Best Phones Under $300: 5G Phones at Starter Prices



$299 at Amazon

Google Pixel 6A

Finest cellphone it’s best to truly get — so long as it is on sale

The most effective telephones beneath $300 supply a style of premium options, however in a tool that also very a lot looks like a price range cellphone. That is not a foul factor: These telephones could make calls, ship texts and run most apps and video games for lots of of {dollars} lower than the iPhone 14 or Galaxy S23. In addition they present entry to 5G, which is necessary if you wish to maintain onto your gadget for some time, and a few even include a built-in stylus. 

However I’ll degree with you: We’ve got but to make use of a cellphone within the $200 to $300 worth vary that looks like a superb worth. The best possible picks on this class are usually dearer gadgets which might be steadily discounted to $299 when on sale. For example, Google’s $449 Pixel 6A is our present greatest cellphone for beneath $500, and it is typically discounted to $299.

That is to not say telephones within the $200 to $300 worth vary needs to be averted. Some embody first rate cameras, a headphone jack, expandable storage and NFC assist for cellular funds. 


Watch this: Might I Ditch My Smartphone for the Mild Cellphone 2? Nearly.

What are the tradeoffs with telephones that value $300 or much less?

These cheaper gadgets are likely to cut back considerably in a single space or one other to be able to obtain these low costs. Mostly, these drawbacks embody restricted software program assist, provider assist or bloatware (preloaded apps that you simply by no means requested for). These tradeoffs typically imply that these gadgets shouldn’t be used after two to 3 years, particularly after safety replace assist ends.

It is also notable that whereas these telephones retail for $200 to $300, a lot of them are sometimes accessible at a deep low cost — and even without spending a dime — as a part of a provider subsidy deal. In case you are planning to stay with the identical wi-fi provider for 2 years, these telephones may simply develop into a part of the price of your service.  

Finest telephones beneath $300

OnePlus N20 playing Call of Duty
Eli Blumenthal/CNET

The $299 OnePlus N20 5G is not an thrilling cellphone, however it greater than will get the job executed for many conditions. In contrast to a number of telephones on this checklist, you should buy it unlocked from OnePlus. It additionally supplies high-end options we do not all the time see at this worth, like an in-screen fingerprint reader, sooner 33W charging, 6GB of RAM and NFC for cellular funds. Regardless of being accessible immediately from OnePlus, the N20 works with AT&T and T-Cellular however doesn’t work with Verizon. The cellphone’s 5G assist additionally solely works by T-Cellular.

In his OnePlus N20 evaluate, CNET Senior Editor Eli Blumenthal discovered the cellphone’s 64-megapixel primary digital camera, 2-megapixel macro digital camera and 2-megapixel monochrome lens to take first rate images throughout the daytime. However its cameras wrestle within the night, which is a standard challenge on cheaper telephones. The N20 additionally features a 16-megapixel front-facing digital camera situated within the high left of the cellphone’s show.

The cellphone can also be solely getting one main software program replace from Android 11 to Android 12, however will obtain three years of safety updates. Consequently, regardless of the cellphone’s first rate specs and barely wider availability, it solely is smart to hold onto this cellphone for 2 to 3 years.

TCL Stylus 5G
Mike Sorrentino/CNET

Reviewing the $258 TCL Stylus 5G was a journey for me final yr. Specs-wise, it has loads that I loved. The cellphone’s TCL NxtVision HDR setting supplied enhanced colours after I performed video games, TCL made minimal modifications to Android 12 and I particularly loved the magnetic stylus that matches securely into its personal slot on the cellphone.

Nevertheless, the large cause why my evaluate took 4 months is due to repetitive software program bugs that make the cellphone in any other case robust to advocate. I skilled frequent restarts whereas utilizing the cellphone and Bluetooth connectivity points, the latter of which was ultimately mounted by a software program replace. This cellphone can also be locked to T-Cellular fully, so it might’t be used on different carriers and is full of T-Cellular apps which might be difficult to take away.

But if you happen to completely will need to have a stylus and your price range is beneath $300, this is likely one of the higher general picks. However be cautious of software program points, and bear in mind the cellphone is simply getting one main software program replace together with two years of safety updates.

The OnePlus N300 phone
Mike Sorrentino/CNET

The $228 OnePlus Nord N300 5G is my favourite cellphone beneath $300. The one cause why I can not advocate it above the N20 is as a result of this cellphone is locked to T-Cellular. Regardless of being round $80 cheaper than the opposite OnePlus cellphone, it nonetheless has 33-watt quick charging, a 90Hz refresh charge show and a 48-megapixel primary digital camera that does a good job with images and video. Its matte black look that highlights its two digital camera lenses additionally makes it one of many nicer-looking price range telephones I’ve examined. The N300 improves on the N20 with its twin stereo audio system, over the only speaker on the N20, and I personally want the facet fingerprint sensor over in-screen choices like on the N20.

However aside from the provision challenge, the N300 additionally suffers from a brief software program assist timeline. The N300 will solely get one main software program replace from Android 12 to Android 13 and two years of safety updates. Although that is considerably regular for the class, I nonetheless contemplate it a serious downside. There’s additionally a dose of T-Cellular bloatware, however at this worth it is simpler to swallow.

In case you are purchasing particularly for a cellphone that works with T-Cellular or its Metro model, the $228 OnePlus Nord N300 is certainly a stable alternative. Simply acknowledge you can not take the cellphone to different carriers, and it will not be an incredible possibility after two years of use.

light phone 2 outside
Jessica Fierro/CNET

The Mild Cellphone 2 is a really completely different sort of cellphone. It is meant for individuals looking for freedom from the fixed stream of notifications, however nonetheless need a cellphone that appears good. However regardless of its considerably restricted performance, this cellphone nonetheless prices $299.  

The Mild Cellphone 2 helps texts, cellphone calls, music playback, podcasts, cellular hotspot performance and restricted GPS assist for instructions on its E Ink display. It doesn’t have a digital camera, internet browser, electronic mail entry or different frequent apps like information or messaging apps. 

My colleague Jessica Fierro gave life with the Mild Cellphone 2 a attempt, and she or he loved how the cellphone helped her keep extra targeted on the world round her. Nevertheless she discovered the slower texting velocity on the E Ink show to be difficult to regulate to, and couldn’t totally make the swap as a result of for work she wants some extent of social media entry to be able to keep up on developments. 

The absence of many fashionable options is your entire level of the Mild Cellphone 2. It is a gadget for individuals who deliberately simply need important communications on a display that is extra like a Kindle’s show than the one you’d discover on a Samsung Galaxy gadget.

The Mild Cellphone 2 is actually not for everyone, however it could possibly be value contemplating for somebody who needs their cellphone to do much less. Followers of standard telephones ought to contemplate the wealth of function telephones and flip telephones that also exist first — which are sometimes free with a provider deal or accessible for beneath $100.

Google's Pixel 6A phone with app icons on the home screen
Lisa Eadicicco/CNET

Admittedly I am dishonest by getting this cellphone into the checklist, however Google’s Pixel 6A has been discounted to $299 loads these days and is a simple suggestion when it has been discounted right into a price range cellphone vary.

Usually $449, the Pixel 6A received our Editors’ Alternative Award final yr. In her evaluate, CNET Senior Editor Lisa Eadicicco praised the cellphone for its nice digital camera, Pixel-exclusive options like Magic Eraser, its colourful design and being among the many first to get new Android updates. 

Whereas it is seemingly that Google publicizes a sequel 7A cellphone as quickly as the following Google I/O improvement convention, scheduled for Could 10, the present Pixel 6A continues to be a superb decide for the worth if you may get it at its $299 worth. However if you happen to see the cellphone return to its unique $449 worth between now and Could 10, and you are not in dire want of a brand new gadget, I’d then say await the rumored Pixel 7A.

How we take a look at telephones

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

For low-priced telephones, we be certain these gadgets constantly work properly when utilized in numerous conditions. This consists of many day-to-day actions like studying the information, listening to music, watching movies, texting, enjoying video games and multitasking. 

We take a look at cellphone cameras in a spread of environments, taking take a look at images outside within the daytime and nighttime, and indoors in darker settings. We use cameras in energetic environments, like a live performance or a sports activities sport, and with a wide range of topics together with individuals, objects and pets. We additionally take a look at accessible digital camera settings, particularly these which might be rarer in these worth ranges reminiscent of Evening mode and Portrait mode.

These anecdotal cellphone experiences are additionally mixed with benchmark assessments reminiscent of 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 extra intensive hour with the cellphone. For the latter take a look at, we’ll examine how the cellphone’s battery holds as much as a sequence of video calls, gaming, video streaming and internet searching.

Telephones beneath $300 FAQs

What about Apple’s iPhone?

Apple doesn’t at present promote any iPhone choices between $200 and $300. The most cost effective new iPhone you may get is the iPhone SE at $429. That iPhone is a superb worth for its quick processor and nice digital camera, however held again by its dated design that harkens again to the iPhone 6, 7 and eight.

If you happen to do not thoughts getting a preowned gadget and need one thing with a much bigger display, as of this writing Verizon sells a 64GB iPhone 11 for $275.

You too can get the 2020 model of the iPhone SE as a refurbished mannequin between $200 and $300 on web sites like Amazon and Finest Purchase, however beware of every retailer’s insurance policies for refurbished gadgets. Particularly be certain the refurbished gadget features a guarantee for repairs, since with out one you could have to pay Apple or one other retailer a excessive worth for a display restore or different unintended injury.

Finest telephones beneath $300: OnePlus Nord N20 5G vs. TCL Stylus 5G vs. OnePlus Nord N300 5G vs. Google Pixel 6A

OnePlus Nord N20 5G TCL Stylus 5G OnePlus Nord N300 5G Google Pixel 6A*
Show measurement, decision 6.43-inch FHD+ AMOLED show 6.81-inch FHD+ show (1080 x2400 pixels) 6.56-inch IPS LCD show; 720p decision; 90Hz refresh charge 6.1-inch OLED; (1080 x 2400); 60Hz
Pixel density 409ppi 395ppi 269ppi 429 ppi
Dimensions (inches) 6.2 x 2.8 x 0.29 in 6.67 x 3.01 x 0.35 in 6.4 x 2.9 x 0.3 in 6.0 x 2.8 x 0.35 in
Dimensions (millimeters) 159.9 x 73.2 x 7.5 mm 169.6 x 76.5 x 8.9 mm 163.8 x 75.1 x 7.99 mm 152.2 x 7.18 x 8.9 mm
Weight (ounces, grams) 173g or 6.1 oz 213g or 7.51 oz 190g or 6.7 oz 6.3 oz; 178g
Cellular software program Android 11 Android 12 Andorid 12 Android 12
Digicam 64-megapixel (primary), 2-megapixel (macro), 2-megapixel (monochrome lens) 50-megapixel (primary), 5-megapixel (large), 2-megapixel (macro), 2-megapixel (depth sensor) 48-megapixel (primary), 2-megapixel (depth lens) 12.2-megapixel (large), 12-megapixel extremely large)
Entrance-facing digital camera 16-megapixel 13-megapixel 16-megapixel 8-megapixel
Video seize 1080p/720p at 30 fps 1080p at 30fps 1080p/720p at 30 fps 4K
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 695 5G MediaTek Dimensity 700 5G MediaTek Dimensity 810 Google Tensor
RAM/Storage 6GB/128GB 4GB/128GB 4GB/64GB 6GB RAM/128GB storage
Expandable storage As much as 512GB As much as 2TB As much as 1TB None
Battery/Charger 4,500mAh; 33W charging 4,000mAh; 18W charging 5,000mAh; 33W charging 4,410 mAh capability; 18-watt quick charging (adapter bought individually)
Fingerprint sensor In-screen Facet fingerprint sensor Facet fingerprint sensor Below show
Headphone jack Sure Sure Sure None
Particular options NFC, Face Unlock, HDR, Display screen Flash, Face retouching Stylus with built-in storage, producitivity software program, NxtVision HDR mode Twin audio system, NFC, Face Unlock, HDR, Portrait, Face retouching 5G-enabled, 18W quick charging, WiFi 6E, safety updates for five years, Android OS updates for 3 years, twin SIM, IP67 water resistance
Value off-contract (USD) $299 $258 $228 $449 (*$299 when on sale)