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The best budget phones for almost every budget

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The best budget phones for almost every budget

New B30 Pro 5G for $299: This is the first Nuu phone I tested and I was pleasantly surprised by its performance. The MediaTek Dimensity 7050 chipset inside, with 12GB of RAM, runs well and handles games well. The 120Hz AMOLED display is also nice. It’s better than many other phones under $300. However, Nuu will provide only two years of software updates and this phone is already outdated: it runs Android 13 out of the box. The cameras aren’t great either and the phone only works on T-Mobile’s network. If gaming is your main priority and you don’t mind the other flaws, this will work.

Samsung Galaxy S23 FE for $500: The price fluctuates constantly, but I’ve seen the S23 FE drop to $500, which qualifies it for this buying guide. It is powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset, which is a little older but still very fast and powerful. The triple camera system is solid, with a day-long battery life, and the 6.4-inch AMOLED display is exquisite. You will receive Android updates until 2027 and four more years of security updates.

I don’t recommend Motorola’s Moto G series phones from 2023 or earlier, as they won’t receive any more software updates and the newer models don’t cost much more. Try to avoid buying a budget phone from a year ago (unless mentioned otherwise above) because they usually have short software policies and may be outdated.

Yes. Most of the major smartphone makers have unveiled their lineup of budget phones for the year, although there are still some options from Motorola, TCL, and HMD Global. I am quite confident in our previous elections.

Consider last year’s flagship phones

If none of these phones have the features you want or aren’t as powerful as you’d like, your best bet is to look at last year’s flagship smartphones, which can be heavily discounted. They are sometimes easy to find, but manufacturers may stop selling them altogether. Keep in mind that you’ll lose a year of software support, but that’s usually better than the software support available on cheap phones anyway. He Google Pixel 7For example, it has gone down at $400and the Pixel 7 Pro is down to $449. Samsung’s Galaxy S23 has started slowly falling towards $600.

5G is the newest cellular network and is widespread enough that you should try using phones that support it. It doesn’t completely replace 4G LTE, so you’ll see it in your status bar as you travel across the country. You can read more about it here, but in summary, 5G comes in two main types: sub-6 and millimeter wave (mmWave). The latter is usually only available on flagship phones and lets you access ultra-fast speeds, but you’ll rarely find mmWave (think select areas of major cities and certain locations, like stadiums and airports). Sub-6 is not much faster than 4G LTE, but it has a wider range and is more affordable today. Most of the smartphones we recommend here support sub-6 5G, even those that cost as little as $200.

Check network compatibility

If you purchase an unlocked phone from this list and try to take it to one of your wireless carrier’s retail stores, you may be told that it is not network compatible. It probably is. Simply use a clip or SIM eject tool to pop out the SIM card from your current phone and then slide that SIM into your new phone. If it doesn’t work at first, restart your phone or wait a couple of hours.

If you need a new SIM, try ordering one online from your provider or see if they’ll give you a SIM when you activate a line in store (if you’re starting coverage). Tell them you have a phone. Many times, representatives will want to sell you a phone; that’s one possible reason why they might pester you to buy a different device from the store. That said, make sure any phone you buy works on your wireless network. Listings from retailers like Amazon should clearly state which networks a device will be compatible with. Also, make sure the listing says the phone is sold “unlocked.”

In this guide, we list whether a phone works with one of the major US carriers. But what if you don’t have AT&T, T-Mobile, or Verizon? If we notice that a phone works with T-Mobile, for example, that means it will probably work with smaller carriers like Metro By T-Mobile and Mint Mobile, both of which use T-Mobile’s cellular network. If you are concerned about compatibility, check the specifications of the exact model you are considering. Make sure it has the LTE or 5G bands you need to work with your carrier.

Warning for Verizon users: There is a higher chance that an unlocked phone will not work on your network. Make sure it is labeled to work on Verizon or that it says the phone supports CDMA. If something strange happens, like you don’t receive any text messages, you may also need to contact customer support and ask them to enable non-CDMA roaming. AT&T and T-Mobile are GSM carriers, which is the standard in most of the world; most unlocked phones are compatible with them.

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