The best budget camera phones

Pixel 3a back side macro - best budget camera phones

Smartphone cameras have become amazing, even rivaling dedicated point-and-shoot cameras and other more complex systems. One thing that holds true is that the best smartphone shooters are usually very expensive. It’s hard to pick out the best budget camera phones out of the bunch with so many devices out in the market. This is why we have put together a list of the best affordable camera phones you can buy.

We must set some standards before we move on, though. What exactly is a budget phone? The definition is very subjective, but we believe that anything under $500 is considered a budget camera phone. This is why we won’t add any devices that go over that price point in this list.

The best budget camera phones:

Editor’s note: This list of the best budget camera phones will be regularly updated as new devices launch.

1. Google Pixel 3a and 3a XL

Pixel 3a back on table - best budget camera phones

The Google Pixel 3a and 3a XL were launched as a more affordable alternative to the Pixel 3 series. The 3a iterations come with lower-end specs and a less sturdy construction, but the camera stays the same, and at its time the Pixel camera was one of the best in the industry. This meant you could have a budget camera phone with an industry-leading camera for as low as $399. Some time has passed, so the Gogole Pixel 3a and 3a XL can now be found for less.

Google Pixel 3a specs:

  • Display: 5.6-inch, Full HD+
  • SoC: Snapdragon 670
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Storage: 64GB
  • Camera: 12.2MP
  • Front camera: 8MP
  • Battery: 3,000mAh
  • Software: Android 9.0 Pie (upgradeable to Android 10)

Google Pixel 3a XL specs:

  • Display: 6.0-inch, Full HD+
  • SoC: Snapdragon 670
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Storage: 64GB
  • Camera: 12.2MP
  • Front camera: 8MP
  • Battery: 3,000mAh
  • Software: Android 9.0 Pie (upgradeable to Android 10)

2. Google Pixel 3

Google Pixel 3 budget camera phone

The Pixel 3 series currently finds itself in a bit of an odd situation. The Pixel 3 is not as affordable as the Pixel 3a, but it’s older so the price has dropped to a point that allows it to enter this list.

You will find the same 12.2MP camera with the computational photography enhancements Google is so known for. It also has higher-end specs like a Snapdragon 845 processor, an OLED display, a great screen, and more. It’s still one hell of a budget camera phone, and timely updates straight from Google stop it from aging.

Google Pixel 3 specs:

  • Display: 5.5-inch, Full HD+
  • SoC: Snapdragon 845
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Storage: 64/128GB
  • Camera: 12.2MP
  • Front camera: 8 and 8MP
  • Battery: 2,915mAh
  • Software: Android 9.0 Pie (upgradeable to Android 10)

3. Huawei P30 Lite

Huawei P30 Lite on white background

The Huawei P30 Pro is all the hype in the smartphone photography world, but people are underestimating the lower-end iteration of this device. The Huawei P30 Lite may not have the cutting-edge specs, but it still has really good camera hardware and takes advantage of Huawei’s awesome software enhancements.

This device still has a dual-camera set-up in the back, along with a 2MP depth sensor. The other two sensors have either a wide lens (48MP or 24MP) or an ultra-wide one (8MP). This is a great budget camera phone that costs just over $200. It’s quite the steal and you will get more than decent photos.

Huawei P30 Lite specs:

  • Display: 6.15-inch, Full HD+
  • SoC: Kirin 710
  • RAM: 4/6/8GB
  • Storage: 128GB
  • Camera: 48, 8, and 2MP / 24, 8, and 2MP
  • Front camera: 24MP / 32MP
  • Battery: 3,340mAh
  • Software: Android 9.0 Pie (upgradeable to Android 10)

4. Sony Xperia 10 Plus

Sony Xperia 1 Sony Xperia 10 10 Plus

The Sony Xperia 10 Plus is a budget camera phone with great value. Specs are nothing to write home about, but performance is good enough to keep most casual users satisfied. Camera performance also isn’t up to par with high-end smartphones, but it takes very good photos when compared to other handsets at its price point. A lot of people also love the Sony look, which is simple and industrial.

Sony Xperia 10 Plus specs:

  • Display: 6.5-inch, Full HD+
  • SoC: Snapdragon 636
  • RAM: 4/6GB
  • Storage: 64GB
  • Camera: 12 and 8MP
  • Front camera: 8MP
  • Battery: 3,000mAh
  • Software: Android 9.0 Pie

5. Moto G Power (2020)

Moto G Power cameras 2

The Moto G series budget camera phones are known for offering some of the best bang per buck in the industry. These affordable handsets have good performance and construction for a very generous price point. One of the newest devices in the line-up is the Moto G Power (2020), and it comes with a surprisingly good camera system considering the phone is launching at $249.

A three-camera system adorns the rear. The offerings on tap include a 16MP main shooter, an 8MP ultra-wide camera that captures a 118-degree field of view, and a 2MP macro camera for extreme closeups. This is similar to the arrangement we saw on several Moto One phones last summer.

Moto G Power specs:

  • Display: 6.4-inch, Full HD+
  • SoC: Snapdragon 665
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Storage: 64GB
  • Camera: 16, 8, 8, and 2MP
  • Front camera: 16MP
  • Battery: 5,000mAh
  • Software: Android 10

6. OnePlus 7T

OnePlus 7T camera macro 2 1

The OnePlus 7T is not known for its camera prowess, but that is because people tend to compare these devices to higher-end handsets. Considering the phone can now be had for just under $500 from OnePlus, the 7T has a great camera for this price point. It’s also a versatile system with standard, ultra wide, and telephoto lenses.

It doesn’t hurt that the device is an absolute beauty in other departments. It has high-end specs like a Snapdragon 855 Plus, 8GB of RAM, and more. It’s a great budget camera phone. 

OnePlus 7T specs:

  • Display: 6.55-inch, Full HD+
  • SoC: Snapdragon 855 Plus
  • RAM: 8GB
  • Storage: 128GB
  • Camera: 48, 16, and 12MP
  • Front camera: 16MP
  • Battery: 3,800mAh
  • Software: Android 10

The best camera is the one you have with you

Hardware helps, but we can’t stress the importance of technique enough. The truth is a good photographer can take a good image with any budget camera phone, and current affordable handsets come with great shooters if you know how to make the most of them. I have previously proven this point. During my experiment I used a budget camera phone to shoot professional photos. And I used a Moto E5 Plus, which is beat by all phones in this list. Check out my experience in the article linked below.

With that in mind, you should also learn more about photography and learn how to take a better image. That’s a better investment than spending more money on equipment. We have a great selection of educational content available to you.

Now, if you want to get more serious about photography you can also see our guides for purchasing the best cameras, lenses, and other photography accessories.

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