The Best Budget Android Phones
Photo: Ryan Whitwam
This model offers a bright, vibrant, 6.3-inch 1080p display, as well as two good cameras, solid build quality, and software updates through late 2021. But it doesn’t work on Verizon or other carriers that use CDMA network technology.
The Nokia 6.2 runs a fast, bloatware-free version of Android that’s easy to use and updated regularly, and it has an excellent screen, good performance, and near-field communication (NFC) for Google Pay and other contactless payments. The camera performance is above average for a budget phone but not as good as that of the Google Pixel 4a. It works only on GSM carriers like AT&T or T-Mobile—if you’re on Verizon, get the Moto G Power instead.
Nokia doesn’t load the Nokia 6.2 down with a bunch of apps you’ll never use or a clunky custom user interface; the result is the next best thing to the version of Android you get on Google’s Pixel phones. Because this is an Android One device, you get monthly security updates and major OS updates for two years after the phone’s launch (for the Nokia 6.2, which launched fall 2019, updates will continue through fall 2021). Even top-of-the-line, non-Google phones like Samsung’s Galaxy S20 can’t always maintain that cadence, and most budget phones are lucky to receive a major OS update at all. The Nokia 6.2 currently runs Android 10, and it will get Android 11 in spring 2021.
The hardware inside the Nokia 6.2 is more powerful than that of budget phones like the Moto E 2020, and the phone feels quick and responsive when launching apps and loading web pages. This phone comes with 4 GB of RAM, 64 GB of storage (with a microSD card slot for expansion), and a Snapdragon 636 processor. Though we like its performance for the price, it’s noticeably slower than the Pixel 4a, which has a faster Snapdragon 730G processor and better software optimization.
The Nokia 6.2’s rear-facing fingerprint sensor is comfortable and accurate, and the 6.2 is faster at recognizing prints and unlocking than most budget phones we’ve tested. The Pixel 4a is faster, though. The Nokia 6.2 also supports NFC so you can use it for contactless payments, which is rare in budget phones; the Moto G Power doesn’t include it.
Many budget phones have plastic bodies, but the Nokia 6.2 is a well-designed device with a glass and aluminum frame and slim bezels that make it easy to hold despite the sizable 6.3-inch display. The 1080p LCD of the Nokia 6.2 is brighter and crisper than the displays of many budget phones, but it’s not as good as the OLED screen on the Pixel 4a. There’s also some annoying light bleed that may make the screen unevenly lit around the camera notch—a common issue with LCDs.
Many budget phones have plastic designs, but the Nokia 6.2 has an aluminum frame and a glass body. Photo: Ryan Whitwam
The Nokia 6.2’s 16-megapixel primary camera can’t compete with those of more expensive phones like the Pixel 4a, but it is on a level playing field with most other budget phones. The low-light performance is good enough to capture usable photos indoors, but the low-light performance is poor. Nokia does include an ultrawide camera that’s great for landscapes and large group shots. Many “dual-camera” budget phones merely have a regular camera and a depth sensor that assists with focus (which the 6.2 also has), but the secondary camera on the Nokia 6.2 is actually useful.
As on more expensive phones, with the 6.2 design Nokia has moved to a reversible USB Type-C port. The 3,500 mAh battery is enough to get you through a day of heavy use with plenty to spare—Nokia’s official estimate is “up to two days” of battery life.
Flaws but not dealbreakers
The Nokia 6.2 supports only GSM networks such as (in the US) AT&T and T-Mobile. It doesn’t work with CDMA networks like Verizon, which is still our pick for the best postpaid and prepaid phone plans. If you’re shopping for a low-budget phone, you may also be looking for a cheaper prepaid phone plan, but if no GSM carriers provide good service in your area, the Moto G Power, our runner-up pick, is the best budget phone for CDMA networks.
Although the Nokia 6.2 has an above-average 3,500 mAh battery, it charges slower than slightly more expensive phones like the Pixel 4a. The Pixel has 18 W charging, whereas the Nokia 6.2 maxes out at 10 W.