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How to choose a smartphone under $300
In recent years, manufacturers have managed to get the cost of well built, well designed, and feature rich smartphones down to very attractive prices. Gone are those days where you had to tolerate a slow, clunky cell phone with an almost unusable camera if you were on a budget.
Todays budget smartphones are almost as good as the premium ones. Sure, they lack a bit in the performance department, but what you will get for under $300 might surprise you.
So let’s go through some of the things you should look out for when buying a budget smartphone.
But first, we recommend you to try out smartphone finder at the top of the page. It will guide you to the top 3 best phones that fits your requirement.
What do you mostly use the phone for?
Different people use the phone for different things. Some use it for gaming, others use it mostly for social media and so on.
If you’re a barebone type of person, and only use the phone for calling and texting, you might look for a cheap phone. Some smartphones on the market sell for as low as $50 or $100. Those phones might be a bit slow, and the camera is just below average, but it will do the job as far as calling and messaging goes.
Do you consume a lot of media on your phone? Watch netflix, and so on. You should be looking at a phone with high resolution and a high PPI density (pixel by pixel). 1080 x 1920 in resolution or more. And PPI above 400 is recommended.
For you gamers out there; look for a phone that does well in performance tests such as AnTuTu or Geekbench. These results will give you a pointer to how powerful the CPU and GPU of the device is. Also here the resolution is something to consider as well.
If you’re a social media junkie, your main specification to look at would be battery life. A lot of social media apps like facebook or snapchat uses A LOT of battery. Even if it’s just running in the background. Milliampere-hour (mAh) can vary greatly between models. Not every phone with a 3000 mAh battery last the same amount of time. This comes down to device optimization and a few other stuff. You can check battery life of some models here.
The camera is also an important feature for many. And you can actually get a very impressive camera on many smartphones under $300. Look at how many megapixels the phone has. Both main camera and front facing camera. You can’t judge solely based on this, but it will give you an idea of how good the camera actually is. Also flickr is a good place to look for pictures taken with different phones. From there you can judge how good the quality actually is.
If you take a lot of selfies, you might consider the quality of the front-facing camera and the focal length. A wider focal length (lower number) is preferred by most people, as you don’t need to hold the phone as far away from you when taking a selfie. And you might even want a front-facing flash, although this is rare.
Some smartphones performs badly in low light condition. Pictures will come out grainy and dark. A way to check this is to look at aperture, e.x f/1.8. Again, lower number is better, and means it will let in more light, giving you better images after dark.
Recording video on budget phones is also good on many models. You can even record slow-motion video in high resolution. But a few models lack image stabilization, which causes a lot of shaky video, so this should also be taking into consideration if you shoot a lot of video.
Internal storage varies a lot from phone to phone. Most smartphones in this price range are at 16 GB to 34 GB. Only a few models have 64 GB of internal storage. And no phone at under $300 have more than that at this current time.
However, almost all smartphones, except for iPhone, allows you to upgrade the storage by adding a microSD card to you phone. Be aware that on a few dual SIM card phones, they use something called hybrid SIM card slot. This means you can use two SIM cards at once but if you want to add a microSD card you would need to remove one SIM card to create space for the microSD card.
Other things to take into consideration
Screen-to-body ratio is getting bigger and bigger for every year. This means that the screen will take up more of the phone’s body, which many people thinks looks better.
Dual SIM. As mentioned above, many phones these days use a hybrid SIM card slot where you can use two SIM card at once. But if you want extra storage you would have to remove one SIM card. If this is important to you, choose a phone that has more internal storage so you won’t need to make room for a microSD card.
Fast battery charging is also a nifty thing for people who use their phone a lot. Some devices only need 5 minutes of charging for 5 hours of use.
Size of the smartphone is also something which is important to many. Look at the thickness, dimensions, and weight. Most models are either 5’2 inches or 5’5 inches. This is simply a matter of personal taste. Some like a smaller phone, some like it a bit bigger.
Do you want something a lot bigger? Try our tablet finder.