Budget camera phones can serve as a reliable investment for savvy smartphone photographers. With smartphone technology rapidly improving, finding cheap smartphones that can take unbelievable photos is now possible.
Whether you’re looking for a low-budget Android phone or wanting to stay within the Apple ecosystem and get a budget iPhone, you can pick up an excellent phone with a great camera system for a fraction of the price of the top of the line best camera phones today.
With cheaper smartphones today, the built-in triple-camera designs are pretty much standard on more affordable phones at this point, and while you won’t get dazzling features like 100x zoom or stabilized 4K video you would get with the iPhone 12 Pro Max, you can still get a lot for your money.
In this article, we’ve broken down the best smartphones available today for those looking at saving money, but will still take great pictures.
While the smartphones in this list all have different specialties that make them unique, the most important thing to keep in mind is that there will be a budget phone out there for you that can take fantastic pictures.
Here are the Best Budget Camera Phones Right Now…
Best Budget Camera Phones Right Now: 7 Cheap Smartphones You Should Buy
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Excellent camera design at an affordable price!
- Rear cameras: 12MP f/1.5 wide-angle + 16MP f/2.2 ultrawide Front camera: 10MP f/1.9
- OIS (Optical Image Stabilisation): Yes
- Weight: 150g
- Dimensions: 142.2 x 69.9 x 7.9mm
- Storage: 128/256GB
- Great rear cameras
- Great camera features for the price
- No telephoto camera
- Small display
Photo Samples Of The Samsung Galaxy S10e
If you are looking for an inexpensive unlocked camera phone, without all of the fancy bells and whistles an expensive smartphone provides, the Samsung Galaxy S10e is the perfect solution for smartphone photographers looking to save money on a camera phone.
Highlighting a powerful dual rear camera with a wide-angle 12MP f/1.5 lens and a 16MP f/2.2 ultrawide lens, the Samsung Galaxy S10e is perfect for capturing great pictures throughout the day.
The only drawback to the Samsung Galaxy S10e compared to the more expensive Samsung S21 is that it doesn’t offer a telephoto lens, but this type of lens rarely gets used compared to a wide-angle lens on most smartphones today.
For taking great selfie photos to post on your social media accounts or videos for facetime chats, the front-facing camera has a decent 10MP f/1.9 camera that will do you just fine.
The Samsung Galaxy S10e also highlights a Full HD+ screen with a 5.8-inch display, as well as wireless charging which usually is a feature that comes standard with flagship smartphones today.
Also, another important feature of this Samsung camera phone is the powerful 3,100mAh battery, Android 10 right out of the box, and uses either the Snapdragon 845 chipset or the Exynos 9810 chipset, depending on what region you’re in.
For the price and features the Samsung Galaxy S10e smartphone offers, it’s a great camera phone that anyone can afford.
Google Pixel 4a
Amazing camera phone specs at a low price!
- Rear cameras: 12.2MP f/1.7 Front camera: 8MP
- OIS: Yes
- Weight: 143 g
- Dimensions: 144 x 69 x 8.2 mm Storage: 128GB)
- Great camera
- Affordable price
- The battery could be better
Photo Sample Of The Google Pixel 4a
The Google Pixel 4a is another great camera phone that offers great specs and at a price, you can afford.
The Google Pixel 4a offers a single rear camera with a 12MP sensor, featuring dual-pixel phase-detect autofocus and optical image stabilization. It’s able to shoot 4K video at 30fps and 1080p video at 120fps. While the front-facing camera has an 8MP sensor.
The Google Pixel 4a offers a Snapdragon 730G chipset and a 3,140mAh battery, which is powerful enough for most daily tasks.
The Google Pixel 4a only comes in one storage option, which has 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. The drawback to this camera phone is there’s no way to increase the memory yourself with a microSD card.
Motorola Moto G8 Power
Best choice for budget shoppers
- Rear cameras: 16MP (wide-angle, f/1.7), 8MP (2x zoom, f/2.2), 8MP (ultra-wide, f/2.2) | 2MP (depth assist)
- Front camera: 16MP
- OIS: No
- Weight: 197g
- Dimensions: 156 x 75.8 x 9.6mm
- Storage: 64 GB
- Has a zoom camera
- Great battery life
- No dedicated night mode
Photo Samples Motorola Moto G8 Courtesy Of Motorola Website
The Moto G 8 over the past few years has been known as one of the best budget camera phones for any type of smartphone photographer.
This camera phone is not an ultra-low-end tech smartphone that many low-budget phones at this price are. Moto’s software is refined and update support has continued to improve this smartphone compared to some budget smartphone brands that don’t.
The Moto G8 Power offers a 5,000mAh battery, which outlasts most camera phones at a higher price point.
As for a camera phone, the Moto G8 Power’s cameras are versatile and capable to take photographs that rival the latest Apple and Samsung high-end smartphones.
Very few cheap camera phones have a zoom and an ultra-wide camera, but the Moto G8 Power does.
Cheap camera phones offered today use cheap filler sensors to bulk up the spec list, but the Moto G8 Power offers 2x shots with appreciably better detail than a crop of a shot captured with the primary 16-megapixel camera, and the zoom and ultra-wide use 8-megapixel sensors to enhance the experience.
As for non-camera-related features, the Moto G8 Power has a decent 6.4-inch 1080p screen with a punch hole, Snapdragon 665 CPU, and a plastic shell.
If you are looking for a dedicated light mode, you might want to go with the Motorola Moto G8 Plus as the G8 Power does not have the dedicated night mode. The Plus also has a 48-megapixel main camera, 16MP ultra-wide, and 5MP depth assist.
But, for a low-budget camera phone, the Moto G8 Power is an inexpensive camera phone that can’t be beaten.
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Samsung Galaxy A52
A notably solid, mid-range camera phone
- Rear cameras: 64MP f/1.8, 12MP f/2.2, 5MP f/2.4
- Front camera: 32MP f/2.2
- OIS: Yes
- Weight: 189 g
- Dimensions: 159.9 x 75.1 x 8.4 mm
- Storage: 128GB
- High-quality camera design
- Solid future-proofing
- Some aggressive smoothing
- Higher priced compared to other budget camera phones
Sample Photographs Samsung A52 Courtesy Of Samsung Website
If you have been looking for a budget camera phone, you may have noticed in your search that many of the affordable smartphones are built with older technology. But, when you are buying a smartphone on a budget, you don’t have to comprise on old tech to get the phone you want.
The Samsung Galaxy A52 5G was released in early 2021 and it is the perfect mid-range smartphone that’s not super cheap or incredibly expensive.
One of the best things about the Samsung Galaxy A52 5G is that Samsung has pledged to keep it on the list for monthly OS updates, major Android updates, and security updates for at least three to four years. This is great for those worried about purchasing a smartphone that won’t work in a year’s time.
The camera design on the Samsung Galaxy A52 5G is very dependable for a phone at this price, a three-camera setup that produces sharp and bright images at a range of distances.
Shoot high-res portraits in 64MP, go wide to capture landscapes, shoot super-steady video with OIS, or make yourself the star with a 32MP front-facing camera.
The 120Hz screen also looks fantastic, and the 4,500mAh battery will comfortably last the day for most users. The Samsung Galaxy A52 5G is a more expensive budget smartphone, but in terms of value for money, it’s right up there.
Quite a bit of features, including a 48MP rear camera at a low cost.
- Rear cameras: 48MP (wide-angle, f/1.8), 8MP (ultra-wide, f/2.2), 2MP (macro, f/2.4), 2MP (depth assist)
- Front camera: 13MP
- OIS: No
- Weight: 199 g
- Dimensions: 162.3 x 77.2 x 8.9mm
- Storage: 64/128 GB
- Long battery life
- Great night photo mode
- No 4K video
Photo Samples Of The Xiaomi Redmi Note 9 Courtesy Of Xiaomi Website
When it comes to low-budget camera phones, Xiaomi smartphones are hard to beat with the features they offer. While the Redmi Note 9 release was back in 2020, there are tons of features to this camera phone that can be overlooked.
The camera phone is water-resistant and looks very similar to much more expensive phones, plus it has an IR blaster which can replace remote controls for most TVs and set-top boxes in your home.
The camera’s Night mode is quite impressive, as many camera phones at the price do not have one, and the Remi Note 9’s significantly enhances the clarity and dynamic range of the main 48MP sensor’s low-light images. This is one of the best budget camera phones for night shooting.
It utilizes the Samsung GM1 sensor, an 8MP ultra-wide, and a pair of 2MP cameras for depth processing and macro shots. Something to keep in mind with such a low resolution is that it doesn’t give your close-up shots any favors, but the macro camera does also have autofocus.
As for a camera phone that can last a full day without charging, this phone also has excellent endurance, thanks to the large 5,020mAh battery.
One feature that is missing with the Redmi Note 9 and is the video capture taps out at 1080p, 30 frames per second, compared to other rival camera phones out there that offer full 4K capture. The Redmi Note 9 also uses a MediaTek G85 processor rather than the more popular Snapdragon 665, which could explain the lack of 4K video.
But, the performance is top-notch and a great Snapdragon alternative.
Known for its TVs, this is a new camera phone contender.
- Rear cameras: 48MP (wide-angle, f/1.8, OIS), 8MP (3x zoom, f/2.4), 48MP (ultra-wide, f/2.2) | 5MP (color filter)
- Front camera: 16MP
- OIS: Yes
- Weight: 199 g
- Dimensions: 165.3 x 74.4 x 8.5mm Storage: 128/256 GB
- Solid primary sensor
- Low price
- Two rear cameras are filler
- Lack of night mode
Photo Samples Of The TCL 10L Courtesy Of Amazon.com
Did you know that Blackberry in the final years of making smartphones, they were made by TCL? Since Blackberry is now defunct, TCL now produces its own smartphones at an affordable price that packs a punch.
The TCL 10 Lite (10L) includes a punch-hole front camera and a large 6.53in FullHD screen, along with an impressive camera layout with four lenses on the back.
The main camera has a 48MP Samsung GM1 sensor, utilized in lots of phones including expensive ones such as the Samsung Galaxy A90 5G.
The TCL 10L’s second rear camera is useful, an 8-megapixel ultra-wide, if not a barnstormer for image quality. And like other phones from Oppo and Huawei, cheap additional sensors make up the numbers; 2MP cameras offer corrective macro images and a depth assist for background blur shots.
When the TCL 10L was first released there were some intermittent performance jitters, but these have been corrected and with its Snapdragon 665 and 6GB RAM specs, it works as a great camera phone at the price.
This phone is not a groundbreaker, but it is definitely a handy alternative to the Moto G8 line if every penny counts.
iPhone 8 body + iPhone 11 processor = iPhone SE
- Rear cameras: 12-megapixel, 28mm f/1.8
- Front camera: 7MP
- OIS: Yes
- Weight: 148 g
- Dimensions: 138.4 x 67.3 x 7.3 mm
- Storage: 64/256GB
- Great 4K video
- Great imaging in bright light
- No zoom
- No Face ID
Depending on where you buy The iPhone SE this camera phone released in 2020 is an iPhone that takes the style factor and camera of the iPhone 8, and couples it with the processor and software of the iPhone 11 Pro.
What you get is a pocket-friendly handset in terms of both size and price, with fusion technology that delivers highly acceptable photographs and 4K video.
Its smaller 4.7-inch 720p screen isn’t as bright and doesn’t refresh as fast as the latest iPhone models released in 2021, but that also means the battery won’t get drained either. The iPhone SE has Touch ID instead of Face ID, and boasts Qi wireless charging. It’s IP67 water and dust resistant and features image stabilization for an amazing 4K 60fps video.
While it isn’t the cheapest phone on this list, its all-around imaging and video performance, and especially its A13 Bionic chip and Apple- standard software updates – the iPhone SE is definitely the best value handset out there right now.
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About the author: Trent (IMDB | Youtube) has spent 10+ years working on an assortment of film and television projects. He writes about his experiences to help (and amuse) others. If he’s not working, he’s either traveling, reading or writing about travel/film, or planning travel/film projects.
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