7 Best Cheap Smartphones (2020): Pixel, Motorola, OnePlus

Apple eliminated the home button (and Touch ID) on the iPhone a few years ago, but if you want one more go with the classic design, get an iPhone 8 (8/10, WIRED Recommends). It’s missing a few of the camera tricks of newer iPhones, but it still runs just fine and should continue to chug along for at least a few more years.

The big benefit of an iPhone (like the Google Pixel phones) is that Apple controls its software, so each model is supported for half a decade or so. Apple’s App Store is also home to some of the best mobile games and apps, some of which you won’t find on Android phones.

We recommend waiting until the end of April if you can before jumping on the iPhone 8, though. There’s a lot of talk about Apple releasing an updated iPhone SE model by then that will cost around $399, which will likely make it the cheap iPhone to buy.

Works on AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, Sprint, and more

iPhone 8 costs $449 from Apple

7. iPhone XR ($599)

The Cheapest Modern iPhone

We recommend the XR as a step-up iPhone option.

Photograph: Apple

If you want the best deal for a high-end iPhone, consider the iPhone XR. It’s our top iPhone at the moment. Just know that, like the OnePlus 7T, this phone is only “cheap” when you compare it with the incredibly expensive new models.

The iPhone XR (8/10, WIRED Recommends) came out in 2018, but it still compares well to the new iPhone 11. No, it doesn’t have an extra wide-angle lens and its camera can’t capture as much detail in the dark, but otherwise there isn’t a huge difference between last year’s model and what Apple is selling for $100 more today. Until the iPhone 12 rolls around in late 2020, the XR is worth strong consideration.

iPhone XR costs $599 from Apple

Should You Buy Now?

With the Covid-19 outbreak, this is a difficult question. In short, yes. If you buy any of these phones now, they will serve you well. But several manufacturers will be announcing newer models soon (some already have), with plenty of launches expected in April and May. Factory activity in China is falling at record rates though, according to the BBC, so phone-makers may not be able to ship their new 2020-model phones until many months after they’re announced. If you need a phone at this very moment, buy one now. If you can wait to see what the field looks like in late May, do it.

Check Network Compatibility

If you buy an unlocked phone on this list and try to take it to one of your wireless carrier’s retail stores, they may tell you it isn’t compatible with the network. It likely is. Just use a paper clip to pop the SIM card out of your current phone, then slide that SIM into your new phone. If it doesn’t work at first, reboot the phone or just wait a couple of hours.

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