It may seem like your choices are slim for no one if you are looking for the best smartphones under $200 or cheaper. But there are a few budget phones available that we do recommend — like Samsung and Motorola’s Moto G Series handsets. To see our choices, take a look at the list below. A few of them have been completely reviewed by our editors, while others are the ones we hope to get our hands on at short notice. Note that we’ve linked to the unlocked version of each phone, and they should run on most of the big four U.S. wireless carriers unless otherwise stated.
Best Smartphones Under $200
Moto G Fast
The Moto G Fast hits the top of our $200 budget, and all in all, it’s the best phone you can buy when you look at Android devices so cheap. Regarding the hardware of the G Fast, it is much better built than you would expect for a phone in this price range. It feels substantial when held, it doesn’t rattle or crack, and all the physical buttons feel very clicky. The 6.4-inch LCD screen is also good, giving you a large canvas with minimal bezels, great colors, and good viewing angles. The HD+ resolution means things aren’t as sharp as you might want them to be, but all in all, it’s a nice screen.
You get three cameras on the back, including a 16MP primary camera, 8MP ultra-wide camera, and 2MP macro camera. That 16MP sensor takes surprisingly detailed and vivid photos, and while the quality of the other sensors is a dip, it is still very nice to have them for extensive shooting possibilities. Battery life is another strong point, with the 4,000 mAh battery that allows for up to two days of use for some people. Fortunately, it also charges via USB-C. This is currently the best smartphone under $200 that you can buy right now.
This is one of the latest Nokia handsets to be launched in the US, and whether you buy it for its excellent software or for some other reason, it is one of the best handsets available for this price range. As mentioned above, one of the biggest reasons to buy the Nokia 5.3 is the Android interface at hand. The phone comes with a clean build of Android 10 right out of the box, and because it is part of the Android One program, you are promised major OS updates until June 2022 and monthly security patches until June 2023.
On the hardware front, Nokia 5.3 has a pretty big impact. The Snapdragon 665 processor and 4GB of RAM ensure reliable performance, the 4,000 mAh battery allows for up to two days of use per charge and you get a total of four cameras for endless possibilities to take photos. With smaller features such as NFC, USB-C charging, and a special Google Assistant button, you have a truly complete package in your hands. Overall, this is one of the best smartphones under $200.
There’s no denying that the Moto G Fast is great, but if you want to spend a little less money, the Moto E is worth considering as a cheaper alternative. It makes a few compromises to achieve this price tag, but it’s still a perfectly nice piece of engineering. The screen is still an HD+ LCD screen, but because the Moto E has a slightly smaller 6.2-inch screen, the resolution actually looks a bit sharper. You also benefit from respectable edges and a small waterdrop notch, making this a pretty good phone for watching videos or playing light games.
You will find more noticeable downgrades with the 13MP + 2MP dual rear cameras, but they are useful for quick uploads to your favorite social media app. New this year for the Moto E is a fingerprint sensor, which is as fast and reliable as you could ask for. There is also a headphone jack and support for expandable storage, along with a good 3,550 mAh battery and support for all US carriers. Overall, this is one of the best smartphones under $200.
Samsung Galaxy A11
When you think of Samsung phones, you probably think of devices like the Galaxy S20 and Note 20 – big, flashy, and expensive phones that are sure to break the budget. If you would like to have a Samsung phone for yourself but need to keep costs down, the Galaxy A11 is a solid device. First of all, the Galaxy A11 has an impressive display. It is quite large at 6.4 inches, goes from edge to edge with the left and right frame of the phone, and has a small bottom. If you use a lot of media, the A11 will make your movies and games stand out beautifully.
Around the back, the A11 has a total of three cameras – consisting of a 13MP primary, 5MP ultra-wide, and 2MP depth sensors. The image quality will not betray you, but the cameras do the work for social media and make it possible to record images (especially with the ultra-wide camera). Other highlights of the Galaxy A11 are the expandable storage space, a very generous 4,000 mAh battery, charging via USB-C, and Samsung’s custom One UI software that is loaded with endless functions and settings.
Xiaomi Redmi Note 9
Next, we have the Xiaomi Redmi Note 9. This is an international phone, so there is no guarantee for U.S. users and some LTE bands are missing. However, these are almost the only real drawbacks. The Redmi Note 9 is a damn impressive phone. The 6.53-inch Full HD+ display has very slim edges and an inconspicuous hole-punch cutout for the selfie camera. Xiaomi also has some nice colors to choose from, with Forest Green as our favorite.
Under the hood, the Note 9 is equipped with the MediaTek Helio G85 processor, 4GB RAM, 128GB expandable storage, and a huge 5,020 mAh battery. We are also fans of the USB-C quick charger, 3.5mm headphone jack, and IR controller on the top frame of the phone. Xiaomi’s custom MIUI software can sometimes crash, but in almost every way, this is one of the best smartphones under $200
Samsung Galaxy A10e
The Nokia 4.2 is a popular product within the space for the best smartphones under $200, but if it doesn’t attract your attention, another option worth considering is the Samsung Galaxy A10e. Depending on where your needs lie, this may be a better choice than the 4.2. The Galaxy A10e has a better display. It is larger, goes from edge-to-edge with the left and right frame of the phone, and has a much smaller bezel. If you use a lot of media, the A10e will make your movies and games stand out a bit more.
Another thing we especially like about this phone is the fact that it works on all major American carriers – including AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, and Verizon. Compared to Nokia’s 4.2, which only works with GSM networks such as T-Mobile and AT&T, the A10e is the default choice if you rely on Sprint or Verizon. Other highlights of the Galaxy A10e are its expandable storage capacity of up to 512GB, Samsung’s spirited Exynos 7884B processor, and a 3,000 mAh battery.
If you need the best smartphone under $200 to spend, you should go with Nokia 4.2 as our top recommendation. Nokia has dominated the low-end and mid-range markets in recent years, and the 4.2 represents the best total value you can get in this price range. When you look at the Nokia 4.2, it is quite admirable how many features Nokia has been able to cram into such an affordable device. It has double 13-megapixel and 2-megapixel rear cameras that take pretty good photos, a special button to call up the Google Assistant, and a MicroSD slot to expand the 32 GB of internal storage to 400 GB.
Another big victory for the Nokia 4.2 is the software experience. Android One powers the phone, and this results in a couple of huge advantages. First of all, the overall user interface is amazingly clean and easy to navigate. It’s a somewhat similar experience to what you’d find on Pixel phones and isn’t bogged down in unnecessary gimmicks everywhere you look. As a result, the Nokia 4.2 is guaranteed to receive all of the major software updates until April 2021 and security patches until April 2022.
Moto G7 Play
Motorola’s Moto G series has long been one of the most popular for budget Android phones, and currently, the company’s one of the best smartphones under $200 is the Moto G7 Play. Yes, it has a much bigger notch compared to the 4.2 and A10e, but there is much to offer here that makes the G7 Play exciting. With every phone that Motorola releases, one of the strengths is the software experience. With the G7 Play, it is no different. Along with a clean and sleek interface, you also get Motorola’s suite of software add-ons.
These include Moto Display (an excellent always-on display feature) and Moto Actions – which lets you move the device in a chopping motion to turn the flash on and turn it on to open the camera. In everyday use, these functions are a lot of fun and useful. Motorola has also worked with Amazon to integrate Alexa into G7 Play intensely, allowing you to press and hold the power on/off button to open the virtual assistant at any time. If you prefer Alexa over Google Assistant, the G7 Play fits better than something like Nokia 4.2.
We also like that the phone has expandable storage up to 512GB, uses a USB-C port for charging, and works on all major US carriers. Motorola has a notoriously bad history for not immediately pushing software updates to its phones (if at all), so put that in mind before handing over your money.