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Just enough bang for a buck

If you haven’t specifically researched smartphones with a relatively low price tag — say, the best smartphones under $300 — you might be surprised at just how many smartphones there are. Truthfully, if you’re looking for a new low-cost smartphone in 2022, you might be more overwhelmed with options than if you’re looking for the latest new releases — so much so that a final ranking of the best budget smartphones will be near impossible.

For example, Motorola. One of Motorola’s recent efforts to stay firmly in the smartphone game is the Moto G power (2022), which is listed for just $200. Its screen is just 0.06 inches shorter than the Nord’s, and it offers the same refresh rate and largely identical resolution, but it doesn’t support 5G connectivity despite being launched in early 2020. It’s powered by a newer, but less powerful, CPU than MediaTek.

On the other hand, Samsung’s Galaxy A23 is $250 more expensive than Motorola and OnePlus phones, but you get a larger screen, a clearly more desirable resolution of 1070 x 2048 pixels, Gorilla Glass 5 screen protection, and a 50MP rear camera. four color options and a more powerful CPU with the Snapdragon 695. The video capture capabilities are the same, though both the Samsung and OnePlus Nord N300 are only capable of 1080p at 30fps.

TCL has a sub-$200 phone with a massive 6.82-inch screen and 5,000mAh battery, the Nokia G50 is 5G-capable and its interface could pass for a Pixel at a glance, and even previous Nord models sport similar feature profiles at lower price points. For example, the Nord N20 5G brings a 64MP camera and an AMOLED display for $282.

I have to say that I think the Samsung Galaxy A23 takes home the trophy as the best value smartphone under $300, maybe the OnePlus Nord N20 5G follows, but the OnePlus Nord N300 5G deserves a very close third.

When comparing the N300 to either, it seems silly not to spend more money for a higher resolution, sharper screen, more durable glass, the same battery capacity, a better rear camera, and a better chipset. You have a slightly lower selfie camera (if you’re just looking at megapixels), with the A23, but I suppose you have to be a huge selfie person for that to matter, and the N20 can’t refresh past 60fps, but the N300 didn’t get too hot in our tests there anyway.