Budget smartphones that don’t suck

Nowadays, flagship devices have gotten very expensive. Gone are the days of US$600 flagships. Manufacturers like Apple now ship smartphones that are over US$1,000 (roughly J$135,000 at time of writing) and that’s before taxes.

 iPhone 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max
The iPhone 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max launched with prices starting at US$999 and US$1099 respectively.

There is no denying, flagship phones are expensive and it can be tough buying one without spending a month’s salary. Not to worry, budget smartphones have gotten quite good. To the point where you might ask yourself “Do I really need to spend so much on a smartphone?”

Let’s be clear, we’re not talking about cheap, barebones devices that freeze when you open Facebook. The “budget” here is from the US$300 to US$600 range. While that might still feel a bit too steep for some, those prices are a lot more affordable than the latest Samsung or iPhone flagships.

So, let’s look at a few budget devices that may be right for you.

OnePlus 6T smartphone
OnePlus 6T. (Photo: OnePlus)

OnePlus 6T

Chinese manufacturer OnePlus is known for its “affordable flagships”.  Though their prices have steadily increased since the OnePlus One released in 2014, the OnePlus 6T is still less expensive than the US $900+ Samsung Note 10.

One Plus 6T
Samsung Note 10 smartphone
Samsung Note 10 started at US$900

The OnePlus 6T starts at only US$499. For that price, you get 8 GB RAM plus 128 GB storage, an in-display fingerprint sensor, a 6.1″ AMOLED display and a dual-camera setup with 16- and 20 MP sensors. Though its last year’s model, it is still a good option for those wanting to save a dollar.

Samsung Galaxy A50
Samsung Galaxy A50 smartphone
Samsung Galaxy A50 has a 6.4-inch screen. (Photo: Samsung)

Samsung’s “A” series line-up has provided great value for money and the A50 is no exception. At only US$350, this device is equipped with a large 6.4 inch, 1080p+, Super AMOLED display, 4000 mAh battery, a 25 MP front camera along with three cameras on the back and SD card storage. This device is more than enough if you like taking selfies, scrolling through Instagram or video calling.

iPhone 8

iPhone 8 smartphone
The iPhone 8 has the same A11 chip as the iPhone X. (Photo: Apple)

Though Apple sells some very expensive phones, they still have more affordable options. The iPhone 8 is still available and it starts at US$449 for a 64 GB, 4.7-inch model. It packs a powerful A11 Bionic chip with a neural engine to power through some very demanding tasks like gaming and video editing and is in the more expensive iPhone X.

Buy Used or Refurbished

The used market is huge. Many persons who are looking to get a device can go the used route and save money. Old flagships like the Samsung Galaxy S8+ are available for US$400 USD. Be careful though, and do your due diligence to avoid being ripped off and given a faulty device.

If you aren’t about that “used phone” life, you can go with a refurbished device instead. Refurbished devices have one or more parts replaced and are usually thoroughly inspected. If you’re lucky, you can even get a device that’s basically new.

— Written by Renor C.