An overview of the Best Budget Smartphone in 2019

When the Pocophone F1 was released last year, it opened our eyes on just how much you can get from a smartphone going for under $500. This was at a time when we saw flagships surpass the $1000 price tag yet in the midst of all that; the Pocophone F1 stood out by providing some of the flagship features at a very affordable price. 2019 has also seen an increase in the number of budget smartphones equipped with some of the best chipsets and displays that you’d typically find on the high-end smartphones only.

But, there is always a tradeoff. Yes, while you will still have your powerful processors, higher screen to body ratio and bigger batteries, there is always something that will be lacking. Therefore, the question is which of these remarkable smartphones have compromised in the right places that are acceptable to most people? But then this poses another issue; what are you willing to compromise on a modern-day smartphone? That’s because while some of the best budget smartphones have powerful processors, some of them will fall short when it comes to saying the camera department. On the other hand, you could have an amazing camera, but then the smartphone may turn out to be less powerful or weak in terms of designing.

In this review, we have compiled some of the best smartphones that are retailing for less than $500. These smartphones have their own unique pitfalls, but in general, they are still remarkable enough to become a reliable daily driver for most people.

What’s the best budget smartphone 2019?

The best budget smartphone 2019 is the Redmi K20 Pro. When the specs of this Xiamo smartphone leaked, we thought that it was an impossible smartphone. I mean, how often do you come across a smartphone with a full screen, Snapdragon 855, Super AMOLED display, aluminum chassis, on-screen fingerprint sensor, and 6 gigs of RAM in a smartphone that is retailing for less than $400? Let’s just be honest; if these features were in a Samsung or Apple product, you’d definitely have to part ways with at least $900. These specs that you can only get from flagship devices yet Xiamo has somehow pulled it off here putting the smartphone at the pole position as the value champion of 2019. But of course, we still have to wait and see what the rest of 2019 has in store before we can declare it as the outright winner.

Here is a deeper dive at this and some of the other excellent budget smartphones you can buy today.

Redmi K20 Pro

The Redmi K20 Pro runs on the powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 with an octa-core CPU. It is available in both 6Gb and 8Gb RAM and either 64Gb, 128GB or 256GB of internal storage. Of course, the price goes up as the figures increase, but even then, you still won’t get any smartphone with the same specs at a lower price.

The screen is a Super AMOLED Full HD display layered with Gorilla Glass 5. The only thing more interesting than how brilliant the display looks and feels is the fact that there is no cut out anywhere for the selfie camera. Yes, and that’s because the smartphone uses a motorized pop-up selfie camera. This basically means that you get to enjoy a full screen which at 1080p and with the powerful processor and the Adreno 640 GPU, watching videos and playing games should be a very exciting experience.

It’s 2019 and cameras are almost the main selling point of all smartphones. So, how does the Redmi K20 pro perform here and how does it compare to other smartphones in the same price point. Well, the backside of the K20 Pro is braced with the triple camera setup. Here you have the primary 48MP sensor f/1.8, an 8MP f/2.4 telephoto lens with PDAF/Laser AF and 2X optical zoom and a 13MP f/2.4 ultra-wide lens. It’s good to see a telephoto and ultra-wide camera lens on a smartphone within this price range. You will also get a Panorama, HDR and Dual-LED Flash. We tried out the rear camera under different conditions, and the results were stunning. They are not as brilliant as the Pixel 3, but they still got the job done pretty well.

Meanwhile, the selfie camera is a single 20MP f /2.2. We were a bit disappointed with the quality of photos, though.

You can use the rear set of cameras to shoot 4K videos at 30 or 60 fps, 1080p at 30, 120 or 240fps and even 960 fps slow-mo. Oh, you can also shoot videos on all the lenses, including the ultra-wide one. On the other hand, the selfie camera supports 1080p video recording at 30 fps.

So, what are some of the issues that you can expect from the K20 Pro? Well, other than taking terrible selfies, the K20 is also not water-resistant, and you won’t get wireless charging since the backside is made of glass. Oh, and the glass back collects lots of fingerprints. The smartphone also runs a Mi UI, which might not be very pleasing for a lot of people.

Even with the few issues highlighted, this smartphone is still very impressive for the price.

Other features

  • 4000mAh battery
  • 3.5mm headphone jack
  • USB Type c
  • Night-mode camera
  • Android 9 (Pie)
  • Fast charger included

Google Pixel 3a

With the Pixel 3a, Google has taken a small step back to come up with a remarkable budget smartphone. The flagship Pixel smartphones are really popular, especially when it comes to the camera and guess what? The same expertise has been employed in the Pixel 3a. Therefore, if you found the poor selfie camera of the K20 Pro to be a deal-breaker, then you will definitely fall in love with the Pixel 3a. But then that is pretty much the only department where the Pixel 3a edges out the Redmi K20 Pro.

The overall designing on the Pixel 3a is just decent enough to get the job done. You will get a 5.6-inch Full HD OLED display which looks really good. Unfortunately, the smartphone is also designed with a forehead and chin. The side bezels are quite thin, giving you a screen to body ratio of 75%. Should you find the display too small for your liking, you can choose the bigger Pixel 3a XL which offers pretty much the same specs but in a bigger and slightly costlier phone.

The Pixel 3a runs on Qualcomm Snapdragon 670 with an octa-core CPU, Adreno 615 GPU and 4GB of RAM. This is powerful enough for you to undertake all the typical functions with ease. However, when it comes to serious gaming, the Pixel 3a does not perform that well.

Now to the best part; the cameras. The only competition the Google Pixel 3a has when it comes to cameras is from its bigger brother the Pixel 3 and maybe the Huawei P30. Take note that both of those smartphones are flagships, yet the Pixel 3a still puts up a good fight at half the price! The Pixel 3a sports a 12.2 MP sensor with f/1.8 aperture at the back and an 8MP f/2.0 selfie camera. The rear camera also features panorama, HDR and Dual-Led while the selfie camera is only fitted with HDR. While the Pixel 3a camera does not have the powerful Pixel Visual Core that boosts image processing in Pixel 3, it still performs really well. It’s honestly a tradeoff I can live with for such a remarkable $399 smartphone.

Both the front and rear camera can shoot videos in 4k at 30fps. The rear camera can also shoot 1080p videos at 30, 60 or 120 frames per second.

Some of the notable drawbacks of this smartphone are that it is not water-resistant and it also doesn’t support wireless charging. The size of the chin and forehead may also be a bother to some people. It’s also not as fast or smooth as the Redmi K20 Pro and some of the high-end smartphones, but this is something you will only notice if you’ve used such phones before.

Other Features

  • 3000mAh
  • 3.5mm headphone jack
  • USB Type C
  • Android 9 (Pie)
  • 64GB internal storage
  • Plastic Body

Samsung Galaxy A50

The Samsung Galaxy A series aims at delivering remarkable features at an affordable price. The A50, in particular, stands out as it provides some very compelling specs yet it is retailing at less than $350. How does it compare to our top two picks and other smartphones within this price range?

The Samsung A50 has a very sleek designing available in several brilliant colors. It features a U-shaped cut-out for a notch that’s housing the selfie camera. You then get a 6.4-inch Super AMOLED Full HD display, and as you already know, Samsung smartphones have arguably the best displays in the market – I bet the OnePlus 7 Pro fanatics will have something to say about that statement – and the A50 is definitely part of that culture. Combine the remarkable display with the super-thin bezels, and you will get the feel of flagship smartphones.

The Galaxy A50 runs on Exynos 9610 octa-core processor. It is available in both 4Gb and 6 GB RAM and either 64 Gb or 128 GB internal storage. There is also a MicroSD slot that can expand the storage to 1Tb. We have to admit that the processor is not really the best in class, but it takes very little from your day-to-day experience. Unless you are overloading the phone with heavy files or games, you shouldn’t really feel like it is slow or lagging in any way.

The plastic body at the back is packed with the triple camera setup. You will get a 25MP f/1.7 sensor with PDAF, an 8MP f/2.2 ultra-wide sensor, and 5MP f/2.2 depth sensor. They support Panorama, HDR, and there is also an LED flash. The photos from these cameras are very detailed and generally impressive plus you can shoot your videos in 1080p at 30 fps. The selfie camera is a single 25MP f/2.0 sensor that takes decent photos and 1080p videos at 30 frames per second.

Other features

  • 4000mAh battery
  • Android 9 (Pie)
  • On-screen fingerprint sensor
  • 3.5mm headphone jack
  • Mali-G72 MP3 GPU
  • Corning Gorilla Glass 3