The best cheap 5G phones in 2023 (2023)

Inflation is very real, and while the latest flagship smartphonesbring the glitz and glamour, it may be in your best interest to buy a more affordable 5G phone instead.

The5Gsmartphone sweet spot has typically been between a $400 and $700 price tag, but there are some cases where you can get a solid device for $200 or less. Are there compromises? Sure, the cameras are typically the biggest downgrade from more expensive alternatives, but most of the devices in the mid-range can snap great photos in the usual conditions and promise other useful features like expandable memory, smooth OLED displays, and long-lasting battery life.

As smartphone vendors continue to bring more flagship features downmarket, we've and rounded up the best 5G phones that you can buy for less than $500, starting with our best overall pick, the Samsung Galaxy A54.

The best cheap 5G phones in 2023

Pros & Cons


  • Expandable memory up to 1TB
  • Under $500
  • Integrated Knox Security


  • No UHD display option
  • No integrated voice controls

More Details

Samsung Galaxy A54 specs: Price: $450| Display: 6.4 inches | CPU: Exynos 1380 | RAM: 3GB | Internal storage: 128GB, expandable to 1TB | Rear camera: 50MP | Front camera: 32MP | Weight: 7.1 ounces | Dust/water resistance: Not specified

The Samsung Galaxy A54 proves that you don't have to spend a fortune to get your hands on a great smartphone. The budget pick is the phone that we recommend to most people, thanks to essential features like a large display, long battery life, and software stability that similarly-priced phones on this list can't match.

For under $500, you'll get 128GB of internal storage, which can be expanded up to 1TB with the microSD card slot. The 6.4-inch display provides FHD+ resolution for more detailed photos and videos. And with integrated Knox Security, your personal data is protected from unauthorized access.

Review:Samsung Galaxy A54 5G

Pros & Cons


  • A 5G iPhone for under $450
  • Same chip as Apple's latest flagships for a fraction of the price
  • Home button access to TouchID remains preferable to FaceID for some
  • Seamless integration within the Apple ecosystem


  • Starts at 64GB
  • Doesn't support some of the fastest 5G bands
  • Old-fashioned design

More Details

iPhone SE specs: Price:$429|Display:4.7 inches|CPU:A15 Bionic chip |RAM:3GB |Internal storage:64GB/128GB/256GB |Rear camera:12MP rear f/1.8 wide |Front camera:7MP f/2.2 camera|Weight:144g |Dust/water resistance:IP67

Apple was arguably a bit late to the 5G game, at least compared to some of its Android counterparts. While it's been a couple of years since the company introduced the latest networking protocol to its flagship line, it's only now brought the technology to its more budget-friendly iPhone SE line with the device's third edition.

The smartphone's $420 starting price makes it easily the cheapest 5G option for iPhone fans. However, as we've covered previously, the third-gen iPhone SE does not support mmWave 5G services, nor does it support the 3.45GHz band that AT&T plans to use for its future 5G proliferation.

This means that the top-end speeds users can experience will be limited significantly if they are in areas where the only 5G available is of the mmWave of 3.45GHz variety. That said, the iPhone SE does support other C-Band-based 5G services on Verizon and T-Mobile, meaning it still has the chance to experience ample speed increases, when compared to its LTE-only predecessor.

The reduced cost of the latest iPhone SE does come with the potential FOMO iPhone 13 and iPhone 14 owners could avoid. But, the extra money in your pocket may be more than enough of a benefit to ignore the potentially moot issue of 5G band support.

Review:Apple iPhone SE (2022)

Pros & Cons


  • Built-in VPN and Titan M2 chip
  • Smooth-looking 90Hz OLED display
  • Best-in-class cameras


  • Capped at 128GB of internal storage
  • No microSD card support
  • Display may not be bright enough for some

More Details

Google Pixel 7a specs: Price: $499 | Display: 6.1 inches | CPU: Google Tensor | RAM: 8GB | Internal storage: 128GB | Rear camera: 64MP | Front camera: 13MP | Weight: Not specified | Dust/water resistance: IP67

The Google Pixel 7a is finally here, and it's sporting a $499 price tag. But don't let the low price fool you: this smartphone is jam-packed with premium-grade features like a Titan M2 security chip, built-in VPN, and a 64MP rear camera. It's also the first A-series Pixel to sport a 90Hz display, putting it close behind the higher-end Pixel 7.

The 13MP front camera, with its wider field of view, is perfect for taking selfies and photos with friends or filming short videos for social media. And the main sensors at the rear are just as competent, considering they're fine-tuned by the same engineers behind the Pixel 7 Pro's cameras, which we awarded as the best camera phone to date.

Pixel 7a also has both fingerprint and facial recognition locks for biometric log-ins to help protect your phone and personal data from unauthorized access. And with dual SIM trays, you can have two numbers on a single phone, making it perfect for mobile professionals who don't want to carry two phones or for international travelers who need a reliable phone no matter where they are.

Review:Google Pixel 7a

Pros & Cons


  • Superb battery life
  • Smooth 120Hz display
  • Competitively priced among 5G budget phones


  • Lack of water and dust resistance rating
  • Vibration motors aren't the best

More Details

Motorola Moto G Stylus 5G specs: Price:$399|Display: 6.6 inches (2,400 x 1,080-pixel resolution) LCD|CPU: Snapdragon 6 Gen 1|RAM: 6GB |Internal storage:256GB |Rear cameras:50MP rear f/1.9 wide, 8MP f/2.2 ultrawide|Front camera: 16MP f/2.5 camera|Weight: 202g |Dust/water resistance: N/A

While it's usually Samsung and Google who takes the budget crown, Motorola has swooped in with a refined mid-range phone in the Moto G Stylus 5G (2023). The device costs a buck short of $400 but comes with a slew of features and specs that separate it from its pack, like the pop-out stylus and 256GB of onboard storage.

Motorola also deserves praise for just making the Moto G Stylus 5G look more like a premium phone than another compromised handset due to price. For example, it has an edge-to-edge display that's better-looking than $400 Pixels and Galaxy phones, and the back panel is treated with a frosted matte finish.

More importantly, under the hood lies a Snapdragon 6 Gen 1 processor, the latest mid-range chipset from the manufacturer, a 5,000mAh battery, and 6GB of RAM.

Review: Motorola Moto G Stylus 5G

Pros & Cons


  • Voice controls
  • Great cameras
  • 3-day battery life
  • Under $200


  • Very low internal storage
  • No AMOLED display option

More Details

Samsung Galaxy A14 specs: Price: $200| Display: 6.6 inches | CPU: Mediatek Dimensity 700 | RAM: 4GB | Internal Storage: 64GB | Rear camera: 50MP | Front camera: 13MP | Weight: 7.2 ounces | Dust/water resistance: Not specified

The Samsung Galaxy A14 is an ultra-budget smartphone that's perfect for anyone who just wants a no-frills device or for kids and teens looking to get their first smartphone. And just because it retails ever so slightly under $200doesn't mean that it doesn't offer great features. It works with Alexa, Apple HomeKit, Bixby, Cortana, and Hey Google for hands-free voice controls, and it even has a headphone jack if you prefer wired headphones to earbuds. The Galaxy A14 is also great for anyone who hates having to charge their smartphone frequently, as you can get up to three days of use on a single charge.

What is the best cheap 5G phone?

Right now, the best cheap 5G phone is the Samsung Galaxy A53 5G based on our analysis of display, performance, battery life, and price. The device offers one of the best display experiences you can get from phones under $500 and offers 5G support with most major carriers.

However, we also realize not all needs are the same. For some, you might need a more affordable phone that wields a large display and decent camera. The table below shows how the best cheap 5G phones compare on price, camera capabilities, and battery capacity.

Best cheap 5G phone




Samsung Galaxy A54


128GB, Up to 1TB with microSD card

6.4-inch FHD+ AMOLED

Apple iPhone 13 Mini


64GB, Up to 256GB with upgrades

4.7-inch Retina HD display

Google Pixel 7a



6.1-inch OLED FHD+

Motorola Moto G Stylus 5G (2023)


256GB, Up to 1TB with microSD card

6.6-inch FHD+ LCD

Samsung Galaxy A14


64GB, Up to 1TB with microSD card

6.6-inch FHD+ LCD

Which cheap 5G phone is right for you?

You need to consider whether you're brand loyal, whether you're an Apple or Android user, and whether you care more about price or premium features. You'll also want to consider how you'll primarily be using the phone. For example, if your aim is to take pictures, finding a cheap 5G phone with a robust camera is a must. Or, you might want a phone that has outstanding battery life over any other feature.

Once you address those needs, you can refer to the chart below to quickly find the right cheap 5G phone for you.

Buy this cheap 5G phone...

If you need...

Samsung Galaxy A54

A well-rounded, cheap 5G smartphone. It features 128GB of storage that is expandable up to 1TB with a microSD card.

Apple iPhone 13 Mini

A cheap Apple 5G smartphone. This option is great for Apple brand loyalists or iOS converts who don't want to spend a lot of money on a smartphone upgrade.

Google Pixel 7a

A budget-friendly Google Pixel. It's built with the Titan M2 chip and an included VPN for added security. The photos on this are class-leading.

Motorola Moto G Stylus 5G (2023)

A cheap 5G phone with a stylus. For notetaking, stylus-supported games, and other use cases, the Moto G Stylus is one of the few devices in the lower-end market that comes with the built-in accessory.

Samsung A14

A cheap 5G smartphone that retails under $200. This ultra-budget model from Samsung still offers great features like expandable memory up to 1TB and Google Meet integration.

How did we choose these cheap 5G smartphones?

The process to make our smartphone selections includes testing the phones for weeks, reading reviews from other websites and publications, researching reviewer guides and manufacturer websites, talking with colleagues and other users who have hands-on experience with the smartphones, and then selecting the best from all of the available choices.

Over the past year, we've tested phones from Google, Samsung, Apple, OnePlus, and several others. As newer models are released, we spend a diligent amount of time testing, analyzing, and comparing devices to the competition and their predecessors.

Also: Have some wiggle room in your budget? Check out our 7 best phones of 2023

How much is a cheap 5G phone?

You'll find the prices for the best cheap 5G phones on our list range from $200 to $450, depending on the brand and phone features. And the models we chose represent the best of the best in terms of performance and value.

If you are searching for more affordable options, there are smartphones starting at $100. However, the adage you get what you pay for applies here, so don't expect robust performance or top-of-the-line camera features.

You can always consult with your cellular provider on deals, where you can score significant discounts on the best 5G phones.

Should I upgrade to a 5G phone?

While 5G integration is years in the making, adoption of the latest cellular network is still in development, with many areas in the world lacking antennas to support it. That said, there is no downside to not buying a phone that is 5G compatible right now, especially if you plan on using it for the next three or more years. The availability of 5G compatible phones is more extensive than ever (as this list proves) and the chances of your next phone supporting the network are high.

Check the 5G availability in your area below:

It's important to know that you must be enrolled in a 5G data plan with your local carrier, whether it's T-Mobile, AT&T, or Verizon, in order to take advantage of the faster speeds. ZDNET's Jason Cipriani has compileda helpful list comparing the 5G data plansfrom all major carriers in the U.S.

Should I buy a mid-range 5G phone that's new or a flagship 5G phone that's used?

When it comes to buying any tech, there comes the dilemma of whether one should buy a new product that's not a flagship or a used product that once was. In the case of 5G phones, you may be able to pick up, say, a used Google Pixel 6 (or 6 Pro) for the same cost as a new Pixel 6a, so which makes more sense?

Your answer depends on how you respond to the following questions.

  • Do you mind using a phone that was previously owned?
  • Do timely software updates matter to you? A year-old (or longer) flagship may not receive the same amount of security and feature updates as a newer device, even if it's not the most expensive.

Also: The best phone deals right now

Are there alternative cheap 5G phones to consider?

While the Apple iPhone 13 Mini and Google Pixel 7 are not the cheapest, they're considerably less expensive than their flagship counterparts. Both models sell for less than $600 and deliver exceptional performance, from what we've seen in our tests.

If you're tight on budget and want a 5G phone for even less, check out the Samsung Galaxy A23 5G, which offers a 120Hz refresh rate display, a reliable 5,000mAh battery, and up to 1TB of memory for $299.

The best cheap 5G phones in 2023 (6)

Best cheap 5G iPhone

iPhone 13 Mini

This compact and budget-friendly option from Apple is great for brand loyalists who don't mind having an older smartphone model and want to save a bit of cash on their next upgrade. The iPhone 13 Mini manages to pack all of Apple's signature mobile technology in a smaller package.

View at Apple

The best cheap 5G phones in 2023 (7)

Runner-up best cheap 5G Google Pixel

Google Pixel 7

Aside from the $100-plus price difference, there's not much variance between the Pixel 7 and 7a at first glance. However, the Pixel 7 does have both a 128GB and 256GB storage option, whereas the Pixel 7a only has the 128GB version.

View at Amazon

The best cheap 5G phones in 2023 (8)

Best sub-$300 5G smartphone alternative

Samsung Galaxy A23

This budget-friendly option from Samsung retails just under $300, making it perfect for anyone who wants to save money on their next smartphone upgrade or kids and teens who want their first phone. And since it's factory-unlocked, you can use it on just about any mobile carrier in the U.S.

View at Amazon

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