While there are plenty of terrific Android phones out there, it’s difficult to know which cheap ones are bricks and which ones are actually worth spending money on. After all, you want a device that’ll last you three or so years and some phones cost well over the $1,500 price point (looking at you, Apple and Samsung), but frankly, you don’t need to get a phone that’s this expensive.
Cheap Android phones are common and easy to get used to. I’ve used enough of them at this point to be able to confidently say that the price-to-feature difference between a cheap Android phone and a more expensive one isn’t usually that impressive.
And not that I hope to completely convince you of that with this article, but I’d just like to give you some inspiration for cheaper alternatives to the standard Samsung Galaxy S series, the OPPO Find X series and even the (arguably cheap to begin with) Pixel series.
So, let’s go through it: the cheap Android phones that aren’t paperweights. Keep in mind that we’re not talking exclusively about budget devices and are mostly talking about phones that fit into that sub-$1,000, cheaper-than-usual category.
The Google Pixel 6a
We’ve long raved about the Google Pixel A series at Gizmodo Australia, declaring that the Pixel 3a “fuccs” and that it completely changed the mid-range phone market for the better.
Well, the Google Pixel 6a is no different, priced at only $749 and well worth the price, with one of the best cameras of the sub-$1,000 range of phones, a really nice aesthetic and shape and Google’s really nice bloatware-free operating system.
If you’re after the best all-rounder, it’s difficult to look past the $750 Google Pixel 6a. Phones priced above it typically rocket to $1,000 or above, and the quality gap between these price points isn’t all that noticeable.
OPPO Find X5 Lite
If Google isn’t your preferred phone maker, then the OPPO Find X5 Lite might be worthwhile (or any OPPO device that sports the “Find X Lite” name).
The cheapest of the Find X series of phones, behind the standard “Find X” and the “Find X Pro”, the Lite is built around being affordable and bringing some of the best of OPPO’s high-end range down to the $799 price point.
It’s a little pricier than the Pixel 6a, but if you prefer OPPO’s admittedly deeper customisation options and you’re looking for a serious Samsung and Google alternative, then OPPO’s cheap premium handset is well worth considering.
The TCL 20 R 5G
One of the cheaper Android phones on our list is the TCL 20 R 5G, a terrific smartphone with admittedly lower performance than these other phones, but also costing only $350 when it launched late last year (and often much less from some stores now that the 30 Series has debuted).
If you’re after a smartphone with the right level of performance but not a huge price tag, TCL sticks out among other sub-$500 phone makers.
TCL directly competes with the A series OPPO and Samsung devices, and with TCL’s proprietary screen technology and generally better cost-to-performance ratio, you’d likely be impressed with the cheap handsets on offer from the brand famous for its TVs.
The Samsung Galaxy A53
At a much better price point than the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE, and without sacrificing the features that made the S21 series great, the Galaxy A53 is a purpose-built cheap Android phone.
The “A5X” range of phones are some of the most popular smartphones internationally, and the A53 is the latest in the series. The A53 sports an impressive battery life and a nice screen, bringing some of Samsung’s best tech to the $700 price point.
If you’re a Samsung fan, this is probably your best alternative to the Google Pixel 6a or the OPPO Find X5 Lite. That said, you shouldn’t expect camera quality to be better than the 6a, as the Galaxy A53 suffers in low-light environments.
That’s the end of our list (at the moment)
At the moment, these are our four favourite cheap Android phones available in Australia, although our opinions tend to change from time to time as new devices are released.
For the moment, we’re pretty happy with the Google Pixel 6a, as it captures the best of the cheap Android phone market without many sacrifices.