Best entry-level smartphones 2021 - buyer’s guide

GSMArena team, Last updated 20 May 2021.

Last updated: May 20, 2021 (Changelog)

Here, we will discuss the super-cheap, yet very good, entry-level offerings. The industry has advanced so far that even at this price point we're seeing handsets that offer beefy chipsets and big batteries.


Editors' choice

Xiaomi Redmi 9

Xiaomi Redmi 9

Specs
  • Stylish looks for the price, GG3 on the front
  • 5,030mAh battery should be plenty, 18W charging
  • Runs MIUI 11, Android 10
  • 32GB base storage, dedicated microSD slot, USB-C port
  • Quad-camera on the back
  • Mediocre gaming performance
  • Not that bight screen

We are keeping the cheap €120 Redmi 9 as our top pick in this budget category 9 (also available in India as Redmi 9 Prime). The Redmi's base 3GB+32GB version is among the cheapest offers you can get, and it will still do a splendid job even if it's not that good for gaming. There are versions with 4GB or even 6GB of RAM, so you have plenty of options.

The Redmi 9 has a high-res display, it can also win you with wireless FM radio, and the beefy battery is going to last you for days on a single charge.

The Redmi 9 seems like the best bang for the buck you'd be getting for 120 or so bucks and we strongly recommend it, where available that is. Xiaomi is often selling the Redmi 9 on promo for €99, so you may want to keep an eye on its e-shops.

Once again we want to stress that the Redmi 9 is available in India as Redmi 9 Prime.

Read FULL review
Xiaomi Redmi 9A

Xiaomi Redmi 9A

Specs
  • Stylish looks
  • 5,030mAh battery should be plenty
  • Runs MIUI 12, Android 10
  • 32GB base storage, dedicated microSD slot, USB-C port
  • Mediocre performance, 2GB RAM may lead to system-wide bottlenecks
  • No fingerprint scanner
  • Sluggish charging

If the Redmi 9 is over your budget, there is an even cheaper version sold as Redmi 9A. It's as big and with equally beefy battery, but it has lower screen resolution, weaker chipset, and inferior camera skills.

The Redmi 9A lacks fingerprint scanner and its base version comes with just 2GB of RAM. You can opt for better equipped versions with 3GB or even 6GB RAM, but then again - why not go for the Redmi 9 instead?

Anyway, the Redmi 9A is a good phone for its €99 price and it will do just fine for calls, emails, chats, social networks and web browsing. It's a bit sluggish, but if you won't be playing games, you'd be fine with it.

Specs
Realme C21

Realme C21

Specs
  • Large screen, small notch
  • 5,000mAh battery
  • 32GB base storage, dedicated microSD slot
  • Triple camera with macro and portrait
  • Fingerprint scanner on the back
  • Sluggish charging, microUSB port
  • No NFC

The Realme C21 is one of the cheapest mainstream smartphones you can buy - it costs about €130. The phone has a large but low-res screen, a triple-camera on the back, a 5,000mAh battery and runs on Android 10 with realme UI.

The Realme C21 has a rather weak chipset, but it's coupled with just 3GB or 4GB of RAM, so it will do fine for everything but games.

The Realme C21 is good for calls and social networks and will probably last you for days on those. And it has a fingerprint scanner. It's an ideal first smartphone for students or seniors, but not the best daily driver for busier lifestyles.

SPECS

India special

Realme Narzo 30A

Realme Narzo 30A

Specs
  • Attractive design
  • Adequate Helio G85 chip for a 720p screen
  • 5,000mAh battery
  • 32GB base storage, dedicated microSD slot
  • Dual camera with portrait mode
  • Fingerprint sensor
  • 6,000mAh battery, 18W charging
  • No NFC
  • No 4K video capturing

We have another good offer on our shortlist here and this one comes from Realme. It's the Narzo 30A that is replacing the Narzo 20A. Both are quite similar but 30A comes with an updated chipset, a larger battery and much faster charging.

So, this cheap yet attractive Narzo 30A offers a large HD screen, an adequate Helio G85 chip and a dual camera on the back (13+2). It comes with 32GB storage in its base trim and 3GB of RAM. We do appreciate the beefy 6,000mAh battery with 18W charging and the fingerprint scanner on the back.

The Narzo series are currently available in India only hence the India Special tag.

SPECS
Motorola Moto G10

Motorola Moto G10

Specs
  • 6.5" screen, reasonable size
  • Efficient chipset
  • 64GB base storage, microSD slot
  • Quad-camera on the back with ultrawide and macro
  • 5,000mAh battery with outstanding endurance
  • Sluggish performance
  • Sluggish 10W charger

The Moto G10 is one very interesting offer for its large battery, quad-camera, and efficient chipset. It is a €139 phone with cheap yet splash-resistant design and a cheap HD screen, but it offers a large battery with impressive endurance (152h), and a capable quad-camera with 48MP primary, an 8MP ultrawide, a 2MP macro and a depth sensor.

The Moto G10 isn't the best phone in this category, but it could be a good companion for watching videos, music or browning, provided you don't care much about gaming skills and lag-free Android operation.

The charging is rather slow, too, but you can throw a few extra bucks on top of the G10 and get the Moto G10 Power with an even larger 6,000mAh battery and faster 20W charging.

Read FULL review

Most recent updates

May 20, 2021: Replaced Realme Narzo 20A with Narzo 30A. Replaced Moto E (2020) with Moto G10. Replaced Realme C11 with Realme C21.

Dec 1, 2020: The Xiaomi Redmi 9 is now the new Editor's choice. Replaced Realme Narzo 10A with Narzo 20A. Replaced Moto G8 Play with Moto E (2020). Added Redmi 9a and Realme C11. Removed Realme 5s, Redmi 8A, Galaxy M11, vivo U20, Nokia 4.2, Galaxy A20e, Galaxy A20.


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Reader comments

  • Jimmy

Yes i am also agree with your point of view

agreed. for a few bucks over redmi 9 you get so much more by going for redmi 9t instead.

  • Anonymous

I totally agree