Here are the best budget smartphones available in Australia
Telstra Smart 3
Best under $100$99 at Big WExpandable storageLousy battery and camera
Best under $200$199 at The Good GuysAll-day 4,000mAh batterySmall, low-resolution display
Best under $300$288 at CatchGreat-looking screenSome performance issues
Motorola Moto G8
Best under $400From $266.01 at AmazonGreat performance for the priceNo NFC
iPhone SE 2020
Best under $700See PlansPowerful innards at a cheaper priceSolid camera
What are the best budget smartphones available in Australia (and what makes them so good)?
Have you got a spare $2K in your smartphone-upgrade piggy bank? That’s how much it’ll cost you to own a Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra or Galaxy Note 20 Ultra. A ‘budget smartphone’ in comparison to that top-dollar smartphone tier can go quite high. Still, for us, we reach as far as $700 for the 2020 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.
All prices are effective as of 16/09/2020. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.
Telstra Essential Smart 3 ($99RRP)
Best smartphone under $100 in Australia
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.
Realme C2 ($379RRP)
Best smartphone under $200 in Australia
The simply named C2 is Realme’s cheapest handset 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 impressively packing 64GB of internal storage, which is a great value-add at this price.
You can also expand by up to 256GB via the MicroSD slot if you need extra space. There’s also a generous 4000mAh battery, Bluetooth, and an Android 9 operating system. The 13MP/2MP rear/front camera combo aren’t particularly flash, and nor is the smaller 6.1-inch 720p+ screen, but the Realme C2 is otherwise packing a lot and asking for only a little.
Oppo A52 ($299RRP)
Best smartphone under $300 in Australia
Creep up another $100 in budget and you’ll find a handset that’s also our pick of the best budget Android mobile phone. If you’re used to iPhones and want to take your first Android for a spin, this is a great and affordable place to start. Those pluses start with a generous 6.5-inch 1080p+ display and 64GB of internal storage.
Despite the budget price, the A52 is no slouch when it comes to photography, with a quad-sensor rear camera and the option to shoot video at 4K resolution. The battery deserves a spotlight, too, with a generous 5000mAh capacity and the option to fast charge from empty back to 50 percent in just 45 minutes.
Read the full Oppo A52 review over on WhistleOut.
Motorola Moto G8 ($329RRP)
Best smartphone under $400 in Australia
Where other categories push the cost criteria limit, the Motorola Moto G8 is closer to the $300 price point and packs plenty of power. The biggest detractors are the lack of NFC and lacklustre camera
(forget about low-light pics), but if you want good performance built atop a clean Android interface, look no further.
You’ll be looking at and interacting with a 6.4-inch HD+ screen, there’s 64GB of internal storage to work with, and a 4000mAh battery will keep you juiced up for a day and some spare change. If you don’t mind an international version or you can get it on special directly from Motorola, the superior Motorola Moto G8 Power is a better-looking upgrade you can nab for under $400 that boasts a 5000mAh battery.
Read the full Motorola Moto G8 review over on WhistleOut.
Realme C6 ($469RRP)
Best smartphone under $500 in Australia
The sub-$500 price point is where you really start to tap into some great bells and whistles. Take the Realme C6, for instance. The 6.6-inch 1080p+ 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, too, 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 C6 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.
Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 5G ($599RRP)
Best smartphone under $600 in Australia
We’re getting even further away from true smartphone budget territory now, but the Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 offers one big future-proofed perk: 5G support. In terms of where the Mi Mix 3 doesn’t particularly impress, you’ll be dealing with mid-tier hardware and a less-than-stellar 12MP rear camera (for context, the selfie camera is 24MP). Still, the Mi Mix 3 can capture 4K video @60fps.
On the positives front, the Mi Mix 3 has a great-looking 6.39-inch 1080p+ AMOLED screen and boasts 128GB of internal memory, which is stacks. Unlike other budget smartphones, the Mi Mix 3 also feels great in hand. But the real reason you’d consider this phone is 5G compatibility at an affordable cost.
iPhone SE 2020 ($749RRP)
Best smartphone under $700 in Australia
Wait a minute. How is a $749RRP phone listed as the best smartphone under $700? We’re cheating (a little) because you can nab one for under $700 online. Instead of opting for a comparatively ancient iPhone 8 (which can still be bought for as much as $679), the iPhone SE 2020 is worth the extra bucks. Why?
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.
Budget prepaid smartphones
The phones below are our top picks for budget smartphones in Australia but there’s a wide range of cheaper prepaid smartphones from various Australians such as Telstra, Optus, Vodafone and Woolworths Mobile you might want to consider too.
Here’s a small selection of the most popular prepaid handsets.
Optus X Wave
Optus X Power 2
Budget refurbished smartphones
Alternatively, you can save yourself some serious bucks by opting for a refurbished phone on a plan from numobile, a MVNO operating on the wholesale Telstra network. There are currently a range of iPhone and Samsung models available.