2020 is the year of 5G. Or at least it should have been if a bunch of other, way more important things didn’t happen. Nevertheless, mobile carriers around the world are expanding their 5G networks at a rapid pace and 5G devices are now far from the niche products they were last year.
The good news is that the wave of new 5G-capable phones also brought in some devices that are far from the premium prices we expected these phones to sell at initially. That’s largely thanks to Qualcomm’s efforts to pair its 5G modem with some mid-tier system chips, giving manufacturers more flexibility in terms of pricing.
Still, a budget 5G phone will be noticeably pricier than regular budget phones, at least for another year or so. Don’t expect a $300 5G phone just yet. At least not in the States, where most of the cheaper 5G phones either don’t arrive at all or have very limited 5G capabilities. $400? Now that's doable!
We’ll keep this list up to date whenever new budget 5G phones reach the US market.
For now, here are the few we can recommend.
Best budget 5G smartphones, a summarized list:
Samsung Galaxy A71 5G
Google Pixel 4a 5G
Motorola One 5G
Samsung Galaxy A51 5G
LG K92 5G
TCL 10 5G UW
Samsung Galaxy A71 5G The Galaxy A71 5G the more expensive of the two budget Samsung 5G phones. At $600, it’s $400 below the official retail price of the cheapest Galaxy S20 and $100 below the OnePlus 8 5G. Design-wise, the phone is almost identical to its expensive cousins, apart from the flat display, and that's not really a big drawback, if any.
The Galaxy A71 5G comes with the Snapdragon 765G chip in the States and the Exynos 980 in other markets. Both should provide you with more than decent performance in any task and are plenty efficient to provide a good battery life despite the extra power needs 5G comes with.
The camera array on the back isn't too shabby either. Four sensors, as is tradition these days: 64MP regular, 12MP ultra-wide, 5MP macro and 5MP depth.
All the major carriers now have the Galaxy A71 5G available, so if you're eager to pull the trigger on a mid-range 5G phone, you can do it from the links below:
Buy Samsung Galaxy A71 5G from:
Google Pixel 4a 5G Google entered the 5G scene with two new phones and the cheaper Pixel 4a 5G is an awesome value proposition. It comes with the Snapdragon 765G SoC paired with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. But you're not buying a Pixel phone for the specs sheet. You're getting it for the software features and the camera. And you won't be disappointed by the Pixel 4a 5G in that regard. Since it has very similar hardware to the flagship Pixel 5, including the ultra-wide-angle camera, whatever Google comes up with as software upgrades in the future will bless your budget device as well, guaranteed. But even in its current state, the Pixel 4a 5G is a great choice. While the camera hardware might be inferior to that of the Galaxy A71, it more makes up with the software and is perhaps the best camera phone on this list. Google Pixel 4a 5G$300 $524 99Buy at AT&TView priceBuy at Verizon Motorola One 5G Motorola also has an entry in the budget 5G segment. Not that surprising, considering Motorola has been making some of the best budget phones for the last few years. In the States, the phone is known as Motorola One 5G, while in other markets it's the Moto G 5G. Regardless of the name, the phone has the same Snapdragon chip as the Galaxy A71, but only 4GB of RAM, which is a bit disappointing. It has a quirky two-hole-punch display and a massive 5,000mAh battery, making the two-day battery life pretty much a guarantee.
For the moment AT&T is the only carrier that offers the Motorola One 5G, but if that's alright with you, you can get it from the link below:
Samsung Galaxy A51 5G For now, the Galaxy A51 5G is the cheapest Samsung phone that comes with 5G capabilities. We're sure that will change next year, but even now, it's a pretty good deal. For one, the phone doesn't look cheap at all. In fact, this year Samsung made its A-series phones even more similar to its flagships with added cameras and a centered hole-punch camera. The Galaxy A51 5G is powered by Samsung’s own Exynos 980 chip, and is generously equipped with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage despite its lower price tag. The rear camera assembly consists of a 48MP main sensor, 12MP ultra-wide camera, 5MP macro one and a 5MP depth sensor to push the number up to four, just like on the Galaxy A71. Overall, the Galaxy A51 is a great choice if you’re upgrading on a budget but still want to make use of the latest wireless tech.
Buy Samsung Galaxy A51 5G from:
LG also has a contender in the budget 5G phones fight. It doesn't come with the popular Snapdragon 765G, however, instead it has a lower-tier chip, the Snapdragon 690. The price of the phone reflects that as it costs under $400 and can often be found even cheaper. The good news is that it comes with 6GB of memory and 128GB of storage. The 4,000mAh battery is also nothing to frown upon. There's a quad-camera setup on the back but as you might have guessed, two of those cameras are the usual depth sensor and macro lens fillers. Still, the phone looks quite good for its price and will perform decently.
You can get the LG K92 from AT&T by following the link below:
TCL 10 5G UW
The TCL 10 is another sub-$400 5G but it's packing pretty decent specs for the price. The Snapdragon 765G is back, paired with 6/128 RAM/Storage combo and 4,500mAh battery. The display is a 6.5-inch IPS LCD with a hole-punch for the selfie camera, just as you'd expect from a phone in 2020.
Since this model is exclusive to Verizon, it supports mmWave 5G, which as you may or may not know is what allows for the fastest 5G speeds right now. A feature that not many budget phones have but this one does is face unlock. Sure, it's the less-secure 2D version, but that works well enough for most people. Of course, there's also a fingerprint reader if you want that extra security.