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The best cheap smartphones in Australia
All the quality and class at a fraction of the cost
Have you got a spare $2K in your smartphone-upgrade piggy bank? That’s how much it could cost you to own an iPhone 13 Pro Max or Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra. A ‘budget' or 'cheap' phone in comparison to that top-dollar smartphone tier can go quite high. Still, for us, we reach as far as $700 for the 2021 definition of a budget smartphone.
But $700 still ain’t cheap, which is why we also have options for less than our greenest cash note. That’s the bottom end of the budget scale, with $100 increments to better features.
So, without further ado, here are our top picks for the best cheap smartphones in 2021.
All prices are effective as of 31/05/2021. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.
Best cheap phone under $100 in Australia
Telstra Essential Smart 3 ($99RRP)
It doesn’t get much more budget than sub-$100. The Telstra Essential Smart 3 locks you into the Telstra network, but still offers surprising versatility given the low cost. You’ll be working with a 5.5-inch HD+ display and an Android P GO operating system, which is entry-level Android. While it only has 16GB of internal storage, you can expand by up to 256GB via the MicroSD slot.
It’s a Telstra Blue Tick phone, too, meaning better coverage for rural and regional use, plus it can use 4G and 3G mobile networks. Everything else is bare bolts, as you’d expect at this bargain price: a 5 megapixel rear camera and 2 megapixel front camera, plus a small 2600mAh (albeit removable) battery for a maximum of seven hours talk time.
Best cheap phone under $200 in Australia
Realme C12 ($199 RRP)
The simply named C12 is one of Realme’s cheapest handsets in Australia, and you’ll feel that cheapness straight away with the plastic back cover. But beneath that back cover is some impressive hardware. For starters, it’s got a ginormous 6000mAh battery, which is a great value-add at this price.
Though it only comes with 32GB of onboard storage, you can also expand it by up to 256GB via the MicroSD slot if you need extra space. There’s also a generous 6.5-inch HD display, rear fingerprint sensor and face unlock, plus a trusty 3.5mm headphone jack. The 13MP/2MP/2MP tri-lens rear camera and 5MP selfie camera aren’t particularly flash, and we’d love to see NFC added in, but the Realme C2 is otherwise packing a lot and asking for only a little.
Best cheap phone under $300 in Australia
The sub-$300 price point is where you really start to tap into some great bells and whistles. Take the Realme 6, for instance. The 6.5-inch FHD+ screen is particularly easy on the eye because of the 90Hz refresh rate that makes reading, watching videos, and switching between the apps incredibly smooth. That smoothness is helped along by some admirable grunt from the Helio G90T chipset, which keeps up with multitasking.
Higher screen refresh rates tend to be harsher on battery life, but the 4300mAh battery can be charged from empty to full in just under an hour. The Realme 6 also has a whopping 128GB of internal storage (which can even be expanded), which is a whole lot of room for storing the pics from the 16MP selfie camera and 64MP quad-camera system on the back. There’s also NFC for easy tap-and-go payments with your phone.
Best cheap phone under $400 in Australia
A number of smartphone brands have been duking it out for the title of cheapest 5G phone in Australia, but so far, there’s one clear standout - the $349 OPPO A54 5G. If you’re looking for next-gen network speeds without breaking the bank, this is your best bet. Sure, connectivity isn’t everything, but luckily, the OPPO A54 5G has some other tricks up its sleeve.
The 6.5-inch FHD+ display also rocks a 90Hz refresh rate, which makes for buttery-smooth scrolling. Under the hood, you’ll find a capable Snapdragon 480 5G processor running Android 11 with 4GB RAM and 64GB storage (expandable via micro-SD). The A54 5G also sports a rear quad-cam setup (48MP/8MP/2MP/2MP) with a 16MP front-facing camera for high-quality selfies.
It’s also available on a plan through either Optus or Woolworths Mobile. Check out the most popular plans below.
Best cheap phone under $500 in Australia
Samsung Galaxy A32 5G ($499 RRP)
Samsung tends to stick towards the mid-to-high-end with their phones, but the Galaxy A32 5G fits neatly in the budget category. It also happens to be the cheapest 5G phone offered by Samsung, and one of the cheapest available in Australia, with frequent deals bringing it even further below the $500 mark.
The Galaxy A32 5G sports a 6.4-inch FHD+ Super AMOLED display with a 90Hz refresh rate and blue light protection, making it extra easy on the eyes. It’s punctuated by a teardrop 20MP front-facing camera, which is joined by an impressive quad-lens array around the back (64MP/8MP/5MP/5MP). Powering it all is a Mediatek Dimensity 720 chipset running Android 11 with 6GB RAM and 128GB internal storage, which is expandable up to 1TB.
For those who prefer to pay their phone off in instalments, the Galaxy A32 5G is available on a plan through Telstra, Optus and Vodafone. Here are their most popular plans.
Best cheap phone under $600 in Australia
Google Pixel 4a ($599 RRP)
Just when it seems like every phone manufacturer is following the mantra of ‘bigger is better’, Google knows less is often more - as is the case with the fantastic Google Pixel 4a. This pocket-sized powerhouse proves that you can’t judge a smartphone by its cover. That’s especially true considering its rather beefy Snapdragon 730G processor and 6GB of RAM, which make for a zippy experience.
The true hero of the Pixel 4a, however, is its camera. Compared to most other smartphones available on the market right now, one rear lens might seem a little lacking. Stingy, even. Well, we’re happy to tell you the Pixel 4a puts many of its multi-lens competitors to shame, producing rich, detailed, true-to-life images every time.
For those who want 5G speeds, you’ll need to spend an extra $200 bucks, but if you’re simply looking for a clean, user-friendly Android experience at a reasonable price point, the 4G Pixel 4a will suit you just fine. Here are the top plans.
Best cheap phone under $700 in Australia
iPhone SE 2020 ($679RRP)
If you've got your heart set on an iPhone but don't want to spend the $1,200+ price tag that often comes with flagship models, the iPhone SE (2020) is a solid option. Don't let its iPhone 8-esque appearance fool you - on the inside, the SE has more in common with the much more recent iPhone 11.
It comes with a gorgeous 4.7-inch Retina HD full-screen display, a decent 64GB of internal storage, and a speedy processor. The camera offers decent results, even if it struggles with lowlight photography, and there’s baked-in software-support longevity thanks to its beefy innards. You’ll want a power bank, though, because the battery life ain’t as flash as almost everything else.
Here's how much it'll set you back on a plan.
Cheap prepaid smartphones
The phones below are the most popular cheap prepaid smartphones in Australia from various providers such as Telstra, Optus, Vodafone and Woolworths Mobile.
Here are the top 10.
Cheap refurbished smartphones
Otherwise, you can grab your chosen refurbished device on a plan with numobile, an MVNO operating on the wholesale Telstra network. Here are the 10 most popular models on offer.