Best entry-level smartphones 2023 - buyer’s guide

GSMArena team, Last updated 21 April 2024.

Last updated: April 21, 2024 (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 Note 12 4G

Xiaomi Redmi Note 12 4G

  • Nice, eye-catching design, IP53-rated
  • Exceptional and bright 120Hz OLED display
  • Dependable battery life, decent charging speed
  • 3.5mm jack, FM Radio, IR blaster, microSD slot
  • Solid if unimpressive main camera performance
  • Launches on the latest MIUI 14 + Android 13
  • Disappointing ultrawide camera
  • Underwhelming Night mode
  • No stereo speakers, the international review unit comes without NFC

Xiaomi has struck a pretty nice balance with last year's Redmi Note 12 4G. The handset has an excellent display, long battery life, sufficiently fast charging, adequate performance, the latest MIUI + Android combo (unlike its siblings) and, although largely unimpressive camera performance, it's still rather decent for the price bracket.

We wish more work went toward optimizing the dedicated Night mode. We also wonder why Xiaomi removed the stereo speakers and the NFC. That last bit may be a deal-breaker for some of you who use the phone for contactless payments.

Still, no other smartphone can offer such feature-rich package at about €150 and that's why the Redmi Note 12 4G is our top pick for the entry-level class.

Read full review
Motorola Moto G14

Motorola Moto G14

  • Stylish looks for the price, water-repellent design
  • 1080p LCD screen
  • Snappy chipset
  • Dual-camera – 50MP, 2MP macro
  • 128GB base storage, 4GB RAM, dedicated microSD slot
  • 5,000mAh battery, 15W wired charging
  • Stereo speakers
  • Clean Android 13
  • 60Hz display
  • No ultrawide camera

The €110 Moto G14 is a great pick for the entry-level category just because it has a ton of features for its low price. The G14 packs a 1080p LCD screen, adequate performance for the price with high-performance CPU cores. There is also a good dual-camera setup, and a large 5,000mAh battery with 15W charging.

The Moto G14 comes with clean Android 13, which is always a nice thing to have. And there are also NFC, microSD expansion, stereo speakers, audio jack. In fact, it is among the best phones in this category with the only cons being the lack of an ultrawide-angle camera and a high refresh rate for the screen.

Motorola Moto G23

Motorola Moto G23

  • Good looks, water-repellent design
  • 90Hz 720p LCD
  • Triple-camera – 50MP, 5MP UW, 2MP macro
  • Good performance for this class, both CPU and GPU
  • 128GB base storage, dedicated microSD slot
  • 5,000mAh battery, 30W fast charging
  • Stereo speakers, FM radio, NFC
  • Clean Android 13
  • Low screen resolution

The €130 Moto G23 is for those who want to have an ultrawide camera and a bit faster performance. The G23 packs a 90Hz HD LCD screen, a versatile triple-camera setup, and a large 5,000mAh battery with fast 30W charging.

The Moto G23 comes with clean Android 13, there are NFC, microSD expansion, audio jack and powerful stereo speakers. The lower screen resolution is the only thing that is unimpressive on the Moto G23, but coupled with the good chip, it should deliver quite smooth performance.

Realme C35

Realme C35

  • Large 1080p screen
  • 5,000mAh battery
  • 64GB base storage, 4GB RAM, dedicated microSD slot
  • Triple camera with macro and portrait
  • Fingerprint scanner
  • Weak GPU
  • 60Hz display refresh rate

The Realme C35 costs about €140. The phone has a large 1080p screen, a triple-camera on the back, a 5,000mAh battery and runs on Android 11 with realme UI 2.0.

The Realme C35 has a good chipset with adequate processor but weak graphics.

The Realme C35 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.

Samsung Galaxy A05s

Samsung Galaxy A05s

  • Solid build
  • 90Hz LCD screen
  • 5,000mAh battery, good battery life, fast charging
  • The daylight camera quality is solid, selfies are decent.
  • Expandable storage with dedicated microSD slot; a 3.5mm audio jack
  • Lackluster LCD with ghosting and fixed refresh rate
  • No NFC, gyroscope, magnetometer or compass
  • The Snapdragon 680 chipset has relatively poor performance with UI slowdowns
  • Relatively poor low-light camera performance
  • No video stabilization
  • No charger in the box

Samsung has put in some extra effort to update the Galaxy A05s this year. We appreciate the move to FullHD+ for the display resolution, the noticeably higher 128GB onboard storage (though still eMMC), the higher resolution and 1080p selfie camera, and the move to 25W charging. All of these are valuable and noteworthy upgrades over the Galaxy A04s.

While technically, the Snapdragon 680 chipset also falls in the upgrades column; we can't say we appreciate its inclusion on a 2023 phone, especially not in combination with eMMC storage. The reality is that the Galaxy A05s is just slow in a noticeable manner. Even the "Core" version of One UI struggles to deliver smooth animations and transitions. To be clear, it never actually stutters, but it is not an overly pleasant experience, only made worse by the sluggish pixel response times of the display. We don't appreciate the lack of display refresh rate settings or color settings either.

The dedicated microSD card slot and 3.5mm audio jack are both nice-to-haves. Overall, it is a solid Samsung offer even if sluggish at times and will serve well those, who wans to buy a basic yet reliable daily driver.

Read full review
Motorola Moto E22

Motorola Moto E22

  • Good-looking design, water-repellent coating
  • 90Hz LDC screen
  • Dedicated MicroSD Slot
  • 3.5mm jack
  • Stereo speakers
  • NFC
  • Weak Cheapset
  • Slow Charging

The €80 Moto E22 is an easy to recommend phone for its relatively solid package – there is a large 90Hz LCD, stereo speakers, a 4,020mAh battery, water-repellent coating, and even NFC for the 3/32 variant.

The Moto E22 packs a 3.5mm headphone jack and there's also wireless FM radio. You also get a side-mounted fingerprint scanner.

The phone offers rather slow chipset, but it could be the right fit for those looking for an affordable daily driver.

Xiaomi Poco C65

Xiaomi Poco C65

  • Nice design with solid build quality
  • Decently-bright LCD with 90Hz refresh rate
  • Good battery life
  • Good daylight camera performance
  • Expandable storage with dedicated microSD slot; a 3.5mm audio jack
  • Virtual proximity sensor
  • Below average speaker loudness
  • The Helio G85 chipset has poor performance with UI stutters
  • Video recording is limited to 1080p, and there is no stabilization

The Redmi 13C (also available as Poco C65) is riddled with ups and downs, as one can expect. It is a solid and well-made phone with Gorilla Glass on the front and practically no flex or hollowness, but it also lacks any formal ingress protection, not even a basic one, and its design is a bit plain.

The display offers a smooth 90Hz refresh rate, which works well enough and gets decently bright for an LCD. However, pixel response times are not perfect, leading to ghosting and smearing, and high refresh rate gaming is a no-go. Battery life on the C65 is rather good, but charging is quite slow. MIUI 14 looks great and is feature-rich, but it stutters and slows down on the C65 due to the meager Helio G85 chipset. The latter is also responsible for the 1080p video capture resolution on the camera, which is otherwise surprisingly decent for a budget device.

It is a decent enough device. Its biggest weakness, in our opinion, is the poor performance afforded by the Helio G85 chipset. Other than that, it has almost no glaring flaws, and even the performance is pretty hard to complain about at this price point.

Read full review

Most recent updates

April 21, 2024: Replaced the Redmi 12C with the Redmi 13C, Realme C31 with Realme C35 and Galaxy A04s with Galaxy A05s. Added the Motorola Moto E22. Removed the Redmi 9C, Nokia G11, and Nokia C32.

November 7, 2023: Replaced the Moto G13 with the Moto G14. Replaced the Moto G22 with the Moto G23. Removed the Redmi A2, Realme C25Y and Realme Narzo 50A.

June 13, 2023: Added the Redmi Note 12 4G as new top.

April 18, 2023: Added Samsung Galaxy A04s, Nokia C32, Moto G13 (as new top), Realme C25Y, Redmi 12C, Redmi A2/A2+/Poco C50. Removed the Realme C30.

July 15, 2022: Added Redmi 9C, Nokia G11, Realme C31, Realme C30, Moto G22, Realme Narzo 50A. Removed the Redmi 9, Realme Narzo 30A, Realme C21, Moto G10, Redmi Note 8 2021.

October 20, 2021: Added Redmi Note 8 2021.

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.

Best phones by category

Reader comments

Everyone should know that budget phones aren't built to compete against flagships or midrangers, it's built to sacrifice price over performance. A lot of people often compare budget phones to flagships, which is uncomparable at all.

  • dm29
  • 14 Jan 2024
  • L1M

Hey, you repeated highlights for the last two Samsung - Nokia devices.

I think at least one Transsion's device deserve to be included in this segment. Itel S23, Infinix Hot 30i or Tecno Spark 10C would beat some of the devices here.