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The top 9 budget phones with premium specs in 2020

These phones cost less than $350 and pack some of the most-wanted specs.

Isabela Alzuguir
| Updated on
The top 9 budget phones with premium specs in 2020© 2021 Versus

Smartphone launch events have grown into spectacles that further interweave technology and culture. In essence, new flagships become instant objects of desire, and many of us are eager to explore the innovative tech offered by premium flagships. Truth be told, these innovations tend to carry hefty price tags, but some still find their way to budget phones.

As budget phones are seldom in the spotlight, those on a tighter budget may feel discouraged, unaware that they can find exceptional entry-level and mid-range models at more reasonable prices. Today, our mission is to set this right by presenting nine outstanding Android phones under $350 USD.

Specs to consider when choosing a budget phone

With so many specs to examine, picking a phone is no easy task. We'll help you with a quick overview of specs to keep in mind, and we'll share our handpicked products' highlights; besides, we've created a chart to make this decision easier for you.

For starters, compare each model's screen size and screen resolution. Settling on screen size is a matter of personal preference: some of us favor larger phones, while others want a smartphone that fits in their pockets. As for resolution, it determines the number of pixels that the display can show both vertically and horizontally. The higher the screen resolution, the sharper the displayed images.

Speaking of images, being able to take nice-looking photos is essential for most smartphone users. Megapixels greatly influence the quality of the images you'll be able to create, but it's also critical to consider other camera system specs. Widest aperture size, image stabilization technology, and whether it's a multi-lens model (which increases photography possibilities) are but a few examples. Make sure to check out our article on top smartphone cameras; although it focuses on premium phones, you'll get a more in-depth insight into smartphone photography.

Moving on, RAM and total clock speed are crucial pointers of a smartphone's performance – the bigger, the better. Make sure also to take a look at internal storage and battery power. Fully knowing this sounds repetitive: the more, the merrier.

How our top picks made the cut

We've established $350 USD as the maximum price after analyzing our users' requests, and we think you'll be pleasantly surprised to find options well under this limit.

Recapping the specs we've considered, alongside each product's price tag:

  • Screen size 
  • Screen resolution 
  • Megapixels (main and front camera systems)
  • Multi-lens main camera systems
  • RAM 
  • Total clock speed 
  • Internal storage 
  • Battery power 

All the phones listed have screens larger than 5 inches and offer sufficient RAM for most apps to run smoothly. If you're into gaming, you should consider the phones that have the highest RAM and highest total clock speed values. If you're more interested in photography, focus on camera specs. Whichever your interests, we're confident you'll find an affordable device in our selection of the top 9 budget phones.

  • Google Pixel 4a
    1

    1. Google Pixel 4a

    2,802 points

    Google Pixel 4a

    Offering an ideal balance between premium specs and a super budget-friendly price, the Google Pixel 4a builds on the previous version of Google's famous phone. Who's this phone great for? Photographers and photo enthusiasts looking to enjoy a high-end camera at a discounted price; it nearly meets all of the specs of the Pixel 5 but doesn't come with the same price tag.

    Featuring an upgraded Qualcomm Snapdragon 730 processor, the Google Pixel 4a has a 5.8-inch OLED display that spreads edge-to-edge. And, it's just as fast as other high-end phones in higher price ranges and extremely portable. Where the phone truly shines, though, is in its inclusion of a 12MP camera that shoots professional-quality photos in crystal-clear and vibrant colors. It even shoots 360° panoramas.

    You can, as well, expect to enjoy everything from upgraded RAM and a headphone jack to a slightly higher pixel density than the supposedly more advanced Google Pixel 5.

  • Samsung Galaxy A51
    2

    2. Samsung Galaxy A51

    2,724 points

    Samsung Galaxy A51

    Released in December of 2019, the Samsung Galaxy A51 quickly became one of the most popular phones of 2020. Mid-range Galaxy A-series phones have been gaining popularity for quite some time, and it's easy to see why. The A51's price tag rivals that of Apple's iPhone SE yet boasts an impressive 6.5-inch Super AMOLED screen in FHD+, over twice the battery life of its Apple counterpart, and 6GB more of RAM memory.

    In fact, this is where the Samsung phone truly shines; it's well-known for its screen, camera quality, and battery life. But, what else makes it one of the best budget phones with premium specs? For starters, the camera is out of this world for the price range. You can take your photos to the next level with a main 48MP camera, the 123° 12MP ultra-wide camera, the 5MP macro camera, and another 5MP camera designed to offer more depth and Live Focus effects.

    Aside from offering pro-quality camera features, the Galaxy A51's octa-core processor and up to 8GB of RAM deliver a consistently smooth and efficient experience whether you're maximizing the phone's power with Game Booster or asking Bixby to set a date for an important meeting.

  • LG G8 ThinQ
    3

    3. LG G8 ThinQ

    3,535 points

    LG G8 ThinQ

    Often compared to the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus, which we've also included on our list of the best budget-friendly phones with premium specs, LG's G8 ThinQ boasts a 6.1-inch QHD+ OLED screen, 6GB of RAM, and up to 2 TB of microSD expandable memory. Hailed for its wide-angle rear camera, fast processor, and the fact that it's water-resistant, the G8 ThinQ offers everything you need from a top-tier phone.

    What doesn't it offer? Users report that the phone's Portrait Mode is less than spectacular. And, the screen is slightly small for a phone of this caliber. However, once you open the phone and begin to navigate with the octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor, you immediately feel pulled in by the power of the device.

    Count on 5G support, super-fast download speeds, and a camera that'll impress even the most enthusiastic of photographers (well, at least for a phone). The triple-camera design means that you can enjoy a 16MP main camera along with a 12MP dual-pixel PDAF camera and a 12MP telephoto camera offering 16mm, 25mm, and 50mm focal lengths. It's so good, in fact, that it scores a 99 DXOMARK Camera score.

  • Xiaomi Mi 10T
    4

    4. Xiaomi Mi 10T

    3,488 points

    Xiaomi Mi 10T

    Boasting Xiaomi's fastest refresh rate, the Mi 10T's 144Hz ultra-high refresh rate helps reduce eye discomfort and allows for ultra-superior streaming, gaming, and usage. Not sold on the screen's display? Then, you'll want to check out the impressive 64MP main camera and the 13MP ultra-wide camera; for those interested in taking pro-grade photos, this camera definitely delivers, just at a much more accessible price than similar phones.

    8K recording capabilities allow you to create cinema-like content with the touch of a button straight from the phone. Add on the fact that the phone includes TrueColor features, movie filters, and refined eye-protection, and you'll never want to put it down.

    The faster refresh rate means an upgraded gaming experience over other similarly-priced phones with lower refresh rates. The added Smart AdaptiveSync Display automatically pairing each game or app with its best-suited refresh rate. This, combined with the Snapdragon 865 5G processor, ensures a fast, fluid browsing experience regardless of what you're using the phone for.

  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 Pro
    5

    5. Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 Pro

    2,721 points

    Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 Pro

    Wasn't it for the price tag, you might not know that Xiaomi's Redmi Note 8 Pro is part of the budget mobile category. Powered by a gaming-optimized Mediatek's Helio G90T chipset, the Note 8 Pro pledges to deliver 34% more power than its predecessor. The latest design features a 6.53-inch HDR-certified display with FHD+ resolution, front-and-back Gorilla Glass 5 protection, and a 91.4% screen-to-body ratio.

    The splashproof phone packs a four-lens primary photography system, and unlike most budget phones, delivers 4K footage (at 30fps). Depending on your territory, you'll have three configurations to choose from. The prime version offers 128GB of stage and a massive 8GB RAM, and variants are available in 128GB/6GB RAM and 64GB/6GB RAM. All models feature a dedicated microSD card slot for an additional 512GB of storage capacity.

  • Nokia 7.2
    6

    6. Nokia 7.2

    2,647 points

    Nokia 7.2

    The Nokia 7.2 smartphone is an excellent choice for those who value design, display technology, and photography. Equipped with a 6.3-inch Full HD+ screen with the proprietary PureDisplay technology, the Nokia 7.2 converts all videos to HDR (high dynamic range) in real-time. With a metallic finish and a satin glass back, the Nokia 7.2 won the iF Design Award.

    An honoree at the CES 2020 Innovation Awards, the smartphone runs on Qualcomm's Snapdragon 660 processor and promises two days of battery charge. We haven't tested it to confirm whether it holds up, but according to the manufacturer, AI-assisted adaptive battery technology plays a significant role in such prolonged battery life.

    Finally, the Nokia 7.2 has a triple-lens camera setup with Zeis optics, promising to capture the most delicate details. The phone is available in two versions: 128GB of storage and 6GB of RAM, and 64GB of storage and 4GB of RAM. Both feature an external memory slot.

  • Realme 5 Pro
    7

    7. Realme 5 Pro

    2,227 points

    Realme 5 Pro

    Available in two funky versions with holographic effects (Crystal Blue and Crystal Green), the Realme 5 Pro has a striking design, long-lasting 4,035mAh battery, and a favorable benefit-cost ratio. Despite the lack of IP certification, the smartphone has triple-layer protection against water splashes and dust.

    Interestingly, the Realme 5 Pro has a smaller display than the Realme 5, but at 6.3 inches, it's still massive, and its Full HD+ resolution is higher than the larger model's. Furthermore, the screen has Gorilla Glass 3+ protection, and the combination of a Snapdragon 712 chipset and up to 8GB of RAM makes it a suitable budget-friendly option for gamers.

    The Realme 5 Pro has a four-lens rear camera system comprising a 48MP primary lens, a 2MP depth-sensing lens, a 2MP macro lens, and an 8MP ultrawide lens. Unfortunately, some reviewers have observed sub-par audio quality. The Realme 5 Pro is available in four versions: 128GB and 8GB of RAM; 128GB and 4GB of RAM; 64GB and 6GB of RAM; and 64GB and 4GB of RAM. If you're a gamer, we'd recommend opting for at least 6GB of RAM.

  • Samsung Galaxy A11
    8

    8. Samsung Galaxy A11

    1,726 points

    Samsung Galaxy A11

    While there’s a lot to know about the Samsung Galaxy A11, we’ll start with the phone’s impressive triple camera, which consists of a 5MP ultra-wide camera that boasts a 115-degree field of view. You can also enjoy the 13MP camera and the 2MP depth camera that’s built just for adjusting the depth of field (you know, like a professional). Snap high-quality photos and then swipe through them in HD on the Infinity-O display.

    When you need to engage in more power-heavy tasks, such as opening graphics-heavy apps, playing games, and streaming videos, the advanced octa-core processor is what’ll power you through it all. Each core reaches speeds of up to 1.8GHz, making for an often lightning-fast user experience. And, the phone’s 2GB of RAM delivers a consistently smooth and efficient experience regardless of what you’re using the phone for.

    Cinematic clarity and a unique fingerprint scanner function on the back of the phone ensures that you’ll never want for the cutting-edge features that make today’s new smartphones feel more like small personal computers than telephones. Not sure how the Samsung Galaxy A11 stacks up to another phone you’re looking at? Compare it with thousands of other phones here to gauge its performance.

  • Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus
    9

    9. Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus

    3,491 points

    Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus

    Despite being released in 2018, the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus is a great budget-friendly option for those who don't want to shell out the cash for a new Samsung Galaxy S20, S20+, or S20 Ultra. By our comparisons, the Galaxy S9 Plus actually ranks higher than the newer S20. Why?

    The basic Galaxy S9 Plus comes with more internal storage than the basic version of the S20, the main camera offers users the ability to shoot in 60fps and the download speed is 20% faster.

    As if that weren't enough, though, the octa-core CPU alone is impressive for a phone in this price range. Add on the fact that the camera on this impressive Samsung phone adapts to light like the human eye, and it's easy to see why it's such a popular budget phone with premium specs.

     

Top 9 budget phones: specs overview

screen sizeresolutionmegapixels (main camera)megapixels (front camera)RAMCPU speedinternal storagebattery power
Google Pixel 4a5.81"1080 x 2340px12.2MP8MP6GB2 x 2.2 & 6 x 1.8GHz128GB3140mAh
Samsung Galaxy A516.5"1080 x 2400px48 & 12 & 5 & 5MP32MP8GB4 x 2.3 & 4 x 1.7GHz256GB4000mAh
LG G8 ThinQ6.1"1440 x 3120px16 & 12MP8MP6GB1 x 2.84 & 3 x 2.42 & 4 x 1.78GHz128GB3500mAh
Xiaomi Mi 10T6.67"1080 x 2400px64 & 13 & 5MP20MP8GB1 x 2.84 & 3 x 2.42 & 4 x 1.8GHz128GB5000mAh
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 Pro6.53"1080 x 2340px64 & 8 & 2 & 2MP20MP8GB2 x 2.05 & 6 x 2GHz256GB4500mAh
Nokia 7.26.3"1080 x 2280px48 & 8 & 5MP20MP6GB4 x 2.2 & 4 x 1.84GHz128GB3500mAh
Realme 5 Pro6.3"1080 x 2340px48 & 8 & 2 & 2MP16MP8GB2 x 2.3 & 6 x 1.7GHz128GB4035mAh
Samsung Galaxy A116.4"720 x 1560px13 & 5 & 2MP8MP3GB8 x 1.8GHz32GB4000mAh
Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus6.2"1440 x 2960px12 & 12MP8MP6GB4 x 2.7 & 4 x 1.7GHz256GB3500mAh
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