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Not everyone wants to pay a rim for a smartphone but also this doesn’t mean that we don’t want to see interesting features and adequate performance at a low price tag. In recent years, companies have been listening, mainly because of the strong wave of devices coming from China. If in the past the budget segment has been plagued with smartphones that were a true pain to use, now we have better and better offerings in the budget line. Of course, all of them have some limitations, but at least, companies are learning to not sacrifice performance and that battery is more important than the thickness of budget devices.
This year has been marked by the rise of Realme and its budget offerings, but we also saw Xiaomi’s Redmi with its myriad of cheap and good smartphones. There was even space for some cool surprises from Lenovo. And how to forget about Samsung? If in the past the Korean firm has filled the budget segment with poor offerings, this year it has promoted a complete overhaul in the low-end segment with the Galaxy A and M series.Gizchina Smartphone Awards – Best Budget Phones of 2023 Redmi Note 7 / 7 Pro
We start the list of budget aka best VFM smartphones with the Redmi Note 7. We can say that it is one of Xiaomi’s most popular smartphones sold in 2023. The device was released early this year and grew in popularity shortly after. It came with an appealing 48MP camera and basically kicked off the trend among mid-range and budget devices. A few time after the release of the original Note 7, Xiaomi came with the Redmi Note 7 Pro. Unfortunately, the most powerful variant was limited to the India and China.Realme 3 Pro
Among the pros, the Realme 3 Pro brought the Snapdragon 710 to the budget segment. Moreover, it came with a gorgeous bezel-less display with a waterdrop notch, dual-camera sensor, and a massive 4,045mAh battery.Galaxy M30s
When we say that Samsung has completely reinvented its portfolio of smartphones this year, we are not kidding! If the company was known for shipping cheap smartphones with subpar specs, low-quality screens, and poor batteries, now it is known for bringing some features from its flagship segment to the budget line.
While the South-Korean firm has come with many new good offerings under the Galaxy A and M series, we decided that the Galaxy M30s is one of the most notable smartphones offered by the company this year. First of all – It packs a massive 6,000mAh battery. The handset boasts Samsung’s in-house Exynos 9611 SoC and has a gorgeous Super AMOLED display.
It’s interesting to notice the triple-camera setup on the rear lead by a 48MP primary sensor. The square-ish island comprising the three cameras is the first of a new design language adopted by Samsung. We expect to see many smartphones in the next year featuring such design language in the rear camera.Nokia 7.2
Well 2023 was a bit strange for HMD Global and its Nokia smartphones. First of all, the company failed to gather attention over its Nokia 9 PureView flagship. Then, its midrange devices lost a bit of appeal. This is mainly due to the intense competition coming from China and the recent rise of the Realme brand. Despite this, Nokia managed to deliver some solid offerings like the Nokia 7.2.
The chipset isn’t the best in the market, and it’s quite old, however it’s a good offering at the price point. The handset comes with a big 4,000mAh battery, a 48MP camera and it’s part of the Android One program.Gizchina News of the week
Join GizChina on TelegramMotorola G7 Play
Motorola was in the past a sole force among the budget segment. However, the company lost a lot of space in the past few years. However, this wasn’t enough to blow away the Moto G series popularity.
This year, the company made some good numbers with the Moto G7 Play. The device isn’t packed with the best internals in the market, but it manages to play some intensive games like PUBG. Despite the use of plastic, Motorola managed to equip the G7 Play with a premium look. The clean software experience also helps the smartphone to be faster than some competitors. Unfortunately, Motorola made some sacrifices in the cameras, but that’s understandable in a device that costs less than $150.Redmi 8a
If we were in 2023, then this place would be probably taken by the Redmi 8. However, Redmi decided to make a controversial change on its recently released Redmi 8. It has the same specifications as the budget Redmi 8a. For that reason, it’s hard to recommend the Redmi 8 over its 8a fellow. Unless that you really need a fingerprint scanner and better cameras. If you need it, you’ll have to pay more, and if you want to pay more we would recommend you take the Redmi Note 7 or 8 instead. Got the picture?
The Redmi 8a came with a Snapdragon 439 SoC that it’s okay for the price point. Among the main selling points, we have a massive 5,000mAh battery with fast-charging support. Yes, Redmi finally ditched the old micro-USB standard in favor of the USB Type-C port, this allows the Redmi 8A to support 18W fast-charging.Mi A3
This is another controversial change adopted by Xiaomi this year. The Xiaomi Mi A series has been one of the company’s greatest success in the mid-range class over the past two years. The first Xiaomi Mi A1 was a great hit, then the company released the Mi A2 which was less appealing, but still got good impressions from customers. This year, however, the company brought the Xiaomi Mi A3 and some users considered it a downgrade over other mid-range devices.
First of all, it has an HD display while its predecessors were packed with FullHD panels. The reason is simple, Xiaomi decided to go with an AMOLED screen to equip an in-display fingerprint scanner. In order to reduce the final price, the company opted for a cheap pentile AMOLED with HD+ resolution. That’s the reason, but it wasn’t enough to hold the backlash.
Another reason is the chipset choice. While the Snapdragon 665 is a good choice for a midrange, it sits behind the Snapdragon 675 which was being offered in the Redmi Note 7 Pro.
Despite all the controversies, we still think that the Mi A3 is a great choice for those who want Xiaomi’s hardware, but prefer to use a clean vanilla Android experience. Moreover, it’s one of the cheapest smartphones in the market equipped with an in-display fingerprint scanner.Lenovo Z6 Pro
Now we have a surprise! One could throw fire on us for putting the Z6 Pro along with the best budget phones of 2023. But we can’t help! While this smartphone ticks all the boxes of a flagship device, it is cheap! Not cheap like a Redmi 8a or a Realme 3 Pro, however, it is really cheap for a smartphone that holds the Snapdragon 855 SoC.
The package is completed by a 6.39-inch AMOLED display with a Quad-Camera setup on the rear and an in-display fingerprint scanner. There’s even a 4,000mAh battery with fast-charging support. This device is cheaper than some mid-range offerings from other companies. If you don’t mind Lenovo’s ZUI interface, that’s a great deal that can’t be ignored!Honorable mention – Pocophone F1
All hail the king of 2023 mid-range class, the first flagship killer of Xiaomi, the great Pocophone F1! Well, this smartphone isn’t a 2023 devices. Still, we believe it deserves a place among the best budget phones of 2023. You can still find it across online retailers for a cheap price tag and it still offers an amazing package of the specs for the price.
The device packs 2023 flagship SoC the Snapdragon 845 which still blows away most of the mid-range SoCs in the market. Moreover, the device is equipped with a massive 4,000mAh battery that supports fast-charging and has received massive after-market support with many custom ROMs. If you don’t mind the old design with a wide notch and the aging cameras, the Pocophone F1 still is a great offering.
Fans of the brand believe that this isn’t the end for the Poco series and that Redmi K20 and K30 phones can’t succeed the Poco F1 king. According to rumors, we’ll hear more news about the legendary Pocophone F2 in 2023, so stay tuned.BEST BUDGET PHONES OF 2023 IN YOUR OPINION
The devices above represent Gizchina’s list for the best budget phones of 2023. We have listed here some of the smartphones that in our opinion are the best budget offerings in 2023. Of course, we don’t represent everyone. Moreover, there are myriad of budget handsets in the market that it makes so hard to cover them all. For that reason, we want to ask you in the end of this article, what is the best budget offering of 2023 your opinion? Complete the list with your own best pick.
You're reading Gizchina Smartphone Awards – Best Budget Phones Of 2023
Thankfully, 2023 also gave us some absolute stunners, the best of which we’ve ranked alongside the latest phones in this article. Whether you’re looking for performance, camera smarts, or value, our definitive list of the ten best phones has it all. Some of the prices will pleasantly surprise you.
The top phone on this rundown won’t be the ideal phone for everybody so make sure to check out all ten. The best phone for you is out there, depending on what you value most – camera, battery life, design, specs, price, and more to boot come into play.
Samsung and Apple feature here of course, but looking further afield to Android competitors such as OnePlus, Google, Oppo, and Xiaomi could mean you find your ideal pocket partner. Trust us, these phones all deliver – just all a little differently, and that’s a great thing. Good competition means better phones for everyone!Best smartphone 2023
1. Google Pixel 7 – Best for most people
Good value for money
Nice 90Hz screen
Easy to use software
Slow charging speeds
Face Unlock is basic
Best Prices Today:
We think the best phone for most people is the Google Pixel 7. It’s the best Pixel phone yet, and has tons of premium features for the frankly incredible price of $599/£599/€649.
For less than the cost of any iPhone 14 or Galaxy S23 model you get a lovely 6.3in 90Hz OLED display, bright and customisable Android 13 software, a premium glass finish with wireless charging and amazingly good main and ultrawide cameras on the back. That main camera is the best point-and-shoot phone camera on the market, with stunning photos whatever you point it at thanks to the 50Mp sensor and Google’s top level photo processing.
You also get fun software tricks like Magic Eraser to rub out unwanted people or objects from your photos, and other Pixel-exclusive things such as call screening and a call holding feature so you dont have to sit on hold for ages with businesses – though several of these call perks are US-only.
You could opt for the Pixel 7 Pro if you want a bigger screen, better battery life, and an extra optical telephoto zoom lens.
Read our full
2. iPhone 14 Pro – Best iPhone
Dynamic Island is genuinely great
First iPhone with always-on display
Battery life same as 13 Pro
No fast charging
More expensive in the UK
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The regular iPhone 14 is a very minor update over the iPhone 13, so it’s a pleasant surprise that the iPhone 14 Pro is such a leap over its predecessor. Some of the change is only skin deep, but when such a visual overhaul as the Dynamic Island makes its debut, it’s hard not to notice.
Apple has shrunk its famous screen notch into a pill and circular shape below the top bezel but filled in the blank space with black pixels, and then used animations to have notifications and updates from apps originate from the space, creating a use for the cut outs now seen for cameras on most phone screens. It is very clever, and means you can see what music playing, timers, weather and more constantly at the top of the screen without having to hop into the app.
The phone’s cameras are also exceptionally good, with the first 48Mp sensor on an iPhone allowing for 2x zoom cropping in addition to the 3x telephoto lens and a capable ultrawide. Apple has also finally introduced an always-on display that simply dims your lock screen and pleasingly doesn’t affect battery life, in our testing at least. It’s not a huge upgrade on the 13 Pro but if your phone is three or four years old this iPhone will feel lightyears into the future.
Read our full
3. Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra – The phone with everything
Very good cameras
Excellent battery life
Lovely premium object
Slow 45W charging
Poor selfie camera
Huge premium object
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If you want the phone on the market with the most features possible, the Galaxy S23 Ultra is it. It’s a big, expensive phone but you get every possible feature you could want in a smartphone in 2023 with incredibly good triple cameras, very good battery life that lasts well over a day, performance as fast as any rival phone, and of course, the now-unique S-Pen stylus tucked away in the phone for when you need it.
It’s one of few phones out there with a squared off body and screen, but it feels good to hold thanks to top build quality and nicely tapered edges and screen. This design rewards you with the best screen of any phone, perfect for any app you can throw at it, and superlative for watching videos.
The 200Mp main camera is outstanding, particularly if you like slightly saturated colours that pop more than they do in real life. That’s not to say they look artificial though – the quality is superb with the versatility of an ultrawide and two separate 3x and 10 optical telephoto lenses that are all excellent. It;s a shame the selife camera is terrible in low light.
Read our full
4. Google Pixel 7a – Best value phone
Phenomenal camera for the price
Excellent Google software
Wireless charging is unreliable
Not as fast as the Pixel 7
Only 90Hz display
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The Google Pixel 7a takes all the best parts of 2023’s Pixel 6a – great camera, solid performance, several years of software support – and improves it with a better 90Hz screen and more premium design.
It’s a little more expensive at $499/£449/€509, but this is still one of the best value phones you can buy considering you really don’t lose much for this price compared to the $899/£849/€899 Pixel 7 Pro. With a smaller 6.1in display, the Pixel 7a is also much easier to use and pocket than many of the larger phones on this list, plus it has the same Tensor G2 chipset as the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro.
The 64Mp main camera is truly exceptional. There is no better phone camera for still images at this price, and barely any better at any price. You can also buy the phone in playful blue and coral colours, or stick to white or black if you prefer.
The charging is very slow, and the added wireless charging was unreliable in our testing. But if you want an Android phone with five years of software support that’s a good all-rounder with an incredible camera – here you go.
Read our full
5. OnePlus 11 – Best value flagship phone
Five years of software support
No wireless charging
Not fully waterproof
OnePlus has nailed the balance with the OnePlus 11, bringing a fully-featured premium smartphone for an outstanding price. At $699/£729/€849, the only things it noticeably misses out on are wireless charging and full waterproofing (we are more annoyed about the latter than the former).
If you can forgo those nice-to-haves then you’ll find yourself with a phone that has everything else you could want: amazingly fast performance, an excellent display, strong cameras including a very good main 50Mp lens, and four years of Android updates and five of security updates. That’s only matched in the Android world by Samsung and Fairphone (iPhones get the longest software support at more than five years).
The OnePlus 11 is also a slim and svelte phone despite its 6.7in screen, which isn’t the case with other huge phones. You can go for the green glossy model or the black version that has a matt, almost-silk like finish to the back glass. It means it gets zero fingerprints, but it’s one of the slipperiest phones out there.
So long as you don’t mind the slight laboured newer version of OxygenOS that often changes Android for change sake, then this is a great phone at a price that ensures you’ll get your money’s worth if you can make it last five years.
Read our full
6. iPhone 14 – Superb all-rounder phone
Outstanding battery life
Superb dual cameras
Top build quality
No RAW photo shooting
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The iPhone 14 isn’t as good as the iPhone 14 Pro but it costs less – even if it is pretty much an iPhone 13 with a new name. The only things of note it adds to the 13 is a very slightly improved main camera and the admittedly impressed stablisation video mode called Action Mode.
There’s also car crash detection, which you will hopefully never have to use – the bottom line is, don’t upgrade from an iPhone 13, but otherwise this is the go-to iPhone for most people right now. The battery life is excellent and it has great performance, while the cameras are top notch despite not having a telephoto lens.
As ever with Apple, built quality is the best in the business, and iOS is extremely stable software. You’ll also get software updates for about five years, and can get a repair done at any Apple Store. If you want a larger screen and more battery, you could opt for the iPhone 14 Plus, but we prefer this smaller model.
Read our full
7. Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 – Best foldable phone
Solid battery life
Folds in half
‘Slow’ 25W charging
No telephoto camera
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Samsung has addressed the Z Flip 3’s issues of bad battery life and middling camera performance for the price and made the Z Flip 4 an all-day phone with the same main and ultrawide cameras as the Galaxy S22 and S22 Plus.
It means this is the best foldable phone you can buy today, at a price similar to flagship slab smartphones. While durability questions remain over the display and the crease in it, we can’t test that – but Samsung says the Flip will last for at least 200,000 open and close motions, which roughly equates to five years of average use.
The improved battery is likely down the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 chipset with its improved energy efficiency, meaning you no longer have to charge the Flip halfway through the day. 8GB RAM is more than enough, though you might want to spend a little more to get 256GB storage. We also love the side mounted fingerprint sensor.
For all intents and purposes, this is an S22 with a better processor that folds down to half its size. It’s compelling, and one of the best phones full stop.
Read our full
8. Motorola Moto G62 – Best budget phone
Tidy hardware & software
Strong battery life
Performance isn’t 120Hz-worthy
Slow 15W charging
Camera struggles in less than optimal lighting
The phone that sits atop our best budget phone round up should rightly get a mention as one of the best phones overall – not every great phone has to cost the earth.
The Moto G62 is a sub-£200 handset with all the basics covered – a solid 120Hz screen, attractively simple Android software, very good two-day battery life and a chipset with a processor strong enough to keep up with normal everyday phone tasks (unlike other cheaper phones).
A 50Mp main camera is also nice to find at this price, but there’s no stablisation tech so you’ll need a steady hand, while the ultrawide and macro lenses aren’t anything to write home about. But at this price, a camera that takes bright, sharp images in daylight is all you could want.
With 5G built in then you’re set for a few years of use on new networks, though we don’t expect the G62 to get many software updates. Motorola doesn’t sell this phone in the US, but it sells plenty of equivalent solid Moto phones for around the $200 price point.
Read our full
9. Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus – Goldilocks Android phone
Bright, sharp, flat screen
Great battery life
Five years of software support
Solid, versatile cameras
45W charging a little slow
Software takes some tweaking
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The Galaxy S23 Plus is a great choice if you don’t want a truly enormous Samsung phone with a pen (S23 Ultra) but do want a decent size display, top battery life and the best software support in the Android game with five years.
We found the phone performed excellently in testing and comes equipped with three capable rear camera lenses without the bulk of other triple-camera phones out there. The design is a little plain, sure, but once you’ve got it in a case then you won’t mind anyway. The software takes more tweaking to get it to your liking compared to Pixel phones, but Samsung’s OneUI is more customisable than Google’s version of Android.
The phone feels premium in aluminium and glass, the display is truly excellent with good outdoor visibility and if all this seems great apart from it being to big for you then fear not – there’s also a regular Galaxy S23 that has a smaller display.
Read our full
10. Xiaomi 13 Pro – The newest phone camera tech
Impressive 120W charging
Solid battery life
Huge rear camera module
We’ll say it up top – this phone would be higher in this chart if Xiaomi’s MIUI software was better and more pleasant to use than it currently is. It’s a shame, because the Xiaomi 13 Pro has some of the most accomplished hardware in the smartphone world.
It’s one of the first phones you can buy outside of China that has a 1in camera sensor, tech that is hotly tipped to level-up smartphone cameras in the next couple of years, but Xiaomi got there early doors. In our testing, the larger sensor area takes in more light, resulting in sensational low light photography and a level of detail not found on smaller sensors. Throw in a capable 50Mp telephoto sensor and a 50Mp ultrawide and you’ve got a great set up, despite the large camera bump.
The phone runs the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset, powering through every task with ease, and it has great battery life to boot.
Now, if it weren’t for that pesky software…
Read our full Xiaomi 13 Pro reviewYour buying guide for the best phones in 2023
When choosing a phone you should consider these things: build quality and design, ease of use, features, performance, and value.
Generally speaking, a flagship phone in 2023 will start at around $700/£700 but can cost over $1,000/£1,000 in some cases. On contract, you’re looking at between £30 and £50-per-month on average in the UK but you can spend a lot more if you want an expensive phone and lots of mobile data.
In the US you can often find very good contract deals on phones, better than in the UK and Europe.
It’s worth noting that while this list highlights the best smartphones available right now, that doesn’t explicitly mean flagships (even though they do feature heavily here). There are entries that cross over with our mid-range and budget phone charts too, but earnt their place here, based on the capabilities and quality on offer, relative to their price.
Buying a phone outright will usually give you the best value, but we appreciate finances in the real world don’t always accommodate such big one-off purchases. If you can, you’ll obviously need a SIM card and plan, as well as the phone. If you don’t already have one, check out our best SIM-only deals.FAQ
1.Should you buy an iPhone or Android phone?
There’s more than one mobile operating system, but really only two worth talking about: Android and iOS.
The vast majority of phones today run Android – 13 being the latest publicly-released version. Apple’s iOS platform, currently on iOS 16, may have a lower market share but developers almost always release their apps on iOS first. As a result of this approach, it has one of the best app stores you can find.
If you have an Android phone or an iPhone and want to move to a phone running the other OS (operating system), it’s fairly easy to transfer your contacts and other select data from one to the other. What you can’t move are paid-for apps and certain app data (like WhatsApp backups), so keep this in mind if you’re considering a change of platform – and research any specific concerns you may have about the process.
2.Why should you buy an unlocked phone?
An unlocked phone is one that is not tied to any particular mobile operator, such as Vodafone or EE. Buying ‘unlocked’ usually means buying the phone outright without a SIM card or contract attached.
The most important point is that an unlocked phone is almost always a better deal than buying a phone on contract – if you can afford it.
The only real exception to this is Apple’s iPhones – because of their traditional popularity, operators often subsidise the cost of buying an iPhone in order to lock you into a lucrative long-term deal.
Generally speaking, if you can afford the upfront cost of the handset, you will pay less over the life of your phone by buying unlocked.
More importantly, you are not locked into a lengthy contract. If you want a new handset at any time, you can buy one without having to up-purchase your way out of said contract or commit to another two years.
Just be sure to make certain the phone you’re getting is not locked to a certain network.
3.Which SIM or mobile plan should you get?
One other thing to consider is the size and shape of the SIM required for your phone. Make sure you get a nano-SIM if a nano-SIM is what your phone requires.
For the record, every phone in this list takes a nano-SIM.
If you get that wrong it is easily solvable; every network will gladly send over a different-sized SIM. SIM cards tend to come in all three sizes, you simply pop out the one you need.
But that’s assuming you are getting a new SIM, and if you’re looking for a SIM-free phone or unlocked phone you probably already have one.
More important is to make sure that if you want 5G you get a 5G-enabled phone and SIM.
Related: How we test smartphonesRelated stories for further reading
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Written By Brendan Hesse
Updated Mar 8, 2023 7:53 AMHow we picked the best Android phones
We selected our picks for the best Android phones based on our experience with many of these phones, as well as trusted sources and professional reviewers. Since there are so many Android devices on the market, each with its own hardware and features, we made sure to select a variety of devices at various price points and unique use cases that we’re confident will match your specific needs in a smartphone.What to consider when buying a new Android phone
If this is your first time shopping for a new Android phone, you’ve probably noticed just how many options there are. Not only are there several Android phone manufacturers, but each company may have multiple smartphone lines, each of which comes in multiple models that differ in size, power, and features. It’s overwhelming, but spotting the right phone for you will be easier if you keep a few essential factors in mind during your search.Display
The first thing most people examine when picking a new phone is the part they stare at most of the time, the screen. Many immediately look at the phone’s size, but the technology that determines how sharp and bright it looks is far more sophisticated (and important). This includes the screen’s resolution, which measures how many pixels are in the display, and pixel density, or how close those pixels are on screen. A higher pixel density, measured in pixels per inch (or PPI), translates to a sharper, more detailed image. A 7-inch screen with a 1080p resolution will look grainier than a 5-inch screen running in 4K.
In addition, a phone display’s refresh rate, measured in Hz, determines the number of times a screen “draws” a screen per second. A phone with a higher refresh rate (aka frame rate) allows for smoother animations in videos, apps, and even menus. High refresh rates are especially important for mobile gaming.Size
While the size of the screen isn’t a measure of picture quality, the overall form factor of your smartphone is still important. Android devices come in many sizes and, in some cases, shapes. Right now, 6-6.5 inches tall and 2.5-3 inches wide are common measurements for a modern phone, and most of our picks fall within that range. These should fit in the hands of most adults, and probably in your pocket.
Size isn’t just about usability, however. For better and for worse, a larger phone often comes paired with superior specs. The Samsung S21, for example, is smaller and less powerful than the S21 Ultra. The same goes for the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, the OnePlus 9 and OnePlus 9 Pro, and so on. Bigger isn’t always better; the Pixel 5a was bigger than the Pixel 5, despite being the weaker phone. However, in general, bigger phones tend to have more powerful hardware and/or better battery life.Cameras
It’s hard to imagine a time when we didn’t have a camera in our pockets. Every smartphone has a camera, but there’s a lot of variation in camera quality. For some devices, photography is a major focus; for others, it’s merely a formality.
Sussing out a phone’s camera quality will be tough unless you already have a strong background in photography. In general, the best camera phones will at least have a main camera, a telephoto camera, and a wide-angle (or ultra-wide angle) camera on its rear-facing array, and at least one or two selfie-cameras above the screen.
However, smartphone camera specs can be deceiving. More cameras and larger megapixel counts might seem better, but the truth is much more complicated. Other factors, such as sensor size, pixel size, whether a camera uses optical or digital zoom, and your phone’s settings will affect the final picture quality. And perhaps even more important than hardware specs—at least when it comes to high-end flagship devices—is camera software.
For example, Google’s Pixel devices are frequently heralded by critics as the best smartphones for photography, but it’s easy to imagine a general user seeing the Pixel 6’s three-camera array as “inferior” to the four-camera setups with high megapixel counts on the OnePlus Pro and Samsung S21 Ultra. In practice, however, the Pixel 6’s camera’s hardware and software result in the best phone photography currently available.
The best way to judge a smartphone’s camera quality is to test the phone hands-on before you buy. If you can’t, be sure to look for reviews that provide photo comparisons for reference.The processor
It’s easy to forget sometimes, but a smartphone is a computer. Modern phones are packed with powerful components that let them run apps, games, take pictures, and every other function you can think of instantly, without any friction. To run so smoothly, phones require a powerful system on a chip (SoC) with the core processing components of your phone, including its CPU and GPU.
Newer and more powerful SoC chipsets will naturally result in faster performance. Currently, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 and 888 Ultra are the top-of-the-line chipsets found in many flagship Android phones, including the Samsung Galaxy S21. With the Pixel 6 line, Google started building its own custom Tensor chips like how Apple creates custom chipsets for each version of the iPhone. While not quite as powerful as Qualcomm’s high-end SoCs, Google’s Tensor chips enable AI-driven features that are exclusive to Pixel 6 devices.Memory
The processor isn’t solely responsible for your phone’s performance. Memory, or RAM, dictates how many tasks a phone can do at once. (Which is important, because it’s almost always doing many things at the same time.) Though cloud services allow you to offload lots of files, having enough internal storage for your apps, photos, media files (like songs and podcasts), is also important.5G connectivity
It’s likely you’ve seen 5G, short for fifth-generation cellular broadband, touted as a massive step up for your mobile download and streaming speeds. It’s true! That said, actually connecting to and using 5G is still a mess in some parts of the country. Mobile ISPs are expanding 5G service, though, and more smartphones are 5G compatible than ever.Android version
Like we said, even Android itself varies from phone to phone. Many Android phones run plain-old Android out of the box, but some use modified versions of the OS—such as the OneUI on Samsung devices, OnePlus’ OxygenOS, and ASUS’ ZenUI—that look and run slightly different from the standard, “stock” Android experience created by Google.
Custom variants tend to add manufacturer- or model-specific features and apps, like the Samsung Messages app or the ASUS ROG Phone’s gaming-focused widgets—but these modifications are mostly superficial. OneUI, OxygenOS, and ZenUI are still Android, so you won’t have any trouble downloading apps, and deciding whether they’re “good” or “bad” is a matter of taste.
However, there is one objective downside to these custom Android variants: you won’t get major Android system updates immediately at launch. The monthly security patches still roll out on time, but you may have to wait months before you get major upgrades and revisions like Android 12, which was only available on a very small number of devices at launch.
If you want the pure Google Android experience, the company’s Pixel devices are built around the stock Android experience and get the latest core features, system updates, and beta invites before other Android devices. If you want to get Android 12—and, eventually, Android 13—as quickly as possible, a Pixel phone is your best option.Best Android phones: Reviews & Recommendations
Even if you know what you want from your next smartphone, it’s hard to grok a phone’s quality based on spec lists alone, and even harder to parse the differences between models with seemingly identical components. That’s why we’ve put together this list of the best Android phones currently available.
We used the criteria outlined above to find the best Android phones overall, plus the best options for specific uses like photography and gaming, the best folding phone, and the best 5G phone at an affordable price point to give a range of devices we think are worth your time. Or, at the very least give you a good place to start your search.Best Android phone overall: Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra
Why it made the cut: The Galaxy S21 Ultra is packed with the latest smartphone technology, including five cameras, a high-refresh-rate screen, and one of the strongest smartphone processors available.
Display: 6.8-inch AMOLED (3200 x 1400 px resolution; 10 to 120 Hz variable refresh rate)
Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 888
RAM options: 12GB, 16GB
Storage options: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB
Battery: 5,000 mAh
Charging: 25W fast charging wired; 15W wireless charging
Cameras: Front: 40MP (ƒ/2.2); Rear: 108MP main (ƒ/1.8); 12MP ultrawide (ƒ/2.2); 10MP telephoto (3x zoom, ƒ/2.4), 10MP telephoto (10x zoom, ƒ/4.9).
Size: 2.97 x 0.35 x 6.5 inches (WDH); 8.08 ounces
Android OS version: Android 11 (OneUI 3.1)
Big AMOLED display with dynamic refresh rate
Powerful Snapdragon 888 CPU
Good battery life on a single charge
Multi-lens rear camera with two telephoto lenses
Wall charger and other important accessories sold separately
No Micro SD card
Samsung’s Galaxy S21 Ultra is the company’s strongest flagship yet and our pick for best Android phone overall. It’s an incredibly expensive phone, starting at $1,200, but its features and performance are worth that sky-high price.
Videos, apps, and games look great on the S21 Ultra’s 6.8-inch AMOLED screen, and an optional dynamic refresh rate setting shifts from the standard 60Hz mode up to as high as 120Hz, or as low as 10Hz, depending on what’s on the display.
The Galaxy S21 Ultra also has a sharp, versatile camera, featuring two separate telephoto lenses (one 3x optical zoom and the other 10x), and helpful shooting modes to get the perfect shot. Qualcomm’s current-best chipset, the Snapdragon 888, powers these features, and is strong enough to handle demanding apps, games, and general multitasking.
Battery life, another smartphone pillar, also shines. You can expect about a day’s worth of use on a single charge and it juices up quickly over wired or wireless charging. Performance will fluctuate depending on how often the screen uses the higher refresh rate modes, but only slightly, and you can lock the screen to 60Hz if it’s an issue. Charging does present a small issue, though: The Galaxy S21 Ultra ships with a USB 3.0 cable, but you need to buy a wall charger separately (unless you own a compatible one from a previous Android device).
Speaking of extra accessories, the Galaxy S21 Ultra is the first Galaxy S phone to support the S Pen stylus, but it doesn’t come with the phone, and you need a specific case if you want to store the stylus on the S21 Ultra. And unlike many previous Galaxy devices, the S21 Ultra does not have a MicroSD slot for expandable storage, so you’re locked into the onboard space for the model you buy.
Even with minor quibbles like the lack of an SD card slot and having to buy one or two necessary accessories, the Galaxy S21 Ultra is the most well-rounded flagship Android phone, making it the best choice for most people.Best value Android phone: OnePlus 9 Pro
Why it made the cut: The OnePlus 9 Pro is a powerful flagship Android phone that’s just barely outmatched by the Galaxy S21 Ultra, but with a prettier design and more affordable price.
Display: 6.7-inch AMOLED (3168 x 1440 px resolution; 1-120 Hz variable refresh rate)
Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 888
Battery: 4500 mAh
Charging: 65W fast charging wired; 50W fast charging wireless
Cameras: Front: 16MP (ƒ/2.4) Rear: 48MP lens (ƒ/1.8), 50MP ultrawide lens (ƒ/2.2), 8MP 3x optical telephoto lens (ƒ/2.4), 2MP monochrome lens
Size: 6.4 x 2.9 x 0.34 inches (HWD); 6.9 ounces
Android OS version: Android 11 (Oxygen OS 11)
Amazing high refresh rate AMOLED display
Snapdragon 888 CPU is fast
Fast charging in wired and wireless charging modes
Wall charger included with the phone
Some lackluster camera features
Only one memory/storage option
The $1,000 OnePlus 9 Pro is probably the best-looking phone on this list, being the best value Android phone is its real draw. In many ways, it matches the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra in specs and performance, thanks to the powerful Snapdragon 888 chipset, but with a $1,000 starting price. That’s still very expensive, but also substantially less than Samsung’s top phone.
Like the S21 Ultra, it sports an AMOLED display with a variable refresh rate of up to 120Hz. The screen is a smidge smaller, at 6.7 inches, but it’s just as vibrant.
Camera performance is also good, but this is one area where the OnePlus 9 Pro lags behind its main competitor, largely due to its underwhelming software feature like the nighttime photography mode. It also has a slightly smaller battery than the S21 Ultra at 4,500 mAh, but its super-fast charging speeds make up for it. Plus, the OnePlus 9 Pro’s 65W wall charger actually ships in the box. A small win, sure, but a noteworthy inclusion since other manufacturers only supply wall chargers as separate purchases.
The phone only comes in a single configuration with 12GB RAM and 256GB storage, but those numbers are plenty for most users, and the model’s overall performance often outpaces other flagship devices with similar specs, including the Galaxy S21 Ultra.
Like other OnePlus handsets, the OnePlus 9 Pro runs OxygenOS—OnePlus’ unique version of Android. OxygenOS still has the same core functionality as other Android devices, but it looks and feels different from the stock Android experience. It’s less of an alteration than Samsung’s OneUI, but like other modified versions of Android, major updates (like the recent Android 12) will take longer to show up for OxygenOS.Best Android phone for photography: Pixel 6 Pro
Why it made the cut: Google’s Pixel 6 Pro features the best smartphone camera on the market, with excellent hardware specs and unique machine learning photo features thanks to Google’s new Tensor chip.
Display: 6.71 inch LTPO AMOLED (1440 x 3120 px resolution; 10-120 Hz variable refresh rate)
Processor: Google Tensor
Storage: 128GB, 246GB, 512GB
Battery: 5000 mAh
Charging: 30W fast charging wired; 25W fast charging wireless
Cameras: Front: 11.1 MP ultrawide (ƒ/2.2) Rear: 50 MP wide (ƒ/1.9); 48 MP 4x zoom telephoto (ƒ/3.5); 12 MP ultrawide (ƒ/2.2)
Size: 6.45 x 2.99 x 0.35 inches (HWD); 7.41 ounces
Android OS version: Android 12
Amazing camera quality and features
An excellent high-refresh rate OLED screen
IP68 water resistance
Unique features thanks to Google’d tensor chip
Smaller battery compared to other flagship phones
Tensor chip isn’t as fast as other top-shelf SoCs
The Pixel 6 Pro is Google’s most powerful smartphone to date. While not as fast as the Snapdragon 888 chip that powers many of the other devices on this list, Google’s new proprietary Tensor chip enables several features unique to the new Pixel 6 line, including on-device speech translation and—most importantly—impressive software-enhanced photography.
It’s also the only device on our list that ships with Android 12 preinstalled.
As with Samsung’s devices, the Pixel 6 Pro’s 30W wall charger is sold separately. Older Pixel wall chargers should work, but if you don’t have one, plan to buy one separately. Even when you factor in the price of a wall charger, the Pixel 6 Pro is still a relatively affordable flagship phone and does some amazing things no other device can.Best folding Android phone: Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G
Why it made the cut: Samsung needed a few iterations to get the folding smartphone design right, but the Galaxy Z Fold3 may be the first to really be worth the money.
Display: Folding screen: 7.6 inch folding AMOLED (1786 x 2208 px resolution; 120Hz refresh rate); Cover display: 6.2 inch AMOLED (832 x 2268 px resolution; 120Hz refresh rate)
Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 888
Storage: 256GB, 512GB
Battery: 4,400 mAh
Charging: 25W fast charging wired; 11W fast charging wireless
Cameras: Front: 12 MP wide-angle (ƒ/1.8); 12 MP telephoto (ƒ/2.4); 12 MP ultrawide (ƒ/2.2) Rear: 10 MP wide-angle (ƒ/2.2) Inner: 4 MP (ƒ/1.8)
Size: 6.2 x 2.6 x 0.56 inches (HWD, Folded), 6.2 x 5 x 0.25 inches (HWD, Unfolded); 9.56 ounces
Android OS version: Android 11
Fantastic folding 120Hz display
Better durability than previous folding phone attempts
Great high-end hardware specs
A new multitasking bar for better usability
One of the most expensive Android phones
No wall charger included
Samsung has finally made good on the promise of the best folding Android phone with the Galaxy Z Fold3 5G. Its seamless 7.6-inch Dynamic AMOLED folding display is big and bright, while the refreshed hinge design and the sturdy chassis solve many of the durability concerns of past folding devices, and folds seamlessly with no gaps.
The Z Fold3 also has a second, 120Hz Dynamic AMOLED screen on the outside of the chassis, which displays key info when the main screen is folded. While thinner than most smartphone screens, the exterior display looks good and works well when you need to operate the phone without unfolding it.
The Z Fold3 has similar hardware specs to the Galaxy S21 Ultra. Of course, powering multiple high-refresh-rate displays means Z Fold3’s performance is comparatively slower and battery life is shorter than the S21 Ultra’s, but it’s still a strong phone.
When unfolded, the Z Fold3 is almost as large as a tablet, so Samsung wisely added a new multitasking bar to the display used for quickly swapping between open apps, similar to the Windows taskbar or Mac OS app bar, that makes it easier to use. It also supports the Samsung S Pen stylus for writing and drawing in apps that support it, and navigating the OneUI interface.
Unfortunately, you’ll have to buy it separately, adding an extra charge on top of the extremely steep $1,700 base price for those who want to use the accessory.Best Android phone for gaming: Asus ROG Phone 5
Why it made the cut: ASUS’s latest gaming-focused Android device has the processing power and 5G connectivity necessary to play the latest games, and an unbeatable 144Hz screen to make them look great.
Display: 6.78-inch AMOLED (2448 x 1080 resolution; 60 – 144 Hz refresh rate)
Processor: Snapdragon 888
RAM: 8GB, 12GB, 16GB
Storage: 128GB, 256GB
Battery: 6000 mAh
Charging: 65W fast charging wired
Camera: Front: 24MP (ƒ/2.45) Rear: 64MP ultrawide (ƒ/1.8), 13MP ultrawide (ƒ/2.4), 5MP macro (ƒ/2.0)
Size: 6.1 x 2.7 x 0.36 inches (HWD); 8.39 ounces
Android OS version: Android 11 (ZenUI)
Incredible gaming and app performance
6.78-inch 144Hz AMOLED screen
Large, fast-charging battery.
Integrated DAC and dual front-facing speakers.
Poor camera quality
Doesn’t support wireless charging
Smartphone games run the gamut from pocket-sized puzzle games you play on bus rides, to hardcore gaming experiences on par with (or identical to) the games played on PC and home console. Whatever you’re playing, it takes a lot of power (and a lot of mobile data) to keep up with the demands of modern games, but as the best Android phone for gaming, the ASUS’ ROG Phone 5 is up to the task. That’s not all too surprising; ASUS’ Republic of Gamers, or “ROG,” brand is a top gaming PC manufacturer, so it makes sense it’s gaming-focused smartphone has the hardware to run games like Genshin Impact or PUBG locally with excellent fidelity, or stream Stadia, Xbox Cloud Streaming, and GeForce Now games over WiFi or 5G data.
Inside the phone’s stylish chassis is a swathe of high-end hardware perfect for games, including a Snapdragon 888 chipset, two 3000 mAh batteries (for a total of 6000 mAh battery life), and up to 12 GB of LDDR5 RAM and 256 GBs of data storage. The phone’s 6.78-inch AMOLED panel has a whopping 144Hz refresh rate, which makes games look smooth and keeps input lag to a minimum. It also has plenty of high-end, gaming-friendly features including two USB-C ports, an integrated headphone DAC, two front-facing speakers, and preinstalled gaming apps. At the same time, ASUS clearly cut corners in some non-gaming areas, including a lackluster camera. That said, it’s unbeatable for gaming and app performance.Best budget Android phone: Pixel 5a
Why it made the cut: The Pixel 5a isn’t the newest Android device, but its powerful camera, 5G connectivity, and the promise of feature updates for years to come feel like a steal at $450.
Display: 6.43-inch OLED (2400 x 1080 px resolution, 60Hz)
Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G
Battery: 4680 mAh
Charging: 18W fast charging wired
Cameras: Front: 8MP (ƒ/2.0) Rear: 12.2MP (ƒ/1.7), 16MP (ƒ/2.2) ultrawide
Size: 6.1 x 2.9 x 0.3 inches (HWD); 6.5 ounces
Android OS version: Android 11 (upgradable to Android 12)
Incredible photo quality
Larger screen than the Pixel 5
Includes 3.5mm headphone jack
Purest Android OS experience
Not as powerful as flagship phones
No wireless charging option
The Pixel 6 and 6 Pro might be Google’s newest Android phones, but don’t count out last year’s models just yet. The Pixel 5a is a worthy pick for best budget Android phone and anyone trying to upgrade to a 5G phone without spending a thousand bucks or more. At just $450, the Pixel 5a offers respectable (if outdated) mid-range specs, 5G network support, and camera technology second only to the Pixel 6 and its Tensor chip. It can also upgrade to Android 12 right out of the box, giving you immediate access to features that may take months to arrive on non-Pixel devices. Google also supports older devices for years after launch, routinely adding new features and fixing bugs, and the Pixel 5a still has several years of updates ahead of it.
To be fair, and some other sub-$500 options best the Pixel 5a in a few key points. One of its closest rivals, the Samsung Galaxy A32 5G, is just $50 more expensive and features an eye-catching 6.5-inch 120Hz AMOLED panel compared to the Pixel 5a’s 6.34-inch 60Hz OLED. Sure, the 5a’s processor is better, but it’s not a massive leap; it really is the camera that makes this the best sub-$500 5G Android device. It takes better photos than almost every other phone on this list—except, of course, the Pixel 6 Pro—and at less than half the price.FAQs
The Galaxy S21 Ultra is the best smartphone you can buy in 2023. It’s expensive, sure, but it excels in every category. If it’s just outside your budget, the OnePlus 9 Pro is almost as good in every way. Its camera isn’t as good as the S21 Ultra’s, but its battery charges faster, and it’s a great-looking device. For those who want the best photographs possible, the Pixel 6 Pro is your best option—though the Pixel 5a is pretty good, too, and more affordable.
There are always tradeoffs for picking one device over another. We can confidently say that all of these phones have qualities that make them one of the best Android phones and worthy of your consideration…at least until someone comes along and makes something better.
The HUAWEI Mate 20 Pro’s Kirin 980 has the best performance, with caveats
When it comes to silicon, for the moment you want HUAWEI’s Kirin 980 powering your smartphone. While there’s been a lot of hay made by tech bloggers about concerns shown with benchmarks, even Qualcomm is taking notes on this chip. Until Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 855 hits shelves, we won’t have another credible 7nm chip to compare the Kirin with. That might not be enough to satisfy you, so let me go a little more in-depth on how we determined our leaders in this competition.
The HUAWEI Mate 20 Pro is not the best phone in every benchmark we ran, it’s simply the best overall results.We chose benchmarks for a decent cross-section of performance results… and to sidestep cheating
In all of our benchmarking, we unintentionally limited what kinds of performances we’d find by using almost only flagship phones. In truth, most results from device to device are much smaller than the numbers would have you believe, so it was tough to get a good cross-section of performances. If you were to add more phones like the Motorola Moto G6 or any bargain model outside of the Xiaomi POCOphone F1, you’d find a lot more separation between devices. Our battery of tests consisted of:
Geekbench (single core)
Geekbench (multi core)
Geekbench (single core stealth)
Geekbench (multi core stealth)
3DMark (Slingshot Extreme)
If you’re wondering what that “stealth” version of Geekbench is, it’s a build of Geekbench that defeats benchmark detection on today’s crop of phones. We didn’t want to have to do that, but to find results more indicative of your actual use we have to keep manufacturers honest. We won’t shame companies outright with this, but we’ll only be listing results from the stealth app. We have the “regular” results too, but we’re more interested in what the phone actually gives its users.Performances were incredibly similar
After normalizing the scores in each category, we found much like the competition in displays: the differences between units were really nothing to write home about. Here are our rankings for the best-performing smartphones, all hitting marks within 2 points out of 100 of each other in our scoring. All of these phones will perform brilliantly, and you won’t likely notice anything different — outside of the Razer Phone 2’s higher frame rate, at least.
HUAWEI Mate 20 Pro
ASUS ROG Phone
HUAWEI Mate 20
Samsung Galaxy Note 9
Samsung Galaxy S9+
Samsung Galaxy S9
All of these models lag severely behind the iPhone, but I’ll let Gary explain that one. In truth, smartphone processing power has never been more astounding than it is now. It’s one of the last things you should be concerned about.The Mate 20 Pro holds its own in graphics processing
Most phones hit the 60fps limit in the first GFXBench test, so let’s also look at GFXBench Manhattan, where there was a lot more separation. This high-level test is brutal for GPUs, and relies on lots of difficult-to-handle tasks.
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However, that’s a fairly limited test, and throwing everything but the kitchen sink into the mix yields slightly different results:
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The HUAWEI Mate 20 Pro is still among the leaders in the pack, but not the best for graphics. The chip’s “weakness” in graphics is intense 3D rendering, but it still hangs tough with the top gaming phones. That’s not bad!The Mate 20 Pro excels in OS-level benchmarking Final thoughts
IP rating is a usual term you will see when talking about any water resistant gadget. This stands for Ingress Protection. It is usually followed by a number, which refers to the Gadget’s ability to withstand dust and water. The first digit refers to solid particle protection and the second digit to liquid protection. The water resistant phones have IP67 or IP68 standards. IP numbers that start with a 6 mean the device have complete protection from dust. Samsung certifies the phones with IP68 certification “can be immersed in 1.5 meters of water for up to 30 minutes.” Those phones with IP67 rating, can be immersed in water at a depth of 1 meter for a short time. I have compiled a list of waterproof phones from all major smartphone manufacturers. This list will help you to select the best water resistant phone suitable for your budget and requirments. The
Samsung Galaxy S 20 Series
Samsung Galaxy S 10 Series
Samsung Galaxy S 9 and Samsung Galaxy S 9 Plus
Samsung Galaxy Note 9
Samsung Galaxy S 8 and Samsung Galaxy S 8 Plus
Samsung Galaxy Note 8
Samsung Galaxy S 7
Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge
Samsung Galaxy Note 7
Samsung Galaxy S 5
Below are the LG whones with waterproof certifications IP68 and IP67.
LG V60 ThinQ
LG G7 ThinQ
LG V30 PLUS
Waterproof phones are becoming more and more popular day by day. Phones with IP certification started appearing around the year 2014. But still most of the users do not care about the waterproof capability of their phone. But now the Coronavirus changed everything! Health experts are urging to clean your personal belongings whenever possible, either with soap and water or alcohol based hand sanitizer. Mobile phones gets dirty pretty quickly. You keep them on tables, dash boards, and other contaminated places very frequently. Eventhough you can apply mild amount of sanitizers on any phone, it is always better to have a water resistant phone on which sanitizers can be applied without any worry of damaging chúng tôi rating is a usual term you will see when talking about any water resistant gadget. This stands for Ingress Protection. It is usually followed by a number, which refers to the Gadget’s ability to withstand dust and water. The first digit refers to solid particle protection and the second digit to liquid protection. The water resistant phones have IP67 or IP68 standards. IP numbers that start with a 6 mean the device have complete protection from dust. Samsung certifies the phones with IP68 certification “can be immersed in 1.5 meters of water for up to 30 minutes.” Those phones with IP67 rating, can be immersed in water at a depth of 1 meter for a short time. I have compiled a list of waterproof phones from all major smartphone manufacturers. This list will help you to select the best water resistant phone suitable for your budget and chúng tôi Samsung Galaxy S5 was the first waterproof Samsung Phone which appeared in 2014. From then all Samsung S series phones were having water resistance capability except Galaxy S6 series.Below are the LG whones with waterproof certifications IP68 and chúng tôi also: Android Phones with LED Notification Light
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Written By Carsen Joenk
Updated Nov 18, 2023 8:47 PM
There is no shortage of Bluetooth speakers under $100, even $50, which can make choosing the right one for your listening needs particularly difficult. While you’d think a less expensive option might not boast outstanding audio quality or unbeatable battery life, there are many models that are going to deliver exactly what you need when it comes to wire-free listening. Hone in on your top priorities and search accordingly. Do you need something waterproof? A speaker that will clip onto a backpack? Or maybe something extra bass to bump at a party? When it comes to the best budget Bluetooth speakers, it’s okay to focus on one or two central features so you get the most bang for your buck. Here are picks for speakers that can fit your needs and your budget.How we chose the best budget Bluetooth speakers
Many of the speakers recommended here have been personally tested by myself or our team, which is why we are able to confidently recommend this selection. We retested some of our personal favorites and compared them to new units from other reputable brands with a focus on sound quality. While smaller portable speakers can’t deliver audio that’s as precise as premium stereo or multi-channel models, we made sure to pick products that preserve the integrity of our favorite albums. To further pare down the list, we only looked at speakers that currently retail for under $115, primarily focusing on those around $50, while paying particular attention to durability, portability, and battery life. Then we considered special features like onboard controls, EQ customization, and connectivity to bring you the best of the best when it comes to affordable Bluetooth speakers.The best budget Bluetooth speakers: Reviews & Recommendations Best overall: Anker Soundcore 3
Why it made the cut: The Soundcore 3 is a well-rounded, budget-friendly Bluetooth speaker with an impressive 24 hours of battery life and the option to boost the bass without distortion.
Battery Life: 24 hours
Bluetooth Range: Up to 66 feet
IP Rating: IPX7
Size: 6.9 x 2.4 x 2.2 inches
Excellent Battery Life
Bass Up technology
Voice assistant capability is lacking
The Soundcore 3 is a robust, portable Bluetooth speaker that won’t cost an arm and a leg making it the best budget Bluetooth speaker overall. Available in four colors, this powerful unit utilizes 16 watts of power to push dual 1.5-inch drivers with titanium diaphragms. Meanwhile, dual passive radiators combine with improved BassUp technology to analyze music in real-time and work to punch up the low-end during your favorite bass-driven songs. Alongside BassUp, there are three additional preset EQs you can choose from, or customize your own using the Soundcore app. The treble on the Soundcore 3 stretches all the way up to 40kHz. Bluetooth 5.0 offers a consistently stable connection and PartyCast compatibility means you can link up to 100 Soundcore speakers for a truly impressive array of sound. To get a full battery faster, this speaker charges via USB-C, and the 24-hour battery life beats more expensive models. While $55 isn’t the steepest cost if you needed a replacement, an IPX7 rating means you won’t have to worry about water damage if you get caught in the rain or drop it in the pool. And if you’re definitely planning to fill a patio with friends, there’s also the Anker Soundcore Flare Mini, an outdoor-friendly speaker that offers 360-degree sound, a pulsing LED halo, and IPX7—all for less than $50. Snag the Soundcore 3 on the Soundcore website.Best for bass: Sony SRS-XB13
Why it made the cut: The SRS-XB13 is a compact, portable waterproof speaker that automatically boosts the bass for party-worthy sound wherever you are.
Battery Life: 16 hours
Bluetooth Range: Up to 32 feet
IP Rating: IP67
Size: 3.43 x 3.43 x 4.41 inches
5 cool colorways
Extra bass isn’t adjustable
If you’re looking for a compact speaker weighing less than 1 pound and costing less than $50, but don’t want to sacrifice bass-booming sound, then the SRS-XB13 is the best bass Bluetooth speaker for you. With a 20Hz – 20kHz frequency response and a dedicated passive radiator to reinforce low-end, your music won’t be found lacking when it comes to heart-thumping beats. An IP67 rating means it’s protected from water and debris, so you can toss it into your beach bag without worrying about sand getting into the speaker grill. Available in five modern colors, each unit comes with a matching multiway strap, so you can easily carry the speaker if you run out of room in your backpack, or hang it up for easy access at a pool party. With an extra XB13 speaker, you can enable stereo mode and a USB-C port means you can charge quickly to keep the party going all night long.Best waterproof: UE Wonderboom 2
Why it made the cut: The Wonderboom 2 is one of the best budget Bluetooth speakers around even when compared to more expensive options.
Battery Life: 13 hours
Bluetooth Range: Up to 100 feet
IP Rating: IP67
Size: 3.68 x 3.68 x 4.02 inches
No auxiliary connection
No onboard skip backBest for travel: JBL Clip 3
Why it made the cut: The JBL Clip 3 is a stalwart when it comes to travel speakers; the included carabiner easily clips onto any backpack, belt loop, and more—plus you won’t sacrifice when it comes to volume.
Battery Life: 10 hours
Bluetooth Range: Approx 35 feet
IP Rating: IPX7
Size: 4.33 x 2.7 x 4.30 inches
Available in over 10 colors
Lacking in the low-end
The Clip 3 are the best budget Bluetooth speakers for those who want to spend less than $50 and stay on the go. It is specifically designed to travel with you, weighing less than half a pound and featuring an integrated metal carabiner to clip to a backpack or belt loop, a waterproof IPx7 rating, and rubber housing that provides shock absorption. While it utilizes a somewhat outdated Bluetooth 4.1, the noise and echo-canceling speakerphone and built-in microphone will keep you connected when you’re on the move, and the connectivity range is solid at roughly 10 meters (or 35 feet). With a 120Hz – 20kHz response range, the bass is less powerful than it would be with a larger speaker, but the mids and highs come through loud and clear. Onboard controls let you play, pause, skip, and adjust the volume; they also let you pick up or end phone calls. The Clip 3 is available in 12 colors and you can even design your own on the JBL website, making this tiny but mighty speaker the perfect gift for outdoor enthusiasts. If you’re able to extend your budget to around $80, JBL released the Clip 4 just over one year ago—it has improved connectivity with Bluetooth 5.1, USB-C charging, and an IP67 rating.Best budget: Oontz Angle 3
Why it made the cut: With an impressive connectivity range, solid battery life, and thousands of positive user reviews, the Oontz Angle 3 is one of the best budget Bluetooth speakers for those looking to spend less than $35.
Battery Life: 14 hours
Bluetooth Range: Approx. 100 feet
IP Rating: IPX5
Size: 5.3 x 2.8 x 2.6 inches
Extended Connectivity Range
Not fully environment proof
Limited onboard controls
Sound quality is just okay
While the Angle 3 isn’t touting many bells and whistles, it will have what you need to take tunes with you on the go. It’s got 10 watts that power acoustic stereo drivers, as well as a passive radiator—all wrapped up in 10 different colorways. Equipped with Bluetooth 5.0, this wedge-like speaker delivers a strong connection across 100 feet and is compatible with most current devices. With its IPX5 rating, you won’t want to toss this model into the pool, but you don’t need to worry about a few splashes or drops of rain. While the volume is certainly there, don’t expect a lot when it comes to wide stereo, booming bass, or true clarity across mids and highs. It’ll do the trick for lite listening on the go, but it won’t necessarily stand up to other, more expensive models. That being said, if you just need something that’s far preferable to silence, the Angle 3 should do the trick.Best party speaker: Tribit XSound Mega
Why it made the cut: Boosted bass, additional EQ presents, and a veritable light show deliver a high-end listening experience at a reasonable price.
Battery Life: 20 hours
Bluetooth Range: Up to 98 feet
IP Rating: IPX7
Size: 10.66 x 3.42 x 3.14 inches
3 listening modes
Dual charging/powerbank ports
Some distortion at high volumes
If you’re having a gathering with more people you’re going to want more sound, and that may mean spending a little more, so here’s the best Bluetooth party speaker if your budget can stretch slightly above $100. The Tribit XSound Mega, released in early January, follows the waterproof, outdoor-friendly XSound Surf and slightly more powerful, though still ultraportable XSound Go models with a similar form factor but significant upgrades when it comes to sound quality and visual appeal.
Right out of the box, the Mega feels sleeker than some of its contemporaries with a texturized rubber surface that’s easy to grip, a black speaker grill, a discrete brand label, and smooth, integrated onboard controls. These seven intuitive buttons control power, Bluetooth pairing, play/pause, volume down, volume up, light adjustment, and EQ adjustment. Directly underneath the EQ Mode button are three indicators that will tell you which mode has been triggered: options include XBass, Music, and Audiobooks. At the back of the speaker is a rubber panel housing USB-A and USB-C ports for charging/using the 8000mAh battery as a powerbank to top off other devices, plus an AUX input. The included carrying strap is black and grey with silver hardware and two small carabiners easily clip onto the discrete embedded handles, which certainly helps shoulder the speaker’s 2.2 pounds. The visual pièce de résistance is the frame of LEDs that surrounds the front face of the speaker—a rainbow gradient of light that slowly cycles through colors while you pair your device.
When it comes to sound quality, this Tribit speaker has the thump if not exactly the clarity and soundstage of comparable models, like the JBL Charge 5, JBL Flip 5, or Treblab HD77. An impressive 30 watts powers a driver with a pure titanium diaphragm, which combines with two passive radiators to reproduce low frequencies to 45Hz and high frequencies up to 14kHz. Audiobook mode successfully isolates the dulcet tones of Jim Dale, who you might recognize as the reader of the Harry Potter series, though the audio can get a little muddy if you are listening to a music- or sound design-heavy podcast. However, Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan’s sultry vocals and staccato keys on “Come Undone” are smooth and clear when Music mode is triggered. The low-end on Subtrakt’s “Wildfire” is big and bold when XBass is engaged, delivering a party-appropriate level of “thump” to get things going without overpowering the vocals. The volume can reach over 100 dB but some distortion does occur when pushed to its max, though that is to be expected from a speaker of this size.
One of our favorite features is the light display, which flashes in time with the beat of whatever you are playing. You can select from different options: a continuous oval of rainbow lacing glowing around the speaker grill’s perimeter; colors pulsing rhythmically in a symmetrical left/right or top/bottom pair, almost mimicking the metering you’d see on a recording studio console or DAW; or a circuit traveling the display track changing color, speeding up and slowing down in time with the beat. You can also forgo the light display altogether, but a 20-hour battery life keeps all that flair from fading fast.
While this model is a bit more expensive than other budget-friendly models, you will certainly get what you pay for when it comes to audio quality and special features.Things to consider before buying the best budget Bluetooth speakers
In order to find the best budget Bluetooth speaker for you, think about what features will be a defining factor in your final decision. Are you prioritizing battery life? Volume? Portability? When it comes to inexpensive speakers, you might not have all the fancy features of a high-end model at your fingertips, but as long as you know what you want to focus on, you’ll be satisfied.What should a budget Bluetooth speaker sound like?
Sound quality is typically a top priority, no matter what kind of speaker you’re looking at. While we cannot expect a 6-inch speaker to carry the same sonic weight as a set of premium monitors, you can still make smart choices if you value sound above the rest.
First and foremost, if you want better sound you’ll have to sacrifice a little bit of portability. That’s because larger units are generally more equipped to maintain consistent, distortion-free audio even as you turn the volume up (a common critique of compact speakers is that though they can get pretty loud, the audio quality significantly degrades with each decibel). Bigger speakers also have more room for well-designed subwoofers, which provide an accurate low end that won’t totally overpower the mids and highs, making for a more satisfying mix.
If you really want booming bass but can’t upgrade when it comes to size, many smaller units now come equipped with “bass boosting” technology that uses digital signal processing to put an emphasis on low-end frequencies that bumps without any rattle. While this can be a major pro for parties or at-home workout playlists, beware of speakers that use these boosts to overcompensate for a lack of clarity throughout other frequencies.
To learn more about where your new speaker will succeed or fall short when it comes to audio quality, look at the frequency response. Measured in hertz and kilohertz, this range lets you know the range of frequencies (lows, mids, and highs) the speaker will support. More often than not, you’ll see a response range from 20Hz – 20kHz, which are the limits of human hearing for both highs and lows. This is certainly an ideal range; however, just because the model boasts a wide range doesn’t mean it won’t suffer from dips and peaks around specific frequencies. For a really in-depth understanding of the speaker’s success at accurately reproducing audio, you can take a look at a frequency response graph for the product, often created with audio testing by a third party.
For more information about volume, check out the speaker’s specs to find a maximum decibel level, notated as dB. If you are primarily playing music inside, you won’t need to go over 100 dB and we don’t even recommend listening at that level, as it’s akin to listening to a jackhammer at close range. On the other hand, if you’re hosting an outdoor party with many people in attendance, you could think about increasing the volume to 115 dB, which is concert-level; music at this volume will cover a large area, but you wouldn’t want anyone standing too close. Generally speaking, we are satisfied with Bluetooth speakers that maintain good sound quality at 85 dB for larger gatherings. As I write, I am happily listening to music at 74 dB and really don’t require any more volume.What’s the deal with codecs and connectivity?
While options can be limited when it comes to budget speakers, we recommend looking for gear that supports the most recent version of Bluetooth you can find (at the moment that’s anything in the 5.0 range). A Bluetooth 5.1 or 5.2 speaker will have a more stable connection, which makes it easier to support brand-specific features like allowing more than one person to connect and control the speaker at a time. Bluetooth 4.0 will still function just fine with most devices, but you may miss out on some range, stability, and special features like multiuser pairing.
A Bluetooth codec describes the way in which your digital audio data is encoded and decoded from a source device to your speaker or headphones. To get the most from these high-speed transfers both your receiver and transmitter need to be equipped with the same codecs. The most common codec to see is SBC, which is supported by every Bluetooth speaker. While not the highest quality codec, it’s a virtually universal, reliable way to transfer data. If you’re an iOS user looking for higher quality, consider a speaker with AAC, or Advanced Audio Coding. If you have an Android smartdevice, select a speaker with aptX/aptX HD/aptX Adaptive (or LDAC) support for faster transfer rates that preserve more data.
One final thing to keep in mind when considering connectivity is Bluetooth range. This describes how far you can wander away from your device before the sound starts to get fuzzy and eventually you get disconnected. If you plan to never leave your speaker’s side, you’ll probably be fine with a connectivity range under 30 feet. However, if you’re listening to music outdoors, need to go inside, and you don’t want to leave your phone unattended, then look for a speaker with a range above 35 feet.What kind of special features should you look for?
Typically, the best budget Bluetooth speakers lack high-flying special features, though this isn’t always the case. If a Bluetooth speaker provides custom EQ options via an app or onboard control, that is a major win. Custom equalization will give you way more control over your sound and is particularly helpful if you are listening to various types of media—as you certainly won’t need to boost the bass when you’re listening to Terry Gross on “Fresh Air.” Some inexpensive models are starting to roll out visual features first employed by higher-end models, like bold colorways or LED panels that pulse to the beat.
Another prime feature to look for is the elusive onboard microphone that will let you conduct phone calls or speak to voice assistants like Siri or Alexa without having to pick up your device.What is the bare minimum when it comes to battery life?
Luckily, one of the things budget Bluetooth speakers rarely sacrifice is battery life. Even at a lower price, it’s unlikely you’ll come across a model that has less than a 10-hour charge and many can do even better. For infrequent listening at moderate volume, 10 hours of playback could last you up to a week, however, the louder you play your music, the faster battery life will deplete. If a speaker boasts 13 hours of consistent playback, you may get something closer to 7-10 hours if you’re blasting EDM all night long. Party throwers and party-goers should look for a model that boasts a battery that can last over 12 hours.How do you know if your budget Bluetooth speaker is actually waterproof?
The only way to guarantee your speaker is waterproof (or dustproof) is to look at its IP rating. If you’ve ever purchased a portable speaker before or checked out one of our other reviews, you’ll know that IP rating is one of the most important specs to check out before buying. This is especially true if you know you want to prioritize outdoor use. If you want a speaker to safely take you to the beach or into the shower—make sure you investigate how well it’s already protected from the elements.
IP stands for “Ingress Protection,” which tells you just how fortified an electronic device is against dirt, dust, and water. These ratings are typically composed of two numbers, or one number and an X. We often cite the Wonderboom 2, a tried-and-true favorite, when it comes to durability. The Wonderboom 2 has an IP67 rating. The first digit describes particle protection, the second liquid. The “6” indicates it can keep out most dust and dirt particles, while the “7” means it can be submerged in up to 1 meter of water for 30 minutes before any damage occurs, making it a great option for poolside tunes. The higher the number, the more protected your speakers will be from debris and water. This is why you can often find the Wonderboom poolside, or hanging off a showerhead.
You may find an IP that replaces particle protection with an “X,” written as IPX7, for example. An “X” in place of any number means no data is available for that substance, or rather that the unit is not protected from that substance.FAQs Q: What’s the best Bluetooth speaker brand?
The best Bluetooth speaker brand is widely debated and will certainly depend on your unique needs and preferences. Bang & Olufsen are known for turning out high-end products with excellent sound quality. Sonos continues to top the charts when it comes to in-home connectivity. For more rugged, portable models our favorite brands have to be Ultimate Ears and JBL, both of which have products that claimed top spots in this article.Q: Which speaker is best, JBL or Sony?
When it comes to finding the best budget Bluetooth speakers, JBL is going to give you more variety. They have a diverse range of budget-friendly options in various sizes, with distinctive features, including the JBL Clip 4 and JBL Go 3. These JBL models are compact, travel-friendly units designed to move with you. Currently, Sony only has one Bluetooth speaker under $90, the SRS-XB13—a model we love, but you might be better off searching elsewhere for inexpensive speakers. Return to Sony if your budget gets a bit higher, or if you start the search for other techy treats, like a new television or game console.Q: Which is better, JBL or Bose Bluetooth speaker?
Similar to the JBL versus Sony debate above, JBL continues to come out on top when it comes to affordable options. Bose does not currently have a model, the SoundLink Micro, that regularly retails for under $119. However, if you plan on looking for a high-end speaker, soundbar, or home system in the future, Bose is certainly a brand worth investigating.Final thoughts on selecting the best budget Bluetooth speakers
You don’t need to go above and beyond your means to find the best budget Bluetooth speakers that will satisfy your sonic needs. There are plenty of options out there that you can take with you to the park, beach, or nearest house party without breaking the bank. Generally speaking, an inexpensive speaker won’t have all the bells and whistles a fancier model might, but you can still tune into your favorite audiobooks, podcasts, and playlists—which, at the end of the day, is all a Bluetooth speaker is designed to do.
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