Best Budget Camera Phones 2020 : Buying Guide & Reviews

Expert Contributor

Jeff Day

With thousands of phone makers and price points with new products coming out every day, the growing smartphone market has a lot of choice. If you like using your phone for photography, or just having a good value quality phone, one with a decent camera performance, it can be hard knowing which budget camera phones to splash your money on.

The best budget camera phones may not mean periscope lenses, or a 4k sensor, but it doesn’t mean you can’t get incredible pictures for much cheaper than a top end new Apple iPhone 11 pro. Smartphone camera tech is confusing, with this year seeing big pixel counts are possible on a low price budget camera – letting you get richer tones and a solid night shooting experience, with lots of different arrangements of rear cameras.

Best Budget Camera Phones in 2020

1. Nokia 2.3

Nokia 2.3 - Android 10 Ready

Best Features: extremely affordable large display with respectably sized bezels. as an Android One phone, you get guaranteed clean, up to date software.


At just over $100 this is a steal. The first of our best budget camera phones is the Nokia 2.3 released early this year: a fully unlocked smartphone with an AI-powered dual camera. Perhaps the best phone for Android for the cheap price and with a good camera – it is ready for Android 10. Face unlock technology is a nice step up from the typical fingerprint biometric offerings on cheaper phones.

Note that this camera phone is compatible with all GSM networks or carriers in the US. These include AT&T, T-Mobile, Cricket, TracFone, and Simple Mobile – you should always check before to be safe.

The display has a very thin, stylish design whilst still maintaining great image and text clarity. Featuring decent low light performance with image fusion technology, bokeh effect and focus adjustment, the camera is perfect for a pro or if you have a photography hobby, with rear dual cameras that have sensors.

Google Assistant and an adaptive battery both utilise AI – though note you’re missing a fingerprint sensor and USB C port which are common on the other phones on this list. Lots of similarly priced phones may not offer a lot of functionality though – so having the Google Assistant to use for checking weather or your calendar is a handy tool. The fundamentals of a budget camera are undoubtedly met on top of being a decent phone.

SPECIFICATIONS

Release: January 2020 | Screen size: 6.2 inch | Screen type: IPS with water drop notch | Certification: Android One | Dimensions: 6.2 x 3.0 x 0.3 inches | Weight: 6.5 ounces | Rear camera: 13+2 MP | Front camera: 5 MP | Maximum video resolution: 1080p video @ 30fps | Storage: 32GB | Memory card slot: MicroSD | Battery: 4000 mAh

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2. Google Pixel 3a

Google Pixel 3A - Black

Best Features: great enhanced Super Res digital zoom, combining multiple exposures from fractionally different angles automatically. balanced image quality is impressive, at flagship level quality.


The Google Pixel 3a XL is also available if you tend to prefer a bigger handset, though expect the 3a XL to then have a higher price. Whilst you may find a 5.6 inch screen size somewhat on the smaller side, if you plan to use this mostly as a camera it doesn’t really matter.

If you don’t mind that your phone isn’t one of the many flagship smartphones out there, you’ll like the Google Pixel 3a for the best budget camera. The Sony IMX 363 main sensor is one you would expect on a top end camera phone, whilst an OIS motor makes shooting digital zoom images easy with amazing results.

There’s only one front camera 8MP for selfies, whilst the phone utilises a mid-range Snapdragon 670 CPU processor. A plastic body may be one of the compromises in terms of the feel of the handset, but the real highlight of this phone can’t be ignored. The very capable rear camera can take information between the sensor’s own pixels, allowing unrivalled detail to be captured.

The rear camera of the phone is amazing in low light due to the Night Sight feature, whilst the front camera has autofocus and a portrait mode to help with the lower resolution. Note there is no dedicated zoom lens – but we don’t think you’ll notice.

SPECIFICATIONS

Release: April 2019 | Screen size: 5.6 Inches | Resolution: 2220 x 1080 OLED 441 PPI | Sharpness: X | Dimensions: 5.96 x 2.76 x 0.32 inches | Weight: 5.12 ounces | Rear camera:12.2 MP | Front camera: 8 MP| Maximum video resolution: 4k Video | Storage: 64GB | Memory card slot: 64GB

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3. Xiaomi Redmi Note 8

Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 - International Version

Best Features: long battery life stamina with 5020mAh battery capacity. night photo mode performs well with clarity for low-light shooting.


Why even bother with flagship phones and their price tags? Low cost and pretty, this affordable budget Chinese option has a high feature count and a 48MP rear camera, all for under $200. For your budget, the Redmi Note 9 even offers a basic degree of water resistance.

The style of design looks expensive with a full HD 6.3 inch display, whilst the IR blaster can replace remote controls if you use it with devices like a TV – easily qualifying for our list of best budget camera phones.

A 48MP sensor, rear camera 8MP with ultra-wide is one of the best for expansive landscape photos. Also included are a pair of 2MP cameras for depth processing and all round macro shots, with autofocus for close up photos. The settings have a good range of shooting modes, and the scratch resistant Gorilla glass certified front and back make it feel premium.

An SD card slot lets you boost the 64GB storage if it’s not enough to hold all the snaps and videos you will be taking. You will find your charge lasts for an impressive amount of time with a very large battery capacity included. This beats out some of the capacities offered by much more premium priced phones. Android phones tend to offer a lot of value for money, so if you want to check out the best budget Android phones, we have you covered.

Keep in mind no warranty is available as this is an international model, and that only GSM networks are compatible for use with this phone in the US – no CDMA networks are included. This can be quite common for international versions of phones, but annoying when you need to weigh up great features with any risks.

SPECIFICATIONS

Release: September 2019 | Screen size: 6.3 inch | Resolution: 1080 x 2340 pixels | Dimensions: 7.0 x 3.0 x 2.5 inches | Weight: 15.84 ounces | Rear camera: Quad 48MP wide, 8MP ultrawide, 2MP macro | Front camera: 13MP | Maximum video resolution: 2160p @ 20fps | Storage: 64GB | Memory card slot: MicroSD | Battery: 5020 mAh

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4. Honor View 20

Honor View 20 - Sapphire Blue

Best Features: ultra-wide camera lens gives a flagship experience. solid front camera 32 MP selfie camera with pixel binning for detail.


Huawei and Honor actually share the same parent company – so expect similar quality phones although the price differences between the two fluctuate. With a triple rear camera set up, there’s ultra wide paired with a basic depth sensor. The Honor View 20 may not be your first thought when asking which is best android phone – but you should consider it.

The punch hole front camera and long all day battery life combined with more than reasonable 128GB internal storage are nothing to complain about. Selfie fans especially will appreciate the specs of the front camera with such a high quality photo resolution.

An ergonomic finger print scanner and gradient finish on the back add a stylish feel to this budget phone too.

SPECIFICATIONS

Screen size: 6.4 inch | Dimensions:0.32 x 2.97 x 6.18 inches | Weight: 6.35 ounces | Rear camera: 48 MP | Front camera: 25 MP | Storage: 128GB

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5. Original Oppo Reno 2

Oppo Reno 2 - Supports Google

Best Features: premium feel design with scratch resistant glass. setup of quad rear cameras is excellent and well thought out.


Sleek and refined, the Oppo Reno 2 has curved scratch proof glass all around the back for a satisfying grip and classy look. The front is all screen, with a unique ‘shark fin’ camera design you won’t find on many other phones. You also get to choose between speedy face or fingerprint biometric unlocking as both are available here.

The Sony tried and tested main sensor at a great 48MP resolution is matched well with two zoom cameras, an ultra wide camera and depth sensor – that way each camera can let lots of light in whilst still achieving accurate backgrounds and focus or defocus. Shooting videos are no problem for this phone, ranging from slow motion capture to 4K capability at both 1080p or 720p.

Features like sizable128GB storage that is expandable upon and a smart camera video mode, along with 4000mAh battery life to last all day makes this a strong mid-range offering from Oppo Reno.

SPECIFICATIONS

Release: January 2020 | Screen size: 6.5 inch | Certification: Android One | Dimensions:7 x 3 x 2.5 inches | Weight: 15.8 ounces | Rear camera: 48 MP | Front camera: 16 MP | Maximum video resolution: 1080p video @ 30fps | Memory card slot: 8 GB | Battery: 4000 mAh

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6. Huawei Nova 5T

Huawei Nova 5T - 128GB

Best Features: compact premium design with a metal frame, with glass front and back. powerful processor makes it a great phone even without the camera.


Best for compact phone lovers for your pockets, this budget camera phone from the well known Huawei is powerful and stylish with a full HD, 6.2 inch display. The small bezels with a punch hole front selfie camera give you an enjoyable, immersive full screen experience with barely any screen border.

Huawei gives you the best budget night mode here, with long exposure times up to 10 seconds and a total of 100MP on the sensors, achieving unrivalled detail at all times of the night. 128GB storage is plentiful for whatever you capture, with a Kirin 980 processor more than enough to handle 4k video watching, advanced 3D gaming or any other apps and switching between them with ease.

SPECIFICATIONS

Release: April 2020 | Screen size: 6.26 inch | Resolution: 2340 x 1080 pixels | Dimensions: 7.01 x 3.78 x 2.44 inches | Weight: 1 pound | Rear camera: 48MP | Front camera: 32MP | Maximum video resolution: 2340 x1080 | Storage: 12GB | Memory card slot: MicroSD | Battery: 3750 mAh

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7. Motorola Moto G8+ Plus

Motorola Moto G8+

Best Features: zoom camera with dedicated night mode. great battery life ideal for every day use. quadruple pixel camera system with brilliant light sensitivity.


A consistently sensible choice in recommended best budget camera phones: the Moto G8 phone uses some advanced tech, friendly established software and update support for the price. This international version is compatible with most GSM carriers like AT&T and T-Mobile.

With an ultrawide camera with zoom, you’ll appreciate the detail that has gone into both the design of the phone and photo results. A reasonably sized 6.3 inch full HD 1080p screen with a punch hole makes it awesome for watching movies and shows on the go. The 48 megapixel main camera, 16MP ultra-wide and 5MP depth assist are impressive features for the rear cameras to fit even more in the frame.

An action camera lets you film and playback landscape videos whilst holding and recording them vertically – just a nifty little extra that feels more natural when you are shooting. Stabilisation of images and frames is enhanced by Motorola tech to optimise any video captures and remove irritating wobbles caused by an unsteady hand.

Storage is expandable beyond the 64GB with a MicroSD card slot allowing for expansion, which is perfect if you plan to take a lot of photos or videos. We think a cool extra is the water repellent, worry proof design to protect your phone from any accidental splashes, spills or sweat.

SPECIFICATIONS

Release: October 2019 | Screen size: 6.3 inch | Dimensions: 7 x 4 x 2 inches | Weight:14.2 ounces | Rear camera: Quad 48MP wide | Front camera: 25MP |  Storage: 64GB | Memory card slot: MicroSD | Battery: 4000mAh

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8. Honor 9X

Honor 9X - Blue

Best Features: all screen glass front design, no notches or punch holes. great value camera phone at around $200.


If you want the biggest screen you can get on a phone whilst on a budget, this is probably it. Look no further as at a huge 6.59 inches – the Honor 9X will grab and keep your attention. The bezel is almost invisible with a pop up camera and no punch hole in the design, meaning a great screen ratio is achieved.

The triple rear cameras include a GoPro style ultra wide secondary camera, but the others are to brag about too. Get the best wide angle lens shots with depth sensors, aperture mode and an adjustable focus point after the beat. The front camera 16MP offered could be beaten on other phones, but not at this kind of price.

Don’t worry about battery either, it will last you all day after a full charge at 4000mAh capacity. If you ask yourself what might be Android best phone, an international model does tend to be a less popular choice for budget camera phones. This model is still compatible with most popular GSM carriers in the US though.

Always check whether a warranty is included, and whether your carrier will work – CDMA carriers (such as Verizon, Sprint, Boost etc) are not compatible with this phone.

SPECIFICATIONS

Release: July 2019 | Screen size: 6.59 inches | Dimensions:6.9 x 3.6 x 2.6 inches | Weight:15.2 ounces | Rear camera: 48MP + 8MP + 2MP | Front camera: 2MP | Storage: 64GB | Memory card slot: MicroSD | Battery: 4000mAh

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9. Samsung Galaxy A51

Samsung Galaxy A51 - CDMA Compatible

Best Features: flagship style quadruple camera set up with ultra wide. top-tier AMOLED display feels like it costs more than it does.


A strong, mid-range price phone is from Samsung, especially if you’re a fan of the upper-range Samsung Galaxy S20 but hate the asking price. This budget option will let you have the best phone with Android and a great camera. The main 48MP wide angle camera can handle lower or mixed lighting conditions, with a dedicated ultra wide and depth camera.

Quality wise, the hardware allows you a 6.4 inch display with a more than decent 4000mAh battery and 64GB storage. The screen is the real highlight on this phone, with AMOLED technology letting you see gorgeous colours in full HD. An in screen fingerprint scanner and infinity O hole punch selfie camera are some extra solid features besides the cameras.

A 5MP macro camera is notably a higher resolution than many other budget rivals at the average 2MP, whilst the 32MP wide angle lens front camera is pretty impressive too. The quadruple cameras make this one of the best budget camera phones due to the pro level photos you can capture at half the price of flagship phones.

SPECIFICATIONS

Release: December 2019 | Screen size: 6.5 inch | Resolution: 1080 x 2340 pixels | Dimensions: 6.6 x 3.2 x 2 inches | Weight:11.2 ounces | Rear camera: 13MP | Front camera: 8MP | Maximum video resolution: 720×1560 pixels | Storage: 64GB | Memory card slot: MicroSD

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10. Nokia 7.2

Nokia 7.2 Smartphone

Best Features: future proof interface as Android One certified for both those guaranteed software and security updates (for two or three years). ultra HD 4k video recording capability.


Our final product on this list is the Nokia 7.2, with a striking frosted glass finish to combine beauty with durability. The screen is scratch resistant, with a solid frame and glass back – note this phone has slightly more of a screen border than the other phones suggested due to the bezels.

Triple camera setup on the rear of the phone combines a powerful 48MP main sensor with a wide angle back camera. SLR effects help you take better night time shots. Selfie fans will appreciate the fantastic 20MP resolution and Zeiss lens, for some super aesthetic self-portrait captures on a budget phone. These are unbeatably superior to more common front camera 8MP or front camera 16MP offerings.

The processor is the popular Snapdragon 660, with artificial intelligence assisted adaptive battery to optimise your charges for up to two days without needing to be plugged in. At under $400, this is one of the slightly higher price budget camera phones, but one that may be worth it.

Android One software will make for a clean and smooth user experience. You also have the option to choose between face or fingerprint unlocking as both are included in the biometric technology.

SPECIFICATIONS

Release: September 2019 | Screen size: 6.3 inch | Resolution: 5.99″ 18:9 QHD+ 1440×2880 with Corning Gorilla Glass 5 | Dimensions:6.3 x 2.8 x 0.31 inches | Weight:5.6 ounces | Rear camera: 5×12 MP | Front camera: 20 MP | Maximum video rghesolution: 2160p @ 20fps | Storage: 64GB | Memory card slot: MicroSD | Battery: 3320 mAh

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What is the best smartphone for under $200?

The capable MediaTek processor, great 6.2 inch display and large battery life of the Nokia 2.3 will meet and exceed your basic needs for a phone or camera – it may be the best phone Android has with a decent budget camera at a steal of a price.

We think this is one of the best budget camera phones released in 2020, which will let you take some awesome pictures whilst utilising guaranteed Android One software updates – making for a worthwhile purchase.


Which budget smartphone has the best camera in 2020?

Our pick for the best budget camera phone has to be the Google Pixel 3a simply for the camera quality alone. For a slightly higher price you can get the Google Pixel 3a XL, but the cameras feel high end regardless of the display being on the smaller side.

Whether taking pictures from the front or back, the results of any shooting are superbly sharp and balanced photos, with impressive low light shots to wow any audience. With reasonable 64GB storage and full HD video capture capability, this is overall a great choice for the best budget camera – as it is no different from the cameras found on the Pixel 4, at a price that definitely will not dent your finances.

About This Expert

Jeff Day