We comprehensively review all the major handsets released in Australia here at Finder to help you compare what they have to offer.
Right now, the best budget phone you can get with the optimal mix of battery life, processing power, build quality and camera performance as a combination of power, camera quality, battery life and value for money is the Motorola Moto G7 Power. For this roundup, we've defined budget to include phones with a launch RRP under $400.
Meet the author
Alex Kidman is a multi-award-winning consumer technology journalist and the Tech & Telco Editor at finder.com.au. He's been writing about consumer technology topics for more than two decades.
Info last updated 15 May 2019.
- Motorola Moto G7 Power added
- Motorola Moto G7 Power takes top position.
15 May 2019
- Motorola Moto G7 added
- Motorola Moto G7 takes position #5.
03 May 2019
- Nokia 1 Plus added
- Nokia 1 Plus added as the new #7.
01 May 2019
- Phones added
- Oppo AX7 tops our inaugural best budget phones list.
04 March 2019
The Motorola Moto G7 Power isn't the fanciest looking phone, but its solid app performance, relatively clean Android UI and above all its exceptional battery life, aided by an immense 5,000mAh battery makes it the easy pick if you're after a value-centric phone. So many budget phones have sub-par battery life, but this isn't an issue for the Motorola Moto G7 Power.
Moto G7 Power
Motorola has the power
The Motorola Moto G7 Power packs in an amazing 5,000mAh battery for easy two-day battery life. Buy yours today.
Stylish and affordable
The Oppo AX7 provides great battery endurance in a stylish phone body.
The Nokia 2.1 runs on Android Oreo Go, a specially optimised version of Android that makes the most out of the low processing power of budget handsets. That enables the Nokia 2.1 to work better than you'd expect for a phone at its price point. Combine that with Nokia's genuinely nice style, and you've got a phone that has plenty of appeal at a very competitive price point.
A return to form for the Nokia brand
The Nokia 2.1 makes good on the company's promise of premium style at a budget price for its return to the smartphone market, delivering impressive looks and value at a very agreeable pricepoint.
Huawei's Nova 3e sits at the upper end of the budget range, but it's recommended if what you want out of your phone is a decent camera. It's the one specification that budget phones tend to skimp on to keep the price low. The Huawei Nova 3e's camera delivers the kind of performance you'd expect out of a mid-range phone, alongside decent performance for its price bracket.
Huawei Nova 3e
Premium style on a mid-range budget
A slick and sleek design gives the Huawei Nova 3e all the glamour of a high-end smartphone without the steep price tag.
Motorola Moto E5
Power to go and go and go
If you're tired of having to constantly charge your phone, the Motorola Moto E5's 4,000mAh battery might be the ideal solution.
Motorola's latest G-series family comprises multiple models from the power-packed Moto G7 Power to the more expensive Motorola Moto G7 Plus. The regular Moto G7 hits the sweet spot for its mix of battery life, performance and a mostly-clean Android experience. It's not the flashiest looking phone, but it gets the job done.
Motorola Moto G7
Motorola's budget phone
The Motorola Moto G7 provides plenty of value for those who prefer a simpler phone style.
The Nokia 5.1 combines that classic Nokia style with the simplicity of the Android One platform. That means it's not cluttered with extra apps or fancy launchers, making it simple to set up and use the way you want to. Android One also means that it's due for two year's worth of updates, including security and operating system updates. It's rare for budget Android phones to see any updates, so if you're security conscious it's a great choice.
Stylish and easy to update
The Nokia 5.1 offers a clean Android interface, guaranteed updates and a great design.
Nokia 1 Plus
More than the sum of its parts
The Nokia 1 Plus punches above its weight thanks to smart optimisations and the inclusion of Android Go.
Telstra's Essential Plus is actually an Alcatel handset, rebranded and locked to the Telstra network. It's not exceptionally powerful, but it is both 4G capable and Blue Tick certified, meaning that it's a good choice for Australian consumers who spend a lot of time in regional areas. You don't often see phones with good reception in the budget category, let alone at the price point of the Telstra Essential Plus.
Telstra Essential Plus
Just the essentials
The Telstra Essential Plus provides fundamental smartphone functionality at a supremely affordable price.
HMD Global, the folks who make Nokia phones these days have a range of classic throwback feature phones, with the Nokia 8810 4G being the latest. Yes, it's not powerful, and the camera isn't up to much. However, that's kind of the point, because if what you crave is super-simplicity and at the same time a phone that really will stand out, the Nokia 8810 4G is it. You can browse the web on it if you must, or even use it as an ad-hoc Wi-Fi hotspot in a pinch, but this is essentially a phone that's all about getting away from smartphones and their distractions.
Nokia 8110 4G
The banana phone is back
Simple and affordable, the Nokia 8110 4G offers a detox from the complexities of the modern smartphone market.
Why you should compare the best budget phones in Australia
For this guide, we've considered phones only with a recommended launch price of under $400. That still gives quite a range, with some phones in this list costing less than $100. Still, at that price point you're always looking at paying for the phone outright, and then matching it up with a suitable pre-paid or month to month SIM-only contract to keep your costs in check.
Buying a budget phone is an exercise in managing expectations and trading costs against the features that really matter the most to you. If you want flagship performance you're not going to see it in phones that cost less than $400. It's just not going to happen, but the fact that smartphones as a category have been around for more than a decade means that the phone you get at lower prices is much better than you might expect for everyday users.
Here at finder.com.au, we're constantly reviewing the latest smartphones that have launched in Australia, putting them through their paces to see which is best.
We've argued long and hard to create this list of 2019's best budget smartphones, which we update constantly.
Glossary: Key phone terms to consider
|Display||AMOLED displays don't need a backlight, screen pixels are actually turned off to produce blacks, which can save energy. Super AMOLED has improved visibility in direct sunlight. LCD displays use a backlight, which reduces contrast. An IPS LCD display has truer colour reproduction and looks better when you view the screen at an angle.|
|RAM||RAM is your phone's short-term memory. When you use an app, instead of writing data to your phone's internal storage or SD card (long-term memory), the data is stored in the device's RAM so it can be recalled quickly and easily when it's needed. The more RAM the better, and in the premium space that typically means 4GB or more.|
|Megapixels||MP is short for megapixels and is generally accepted as a guide for image quality. More megapixels doesn't mean a better-looking photo. Megapixels are about the maximum size of the image in relation to image quality. The more megapixels, the larger you can blow up your picture without it becoming distorted.|
|Sensor size||Too many megapixels for a small image sensor will ruin the image quality.|
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