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Last updated: 21 July 2022


Checked for accuracy by our qualified fact-checkers and verifiers. Find out more about fact-checking at CHOICE.

Best phones to buy on a budget

We've rounded up the best we tested and where you can buy them:

  • Brand new, under $1000
  • Refurbished, from $250

Choosing the right smartphone can be mind-boggling. You need to consider a range of factors such as operating system, size, battery, range, camera, functions and price, and that's before you even get started navigating the complexities of a mobile phone plan. 

Our experts test and review a range of smartphones from Apple, Google, Samsung, Oppo and more.

We've partnered with Shop Ethical on this update to show the ratings the Ethical Consumer Group gives to each company.

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We help you compare the best phones for:

  • sound, picture and video quality
  • battery life
  • display
  • durability
  • selfie camera shots
  • privacy and security performance.

Curious to see how we get our results? Check out how we test smartphones to find out.

Why we've partnered with WhistleOut

We've partnered with search engine WhistleOut to help you find and buy the right plan for you. The blue 'Phone plans' and 'SIM only' button links will take you to their site. While we make money if you go through WhistleOut, this doesn't influence our rankings. 100% of the money we make goes straight back into our nonprofit mission.

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List of brands we tested in this review.


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    Recommended retail price at time of purchase.

    enter value/s in increments of 1 between 79 and 2999

    Recommended products

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    Member only

    This test score is for members only. Join now to unlock our expert results.

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    Performance score

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    We measure the processor performance as well as assess the storage capacity and available RAM.

    enter value/s in increments of i between 8 and 100

    Display size (inch)

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    Screen size in inches (measured diagonally).

    enter value/s in increments of i between 4 and 8

    Internal memory (GB)

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    Internal memory is the storage on the phone itself which will be used to contain both the Operating System (OS) as well as any other stuff you want to keep on your phone such as photos, video, apps etc.

    enter value/s in increments of i between 4 and 1024


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    5G is the fastest available network and with support on smartphones for less than $400 is a must if you want to keep your mobile for more than a couple of years.

      Shop Ethical rating

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      Shop Ethical rates the environmental and social impact of the company (not the product) using independent sources. This rating is not included in our total score. N/A means there is no rating for that company.

        Included in this review

        Members-only access
        • Overall score
        • Recommended
        • Performance score
        • Sound quality score
        • Camera quality score
        • Selfie camera score
        • Sound score
        • Video score
        • Touchscreen score
        • Ease of use
        • GPS score
        • Display score
        • Durability score
        • Battery score
        • Privacy score
        • Battery life after a 15-minute charge (hours)
        • Good points
        • Bad points
        • Price
        • Model
        • Shop Ethical rating
        • Best for photo and video
        • 4G
        • 5G
        • USB connection
        • Wi-Fi (b/g/n/ac/ax)
        • Camera resolution (MP)
        • Front camera resolution (MP)
        • UHD (4K) video capture
        • NFC chip
        • Standard headphone jack
        • Removable memory card (microSD)
        • Bluetooth version
        • FM radio
        • Gyroscope
        • Compass
        • Internal memory (GB)
        • Internal memory available (GB)
        • SAR (W/kg)
        • Battery capacity (mAh)
        • Operating system
        • Screen resolution W x H (px)
        • Display size (in)
        • Weight (g)
        • SIM
        • Name of application store


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