10 Best Cheap Smartphones (2022): iPhone, Android, 5G

It’s not perfect though. It’s easy enough to ignore the low-resolution screen, but it doesn’t get very bright, so reading the screen on sunny days can be difficult. The device itself feels very plastic and attracts a lot of fingerprints on the back, so you’ll want to clean it regularly. The main camera can take some decent shots during the day, but is quite weak in low light. All in all, these flaws do not detract from the value of the Galaxy A13 5G. It’s a pretty cheap phone that just works.

Works on all three major US carriers.

OnePlus Nord N20 5G

Photo: OnePlus

This OnePlus (7/10, WIRED Recommends) won’t work on Verizon and only supports 4G LTE on AT&T, but it’s otherwise a great 5G phone that delivers impressive specs. These include an AMOLED display (rare at this price) and excellent performance. It has a headphone jack, NFC and a MicroSD card, plus it will get three years of security updates. Disadvantages? The cameras are pass-through only, and the A13 will only be updated to Android 12.

The best under $200 (and the best battery life)

Want the longest battery life possible? Two days is pretty great than the aforementioned Pixel 5A or Galaxy A32 5G, but the Motorola Moto G Power (2021) can last around three full days on a single charge, thanks to its 5,000mAh battery. It used to sell for $250, but now it’s almost always $150, making it an even better value.

The internal Snapdragon 662 chip with 4 gigs of RAM is perfectly adequate; you will be able to run all your apps and most games just fine. The 720p LCD screen isn’t as pretty as our other picks, but it still gets bright enough to see in sunny outdoor conditions. Similarly, the rear camera system works well during the day, but isn’t as good as the Pixel 5A in low light.

It comes with only 64 gigabytes of storage, so you’ll want to use a MicroSD card to add more space. There’s also a headphone jack and a fingerprint sensor, but no NFC. This means you can’t use this phone to make contactless payments with services like Google Pay. The biggest drawback? Motorola will only offer one more year of security updates, and this device will not be updated to Android 12. This could be a problem for you, and it’s completely understandable.

You might be wondering why I didn’t recommend the newer Moto G Power 2022. That’s because after running benchmark tests, I confirmed my suspicions that the performance on the newer handset is significantly worse than the 2021 version (Motorola switched to a smaller Mediatek chipset). It is very sluggish, and the camera results also felt like a let down. That works the last three full days, but as long as the Moto G Power 2021 is still available, I think it’s a better buy.

Works on all three major US carriers.

Moto G Stylus 2022

Photo: Motorola

Not to be confused with the Moto G Stylus 5G, the Moto G Stylus 2022 is a smaller version that lacks 5G support and NFC for contactless payments. It’s a perfectly good phone, as I mentioned in my review, but it’s by no means an upgrade over its predecessor. It works well enough to run most apps and games, you get almost two days of battery life, and it’ll get three years of security updates (but one OS upgrade to Android 12).

There are only two phones in this guide that support wireless charging: the iPhone SE 2022 and the Nokia XR20 (7/10, WIRED recommends). If you want the convenience of not having to plug in a charger to charge your phone, that’s reason enough to go for the XR20. (Read our guide to the best wireless chargers for some recommendations.) It’s also a rough smartphone without looking too flashy or too thick. I dropped it on the pavement three times during testing and it barely wore out (although that’s no guarantee it will survive every drop).

It regularly drops to $500 or less, which is why it found a place in this guide. I was pleasantly surprised when I tested the XR20 in late 2021. You get pretty reliable performance with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 480 5G, all-day battery life, a bright LCD screen, and dual-SIM support, which is not common on most phones sold in the US. There’s even a headphone jack, rarely seen on more expensive phones, along with an IP68 water and dust resistance rating.

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