Our new guide for the best smartphones under $200

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Are you in search of an affordable smartphone? While finding a quality phone priced under $200 may seem challenging, it’s not an impossible task. This selection highlights some of the best smartphones available for under $200 in 2023.

Thanks to the emergence of Chinese brands like Xiaomi and Realme in the market, the quest for a new, budget-friendly smartphone has become less daunting. In the past, Samsung dominated the entry-level smartphone market. However, while the reputable Korean brand still offers reasonably priced smartphones, its offerings often prove to be less compelling than those of its competitors at similar price points. In 2023, there’s fierce competition among Xiaomi, Realme, and Samsung in the entry-level smartphone market.

Below is our compilation of top budget-friendly smartphones priced at less than $200:

  1. Redmi Note 12 4G: The leading affordable smartphone choice.
  2. Samsung Galaxy A14 4G: Samsung’s entry-level contender.
  3. Xiaomi Redmi 10 2021: A cost-effective Android smartphone.
  4. Realme 9i: A noteworthy option from Realme.
  5. iPhone SE 2020: The preferred pick for refurbished devices.

So, let’s get started.

Redmi Note 12 4G

The Xiaomi Redmi 12 series consistently delivers exceptional value for money, and the Redmi Note 12 4G, though slightly less powerful than its 5G counterpart, is no exception to this trend. Priced at less than $200, it presents a well-rounded smartphone option.

In terms of design, Xiaomi sticks to its classic, signature style with a rectangular camera module, a plastic shell, and an IP53 protection rating.

The standout feature of the Redmi Note 12 4G is unquestionably its display. It boasts a spacious 6.67-inch AMOLED panel with Full HD+ resolution, capable of a smooth 120 Hz refresh rate. The color accuracy registers at 6264K, which leans slightly towards the blue spectrum, but considering its price point, the display quality is impressive.

Distinguishing itself from its 5G counterpart, the 4G model differs in both its chipset and primary camera. The 4G version features a triple-camera setup, comprising a 50 MP primary sensor, an 8 MP ultra-wide-angle lens, and a 2 MP macro sensor. Under the hood, it runs on a Snapdragon 685 chipset, which does not support 5G connectivity. Nevertheless, the smartphone delivers solid performance.

The inclusion of 33W fast charging is a welcome feature, allowing you to replenish the battery in just over an hour. With its generous 5,000 mAh battery capacity, the device easily lasts through a full day of usage without any worries.

Galaxy A14 4G

Samsung isn’t done yet, even in the budget smartphone category, and the Galaxy A14 is a testament to that. In its price range, it settles for an LCD panel, thankfully offering Full HD resolution. This phone boasts a generous 6.6-inch display. When it comes to materials, it primarily uses plastic. However, Samsung has put thought into the design of the camera module by seamlessly integrating the sensors into the shell, much like the approach seen in the Galaxy S23.

In terms of performance, the Korean manufacturer has opted for a Mediatek Helio G80 chip. It’s essential to note that performance won’t dazzle, and you may experience some slowdowns, but it should suffice for light smartphone usage. Moreover, the LCD screen isn’t particularly remarkable.

On the photography front, the Galaxy A14 sports three rear camera sensors: a 50-megapixel wide-angle, a 5-megapixel ultra-wide-angle, and a 2-megapixel macro lens. The resulting photos should be quite satisfactory for everyday use.

Its battery life is rather commendable, easily lasting a day and a half thanks to its 5000 mAh battery, which supports fast charging at 15W. Additionally, it still retains a headphone jack.

Priced at less than $200, the Samsung Galaxy A14 could be of interest if you’re determined to stick with the Samsung experience. However, it’s worth noting that the Xiaomi Redmi Note 12 4G offers a better overall value in the same price range.

Redmi 10

Within Xiaomi’s lineup of smartphones priced under $200, the Redmi 10 stands out as an excellent budget-friendly option that checks all the right boxes for a satisfying user experience.

In terms of its display, Xiaomi has opted for a 90 Hz LCD panel. It impresses with its excellent contrast and controlled color accuracy. While a slightly higher brightness would have been appreciated, it’s not a significant drawback. The audio experience brings a pleasant surprise, as it features two speakers, resulting in a rare stereo sound output in this price range.

The MediaTek G88 chipset utilized in this device delivers a decent overall system performance, ensuring smooth operation of applications. However, it may not be particularly well-suited for gaming, as it struggles with demanding titles like Fortnite. Paired with the 5000 mAh battery, it still provides good battery life, lasting around a day and a half. The fast charging, though not particularly impressive, takes approximately two hours to fully charge the phone.

The camera module boasts four sensors, but it’s the primary sensor that shines with decent daytime photo quality.

In summary, the Redmi 10 fulfills its role admirably by providing a balanced user experience without major drawbacks, all while keeping the cost affordable. It truly stands out as an excellent choice among smartphones priced under $200, with its blend of strengths and weaknesses.

Realme 9i

In the budget smartphone segment, Xiaomi isn’t the only brand offering a range of options. Realme introduces the Realme 9i as a more affordable alternative to the Realme 9, offering a similar overall package.

The budget-friendly Realme 9i features a 6.6-inch LCD display with Full HD+ resolution and a 90 Hz refresh rate. While the screen is functional, it doesn’t excel in its category, suffering from issues like insufficient brightness and somewhat inconsistent color calibration. The phone is constructed primarily of plastic and maintains a lightweight profile. In terms of connectivity, it offers a range of options, including a headphone jack and a microSD card slot.

Under the hood, you’ll find the Snapdragon 680 chipset, which is a typical choice in this price range, coupled with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage in the base version. It’s important to note that this is the 4G version, while the 5G version boasts a Dimensity 810 chip. When it comes to battery life, the Realme 9i is on par with its competitors and should last for a little over 10 hours of usage away from a charger. With 33W fast charging support, the phone can be charged to full capacity in less than 1 hour and 30 minutes.

Regarding photography, it doesn’t particularly stand out, even though the 50 MP primary sensor performs reasonably well under good lighting conditions.

iPhone SE 2020 refurbished

iphone se 2020

Indeed, a budget of $200 is relatively modest for a smartphone purchase. Consequently, the selection of new product options in this price range is somewhat limited. Opting for a refurbished smartphone can be a smart solution, allowing you to acquire a higher-end device that was released a few years ago. In this regard, both Apple and Samsung offer excellent options.

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If you’re interested in a refurbished iPhone priced at less than $200, your primary choice would be the iPhone SE 2020. The iPhone SE adopts the chassis of the iPhone 8 while incorporating a significantly more powerful chip, the A13 Bionic, which is also present in the iPhone 11. This chipset provides all the necessary processing power. However, it’s important to note that the device features a relatively compact 4.7-inch LCD screen. The camera module is somewhat dated, equipped with a single 12 MP sensor. Nevertheless, you’ll enjoy the exceptional iOS software experience, and Apple‘s commitment to providing one of the longest software support durations in the market, which typically spans around 6 years.

What can you do with a budget-friendly phone?

In recent years, there has been significant improvement in the performance of entry-level and mid-range smartphone processors. User interfaces now operate smoothly, web browsing and video playback perform flawlessly, and using social networks and simple games is a breeze. However, these phones do have their limitations, particularly when it comes to running resource-intensive 3D games like PUBG Mobile or Fortnite.

How to choose an affordable smartphone?

At these lower price points, manufacturers often make substantial feature cuts. Typically, the camera module is the first to suffer, followed closely by the processor. However, contrary to the past, there are now models available under this psychological price threshold that perform quite decently. While they may not excel at high-end gaming or photography competitions, they manage everyday tasks effectively. It’s important to identify your specific smartphone needs when considering a purchase.

Don’t hesitate to take advantage of promotions to get a higher-end device, even if it was released the previous year. These phones often offer better capabilities compared to smartphones designed from the start to cost less than $150.

What trade-offs should I expect with a budget smartphone?

In this price range, manufacturers typically compromise on camera quality and display technology. OLED panels are rare, and screen resolutions tend to be lower. While some budget phones feature appealing designs, they often use less premium materials, such as plastic, with occasional use of aluminum and very rarely glass. Features like waterproofing and wireless charging are also usually absent.

Which brands are trustworthy for budget smartphones?

The straightforward answer is to look at the same reputable brands you would consider for high-end smartphones. The top contenders in the sub $200 smartphone market can vary over time, so it’s important to refer to regularly updated buying guides, like ours. However, Xiaomi, Realme, and Samsung are frequently featured in our selections.

Where to find budget-friendly smartphones?

If you’re searching for the best deals, you have several options. Start by checking promotions on various e-commerce websites, as it’s often possible to find smartphones priced at less than $200. Another alternative is to consider refurbished devices.

What affordable plans can accompany my budget smartphone?

Now that you’ve saved money on your smartphone purchase, you can also consider budget-friendly mobile plans, including those without long-term contracts.

If you have a slightly larger budget, you can explore our guides for smartphones under $300 for more options.

Top budget smartphones
Image source: Financialexpress

Tips and tricks for buying affordable smartphones:

  • Set a budget and stick to it. This is perhaps the most important tip, as it will help you avoid overspending. There are great affordable smartphones available at all price points, so don’t feel like you have to break the bank to get a good phone.
  • Consider buying a refurbished phone. Refurbished phones are often sold at a significant discount compared to new phones, and they come with a warranty. When buying a refurbished phone, be sure to purchase from a reputable retailer.
  • Shop around and compare prices. Don’t just buy the first phone you see. Take some time to compare prices from different retailers, both online and offline. You can also use price comparison websites to help you find the best deals.

  • Look for deals and promotions. Many retailers offer deals and promotions on smartphones throughout the year. Be sure to keep an eye out for these deals, especially around major holidays.
  • Trade in your old phone. If you have an old phone in good condition, you can trade it in to get a discount on a new phone. Many retailers and carriers offer trade-in programs.
  • Consider your needs. What are the most important features to you? Do you need a phone with a good camera? A long battery life? A lot of storage space? Once you know what you need, you can start to narrow down your options.
  • Don’t get caught up in the hype. Don’t feel like you need to buy the latest and greatest smartphone to get a good phone. There are many great affordable phones available that offer excellent features and performance.
  • Read reviews. Before you buy a phone, be sure to read reviews from other users. This can help you learn more about the phone’s strengths and weaknesses, and whether or not it’s a good fit for you.

I hope these tips help you find the perfect affordable smartphone for your needs.

best smartphones

Here are some additional tips and tricks for buying affordable smartphones:

  • Consider buying from a lesser-known brand. There are many great smartphone brands out there that are not as well-known as Apple or Samsung. These brands often offer more affordable phones with similar features and performance.
  • Buy unlocked. Unlocked phones are not tied to any specific carrier. This means that you can choose the carrier with the best plan for your needs. Unlocked phones are also often more affordable than carrier-locked phones.
  • Buy online. You can often find better deals on smartphones online than in stores. However, be sure to buy from a reputable retailer.
  • Wait for sales. Many retailers offer sales on smartphones throughout the year. Be sure to keep an eye out for these sales, especially around major holidays.
  • Negotiate the price. If you’re buying a phone from a retailer, don’t be afraid to negotiate the price. You may be able to get a discount if you’re willing to pay in cash or trade in your old phone.

Here are some additional tips to help you choose the right affordable smartphone:

  • Look for a phone with a good processor. The processor is the brain of your phone, so it’s important to choose a phone with a good processor. This will ensure that your phone can run apps and games smoothly.
  • Make sure the phone has enough RAM. RAM is the memory that your phone uses to run apps. If you don’t have enough RAM, your phone may slow down or freeze when you’re running multiple apps at the same time.
  • Choose a phone with a good camera. If you take a lot of photos or videos with your phone, you’ll want to choose a phone with a good camera. Look for a phone with a high-resolution sensor and multiple lenses.
  • Consider the battery life. If you’re a heavy phone user, you’ll need a phone with a good battery life. Look for a phone with a battery capacity of at least 3,000 mAh.
Disclaimer: We may be compensated by some of the companies whose products we talk about, but our articles and reviews are always our honest opinions. For more details, you can check out our editorial guidelines and learn about how we use affiliate links.

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