Great Low-Priced Smartphones

These phones deliver very good performance—even without the very latest cameras and processors—for $600 or less

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Looking for a good phone at a reasonable price? Though the cost of premium options continues to rise—now topping $1,000—that doesn’t mean you have to empty your savings account to get what you want.

There are plenty of phones on the market today that are more affordable—think $600 or less—and offer features users have come to expect. A number of great models are listed lower down. They might not have the fanciest cameras or the fastest processors, but for a lot of people, they make excellent choices.

Here are some tips for finding a great low-priced smartphone.

Buy an older model. Richard Fisco, Consumer Reports’ head of electronics testing, says that there’s often little difference in technology between today’s phones and those introduced in previous product cycles. And buying last year’s model can yield significant savings.

Case in point: The iPhone 12, which cost $830 when it came out in 2020, can now be had for $700. Go back a year and the iPhone 11, which cost $700 when it came out in 2019, can be purchased for even less: $500. Both are still great choices for many consumers.

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Look at lesser-known brands. Samsung and Apple aren’t the only companies that make top-rated phones. Google, OnePlus, and others have designed models that impressed our testers, too. A couple of those options are listed below.

Buy refurbished. One person’s trade-in is another person’s treasure—especially when it saves them money. But do your homework. Not all retailers refurbish phones with the same care.

Refurbished phones sold in Apple’s stores and on its website have a new battery, a new outer shell, a new white box, and even a new one-year warranty in case anything goes wrong. Samsung uses similar standards for the refurbished phones sold on its website.

But refurbished phones offered by some retailers might not have new batteries, and they sometimes come packaged without a pair of headphones or a charging cord. So before buying a refurbished phone, always inquire about its condition, the return policy, and whether the device is covered by a warranty.

Need more ideas? Here’s a look at some of Consumer Reports’ highest-rated phones for $600 or less. Members can check out our full smartphone ratings.

Editor’s Note: This article has been updated since it first appeared in the January 2018 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.

Headshot image of Electronics editor Nicholas Deleon

Nicholas De Leon

I've been covering consumer electronics for more than 10 years for publications like TechCrunch, The Daily (R.I.P.), and Motherboard. When I'm not researching or writing about laptops or headphones I can likely be found obsessively consuming news about FC Barcelona, replaying old Super Nintendo games for the hundredth time, or chasing my pet corgi Winston to put his harness on so we can go for a walk. Follow me on Twitter (@nicholasadeleon).