Best smartphones under $300 [June 2021]

When it comes to smartphones, you have so many choices that choosing the one for you can be a puzzling task. There are so many chipsets to consider, the number of cameras to count, and Software that gives more bloatware and ads than usefulness, choosing a smartphone sure needs some sitting and researching. So in this post, we did the research and handpicked the Best unlocked Smartphones under $300 that worth your money.

In the USA, there’s one more thing to consider in a smartphone, The Network bands support. First, there are only two networks that are GSM: AT&T and T-Mobile. Second, some Chinese smartphones, that produce good budget devices, do not come with LTE bands that support these two carriers. So this limits the choice of brands to Motorola, Samsung, Google, and several other local brands, because their LTE band support is good in the USA.

The Best Smartphone for around $300 is Moto G Power (2020 Version). But if you can just extend the budget by $50, you can get a Google Pixel 4A, the best budget device as of right now.

Best smartphones under $300

Best smartphones under 300$

Note: Pixel 4A is a better deal if you can extend your budget to $350.

Best Overall: Moto G Power (2020 Version) 

Best for Performance: OnePlus N10 5G

Best for Camera: Poco X3 NFC

Best for Display: Samsung A51

Best for Software: Moto G Power

Best Value for Money: Moto G Power 

Pixel 4A

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Pixel 4A is a $350 phone, $50 more than the budget this post is aiming for. And we have some good reasons to put this phone on this list. That extra $50 brings a lot to the table, like:

  • One of the Best Camera on any Android phone.
  • The Best Software in an Android phone.
  • Long-life thanks to the 3-year Software update support.

It gives one of the best cameras you can get on any Android phone – with only one camera lens – mostly thanks to the image processing powers of Google. The Software is “Stock Android” and there’s no bloatware and advertisements. The performance is great, thanks to the optimizations on the deep inside of the OS, which goes unnoticed but actually matters the most for day-to-day usage and in long term.

Google Pixel 4A

CPU Snapdragon 720G
Display 5.81 inches OLED | 1080 x 2340 pixels
RAM 6 GB
ROM 128 GB
Weight 143 g (5.04 oz)
OS Android 11 (3 years support)
Camera 12.2 MP 1.4µm with OIS on Rear | 8 MP on Front
Battery 3140 mAh with 18W fast charging
Fingerprint Sensor Rear Side

Design and Build

Pixel 4A is made of plastic, which brings several advantages with durability being the major one. The polycarbonate back ensures that it is not a fingerprint magnet like most of the Glass back devices on the list and if you drop your device quite often, then Pixel 4A will survive with you longer. Pixel 4A only comes in matte black.
The build quality is really good and the design looks original and modern. Yet, it may feel cheap if you are accustomed to a metal frame and glass back. On the front, the display is bezel-less with a Hole-punch camera. It comes with a headphone jack and a USB C type port on the bottom side.

Display

Pixel 4A is rocking a 5.81-inch AMOLED display with a 1080 x 2340 pixel resolution and 443 ppi density. The AMOLED display gives vibrant colors, wide viewing angles, and perfect blacks. The display runs on a 60 Hz refresh rate, the competition is giving 90 and 120 Hz refresh rate already.
Unlike the previous Pixel 3A, Pixel 4A supports HDR, which means you can stream Netflix in HDR10.

Performance

Pixel 3A sport a Snapdragon 730G with Adreno 618. Talking about real-world performance, Pixel 4A holds up pretty good and will give you smooth performance most of the time, using Android and using Apps is very smooth. However, Longer sessions of Gaming can make the Pixel 4A stutter a little bit, although not very much, it will be noticeable because of the throttling of the CPU.
If you are not into Graphic intensive Games like Fortnite, PUBG, or Call of Duty, then Pixel 4A will cause no problems in performance. And combined with the excellent software, Pixel 4A might the best device for Day Day use.

Software

Software is the plus point of Pixel 4A. It’s the Stock Android with a clean UI and no bloatware. And the Android updates will be the fastest among all Android devices, and it comes with 3 years of updates. The optimization is one the best you will get on any Android device. Opening apps, scrolling through a social feed, and streaming on Netflix, all feel responsive and shutter-free.
There are some features that are exclusive to Pixel like on-device Assistant functions, call screening, the Recorder app, live captions, and the Personal Safety app.

Camera

The camera is the only thing in a smartphone that gets better with a higher price tag, but Pixel 4A does the opposite. For a $349 device, the camera is absolutely killer and one of the best you can get on any device.
The backside of Pixel 4A rocks a  12.2 MP, f/1.8 lens, and 8 MP, f/2.0 on the Front. Although the image processing is slow because of the mid-tier CPU and lack of Google’s dedicated visual core artitecture, the results are excellent. The camera gives perfect Dynamic range, colors, and details. If you love to capture images then there is no better smartphone than Pixel 4A in the budget, it even beats the smartphone as twice as expensive.

Battery

5 to 6 hours of screen time is what you will get if you are a Medium user. Although, Heavy users may need to charge the device twice a day. However, The 18W charger charges the device to 100% under an and a half hour.


Moto G Power

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The Value this phone delivers is astonishing. Considering that the price drops to $180 frequently, this phone is one of the best budget devices under $300. The performance is good enough thanks to the stock Android, which keeps things light deep inside the OS. The Cameras are great for the price and the battery life is the best in the segment. And it has a wide range of network bands, so network reception will be great on most carriers. Even at its highest, you can get this device at around $220. If talking of Value for money, this phone is the winner.

Moto G Power 2020

CPU Snapdragon 665
Display 6.4 inches LCD | 1080 x 2300 pixels
RAM 4 GB
ROM 64 GB
Weight 199 g
OS Android 10
Camera 16 MP + Ultrawide + Macro on Rear | 16 MP on front
Battery 5000 mAh with 10W Charging
Fingerprint Sensor Rear

Build Quality

The frame is Aluminium and the back is plastic with a glossy finish. The phone weighs around 199 Grams, which makes it a little bit heavy but also makes it sturdy. Most of the weight comes from the huge 5000 mAh battery. It comes with a nano-coating that makes it water repellent. The headphone Jack and USB Type-C port are on the bottom side of the phone.

Display

The display is a 6.4-inch LCD panel with a Full HD resolution. If there is one thing on this phone that resembles the cheap price tag, it’s the display. LCD panels are inferior to AMOLED panels and many brands use them to cut the corners on budget devices, which Motorola did here. We cannot complain though, because, considering the price, the display does the job and is fairly good. But Samsung Galaxy A51 is miles ahead with its AMOLED panel.

Performance

This is equipped with a budget Snapdragon 665 chipset with 4 GB of RAM. Talking of day-to-day usage, this phone holds acceptably good. Opening apps, reading emails, watching videos will be smooth without any shutter. When it comes to Gaming, the hardware-intensive game will run on playable framerates although on lower texture quality, but at this price range and looking at the competition, that’s not a deal breaker.
Although OnePlus Nord N10 has a better chipset, the $120 price difference fills that performance gap, and even exceeds it.

Software

Motorola is one of the companies left that still ship their phones with near Stock Android, which is a good thing. There are some Motorola added features like Moto Action and Gametime, but they are essential and actually improves the software. Talking of updates, Motorola has a good track record of updating their devices.

Camera

Taking price into the picture, the camera holds it very well, giving good images for a budget device.  But devices like OnePlus N10 and Samsung A51 are better. Poco X3 NFC is the best camera device and that costs only $50 more. Pixel 4A is $350 but offers one of the best cameras on any smartphone.

Other things

This phone is known mainly for its battery, that’s what “Power” stands for. You can get 2-3 days of backup on moderate use. It supports LTE 1/2/3/4/5/7/8/12/13/14/17/18/19/20/25/26/29/30/38/39/40/41/66/71 bands, making it the best device if you travel a lot and need the best network reception all the time.


OnePlus Nord N10

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The OnePlus Nord N10 5G is an attempt by OnePlus to penetrate the budget segment of the United States. And the main selling point is the 5G with a $300 price tag. Other than that, the phone gives good performance and software. Google Pixel 4A, which costs $50 more, is a much better option here. But if you are set on 5G, then this is the cheapest you can get.

OnePlus Nord N10 5G

CPU Snapdragon 690
Display 6.49 inches LCD 90 Hz | 1080 x 2400 pixels
RAM 6 GB
ROM 128 GB
Weight 190 g
OS Android 10 (2 years support)
Camera 64 MP + Ultrawide + Depth + Macro | 16 MP front
Battery 4300 mAh with 30W fast charging
Fingerprint Sensor Rear

Build Quality

The frame and the back are plastic but come with a glossy finish, which makes it look like glass. The design language is not of OnePlus and the device looks like Samsung Galaxy A51. Talking of footprint, the device is tall and big and weighs 190 Grams. The headphone Jack and the USB Type-c is placed on the bottom of the phone. The phone is not water-resistant and the OnePlus’s trademark feature alert slider is missing. Overall, the phone looks premium but feels cheap in the hands.

Display

It is equipped with a 6.49-inches LCD IPS panel that has a 90 Hz refresh rate. Looking at the similarly priced devices, it’s clear that OnePlus did the cost-cutting on the display, but the 90 Hz fills the gap to some extent. The scrolling through apps and Gaming will be smooth, the display quality itself will be decent enough. If you care more about the quality more than the refresh rate, then the Samsung Galaxy A51 gives a relatively better AMOLED display.

Performance

The Snapdragon 690 is a new chipset and the OnePlus N10 is the first phone to sport it. Coming to performance, the chipset is powerful enough to run any task you will throw at it. From light tasks like Browsing and streaming to heavy tasks like Gaming, the OnePlus N10 will handle all of them easily. The GPU – Adreno 619L – is also good enough for a mid-ranger.

Software

The device ships with Oxygen 10, which is a near Stock Android skin, minimal and very easy to use for most people.

But in the future, the device will receive the Oxygen 11 update and that will change the OS completely, deviating it from the Stock Andriod approach completely. However, how things work deep inside the OS will still remain the same and there will no bloatware, so it is not a deal-breaker.

The new UI design is done for accessibility, so not everyone will hate it. All the interactable elements have been moved to the bottom, which makes one-hand use remarkably easy.

There is one big problem though, OnePlus have stated that this device will get one major Android update and 2 years of security updates. This means the device will not be updated past Android 11. The Pixel 4A, on the other hand, comes with a guarantee of 3 years of major Android updates.

Camera

There is a Quad Camera setup on the back, that houses a primary 64 MP wide-angle, an ultrawide, a macro, and a monochrome lens.
Almost all the budget devices give good performance in ample lighting conditions but struggle in the low light situation. It’s the same story with OnePlus Nord N10, the camera is decent enough in the daylight, but the low light shots come out as muddy and with low details. There is no OIS on the primary module, which effect the low light image quality and also the video recording.

Other things

The battery is 4,300mAh and gives a full day of backup on moderate to heavy use. The 30W fast charger comes in the box.
The 5G compatibility is a plus, if you are set on 5G, then this is the cheapest 5G device you can buy.


Samsung Galaxy A51

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If you want the best display to watch movies and Netflix, then this is the phone to get. The display is the best you can get, the CPU is decent, 6 GB of RAM is more than enough and all of it is coming from the trusty and reliable Samsung. It is a 4G phone but comes with good US Carrier support. The OneUI is a good Android skin.

Samsung Galaxy A51

CPU Exynos 9611
Display 6.5 inches AMOLED | 1080 x 2400 pixels
RAM 4/6/8 GB
ROM 64/128/256 GB
Weight 172 g
OS Android 10
Camera 48 MP + Ultrawide + Macro + Depth | 32 MP front
Battery 4000 mAh with 15W charging
Fingerprint Sensor Under Display – Optical

Build Quality

The back is made of “Glasstic”, which is simply plastic with a glossy finish. It looks premium but the feel is plastic; and even though with the plastic finish, the backside is a fingerprint magnet. The sides are made of aluminum, which is a plus point as it improves durability and sides are what come in contact with your hands. The backside has a color-crazy texture, and it produces different rainbow colors when looked at from different directions.
The bottom side houses the USB Type-C port, a mic, and the headphone jack. Sim tray is on the left side that supports either a dual SIM or a sim with a micro SD card.

Display

This phone is loaded with the best display you can get in this budget. The 6.5 inches SUPER AMOLED panel with 1080 x 2400 pixels of resolution gives good punchy colors with deep blacks, which makes streaming and multimedia consumption enjoyable.

Performance

The performance is the negative point about this device. It is equipped with Exynos 9611, a budget chip that lacks the punch to make this device snappy. Overall, the software feels sluggish, although not a deal-breaker, the difference is there if compared to the competition.
It is equipped with 6 GB of RAM which is more than enough for most people. The storage is 128 GB.

Software

Samsung’s OneUI is a heavily modified Android skin that takes a toll on the device’s hardware. Without any apps opened in the background, around 2 GB of RAM is used by OneUI, which is not fair.
Still, OneUI follows a minimalist approach visually, and overall, the UI looks clean and good. However, the bloatware is a problem and Samsung will ask you to install the bloatware after every time you will update the phone.

Camera

Galaxy A51 packs a very good camera setup for a budget device. The rear side houses a Quad camera setup, with a 48 MP lens as the primary one that is accompanied by a wide-angle, depth, and a macro lens. The primary shooter comes with gyro-EIS ( Electronic Image stabilization).

The camera produces good shots with decent dynamic range and details. The colors can be a little be saturated, but the camera is good enough for social media posts. The selfie camera is a 32 MP sensor and it captures a nice amount of details, colors and dynamic range is good.

Other things

The battery is 4000 mAh that can last up to One day on moderate usage. A 15W Fast charger comes in the box, which is not very fast compared to the competition.


Poco X3 NFC

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The Poco X3 NFC is a well-built phone with powerful internals, a high refresh rate display, and a good camera set on the back. It offers the best gaming performance, thanks to the capable chipset Snapdragon 732G and Adreno 618. However, in the USA, the only problem is the LTE bands support. This phone lacks LTE bands that carriers like AT&T and T-Mobile support. Still, it makes a very good Gaming device compared to all other phones on the list.

Poco X3 NFC

CPU Snapdragon 732G | Adreno 618
Display 6.67 inches IPS LCD @ 120 Hz | 1080 x 2400
RAM 6 GB
ROM 64/128 GB
Weight 215 g
OS Android 10, MIUI 12
Camera 64 MP + Ultrawide + Macro + depth | 20 MP on front
Battery 5160 mAh with 33W fast charging
 Fingerprint Sensor Side-mounted

 

Build Quality

First, the overall design language of the phone is new and a fresh breath of air. The backside is polycarbonate, which is a common thing to see in the budget, and it has a metal texture with a big logo in the middle. The camera housing is centered that holds four camera lenses and one flash. The front is all display with a hole-punch camera in the upper middle of the screen. The frame is aluminum.
The headphone jack, USB Type-C port, and speaker are located on the bottom side and the top side contains the IR blaster and the mic

Display

The display is a 6.67 inches IPS LCD panel with a Full HD resolution. The colors and picture quality is good for an LCD panel, but the 120 Hz refresh rate is best in the segment.

Performance

Poco X3 is rocking a Snapdragon 732G chipset. It is a powerful budget chip and is equally powerful if compared to the OnePlus N10’s Snapdragon 690. However, Poco X3 excels when it comes to GPU performance, so if you want a gaming device, this is the one.

The day-to-day performance is also snappy, opening apps and scrolling through social feed will feel smooth. This device can also handle hardware intensive games with ease. Games like PUBG and Call of duty will run smoothly and the 120 Hz refresh rate makes everything much better. The 240hz touch sampling rate makes things more responsive.

Software

Poco X3 comes with the custom Android skin MIUI 12, with Poco Launcher. The OS is very neatly customized, and the UI is very pleasant to look at. Overall, it’s close to Stock Android, but with some extra apps and different icon packs and UI elements.
The phone has bloatware but most of the bloat is Xiaomi’s apps and services. There are no ads on the phone.

Camera

The camera offers good details, color, and dynamic range if there is enough light. The low light shots are average in quality, which is a thing common among all the budget phones. The Ultrawide camera also captures good shots for the price.

The Video recording is also good. The phones support 4K@30 FPS recording with gyro-based EIS.
Overall, the camera is one of the best if your budget cannot go further than $300 for Pixel 4A.

Other things

The battery is 5160 mAh and comes with 33W fast charging support. The fast charger comes in the box. The battery life is one of the best in the segment and you can get 1-2 days of backup on a single charge.
And as the name suggests, the phone comes with NFC.


Benchmarks

Antutu Benchmark

Antutu benchmark for best Smartphones under 300 dollars


Geekbench (Single Core)

Geekbench Single Core for best Smartphones under 300 dollars

 


Geekbench (Multicore)

Geekbench Multicore for best Smartphones under 300 dollars

 


Verdict

Best Performance

Poco X3 NFC is rocking a Snapdragon 732G chipset, one of the fastest you can get under $300. OnePlus N10 also has a powerful budget chipset: Snapdragon 690 and the device has good network bands support in the USA.

Although the OnePlus Nord N10 5G will cost you around $300 while Poco X3 NFC hovers around $230 (grey market), it brings good LTE band support, 5G support which Poco X3 lacks.

Best Camera

Budget cameras are mostly the same, good in daylight and not so good in low light. They all will work for Social media posts but if you need something stellar, then I would recommend going for a $350 Pixel 4A, otherwise, the OnePlus N10 and Poco X3 NFC are both good.

Best Build Quality and Design

Design is subjective, so I will not pick the “best design”.

But build quality matters, and all the phone on the list offers aluminum frame with a polycarbonate back.

Best for Multimedia Consumption

Samsung Galaxy A51 has the best display: Super AMOLED 6.4 inches panel with ink blacks and good colors.

Poco X3 NFC has the highest refresh rate at 120 Hz, the display is LCD which does not compete with superior AMOLED panels in terms of picture quality.

Best All-Rounder

Moto G Power is best when it comes to a balanced device for daily usage. The battery life is excellent, the performance is good and the price is only $220, which dips to $180 every now and then.

OnePlus Nord N10 is another good choice if the Moto G Power is not powerful enough for you. It costs $100 more but you get 5G and the best performance in the segment. Also, the network support is good in the USA.

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