Best entry-level smartphones 2020 - buyer’s guide

GSMArena team, Last updated 1 December 2020.

Last updated: Dec 1, 2020 (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

  • 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

Our new top pick in this budget category is the Redmi 9 (also available in India as Redmi 9 Prime), which comes to replace the dated Realme 5s. 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 150 bucks and we strongly recommend it, where available that is.

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

  • 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 low 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.


India special

Realme Narzo 20A

Realme Narzo 20A

  • Attractive design, GG3 on the front
  • Adequate Snapdragon S665 chip for a 720p screen
  • 5,000mAh battery
  • 32GB base storage, dedicated microSD slot
  • Fingerprint sensor
  • Sluggish charging

We have another good offer on our shortlist here and this one comes from Realme. It's the Narzo 20A that is replacing the Narzo 10A. Both are quite similar but 20A comes with an updated chipset and better selfie camera.

So, this cheap yet attractive Narzo 20A offers a large HD screen, an adequate Snapdragon 665 chip and a triple camera on the back (12+2+2). It comes with 32GB storage in its base trim and 3GB of RAM. We do appreciate the large 5,000mAh battery and the fingerprint scanner on the back.

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

Read hands-on
Realme C11

Realme C11

  • Large screen, small notch
  • 5,000mAh battery
  • 32GB base storage, dedicated microSD slot
  • Prone to bottlenecks with these 2GB of RAM
  • Sluggish charging, microUSB port
  • No fingerprint scanner, no NFC

The Realme C11 is one of the cheapest mainstream smartphones you can buy - it costs about INR7,600 or $90. The phone has a large but low-res screen, a dual-camera on the back, a 5,000mAh battery and runs on the latest available Android and realme UI.

The Realme C11 has a rather weak chipset that's couple with just 2GB of RAM - meaning you will feel bottlenecks here and there and forget about gaming. It's not like it's not possible, but in most cases - it won't be pretty.

The Realme C11 is good for calls and social networks and will probably last you for days on those. It's an ideal first smartphone for students or seniors, but not the best daily driver for busier lifestyles.


US special

Motorola Moto E (2020)

Motorola Moto E (2020)

  • 6.2" screen, reasonable size
  • Efficient and decently powerful chipset
  • 32GB base storage, microSD slot
  • Dual rear camera
  • 3,550mAh battery
  • Cheap-looking plastic build
  • Sluggish 5W charger
  • 2GB of RAM could be a bottleneck

The Moto E (2020) is one very interesting offer in the US. It is a cheap phone with cheap design and cheap screen, but it offers an adequate chipset with good GPU performance for the class, a large battery and a dual camera.

The Moto E (2020) isn't the best phone in this category, but it could be a good companion of gaming or watching videos, and you don't care much about looks and camera quality. We are not sure how the performance will go with that 2GB RAM, so we suggest checking it out in a store first.


Most recent updates

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

  • Anonymous

gsmarena at least update your entry level list regular OEM launch new phone every week in budget segment then how will be useful this outdated guide... after redmi 9 already redmi 9 prime redmi 9 power poco 3 out

they have not changed it yet

  • Nick

Why little older Redmi 9 is in the top? What's the problem with Poco M2? Which has Similar Config with 2 gig extra ram and only 1000 INR difference!