Best Budget 5G Phones for 2022

Get the fastest 5G speeds without burning through your wallet.

  • Best overall
    Samsung Galaxy A13 5G
    Samsung Galaxy A13 5G
    $249.99
    • C-band coverage
    • Powerful battery
    • Limited Storage
  • Best affordable flagship
    Google Pixel 6
    Google Pixel 6
    $599.00
    • Superb camera
    • Full 5G compatibility
    • Higher price than other phones
  • Best design
    Samsung Galaxy A52 5G
    Galaxy A52 5G
    $499.99
    • 120Hz refresh-rate display
    • Straight forward design
    • Lots of pre-loaded apps
  • Best features
    OnePlus Nord N10 5G
    OnePlus Nord N10 5G
    $319.00
    • Compatibility with largest 5G network
    • Great camera
    • Limited storage
  • Best for price
    OnePlus Nord N200 5G
    OnePlus Nord N200 5G
    $239.99
    • Same display as better OnePlus phones
    • Lowest price for what you get
    • No C-band

Our pick: Which budget 5G phone is best?

The Samsung Galaxy A13 5G is the best budget 5G phone you can get. Originally released as an AT&T exclusive and now ready to use with T-Mobile’s 5G network as well, this simple phone gives you a long-lasting battery, a serviceable camera, and proper 5G coverage (including over the all-important C-band spectrum) for less than 300 bucks.

Pro Tip:

If you do have the doubloons to afford a flagship 5G phone, take a look at our recommendations for the best 5G phones to learn about all the deluxe features of heavy hitters like the iPhone 13, Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G, and OnePlus 9 Pro.

The 5 best budget 5G phones

Best budget 5G phones

ModelStarting priceDisplayProcessorGet it
Best overallSamsung Galaxy A13 5G$249.996.5" LCD; 720 x 1600MediaTek Dimensity 700View on Amazon
Best affordable flagship phoneGoogle Pixel 6$599.006.4" OLED; 2400 x 1080Google TensorView on Amazon
Best displaySamsung Galaxy A52 5G$499.996.5” AMOLED; 1080 x 2400Snapdragon 750GView on Amazon
Best featuresOnePlus Nord N10 5G$319.006.49" LCD; 1080 x 2400Snapdragon 690View on Amazon
Best priceOnePlus Nord N200 5G$239.996.49" LCD; 1080 x 2400Snapdragon 480View on Amazon

What should you look for in a budget 5G phone?

The most important thing to look for in a budget or cheap 5G phone is actual 5G capability. You need a phone that works on your cell carrier’s 5G network. You also want a phone that supports most (if not all) of the available 5G frequency bands. Basic 5G phones come with sub–6 GHz 5G, but it’s equally important to get millimeter-wave (which gives you the fastest possible speeds) and C-band spectrum.

C-band spectrum is still new in 2022 and it’s limited to just Verizon and AT&T for now. But it’s expected to make a big impact on 5G performance, promising faster speeds over a wider area.

Other than that, a great 5G phone should have the same features that you’d expect from a great 4G LTE phone—including a quality camera, sufficient internal storage, and a nice design to make texting more fun. Head to the specs and features section farther down on this page for a more detailed rundown of what you should look for in a budget 5G phone.

Best overall—Samsung Galaxy A13 5G

Best overall
Samsung Galaxy A13 5G

Price: $249.99

Specs:

  • Display: 6.5″ LCD, 720 x 1600 pixels
  • Weight: 6.9 oz.
  • Cameras: 2 MP depth, 50 MP main, 2 MP macro, 5 MP front
  • Storage: 64 GB
  • Processor: MediaTek Dimensity 700

Want top 5G speeds but can’t afford a thousand-dollar phone? This is the pick right here. While the Galaxy A13 5G doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of Samsung’s flagship S series phones, it does have proper 5G coverage.

On top of the usual sub–6 GHz 5G bands—which basically give you a glorified version of 4G—the phone is certified to work over C-band airwaves. So you’ll be able to get extremely fast speeds on your phone (think 100 Mbps or faster) in a relatively wide service area. Not all phones at this price have C-band, so this alone is a win.

The Galaxy A13 has a long-lasting battery, with reviews and users online reporting it staying strong for as long as two days. It has a no-frills-but-still-decent 50 megapixel camera—the pics we’ve seen online show a rich color balance and some nice definition in sunset shots. The LCD display is more on the low-res side, but it can take on multitasking and lots of open tabs with relative ease thanks to the 4 GB of RAM and MediaTek processor.

Pros

  • C-band access
  • Strong battery power

Cons

  • Limited storage
  • Low-resolution screen

Pro Tip:

While C-band is getting lots of hype, it’s also kind of a complex topic—and it’s only available in some markets. Get the full rundown on what C-band is and where you can get it to help inform your phone-buying decisions.

Best budget flagship model—Google Pixel 6

Best flagship model that comes at a cheap(er) price
Google Pixel 6

Price: $599.00 (128 GB), $699.00 (256 GB)

Specs:

  • Display: 6.4″ OLED, 2400 x 1080 pixels
  • Weight: 7.3 oz.
  • Cameras: 50 MP wide, 12 MP ultrawide, LDAF sensor, 8 MP front
  • Storage: 128 GB, 256 GB
  • Processor: Google Tensor

This technically isn’t a budget phone—as Google’s latest flagship model, it costs significantly more than any of the other phones featured in this guide. The good news is that this sleek, sophisticated little doozie is much more reasonably priced compared to the top-of-the-line phones from other manufacturers, while still delivering some amazing features and a top-quality camera.

The Pixel 6 has an elegant, all-glass body and a processor built with Google’s own proprietary microchip (rather than the more common Qualcomm Snapdragon chip). Compared to the Pixel 5, the 6’s camera has higher-quality lenses and more durable hardware.

The phone is also just pretty to look at, with its slim, scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass body and elevated black band on the back. Naturally, it also delivers all the 5G frequencies you need (yes, including C-band) to get the best performance possible.

We’ve read a lot about this phone, and it gets near universal acclaim. Our only quibble is that some users have had issues with the fingerprint sensor, which can be sluggish and unresponsive.1 Hopefully Google introduces a fix in upcoming software updates.

Pros

  • Deluxe value at mid-range price
  • Scratch-resistant glass body

Cons

  • Bugs with fingerprint sensor

Best display—Samsung Galaxy A52 5

Best display
Samsung Galaxy A52 5G

Price: $499.99

Specs:

  • Display: 6.5″ AMOLED, 1080 x 2400 pixels
  • Weight: 6.7 oz.
  • Cameras: 64 MP main, 12 MP ultra wide, 5 MP macro, 5 MP depth, 32 MP front
  • Storage: 128 GB
  • Processor: Snapdragon 750G

The A52 5G is the finest of Samsung’s mid-to-low range Galaxy A series (which also includes the commendable A42 and A32). It supports the sub-6 GHz 5G bands you can use on T-Mobile 5G, but there’s no C-band or millimeter-wave 5G compatibility, which is a bummer considering the higher price you’re paying.

Still, Samsung brings the heat with this model in the form of a 64-megapixel camera, a nice chunk of internal storage, and an AMOLED display. The panel has a 120 Hz refresh rate, offering fluid motion and a rich color palette as you toggle between apps and play online games.

Pros

  • Excellent display
  • Scratch-resistant glass body

Cons

  • No C-band or millimeter-wave

Best features—OnePlus Nord N10 5G

Best features
OnePlus Nord N10 5G

Price: $319.00

Specs:

  • Display: 6.49″ LCD, 1080 x 2400
  • Weight: 6.7 oz.
  • Cameras: 64 MP main, 8 MP ultra wide angle, 2 MP macro, 16 MP front
  • Storage: 128 GB
  • Processor: Snapdragon 690

The OnePlus Nord N10 is one of the first cheaply priced 5G phones to come on the market. Compared to more high-end phones, this one has some limitations on 5G coverage that may rule it out for some customers. It’s certified to work on T-Mobile’s 5G network only, so don’t bother if you have a phone plan from AT&T or Verizon. And it doesn’t support millimeter-wave 5G or C-band—which isn’t a big deal for T-Mobile, since its 5G network supports neither at the moment. But that could prove to be a major liability as C-band networks expand.

Despite its 5G limitations, the Nord N10 is still a versatile phone that gives you a lot of good stuff for the budget price tag. You get a quad camera setup on the back, including an impressive 64-megapixel main camera. The phone has twice as much internal storage as the Samsung Galaxy A13 5G, for just a slightly higher price. There’s also a microSD slot, NFC to enable mobile payments, and a headphone jack—no dongles required!

Pros

  • Great camera
  • High refresh-rate display

Cons

  • No C-band or mm-wave 5G
  • No compatibility with 5G on Verizon or AT&T

Best price—OnePlus Nord N200 5G

Best features
OnePlus Nord N200 5G

Price: $239.99

Specs:

  • Display: 6.49″ FHD+, 1080 x 2400
  • Weight: 6.7 oz.
  • Cameras: 13 MP main, 2 MP macro, 2 MP monochrome, 16 MP front
  • Storage: 64 GB
  • Processor: Snapdragon 480

If you’re on T-Mobile’s network, we also recommend the OnePlus Nord N200 5G. It’s a bit more rudimentary compared to the Nord N10, with a cheaper camera and half the amount of storage. But it has the same great display with a 90 Hz refresh rate that makes for buttery-smooth scrolling.

Also, it costs almost $100 less than the Nord N10. And you can get a rebate for the full cost of the phone if you buy it and add a new line to your T-Mobile plan.

Pros

  • Great offer with T-Mobile plans
  • Excellent display

Cons

  • No C-band 5G
  • Mediocre camera

Specs and features for budget 5G phones

Does the phone’s 5G fit with your cell carrier’s 5G?

Most cell phones work with any carrier nowadays, but since 5G is still a developing technology, some 5G phones work on some cellular companies’ 5G networks and not others. Mainly you’ll see this with T-Mobile–certified phones such as the OnePlus Nord N200, the OnePlus Nord N10 5G, and T-Mobile’s own REVVL V+ 5G.

Want to make sure your phone is good to go? Look at the phone’s specs to confirm that it works with your carrier’s 5G network before making your purchase.

Pro Tip:

Want to know which cellular carrier has the biggest and baddest 5G network? T-Mobile is in the lead so far, but Verizon and AT&T are gaining ground with C-band rollouts in 2022. Look at the speeds and availability of each carrier’s 5G network to see what you can get from each one.

Aim to get all 5G bands—including C-band

Just like 4G LTE, 5G relies on radio frequencies to connect your phone to the internet, but not all 5G phones are certified to work on the same frequencies. Lower-priced 5G phones commonly work on a range of 5G channels that fall below 6 GHz, giving you modestly faster speeds over a wide area. But sub–6 GHz is only a slight step forward from 4G, and only a handful of budget 5G phones tap into millimeter-wave and C-band channels.

Those are the frequencies that really deliver the goods 5G is known for. Millimeter-wave can give phone users gigabit speeds in relatively contained areas (like concert venues, stadiums, and busy downtown districts). C-band has a much wider range than millimeter-wave but also delivers powerful speeds (100–1,000 Mbps).

ProviderWhen will it have C-band 5G?
AT&TJanuary 2022
VerizonJanuary 2022
T-MobileDecember 2023

Verizon and AT&T both have government approval to start adding C-band frequencies (3.7 GHz–3.98 GHz) to their 5G networks beginning in January 2022. The rollout will take some time—and only 46 American cities are expected to have C-band this year.

But if you’re a Verizon or AT&T customer, you’ll very likely want a phone with C-band so you can capitalize on the big boost in speeds and availability. And if you have Verizon, you also may want a phone that supports millimeter-wave 5G, since Verizon has worked to build up millimeter-wave as part of its 5G Ultra Wideband network.

T-Mobile also has plans to add C-band spectrum to its 5G network, but that won’t happen until the end of 2023, as per government regulations. So there’s no need to make sure you’ve got C-band on your phone right now if you’re a T-Mobile customer.

How do you check if your phone has C-band?

To make sure a phone has C-band, look at the phone’s list of tech specs and check if it supports the n77 and n78 frequency bands. N77 is the code for the frequencies 3.3–4.2GHz (the main frequencies for C-band), while n78 also covers some C-band frequencies.2

Also important—the camera, storage, and other common phone features

Aside from all the technical 5G stuff, a 5G phone should also have all the other goodies that make up a proper smartphone nowadays. Here’s a quick rundown of what to look for.

5G phone featuresWhy you want it
High-resolution camera (50 MP or better)Captures quality images in a variety of conditions and situations
Display with high refresh rate (90 Hz or higher)Improves scrolling, animations, and gaming
At least 128 GB of internal storageMakes it easier to collect photos, docs, and apps without slowing down the phone
Sturdy bodyProtects from cracks and drops
Thoughtful design and hapticsIncreases efficiency and enjoyment of use

Since you’re looking for a budget phone, you might not be able to get everything on this phone-features wish list. But it’s worth thinking over what you really need and what you can do without. For example, if you love taking Instagrammable portraits of your food every time you go to a restaurant, then you’ll definitely want a good camera. If you’re a digital hoarder who needs an app for every occasion, look for a lot of internal storage (and a microSD port).

Our verdict

When it comes down to it, Samsung’s Galaxy A13 is the best budget 5G phone around. It doesn’t have some of the deluxe features that we’ve highlighted on other phones. But it has the stuff that counts—including a solid camera, a long-lasting battery, and C-band coverage to ensure consistent and fast 5G performance. That’s a big step for such a cheap phone, especially considering that more expensive models don’t even give you all the 5G bands necessary to get the best speeds.

Buy Samsung Galaxy A13

Sources

  1. Chris Jecks, Android Police, “Pixel 6 Fingerprint Sensor: Explaining the Problems, and How to Make It Faster,” January 13, 2022. Accessed February 7, 2022.
  2. Sascha Segan, PC Mag, “What Is C-Band, and What Does It Mean for the Future of 5G?,” July 6, 2021. Accessed February 7, 2022.

Disclaimer

Author -

Peter Holslin has more than a decade of experience working as a writer and freelance journalist. He graduated with a BA in liberal arts and journalism from New York City’s The New School University in 2008 and went on to contribute to publications like Rolling Stone, VICE, BuzzFeed, and countless others. At HighSpeedInternet.com, he focuses on covering 5G, nerding out about frequency bands and virtual RAN, and producing reviews on emerging services like 5G home internet. He also writes about internet providers and packages, hotspots, VPNs, and Wi-Fi troubleshooting.

Editor - Rebecca Lee Armstrong

Rebecca Lee Armstrong has more than six years of experience writing about tech and the internet, with a specialty in hands-on testing. She started writing tech product and service reviews while finishing her BFA in creative writing at the University of Evansville and has found her niche writing about home networking, routers, and internet access at HighSpeedInternet.com. Her work has also been featured on Top Ten Reviews, MacSources, Windows Central, Android Central, Best Company, TechnoFAQ, and iMore.