What to look for when choosing a cheap smartphone


If a smart­phone is cheap, it does not mean that it is bad. Of course, bud­get seg­ment gad­gets do not have the impres­sive fea­tures that flag­ships can boast of. But even for $100 you can get a gad­get that will ful­ly sat­is­fy your dai­ly needs. The main thing is to choose the right one. Here’s what to look out for when buy­ing a cheap smart­phone.


Buy­ing a smart­phone for $100, you are unlike­ly to find a mod­el with an eight-core proces­sor. Today, quad-core Cor­tex-A53 chipsets and the old­er Cor­tex-A7 are typ­i­cal at this price point. They pro­vide a quite sat­is­fac­to­ry expe­ri­ence for every­day use, although you will cer­tain­ly notice some stut­ter at times.

Smart­phones under $100 usu­al­ly have 1GB or 2GB of RAM. It is strong­ly rec­om­mend­ed to look for a mod­el with 2 GB. And in no case do not look towards mod­els with 512 MB. This vol­ume is not enough even for com­fort­able surf­ing on the Inter­net. We also rec­om­mend choos­ing a mod­el run­ning a light­weight Android Go oper­at­ing sys­tem, which does not pull on a lot of sys­tem resources.


Cheap smart­phones, as a rule, have a rather mod­est amount of inter­nal mem­o­ry. You won’t find 64GB or 32GB mod­els here. Even 16 GB at this price point is a rar­i­ty. The out­put is a mem­o­ry card. When choos­ing, be sure to pay atten­tion to whether the smart­phone sup­ports microSD, and if it does, what is the max­i­mum size of the card. If a mod­el with a small amount of native mem­o­ry does not sup­port microSD, do not even look in its direc­tion. Run­ning out of space is one of the most annoy­ing prob­lems one can face. Trust me, you don’t need it.


Smart­phones with AMOLED dis­plays in the low­er price cat­e­go­ry do not inhab­it. Count on liq­uid crys­tals. Sur­pris­ing­ly, but among the cheap mod­els there are a vari­ety of diag­o­nals, from 4 to 6 inch­es. True, the dis­play res­o­lu­tion is usu­al­ly low, 480p and 540p, less often — 720p.

Keep in mind that the larg­er screen you choose, the more res­o­lu­tion it needs to dis­play a clear pic­ture. So, a 4‑inch dis­play with a res­o­lu­tion of 960 x 540 pix­els looks sharp, but a 5.5‑inch dis­play with the same res­o­lu­tion already looks blur­ry. For mod­els with a diag­o­nal of 5.5 inch­es, 720p can be con­sid­ered the min­i­mum res­o­lu­tion.


Smart­phones with two cam­eras have fall­en in price recent­ly, but have not yet hit the low­er price seg­ment. That is, for $100 you should expect a sin­gle sen­sor from 5MP to 13MP. Of course, there are no options like opti­cal image sta­bi­liza­tion in such cam­eras. It should be under­stood that such cam­eras are need­ed not so much for cre­at­ing high­ly artis­tic por­traits, but for pure­ly util­i­tar­i­an tasks, such as read­ing QR codes or trans­lat­ing text into Google Trans­late.

Front cam­eras in cheap smart­phones tend to have even more mod­est sen­sors, from 2MP to 8MP. In gen­er­al, smart­phones in this price range can­not be called cam­era phones. You just have to come to terms with this.

How­ev­er, even a weak cam­era can take decent pic­tures, if you know how to shoot.


Most mod­els under $100 have a 2000 to 3000 mAh bat­tery. But there are excep­tions with 4000 and even 5000 mAh, for exam­ple, the bud­get mod­el Nokia 2.

I do not rec­om­mend look­ing towards mod­els with a bat­tery capac­i­ty of less than 3000 mAh. This is a nec­es­sary min­i­mum for com­fort­able use. And already a 4000 mAh bat­tery will pro­vide you with 2–3 days of work on a sin­gle charge.







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