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Best Cheap Phones for 2022: iPhone, Galaxy, Pixel Picks Worth More Than Their Price


Wanting to pay less for an iPhone or an Android phone doesn’t mean trading away access to all the features you need. In many cases, saving money still gets you the latest version of iOS or Android, multiple cameras, processors that can handle several tasks at once and expansive screens that are great for watching video on.

For this “cheap phones” roundup, we wanted to emphasize phones that provide the most value for their price, and therefore you will find phones as low as $160 that provide all of the essentials, up to phones costing as much as $600 but with the features and power of a $900 phone.

Now if your personal barometer is to find a phone within a specific budget, our best phones under $200 and best phones under $500 lists both round up excellent options to consider based on what’s currently available in 2022. But if what you are looking for is a phone that punches outside of its price range, these options from Apple, Samsung and Google are well worth your consideration.

Mike Sorrentino/CNET

Samsung’s Galaxy A03S at $160 (£139, roughly AU$240) includes plenty of great features and could be a great fit for someone looking for the cheapest possible phone that can handle most essential tasks. The phone’s 6.5-inch screen, capped at 720p resolution, is great for reading news, watching videos and playing games. Despite some performance lag found during our review, the phone is good at multitasking. But the phone’s tiny 32GB of storage space could fill up fast, so if considering this phone, it may be worthwhile to consider expanding the storage with a microSD card.

Samsung also plans to support this phone with at least four years of security updates, which in this price range is as good as it gets. On the software side, it’s less clear how many Android versions are scheduled, but the phone ships with Android 11 to start.

Read our Samsung Galaxy A03S review.

 

Patrick Holland/CNET

Apple’s new iPhone SE for 2022 is a mix of an older design with the latest smartphone features, including Apple’s latest A15 Bionic chip and 5G support, for $429. It’s also one of the few phones on the market that includes a smaller, 4.7-inch screen.

Yet it’s that throwback design, which continues the general shape that Apple has used since 2014, that could be what you will love or dislike most about this phone. If you want a larger iPhone in this price range, you can also consider the iPhone 11 at $499 in order to get a bigger screen and Face ID. But that phone, first released in 2019, does not include 5G connectivity.

Read our iPhone SE (2022) review.

 

Lisa Eadicicco/CNET

New for 2022, the Galaxy A53 gets you an abundance of Samsung features and power at a fraction of the S-series price. It boasts a far larger screen and more versatile camera cluster than the iPhone SE, though Apple’s budget model delivers snappier performance. 

Still, Samsung fans will appreciate what they’re getting here considering the affordable price. The Galaxy A53 5G has an ultrawide lens for taking photos with a broader field of view and also supports night-mode photography. Image quality isn’t as good as what you’d get on a more expensive Samsung phone like the Galaxy S21 FE or Galaxy S22, but it’s certainly clear and colorful enough for basic shots. Other highlights include a long-lasting battery, four guaranteed generations of Android operating system updates and a microSD card slot for expandable storage.

Overall, the Galaxy A53 5G is a suitable choice for those who prioritize having a large screen and long battery life for less than $500. Just keep in mind, you might have to deal with some occasional lag, and the camera isn’t as advanced as those found on pricier phones. Read our Samsung Galaxy A53 5G review.

The iPhone 11 came out in 2019, but it still packs a lot of value at its new $499 price. It has a dual-lens camera with wide and ultrawide lenses, a spacious 6.1-inch screen and night mode for taking better photos in the dark. It’s missing 5G support and runs on an older Apple processor. But if you don’t care about having 5G right now, the iPhone 11 has everything else most people need in a phone. 

Patrick Holland/CNET

The combination of price, design, cameras, processor and software make the Google Pixel 6 one of the best value phones you can buy. The Pixel 6 exemplifies the best of what Google services and Android 12 have to offer. Google updated the design, added new camera hardware and even made its own processor for the phone, the Tensor chip.

Read our Pixel 6 review.

 


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