The Best Budget Android Phones

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The Nokia 6.2 budget android phone, shown in a person's hand.Photo: Ryan Whitwam

Our pick

Nokia 6.2

Nokia 6.2

This model offers a bright, vibrant, 6.3-inch 1080p display, as well as two good cameras, solid build quality, and software updates through late 2021. But it doesn’t work on Verizon or other carriers that use CDMA network technology.

Buying Options

The Nokia 6.2 runs a fast, bloatware-free version of Android that’s easy to use and updated regularly, and it has an excellent screen, good performance, and near-field communication (NFC) for Google Pay and other contactless payments. The camera performance is above average for a budget phone, but not as good as that of the Google Pixel 3a and Samsung Galaxy A50. It works only on GSM carriers like AT&T or T-Mobile—if you’re on Verizon or Sprint, get the Samsung Galaxy A50 instead.

Nokia doesn’t load the Nokia 6.2 down with a bunch of apps you’ll never use or a clunky custom user interface; the result is the next best thing to the version of Android you get on Google’s Pixel phones. Because this is an Android One device, you get monthly security updates and major OS updates for two years after the phone’s launch (for the Nokia 6.2, which launched fall 2019, updates will continue through fall 2021). Even non-Google flagship phones like Samsung’s Galaxy S20 can’t always maintain that cadence, and most budget phones are lucky to receive a major OS update at all. The Nokia 6.2 currently runs Android 9 Pie, but an Android 10 update is expected in early 2020.

The hardware inside the Nokia 6.2 is more powerful than that of budget phones like the Nokia 2.3, and the phone feels quick and responsive when launching apps and loading heavy Web pages. This phone comes with 4 GB of RAM, 64 GB of storage (with a microSD card slot for expansion), and a Snapdragon 636 processor. Though we like its performance for the price, it’s noticeably slower than the Pixel 3a, which has a faster Snapdragon 670 processor and better software optimization.

The Nokia 6.2’s rear-facing fingerprint sensor is more comfortable to use than the Galaxy A50’s, but you have to pick the phone up to access it, unlike with Samsung’s in-screen sensor. The 6.2 is faster to recognize prints and unlock than most budget phones we’ve tested, including the Galaxy A50. The Nokia 6.2 also supports NFC so you can use it for contactless payments, which is rare in budget phones.

Many budget phones have plastic bodies, but the Nokia 6.2 is a well-designed phone with a glass and aluminum frame and slim bezels that make it easy to hold despite the sizable 6.3-inch display. The 1080p LCD of the Nokia 6.1 is brighter and crisper than the displays of many budget phones, but it’s not as good as the OLED screens on the Galaxy A50 or Pixel 3a.

The backc of the Nokia 6.2 android phone, shown in a person's hand. Many budget phones have plastic bodies, but the Nokia 6.2 has an aluminum frame and a glass body. Photo: Ryan Whitwam

The Nokia 6.2’s 16-megapixel primary camera can’t compete with those of more expensive phones like the Pixel 3a, but it is one of the best budget phone cameras we’ve tested. Nokia’s camera app is fast, with less shutter lag than on most budget phones, which means you’re less likely to miss an important shot. The low-light performance is good enough to capture usable photos in moderately dim indoor conditions, too. Nokia also included an ultra-wide camera that’s great for landscapes and large group shots. Many “dual-camera” budget phones merely have a regular camera and a depth sensor that assists with focus, but the secondary camera on the Nokia 6.2 is actually useful.

As on more expensive phones, with the 6.2 design Nokia has moved to a reversible USB Type-C port. The 3,500 mAh battery is enough to get you through a day of heavy use with plenty to spare—Nokia’s official estimate is “up to two days” of battery life.

Flaws but not dealbreakers

The Nokia 6.2 supports only GSM networks such as (in the US) AT&T and T-Mobile. It doesn’t work with CDMA networks like Verizon, which is still our pick for the best postpaid and prepaid phone plans. If you’re shopping for a low-budget phone, you may also be looking for a cheaper prepaid phone plan, but if no GSM carriers provide good service in your area, the Galaxy A50, our runner-up pick, is the best phone for CDMA networks.

Although the Nokia 6.2 has an above-average 3,500 mAh battery, it charges slower than either the Galaxy A50 or the Pixel 3a. Those phones support 15 W and 18 W charging, respectively, whereas the Nokia 6.2 maxes out at 10 W.

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