the Motorola One 5G, the Moto G 5G Plus here:

OnePlus Nord N10 5G

NextPit OnePlus Nord N10 back nextpit
The OnePlus Nord N10 5G offers great features for under $300 / © NextPit

OnePlus is perhaps the only Chinese smartphone brand that has some brand recall in the U.S. The company's Nord lineup debuted in 2020 and has seen quite a few new launches - including the most recent one in the form of the OnePlus Nord CE 5G (which, as of now, isn't US-bound). What they do offer for the US market is the OnePlus Nord N10 5G which is priced at $299.

We think this device makes for a great sub-$300 smartphone for several reasons. First, the device comes powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 690 SoC, which is not only quite powerful - but also offers native support for 5G. Second, the phone also gets 6GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage with an option for memory expansion. The OnePlus Nord N10 5G also has a formidable camera setup that includes a 64MP primary camera, an 8MP ultrawide camera, a 2MP macro camera, and a 2MP monochrome camera. The front camera supports EIS and uses a 16MP sensor.

OnePlus has also thrown in some other nice bits ranging from stereo speakers and a 90Hz display to a 4,300 mAh battery that supports 30W fast charging.

Samsung Galaxy A32 5G

Samsung Galaxy A32 5G
The Samsung Galaxy A32 5G offers decent features but is only really recommended for folks who can't think of anything else but Samsung / © Samsung

Released in January 2021, the Samsung Galaxy A32 5G is a relatively new A-series device from the South Korean electronics major. The phone isn't as feature-packed as some of the others in this list - but makes for a good choice if you really want to own a Samsung device but do not have more than $300 to spend.

The Galaxy A32 5G (unsurprisingly) supports 5G and the device comes powered by the MediaTek Dimensity 720 SoC. In the U.S., the phone comes in a single 4GB +64GB variant with the option for expandable storage using microSD cards. The camera setup consists of a 28MP primary camera, an 8MP ultrawide camera, a 5MP macro camera, and a 2MP depth sensor. At the front, the phone gets a single 13MP camera for selfies and video calls.

On the flip side, the Galaxy A32 5G gets by with just an HD+ panel that measures 6.5-inches across. While the battery capacity is good at 5,000mAh, it only supports 15W fast charging.

LG Stylo 6

LG Stylo 6
A phone with a stylus for less than $300? The LG Stylo is your only option! / © LG

LG might have shuttered its smartphones business - but the company will continue to sell phones until stocks last. In case you happen to be an LG fanboy and happen to be looking for an interesting new smartphone under $300, you might want to look at the LG Stylo 6.

Like the Samsung Galaxy A32 5G, the LG Stylo does not get into this list because of the great hardware. Instead, it is here only because it is the most affordable smartphone that comes with a stylus and offers a comprehensive bunch of stylus-centric features. In simpler terms, the LG Stylus is the poor man's Samsung Galaxy Note.

How NextPit selects the best smartphones?

As mentioned in the introduction, this list is subjective, as it is based on the preferences of the author and the rest of the editorial team.  However, we do take a lot of objective facts into consideration before deciding to include a smartphone in one of our best lists.

Also read: This is how we test smartphones at NextPit

Our subjective opinions are thus determined by objective criteria and at the same time, we remain open to comments from our community members. So if you think we have missed a model that should really have been a part of this list, feel free to post it in the comments.

What can you expect from a phone under $300?

Thanks to players like Xiaomi, Realme, and Oppo, you can get a really capable phone for under $300 if you live in Asia or Europe. That, unfortunately, isn't the case with the U.S. where almost all the devices in the $200-$300 segment are sold for less than $200 in other parts of the globe. Still, here is what you can typically expect from $300 smartphones currently sold in the U.S.

  • Full HD+ resolution and 90Hz refresh rate displays
  • Large battery with support for up to 30W fast charging
  • Snapdragon 7 series or 6 Series SoC, Mid-range SoCs from MediaTek
  • Quad or triple rear cameras
  • No wireless charging
  • No IP rating

Alternatives to buying a new phone

If it doesn't necessarily have to be a new smartphone, you can also reach for older, more expensive second-hand smartphones. Refurbished models are a highly recommended option, as these are used devices that have been checked and refurbished by specialists.

These refurbished devices are especially attractive when resellers offer you an extended warranty. This way, you can be sure that you're buying a smartphone that won't give up on you after a few weeks.

Of course, you do not have this advantage when buying a used smartphone from private owners on platforms such as eBay, eBay classifieds, or other portals. However, used devices can be found for significantly reduced prices here, as there are no additional costs because the middleman has been cut out. With the so-called 'sale', you also secure older models that online shops still carry in new condition but which are no longer in production.

Promotions and Sales

Towards the end of the year, each consumer electronics device that you purchase is accompanied by an even greater risk of stumbling upon a cheaper offer just a few weeks down the road. This can be attributed to sales like Black Friday and its associated Black Week, Amazon Prime Day, Singles Day, and Cyber ​​Monday, all of which are discount days in the months of October and November, which are meant to prime the economy before the Christmas shopping frenzy begins.

Since smartphones are one of the most popular consumer electronics devices in the market, you should keep your eyes peeled for great deals. You can check out the dates for this year's sales and promotions in the table below:

Upcoming promotion days

Action Date
Amazon Prime Days June 21 and 22, 2021
Singles Day November 11, 2021
Black Week 23 November to 27 November 2021
Black Friday November 27, 2021
Cyber Monday approx. 30. November 2021

What do you think of this selection? Do you think we missed a model that should REALLY have been on this list? Well, say it out loud and we will definitely include it in the list when we update it

More "Best Of" lists on NextPit

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  • RowanRosh 8 months ago Link to comment

    Nice article...!!

  • Ant Kan 9 months ago Link to comment

    The Xiaomi Redmi Note 9 Pro is the best smartphone for me because has Infrared port , IR blaster to use it as Universal Remote Control for TV or Climate or Sound systems .

  • Chantelle Apr 12, 2020 Link to comment

    I have to say the Honor 8x rocks my world. I'm in love with it. She's like a beautiful woman, I can't stop checking her out.

  • GabrielLuke Jan 1, 2020 Link to comment

    Awesome. I will suggest to buy Huawei Honor 8x

  • David Martrano Dec 23, 2019 Link to comment

    Very nice list!

  • Roy124 Dec 23, 2019 Link to comment

    Love this!

  • Ken Dec 21, 2019 Link to comment

    I'm upgrading from my already pretty snappy Moto G5+ to the G7 for $150 brand new with warranty! Need a solid 4GB of memory and and evetually Q. Could get ~$70 for my old phone as it's in A grade condition...spent it's entire life in a case with a tempered glass screen protector. Battery never charged above 80%, so plenty life left.'d be stupid to sell it for $ it's now my backup and/or Magisk rootin' toy!

  • Chad_Higgins Aug 18, 2019 Link to comment

    I can honestly say the LG V40 is #1
    And it's less than $200! It's a steal!

    Deactivated Account

  • storm Aug 16, 2019 Link to comment

    This is probably the most interesting segment of the Android market giving the most bang for the buck

  • Jerry's W. Aug 16, 2019 Link to comment

    I like the Nokia 8.1, the very downside is: there is no way to root it :-(

    Deactivated Accountstorm

  • marco sarli
    • Admin
    Aug 15, 2019 Link to comment

    Very nice list. And when it comes to essential features they have them all same as phones that cost 4 or 5 times more

    Deactivated Account

  • Waqar Ghafoor Sep 7, 2018 Link to comment

    Thanks Nicholas for sharing such an informative blog with us :)
    Well, I am soon gonna buy 7X as in my opinion its the best budget device with exciting features

  • David Martrano Dec 16, 2017 Link to comment

    I think the honor 7x is the best budget phone. It offers flagship features & priced at 199.00 here in the US. Display, camera & battery better than average. The first 18.9 display in the budget category. For consumer's who cannot afford a flagship this may well be the ticket. At this price I can forgive the lack of NFC!

  • Albin Foro Dec 8, 2017 Link to comment

    Interesting list - I'm in this market segment, and will be looking to replace a ZTE Android L phone probably next year. I'd like to see a standard spec for full implementation of the Camera2 API in these reviews - it can be taken for granted in premium phones but has been extremely spotty at the lower end and because the press and enthusiast forums focus on the high end it's difficult to find out if Camera2 is on board. The stock camera apps for cheaper phones are generally junk, and the best third-party camera apps are full of caveats about models that can't be supported for all features, and in experience they are hit and miss on specific devices. I've been lucky to find apps that greatly improve my ZTE's camera performance, but would be shopping for a new phone with full Camera2 API next time.

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