The best budget phones in Australia for 2021

Our expert team has tested hundreds of mobile phones to find the 10 best options under $400.

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Top 10 budget phones

  1. realme C3
  2. Oppo A52
  3. Nokia 800 Tough
  4. Alcatel 3L
  5. Nokia 1.3
  6. Nokia 2.3
  7. Motorola Moto G8 Power Lite
  8. Nokia 4.2
  9. Nokia 8110 4G
  10. Telstra Essential Smart 2

How did we pick this list?

Finder's team of experts has tested and reviewed every phone on this list. For each phone, we consider the design, cameras, performance, battery life and overall value for money.

Our editorial team selected the phones on this list based on their overall quality and value compared to other phones on the market. All phones featured on this list have a launch RRP of under $400.

Read more detail on our methodology below.

1. realme C3

The best all-round mix of features

realme C3
6.5-inch display | 64GB storage options | 12MP + 2MP + 2MP rear camera
  • Large display for a budget phone
  • Huge battery
  • Stylish colours
  • Slower processor
  • Ordinary cameras
  • Low resolution display
RRP $269

Why we chose it

Picking any budget phone is a question of compromises, because at some point manufacturers do start cutting away features to meet a specific price point. Budget phone maker realme makes most of the right choices with the realme C3. It's a low-cost handset that manages a stylish design in either a red or blue finish with a large display and multi-camera array out the back. The headline feature for a phone at this price point is the inclusion of a 5,000mAh battery, which means that the realme C3 can easily last through even a heavy day's usage, and if you're moderate in your usage, quite a bit more than that.

Read our full review of the realme C3.

2. Oppo A52

Quad camera and good battery life for a great price

Oppo A52
6.5-inch display | 64GB storage options | 12MP + 8MP + 2MP rear camera
  • Easy 2 day battery life
  • Fingerprint unlock is quick
  • Quad camera array
  • Camera can be slow to fire up
  • ColorOS wants unusual permissions
  • No dedicated macro mode
RRP $299

Why we chose it

It sits at the top of where we'd be comfortable to call the budget range right now, but if you can stretch to it, you get a lot from the Oppo A52, from its hefty 5,000mAh battery to the inclusion of a quad camera array, which at one point would have been unthinkable in the budget space. There are some compromises in play, however. You get a good choice of lenses to shoot from, but they're not fast, and despite the presence of a macro sensor, there's no dedicated macro shooting mode in Oppo's supplied camera app. As with all Oppo phones, you've also got to work with its ColorOS launcher, which often asks for intrusive permissions for seemingly simple apps.

Read our full Oppo A52 review here.

3. Nokia 800 Tough

The best feature phone

Nokia 800 Tough
2.4-inch display | 4GB storage options | 2MP rear camera
  • It's astonishingly tough
  • Great battery life
  • It plays Snake
  • It's just a feature phone
  • Small display
  • Thin buttons can be hard to hit
RRP $199

Why we chose it

In the budget space you can also opt for a feature phone, and our easy pick for the best of the bunch is HMD Global's Nokia 800 Tough. As the name suggests, this is a seriously rugged phone – we really did punish this poor thing in our tests and it just kept on working like some kind of feature phone Terminator. It's fine for basic calls and texting duties, and can even handle simple Google apps, although the use of that small screen and very small keys can be a bit challenging for any longer text input.

Read our full Nokia 800 Tough review.

4. Alcatel 3L (2020)

Quad camera and good battery life for a great price

Alcatel 3L (2020)
6.22-inch display | 64GB storage options | 48MP + 5MP + 2MP rear camera
  • Sub-$200 price point
  • Triple lens camera
  • Good battery life
  • Cheap construction
  • microUSB charging
  • Slow app performance
RRP $199

Why we chose it

Alcatel has long form in super-affordable phones, but most of them have tended towards the mediocre. The Alcatel 3L 2020 isn't a fast phone to speak of, but for its sub-$200 price point you get quite a lot in terms of its feature set, from superb battery life to a triple lens camera that's quite fun to use and nicely ahead of most of its competitors in this price range.

Read our full Alcatel 3L 2020 review here.

5. Nokia 1.3

A simple and affordable phone that does a lot with a little

Nokia 1.3
5.71-inch display | 16GB storage options | 8MP rear camera
  • Android Go makes the most of the Nokia 1.3
  • Removable battery and headphone jack
  • Highly affordable
  • Removing the battery is a chore
  • Mediocre battery life
  • Poor screen viewing angles
RRP $169

Why we chose it

Nokia's cheapest smartphone sells because it's cheap, and while that does mean that you get some compromises in terms of battery life and overall performance, the inclusion of Android Go means that its ordinary processor runs far better than it has any right to. Add to that a removable battery and you've got quite a compelling small device at an equally small price point.

Read our full Nokia 1.3 review here

6. Nokia 2.3

A simple and effective budget phone

Nokia 2.3
6.2-inch display | 32GB storage options | 13MP + 2MP rear camera
  • Android One for simple updates
  • Good battery capacity
  • Portrait effects on photos
  • Slow processor
  • microUSB charging
  • No fingerprint sensor
RRP $199

Why we chose it

Nokia's Android phones stand out for their clean Android interfaces and the fact that they're part of the Android One program, meaning you're guaranteed full Android updates for a couple of years from purchase, greatly enhancing their value proposition.

The affordable Nokia 2.3 packs in a decent sized 4,000mAh battery, dual lens with portrait effects and a range of colour choices to give it some appeal. Like many budget phones, you're still stuck with microUSB for charging, and its Helio A22 processor isn't particularly quick.

Read our full review of the Nokia 2.3.

7. Motorola Moto G8 Power Lite

A big battery and that's all, folks!

Motorola Moto G8 Power Lite
6.5-inch display | 64GB storage options | 16MP + 2MP + 2MP rear camera
  • Large battery capacity
  • Camera app is easy to use
  • Fast rear fingerprint sensor
  • 5,000mAh doesn't go as far as you might think
  • microUSB charging
  • Android 9 is showing its age
RRP $249

Why we chose it

Motorola's "Power" suffixed phones have all tended to have large batteries, and the Motorola Moto G8 Power Lite is no exception, with a 5,000mAh internal battery giving it its best single feature. It's otherwise a very ordinary Android phone for its price bracket, especially as it's still only running on Android 9, but if you like Motorola phones generally and want a phone with pretty easy multi-day performance it's fairly priced for what you get.

Read our full Motorola Moto G8 Power Lite review.

8. Nokia 4.2

A well-designed phone that could use a bigger battery

Nokia 4.2
5.71-inch display | 16GB, 32GB storage options | 13MP + 2MP rear camera
  • Nice design
  • Decent camera
  • Android One for easy updates
  • Only has a 3,000mAh battery
  • microUSB charging is less convenient
  • Cheap plastic feel
RRP From $299

Why we chose it

The Nokia 4.2 combines some interesting design choices, including a genuinely eye-catching "pink sand" finish and a dedicated Google Assistant button, into its budget offering. Like other Nokia phones, it's an Android One device, guaranteed for updates for a few years which gives it good long-term longevity. The onboard camera is fine for a budget model, but the inclusion of only a 3,000mAh battery is a bit of a down point.

Read our full review of the Nokia 4.2 here.

9. Nokia 8110

The weekender phone returns with added curves

Nokia 8110
2.45-inch display | 4GB storage options | 2MP rear camera
  • Unique design
  • Eye-catching colour
  • Removable battery
  • Just a feature phone
  • Cheap plastic build
  • Woeful camera
RRP US $129

Why we chose it

Nokia's deliberate throwback phones are simple and fun – and that's pretty much the point. Our favourite to date is the so-called "Matrix Phone", the Nokia 8110 4G, although if you don't want to get your virtual Keanu on, you can also opt for the yellow model and pretend you're speaking into a banana instead. It's essentially just a basic feature phone with a few Google goodies on the side, but if you're after a phone that won't pester you with notifications, it's a very nice choice. Just be warned that the camera may as well be an etch-a-sketch, but again that's pretty accurate to the throwback times the Nokia 8110 4G evokes.

Read the full Nokia 8110 4G review.

10. Telstra Essential Smart 2

A really, truly, particularly cheap handset option

Telstra Essential Smart 2
5-inch display | 16GB storage options | 5MP rear camera
  • It doesn't cost much
  • You can spend the leftover money on other things, like fruit
  • Blue tick compatible
  • Poor app performance
  • Bad camera
  • Low capacity battery is also poor
RRP From $69

Why we chose it

Because it's astonishingly cheap, that's why. The Telstra branded, ZTE-built Essential Smart 2 typically costs $69, but we've seen it on sale for less. It's not fast, the battery life is only ordinary and the camera feels astonishingly dated for a 2020 handset. However, it does qualify for Telstra's Blue Tick if you're a bush phone user, and it is very, very cheap, so if you wanted just a simple phone and you really didn't care much about heavy app use, it could just tide you over.

Read our full Telstra Essential Smart 2 review here


Mobile phones reviewed
Hours spent testing
Top budget picks
  • We've spent thousands of hours testing and reviewing mobile phones.
  • Our editorial team has a combined 60+ years of experience writing about tech and reviewing the latest devices.
  • The phones on this list are chosen by our editorial team and are not based on commercial relationships.

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