Best Phone Under $200: Cheaper Phones for Just the Basics



$130 at Samsung

Samsung Galaxy A02S

Finest when a low worth is most essential

The very best telephones underneath $200 supply a mixture of trendy options alongside legacy ports you may’t discover on in the present day’s dearer telephones. For instance, you may get a cellphone with a 6.5-inch display screen and a number of cameras, plus a headphone jack and expandable storage with a microSD card slot. 

Nevertheless, there are different tradeoffs to bear in mind. Telephones underneath $200 will doubtless run slower than their pricier counterparts, lack NFC for contactless funds, could solely obtain one software program replace and most of them will not assist speedier 5G connections. However you may have peace of thoughts realizing that they will assist most apps from the Google Play Retailer and can obtain just a few years of safety updates.

This listing is presently within the midst of a revamp as we stay up for a brand new wave of underneath $200 telephones anticipated in 2023. We already know Motorola is releasing a brand new model of the Moto G Play in January, which is able to price $170 and have a concentrate on its 16-megapixel triple sensor digital camera system. We can even doubtless see new fashions from TCL and Samsung, which presently supply the $198 TCL XE 5G and the $190 Galaxy A13 respectively.


Watch this: Samsung’s Least expensive Galaxy Telephones Reviewed: What $180 or Much less Will get You

Mike Sorrentino/CNET

Samsung’s Galaxy A03S at $160 (roughly £130, AU$240) contains loads of nice options, and may very well be an ideal match for somebody searching for the most cost effective doable cellphone that may deal with most important duties. The cellphone’s 6.5-inch display screen, capped at 720p decision, is nice for studying information, watching movies and enjoying video games. Regardless of some efficiency lag discovered throughout our overview, the cellphone is nice at multitasking. However the cellphone’s tiny 32GB of space for storing may replenish quick, so if contemplating this cellphone, it could be worthwhile to contemplate increasing the storage with a microSD card.

Samsung additionally plans to assist this cellphone with at the least 4 years of safety updates, which at this worth vary is nearly as good because it will get. On the software program aspect it is much less clear what number of Android variations are scheduled, however the cellphone ships with Android 11 to start out.

Learn our Samsung Galaxy A03S overview.

Mike Sorrentino/CNET

Although Samsung’s Galaxy A13 has succeeded the Galaxy A12, you may nonetheless discover the $180 Samsung cellphone at some US carriers, though it’s in any other case discontinued on Samsung’s web site. For example, the Galaxy A12 is accessible at Straight Discuss wi-fi at a decrease $130 worth. Based on Counterpoint Analysis, the A12 was the best-selling Android cellphone of 2021, even outselling Apple’s iPhone SE (2020).

In our Galaxy A12 overview, we discovered the cellphone took nicer pictures than the cheaper Galaxy A03S due to its four-camera array with a 16-megapixel primary digital camera, however it was nonetheless hindered by the identical 32GB of onboard storage seen throughout all of Samsung’s sub-$200 telephones.

Whereas we have not examined the Galaxy A13, it is doable that the $190 4G-only model of that cellphone is value contemplating for its 50-megapixel primary digital camera. However in case you do plan to purchase the Galaxy A12, know that the cellphone’s 3GB of reminiscence dealt with multitasking nicely throughout our overview, however skilled some lag when shifting between horizontal and vertical display screen orientations.

Learn our Samsung Galaxy A12 overview.

Michael Sorrentino/CNET

The $130 Samsung Galaxy A02S was launched in late 2020, and continues to be listed on Samsung’s web site together with some wi-fi carriers. The cellphone initially shipped with Android 10, however has since acquired an replace to Android 12 with Samsung’s One UI 4.1. Although the Galaxy A02S is the lowest-priced cellphone in Samsung’s Galaxy line, the continued software program and safety updates ought to present consumers with function refinements together with safety from vulnerabilities.

Throughout our overview, we discovered multitasking to be the cellphone’s primary shortcoming, together with the tiny 32GB of space for storing included. The cellphone additionally has no fingerprint sensor, which implies a safety PIN or sample can be needed to be able to hold the cellphone safe.

However the cellphone does embrace a microSD card slot for including extra storage, a headphone jack and a big 6.5-inch 720p display screen. Should you simply want a easy cellphone primarily for cellphone calls, texting and taking the occasional picture, then the Galaxy A02S may very well be a worthwhile selection. 

How we check telephones

CNET assessments telephones through the use of them day by day and evaluating them with competing telephones to evaluate their worth. We contemplate a wide range of components, such because the cellphone’s display screen, cameras, battery life, software program, efficiency, options and ease of use.

For low-priced telephones, we be certain these gadgets persistently work nicely when utilized in various conditions. This contains day-to-day actions like studying the information, listening to music, watching movies, texting, enjoying video games and multitasking. 

We check cellphone cameras in a variety of environments, taking check pictures open air within the daytime and nighttime, and indoors in darker settings. We use cameras in energetic environments, like a live performance or a sports activities recreation, and with a wide range of topics together with individuals, objects and pets. We additionally check out there digital camera settings, particularly these which can be rarer in these worth ranges equivalent to Evening mode and Portrait mode.

These anecdotal cellphone experiences are additionally mixed with benchmark assessments equivalent to Geekbench efficiency testing and battery testing. We monitor battery life in two methods: By seeing how a lot energy is often left after a day of regular utilization and by seeing how a lot battery is depleted throughout a brief interval of intense utilization (usually 45 minutes to an hour). For the latter check, we’ll verify how the cellphone’s battery holds as much as a collection of video calls, gaming, video streaming and internet looking.

Telephones underneath $200 FAQs

Are cheaper telephones value it?

Telephones which can be underneath $200 simply concentrate on the necessities, which implies you may need to make some compromises. You can make cellphone calls, textual content, video chat, browse the online and run most Android apps on these gadgets. However you shouldn’t anticipate NFC for cell funds, 5G connectivity or — sadly — a lot included space for storing.

Nevertheless, these telephones in any other case perform nicely and may very well be what you are searching for if all you want is an effective communication gadget. In addition they embrace options which can be turning into more and more more durable to seek out in dearer telephones, equivalent to together with a charger within the field, a headphone jack on the cellphone and a microSD card slot for including extra storage.

That stated, if you’re discovering that your cellphone wants transcend fundamental communication, it’s possible you’ll need to contemplate  telephones which can be underneath $300 or telephones underneath $500 in case you can broaden your price range.

What about telephones which can be even cheaper, like underneath $100?

Telephones underneath $100 do exist, however they often include vital compromises.

For example, the TCL 30 Z is likely one of the least expensive Android 12 telephones out there at $90. Whereas we have not examined this cellphone, I’ve seen that it makes use of the antiquated micro-USB port for charging.

Most different Android telephones and wi-fi headphones, even these within the price range worth vary, now use USB-C for charging, which means you would possibly end up scrambling for a charger in case you misplace it. The cellphone can be solely getting one main software program replace to Android 13 and two years of safety updates, which is brief however akin to some telephones bought underneath $300.

Whereas we have not reviewed any flip telephones not too long ago, anybody searching for a tool made particularly for cellphone calls must be well-served by most out there choices. Flip telephones assist 4G alerts and — extra importantly — HD Voice for clearer voice calls. Some flip telephones even assist trendy apps like WhatsApp and the Google Assistant, albeit in a extra restricted approach in comparison with how these companies perform on a smartphone. The Nokia 2789 Flip for example is a flip cellphone working on the model’s KaiOS, which helps downloadable apps and companies.

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