Cheaper phones under $200 have a mix of modern features with some of the best legacy features you can't find on more expensive phones. For instance, you can get a phone with a 6.5-inch screen and multiple cameras, plus a headphone jack and expandable storage with a microSD card slot.
However, these phones will likely run slower than a more expensive phone, might lack NFC for contactless payments and may only receive one software update. Most of them won't support speedier 5G connections. But when it comes to using the phone itself, you'll still be able to install most apps from the Google Play Store, and these phones will receive a few years of security updates that should keep away most malicious threats.
Read on to learn more about three of CNET's top picks for phones that'll cost you less than a couple hundred smackers.
Samsung Galaxy A03S
Best for update support
CNET TAKE: Samsung's Galaxy A03S, at $160, includes plenty of great features, and it could be a great fit for someone looking for the cheapest possible phone that can handle the most essential tasks. The phone's 6.5-inch screen, capped at 720p resolution, is great for reading news, watching videos and playing games. Despite some performance lag found during our review, the phone is good at multitasking. But the phone's tiny 32GB of storage space could fill up fast, so if you're considering this phone, it may be worthwhile to consider expanding the storage with a microSD card.
Samsung also plans to support the phone with at least four years of security updates, which at this price range is as good as it gets. On the software side it's less clear how many Android versions are scheduled, but the phone ships with Android 11 to start.
Moto G Power (2022)
Best for more storage
CNET TAKE: The Moto G Power for 2022 at $200 sits at the higher end of this sub-$200 roundup, but it has plenty of onboard storage to show for it. The phone starts at 64GB of space, which is double the storage many of these phones include. If that's not enough, you can either spring for the 128GB model at $250 or throw in a microSD card for up to 512GB of additional space. The phone also includes 4GB of RAM, which should help it through most multitasking.
The phone ships with Android 11, and Motorola is pledging one software update to Android 12 along with two years of security updates for the phone. This is on the shorter side, especially when compared to rivals like Samsung. But the phone's cheap enough you might consider the two-year timeline to be roughly as long as you were planning to keep the device.
TCL 30 XE 5G
5G for under $200
CNET TAKE: TCL has released one of the cheapest 5G-capable phones in the United States thus far with the TCL 30 XE 5G. The phone is now available at T-Mobile for $198. The phone has a 6.5-inch screen at 720p resolution with a 90Hz refresh rate, a triple-camera system with a 13-megapixel main camera, an 8-megapixel selfie camera and a rear fingerprint sensor. The phone includes 64GB of onboard storage and ships with Android 11.
While we haven't used the phone, on a specs-level you can get better cameras and higher-quality screens with the other picks in this list, but those do not have 5G connectivity. Yet it's also debatable how necessary having 5G is right now. 4G LTE connectivity works just fine for streaming music, video and other tasks.
The following CNET staff contributed to this story: Senior Editor Patrick Holland, Mobile Reporter David Lumb, Senior Editor Mike Sorrentino and Copy Editor Jim Hoffman. For more reviews of personal technology products, please visit www.cnet.com.
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