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Last updated: 12 November 2021


Checked for accuracy by our qualified fact-checkers and verifiers. Find out more about fact-checking at CHOICE.

Best phones to buy on a budget

We've rounded up the best we tested and where you can buy them:

  • Brand new, under $1000
  • Refurbished, from $250

Choosing the right smartphone can be mind-boggling. You need to consider a range of factors such as operating system, size, battery, range, camera, functions and price, and that's before you even get started navigating the complexities of a mobile phone plan.

  • We test and review a range of smartphones from Apple, Google, Samsung, Oppo and more.
  • Not sure what features you need? Use our smartphone buying guide to help guide you in the right direction.
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We help you compare the best phones for:

  • sound, picture and video quality
  • battery life
  • display
  • durability
  • selfie camera shots
  • privacy and security performance.

Curious to see how we get our results? Check out how we test smartphones to find out.

Why we've partnered with WhistleOut

We've partnered with search engine WhistleOut to help you find and buy the right plan for you. The blue 'Phone plans' and 'SIM only' button links will take you to their site. While we make money if you go through WhistleOut, this doesn't influence our rankings. 100% of the money we make goes straight back into our nonprofit mission.

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List of brands we tested in this review.


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    Recommended retail price at time of purchase.

    enter value/s in increments of 1 between 79 and 2999

    Recommended products

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    Member only

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    Best for photo and video

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    These models performed well for the main camera and the video performance and would be a good option for travel or parties. The selfie camera score is scored separately and mobiles that score well in this area are good if you want to be in your own photo.

      Display size (inch)

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      Screen size in inches (measured diagonally).

      enter value/s in increments of i between 4 and 8

      Internal memory (GB)

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      Internal memory is the storage on the phone itself which will be used to contain both the Operating System (OS) as well as any other stuff you want to keep on your phone such as photos, video, apps etc.

      enter value/s in increments of i between 4 and 1024

      Included in this review

      Members-only access
      • Overall score
      • Recommended
      • Performance score
      • Sound quality score
      • Camera quality score
      • Selfie camera score
      • Sound score
      • Video score
      • Touchscreen score
      • Ease of use
      • GPS score
      • Display score
      • Durability score
      • Battery score
      • Privacy score
      • Battery life after a 15-minute charge (hours)
      • Good points
      • Bad points
      • Price
      • Model
      • Best for photo and video
      • USB connection
      • Wi-Fi (b/g/n/ac/ax)
      • Camera resolution (MP)
      • Front camera resolution (MP)
      • UHD (4K) video capture
      • NFC chip
      • Standard headphone jack
      • Removable memory card (microSD)
      • Bluetooth version
      • FM radio
      • Gyroscope
      • Compass
      • Internal memory (GB)
      • Internal memory available (GB)
      • SAR (W/kg)
      • Battery capacity (mAh)
      • Operating system
      • Screen resolution W x H (px)
      • Display size (in)
      • Weight (g)
      • Removable battery
      • 5G
      • 4G
      • SIM
      • Name of application store


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