Mon. Jul 22nd, 2024

One of the best telephones underneath $300 provide a style of premium options, however in a tool that also very a lot seems like a funds telephone. That is not a foul factor: These telephones could make calls, ship texts and run most apps and video games for tons of of {dollars} lower than the iPhone 14 or Galaxy S23. Additionally they present entry to 5G, which is necessary if you wish to maintain onto your machine for some time, and a few even include a built-in stylus. 

However I will degree with you: We’ve but to make use of a telephone within the $200 to $300 value vary that seems like a superb worth. The very best picks on this class are usually costlier gadgets which might be continuously discounted to $299 when on sale. For example, Google’s $449 Pixel 6A is our present finest telephone for underneath $500, and it is usually discounted to $299.

That is to not say telephones within the $200 to $300 value vary must be prevented. Some embody respectable cameras, a headphone jack, expandable storage and NFC help for cell funds. 

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Might I Ditch My Smartphone for the Mild Telephone 2? Virtually.


What are the tradeoffs with telephones that price $300 or much less?

These cheaper gadgets are inclined to reduce considerably in a single space or one other in an effort to obtain these low costs. Mostly, these drawbacks embody restricted software program help, service help or bloatware (preloaded apps that you just by no means requested for). These tradeoffs usually imply that these gadgets shouldn’t be used after two to a few years, particularly after safety replace help ends.

It is also notable that whereas these telephones retail for $200 to $300, lots of them are sometimes obtainable at a deep low cost — and even without spending a dime — as a part of a service subsidy deal. If you’re planning to stay with the identical wi-fi service for 2 years, these telephones may simply turn into a part of the price of your service.  

Greatest telephones underneath $300

Eli Blumenthal/CNET

The $299 OnePlus N20 5G is not an thrilling telephone, but it surely greater than will get the job completed for many conditions. In contrast to a number of telephones on this record, you should purchase it unlocked from OnePlus. It additionally gives high-end options we do not at all times see at this value, like an in-screen fingerprint reader, quicker 33W charging, 6GB of RAM and NFC for cell funds. Regardless of being obtainable immediately from OnePlus, the N20 works with AT&T and T-Cell however doesn’t work with Verizon. The telephone’s 5G help additionally solely works by T-Cell.

In his OnePlus N20 evaluate, CNET Senior Editor Eli Blumenthal discovered the telephone’s 64-megapixel predominant digicam, 2-megapixel macro digicam and 2-megapixel monochrome lens to take respectable pictures through the daytime. However its cameras wrestle within the night, which is a typical situation on cheaper telephones. The N20 additionally features a 16-megapixel front-facing digicam positioned within the high left of the telephone’s show.

The telephone can also be solely getting one main software program replace from Android 11 to Android 12, however will obtain three years of safety updates. Because of this, regardless of the telephone’s respectable specs and barely wider availability, it solely is smart to hold onto this telephone for 2 to a few years.

Mike Sorrentino/CNET

Reviewing the $258 TCL Stylus 5G was a journey for me final 12 months. Specs-wise, it has lots that I loved. The telephone’s TCL NxtVision HDR setting offered enhanced colours once I performed video games, TCL made minimal adjustments to Android 12 and I particularly loved the magnetic stylus that matches securely into its personal slot on the telephone.

Nevertheless, the massive purpose why my evaluate took 4 months is due to repetitive software program bugs that make the telephone in any other case powerful to suggest. I skilled frequent restarts whereas utilizing the telephone and Bluetooth connectivity points, the latter of which was ultimately mounted by a software program replace. This telephone can also be locked to T-Cell fully, so it might’t be used on different carriers and is stuffed with T-Cell apps which might be difficult to take away.

But in the event you completely will need to have a stylus and your funds is underneath $300, this is without doubt one of the higher total picks. However be cautious of software program points, and keep in mind the telephone is barely getting one main software program replace together with two years of safety updates.

Mike Sorrentino/CNET

The $228 OnePlus Nord N300 5G is my favourite telephone underneath $300. The one purpose why I can not suggest it above the N20 is as a result of this telephone is locked to T-Cell. Regardless of being round $80 cheaper than the opposite OnePlus telephone, it nonetheless has 33-watt quick charging, a 90Hz refresh charge show and a 48-megapixel predominant digicam that does a good job with pictures and video. Its matte black look that highlights its two digicam lenses additionally makes it one of many nicer-looking funds telephones I’ve examined. The N300 improves on the N20 with its twin stereo audio system, over the only speaker on the N20, and I personally favor the facet fingerprint sensor over in-screen choices like on the N20.

However other than the provision situation, the N300 additionally suffers from a brief software program help timeline. The N300 will solely get one main software program replace from Android 12 to Android 13 and two years of safety updates. Despite the fact that that is considerably regular for the class, I nonetheless contemplate it a significant disadvantage. There’s additionally a dose of T-Cell bloatware, however at this value it is simpler to swallow.

If you’re purchasing particularly for a telephone that works with T-Cell or its Metro model, the $228 OnePlus Nord N300 is certainly a strong alternative. Simply acknowledge you can not take the telephone to different carriers, and it will not be a terrific choice after two years of use.

Jessica Fierro/CNET

The Mild Telephone 2 is a really totally different sort of telephone. It is meant for individuals looking for freedom from the fixed stream of notifications, however nonetheless need a telephone that appears good. However regardless of its considerably restricted performance, this telephone nonetheless prices $299.  

The Mild Telephone 2 helps texts, telephone calls, music playback, podcasts, cell hotspot performance and restricted GPS help for instructions on its E Ink display screen. It doesn’t have a digicam, net browser, e-mail entry or different widespread apps like information or messaging apps. 

My colleague Jessica Fierro gave life with the Mild Telephone 2 a attempt, and she or he loved how the telephone helped her keep extra centered on the world round her. Nevertheless she discovered the slower texting velocity on the E Ink show to be difficult to regulate to, and couldn’t totally make the change as a result of for work she wants a point of social media entry in an effort to keep up on traits. 

The absence of many trendy options is all the level of the Mild Telephone 2. It is a machine for individuals who deliberately simply need important communications on a display screen that is extra like a Kindle’s show than the one you’d discover on a Samsung Galaxy machine.

The Mild Telephone 2 is definitely not for everyone, but it surely may very well be price contemplating for somebody who desires their telephone to do much less. Followers of standard telephones ought to contemplate the wealth of characteristic telephones and flip telephones that also exist first — which are sometimes free with a service deal or obtainable for underneath $100.

Lisa Eadicicco/CNET

Admittedly I am dishonest by getting this telephone into the record, however Google’s Pixel 6A has been discounted to $299 lots currently and is a straightforward suggestion when it has been discounted right into a funds telephone vary.

Often $449, the Pixel 6A received our Editors’ Selection Award final 12 months. In her evaluate, CNET Senior Editor Lisa Eadicicco praised the telephone for its nice digicam, Pixel-exclusive options like Magic Eraser, its colourful design and being among the many first to get new Android updates. 

Whereas it is seemingly that Google publicizes a sequel 7A telephone as quickly as the following Google I/O improvement convention, scheduled for Might 10, the present Pixel 6A continues to be a superb choose for the worth if you will get it at its $299 value. However in the event you see the telephone return to its unique $449 value between now and Might 10, and you are not in dire want of a brand new machine, I’d then say look forward to the rumored Pixel 7A.

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How we check telephones

CNET checks telephones by utilizing them each day and evaluating them with competing telephones to evaluate their worth. We contemplate quite a lot of components, such because the telephone’s display screen, cameras, battery life, software program, efficiency, options and ease of use.

For low-priced telephones, we ensure these gadgets persistently work properly when utilized in a variety of conditions. This consists of many day-to-day actions like studying the information, listening to music, watching movies, texting, enjoying video games and multitasking. 

We check telephone cameras in a variety of environments, taking check pictures outdoor within the daytime and nighttime, and indoors in darker settings. We use cameras in energetic environments, like a live performance or a sports activities recreation, and with quite a lot of topics together with individuals, objects and pets. We additionally check obtainable digicam settings, particularly these which might be rarer in these value ranges comparable to Evening mode and Portrait mode.

These anecdotal telephone experiences are additionally mixed with benchmark checks comparable to Geekbench efficiency testing and battery testing. We monitor battery life in two methods: By seeing how a lot energy is often left after a day of regular utilization and by seeing how a lot battery is depleted throughout a extra intensive hour with the telephone. For the latter check, we’ll test how the telephone’s battery holds as much as a sequence of video calls, gaming, video streaming and net shopping.

Telephones underneath $300 FAQs

What about Apple’s iPhone?

Apple doesn’t at the moment promote any iPhone choices between $200 and $300. The most cost effective new iPhone you will get is the iPhone SE at $429. That iPhone is a good worth for its quick processor and nice digicam, however held again by its dated design that harkens again to the iPhone 6, 7 and eight.

For those who do not thoughts getting a preowned machine and need one thing with a much bigger display screen, as of this writing Verizon sells a 64GB iPhone 11 for $275.

You may as well get the 2020 model of the iPhone SE as a refurbished mannequin between $200 and $300 on web sites like Amazon and Greatest Purchase, however beware of every retailer’s insurance policies for refurbished gadgets. Particularly ensure the refurbished machine features a guarantee for repairs, since with out one you might have to pay Apple or one other retailer a excessive value for a display screen restore or different unintentional injury.

Greatest telephones underneath $300: OnePlus Nord N20 5G vs. TCL Stylus 5G vs. OnePlus Nord N300 5G vs. Google Pixel 6A

OnePlus Nord N20 5G

TCL Stylus 5G

OnePlus Nord N300 5G

Google Pixel 6A*

Show dimension, decision

6.43-inch FHD+ AMOLED show

6.81-inch FHD+ show (1080 x2400 pixels)

6.56-inch IPS LCD show; 720p decision; 90Hz refresh charge

6.1-inch OLED; (1080 x 2400); 60Hz

Pixel density




429 ppi

Dimensions (inches)

6.2 x 2.8 x 0.29 in

6.67 x 3.01 x 0.35 in

6.4 x 2.9 x 0.3 in

6.0 x 2.8 x 0.35 in

Dimensions (millimeters)

159.9 x 73.2 x 7.5 mm

169.6 x 76.5 x 8.9 mm

163.8 x 75.1 x 7.99 mm

152.2 x 7.18 x 8.9 mm

Weight (ounces, grams)

173g or 6.1 oz

213g or 7.51 oz

190g or 6.7 oz

6.3 oz; 178g

Cell software program

Android 11

Android 12

Andorid 12

Android 12


64-megapixel (predominant), 2-megapixel (macro), 2-megapixel (monochrome lens)

50-megapixel (predominant), 5-megapixel (extensive), 2-megapixel (macro), 2-megapixel (depth sensor)

48-megapixel (predominant), 2-megapixel (depth lens)

12.2-megapixel (extensive), 12-megapixel extremely extensive)

Entrance-facing digicam





Video seize

1080p/720p at 30 fps

1080p at 30fps

1080p/720p at 30 fps



Qualcomm Snapdragon 695 5G

MediaTek Dimensity 700 5G

MediaTek Dimensity 810

Google Tensor





6GB RAM/128GB storage

Expandable storage

As much as 512GB

As much as 2TB

As much as 1TB



4,500mAh; 33W charging

4,000mAh; 18W charging

5,000mAh; 33W charging

4,410 mAh capability; 18-watt quick charging (adapter offered individually)

Fingerprint sensor


Aspect fingerprint sensor

Aspect fingerprint sensor

Beneath show






Headphone jack





Particular options

NFC, Face Unlock, HDR, Display screen Flash, Face retouching

Stylus with built-in storage, producitivity software program, NxtVision HDR mode

Twin audio system, NFC, Face Unlock, HDR, Portrait, Face retouching

5G-enabled, 18W quick charging, WiFi 6E, safety updates for five years, Android OS updates for 3 years, twin SIM, IP67 water resistance

Value off-contract (USD)




$449 (*$299 when on sale)

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