Best Buy Dollar Phones
Then there are the cameras. The iPhone typically has some of the best cameras found on any phone. But the iPhone SE has just one on the back. The 12, 13, 13 Mini, 14 and 14 Plus each have dual-rear cameras. And then there's the 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max that not only have a trio of cameras but come with features like the ability to take ProRaw photos or record ProRes videos.
best buy dollar phones
To further complicate things, carriers like AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon as well as third-parties like Best Buy and Amazon continue to sell discontinued models such as the iPhone 13 Pro and 13 Pro Max. And then there's the prices. Apple's starting price for each model isn't necessarily what you'll pay. Nearly all of the phones on this list can be bought for significantly less with a mixture of trade-ins and/or service commitments with most US wireless carriers.
The iPhone 14's best features are ones you may never see or use -- and that's not necessarily a bad thing. That includes Crash Detection, which can notify emergency services when you're in an automobile accident. Starting in November, you'll get Emergency SOS via Satellite that lets you use a satellite to message emergency dispatchers in places without cell coverage.
All phones in the iPhone 14 series only use eSIMs in the US and have a new selfie camera that for the first time ever has autofocus. Add in a new video stabilization tool called Action mode, an upgraded Cinematic mode that can capture 4K video at 24fps and iOS 16, and you have an excellent phone. If you activate it on a carrier, Apple drops the price to $799. Read our Apple iPhone 14 review.
From the back, the $999 iPhone 14 Pro looks identical to last year's 13 Pro. But don't let that sameness fool you. It's the 14 Pro's screen where there's something different and wonderful going on. The display notch, that defined previous Face ID iPhone models, has morphed into a pill-shaped screen cutout that can show system alerts and background activities like when you receive a call or play music. Apple calls this functionality the Dynamic Island. I know, it's not the best name, but it's truly one of the best features.
The $929 iPhone 14 Plus is either a big iPhone 14 or a scaled-back iPhone 14 Pro Max, depending on your perspective. Ever since the iPhone XS Max launched in 2018, there has been only one option for those who love big screens: Pay top dollar and get a Max model with extra features you might not necessarily need (like a telephoto camera or a high refresh rate display). I know many CNET readers, friends and co-workers who have shelled out $1,100 or more for an iPhone 12 Pro Max or 13 Pro Max because it was the only way to get a phone in the size they wanted. But that changes now.
Who said small phones don't exist in 2022? The $629 iPhone 13 Mini is brilliant because it has everything the iPhone 13 has -- it's just smaller. It has the same square-edged looks, support for 5G and the same cameras. The 13 Mini's defining feature is its 5.4-inch OLED screen that supports Dolby HDR. If that sounds too small, consider that Plus models, like the iPhone 8 Plus, had a 5.5-inch screen inside a much larger body. The 13 Mini's secret is that it lacks those giant forehead and chin bezels that defined the iPhone for its first decade.
The screen is covered with Apple's ceramic shield and the body, like nearly all phones on this list, has an IP68 rating for dust and water resistance. The 13 Mini has an A15 Bionic processor which puts it on the same level of performance as the iPhone 14 and 14 Plus.
The $629 iPhone 12 and its flat-sided design marked the beginning of the current generation of Apple phones. Of everything on this list, it's the oldest but also one of the cheapest, especially if you want to snag an iPhone with a contemporary look and Face ID.
We evaluate each iPhone model on its overall quality, features, design, performance, cameras, battery life and value. We test phones in the real world, using them as our main device to make calls, play video games, take photos and browse apps and social media. We document our experiences in an initial review which we periodically update with additional tests and comparing them against new phones from other companies like Samsung, Google and OnePlus.
The best cheap phones won't give you premium features like the 200MP main camera on the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra. But you will find enough high-end capabilities to make you feel like you're getting plenty for your money by opting for a less expensive handset.
After testing multiple phones that cost less than $500, we believe that most shoppers can find everything they need in these lower-cost devices, whether you're looking for an affordable iPhone or an inexpensive Android phone. No matter the model, no one needs to spend upwards of $800 on a flagship device when you can easily find a handset that delivers comparable features while costing hundreds of dollars less.
Those on a budget will find that the best cheap phones offer capable cameras, big-enough displays for watching video and playing games and plenty of battery life to get you through most of the day. And 5G connectivity has become standard for cheap phones, so you're not sacrificing connectivity for a lower price.
Expect a shakeup among the best cheap phones, with new models slated to appear in the coming months. Galaxy A54 specs have already leaked, giving us a hint as to what Samsung's planning for its next midrange phone. The Pixel 7a from Google should follow later this spring.
We're anticipating a spring release for new Galaxy A series phones, with the rumored Galaxy A54 replacing the Samsung's Galaxy A53. Still, the likely arrival of its successor doesn't mean this $449 handset does just about everything well. It has a nice 6.5-inch AMOLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate. (Our Pixel 6a vs. Galaxy A53 face-off goes into greater detail on the differences between these best cheap phone contenders for Android fans.)
The iPhone SE 2022 takes cheap phones to the next level of performance by including Apple's powerful A15 Bionic chip. This is the same processor found in the iPhone 13, and it blows all Android phones away, whether you're playing games or editing video on the go.
The latest iPhone SE features the same design as before, so that means a small 4.7-inch display and big bezels, but some may prefer the old-school Touch ID button for quickly unlocking the device. Despite some trade-offs, the iPhone SE 2022 is a great choice for people who like small phones. With rumors circulating that an iPhone SE 4 likely won't ship until 2024, it may be your best option for a cheap iPhone for the foreseeable future.
But a long-lasting battery isn't the only reason this device is on our best cheap phone list. The Moto G Power offers a large 6.6-inch display with full HD resolution, and fairly capable cameras with triple lenses, including a 48MP main camera, a 2MP macro lens and 2MP depth sensor.
All on its own, the Motorola Edge 2022 would be a fine choice for a midrange phone that delivers some premium features without costing you more than $500. Yet, at $498, it's brushing up against the ceiling for what the best cheap phones should cost. (Many retailers list the 256GB version of the phone, which costs $599.) Even more worrisome, it can't really top the Pixel 6a or Galaxy A53, making it hard to pick over those phones.
As is typical of TCL phones, you get a big, expansive display with accurate colors. The Snapdragon 480 5G silicon powering the phone doesn't exactly offer blazing performance, but that's a trade-off you make for a cheaper device. You will be pleased with the phone's battery life, which hit 11 hours and 46 minutes in our testing.
Generally, one area in which phone makers cut back for budget models is materials. They'll use plastic for the phone's case instead of metal and glass. Cheaper phones may also turn to LCD panels instead of OLED screens, though that's becoming less frequent among some of the best cheap phones running Android.
One other area to consider is software updates and support. We've seen cheaper Android phones either ship with older versions of Android or promise very few upgrades to future versions. Samsung has one of the better upgrade policies with its Galaxy A lineup, and the iPhone remains a standout for usually supporting five years of iOS updates.
We evaluate budget-priced phones the same way we do flagships. We perform real-world testing and synthetic benchmarks over several days to evaluate it's performance and value. This includes our own battery test, which involves continuous web surfing over cellular at 150 nits of screen brightness. The devices that make our best phone battery life list tend to last over 11 hours.
In terms of performance, we use Geekbench 5 to measure overall speed and compare versus phones in the same price range. And the same thing goes for 3DMark's Wild Life Unlimited for graphics testing. We also perform our own video editing/transcoding testing using the Adobe Premiere Rush app to gauge real-world speed.
For evaluating cameras on cheap phones, we will take multiple photos in different conditions and will use other affordably priced phones in the same scenarios in order to make side-by-side comparisons.
Mark Spoonauer is the global editor in chief of Tom's Guide and has covered technology for over 20 years. In addition to overseeing the direction of Tom's Guide, Mark specializes in covering all things mobile, having reviewed dozens of smartphones and other gadgets. He has spoken at key industry events and appears regularly on TV to discuss the latest trends, including Cheddar, Fox Business and other outlets. Mark was previously editor in chief of Laptop Mag, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc. Follow him on Twitter at @mspoonauer."}; var triggerHydrate = function() window.sliceComponents.authorBio.hydrate(data, componentContainer); var triggerScriptLoadThenHydrate = function() if (window.sliceComponents.authorBio === undefined) var script = document.createElement('script'); script.src = ' -9-5/authorBio.js'; script.async = true; script.id = 'vanilla-slice-authorBio-component-script'; script.onload = () => window.sliceComponents.authorBio = authorBio; triggerHydrate(); ; document.head.append(script); else triggerHydrate(); if (window.lazyObserveElement) window.lazyObserveElement(componentContainer, triggerScriptLoadThenHydrate, 1500); else console.log('Could not lazy load slice JS for authorBio') } }).catch(err => console.log('Hydration Script has failed for authorBio Slice', err)); }).catch(err => console.log('Externals script failed to load', err));Mark SpoonauerSocial Links NavigationMark Spoonauer is the global editor in chief of Tom's Guide and has covered technology for over 20 years. In addition to overseeing the direction of Tom's Guide, Mark specializes in covering all things mobile, having reviewed dozens of smartphones and other gadgets. He has spoken at key industry events and appears regularly on TV to discuss the latest trends, including Cheddar, Fox Business and other outlets. Mark was previously editor in chief of Laptop Mag, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc. Follow him on Twitter at @mspoonauer. 041b061a72