The best affordable 5G phones to buy right now (2021 Edition)

Bharat Bhushan - Jul 4, 2021, 5:04am CDT
The best affordable 5G phones to buy right now (2021 Edition)

4G skyrocketed smartphone sales and 5G – with the promise of blazing speeds, reliability and enhanced responsiveness – is taking it to a new dimension. As infrastructure grows at a steady pace, 5G enabled smartphones, for now, are just about doing what 4G phones do, only a little quicker; but that’s enough for 5G smartphones to be the talk of the town.

At the recently concluded MWC (Mobile World Congress) 2021, 5G was the biggest talking point. In that, the most discussed was how the prices of 5G devices have “come down.” The 5G smartphone prices are dropping dramatically and smartphone makers have some exceptionally good devices in the sub $500 category.

Considering this, and the way how new 5G enabled affordable handsets are appearing on a regular basis, we thought of compiling an essential resource. This would assist anyone considering an upgrade to a budget 5G handset.

Since these devices will not require you to break the bank, you can enjoy high-speed connectivity at a nominal price with premium features. In order to achieve low pricing, manufacturers at certain levels tend to cut corners; therefore, you will have to be sure of what device you are investing in. Here is a roundup of the best 5G mid-tier phones from different manufacturers you can buy right now with confidence.

Samsung Galaxy A52 5G

Earlier this year, Samsung debuted the mid-range Galaxy A52 5G with the intention to lure in people wanting to experience superfast 5G speeds at little possible cost. The phone was rolled out with additional two devices in the company’s A-series, starting at $500 and it presented an affordable alternative to iPhone 12 Mini.

What We Like

– Brilliant display with high refresh rate
– Nicely built and durable
– Longer battery life

What We Don’t Like

– Slower performance
– Average secondary cameras

Galaxy A52 5G features 6.5-inch FHD+ SuperAMOLED with 120Hz refresh rate. Its display touts 800nits peak brightness and is powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 750G. Starting at 6GB of RAM and 128GB internal storage, the Galaxy A52 5G comes with a quad-camera setup spearheaded by a 64MP camera. To add some ruggedness, the A52 5G comes with IP67 water and dust resistance rating. Running Android 11 based One UI 3.1, the device features a 4,500mAh battery with 25W fast charging support.

Motorola One 5G

Launched toward the end of last year, Motorola One 5G is still a better option than this year’s Motorola Moto G50. So, if you are willing to move out of 4G and venture into the 5G space, this Motorola option with solid and reliable features at an affordable $449 tag is not a bad option.

What We Like

– Great battery life
– Affordable pricing
– Six camera setup

What We Don’t Like

– Average display
– Only one year major OS update

Motorola One 5G features a full HD 6.7-inch IPS LCD display with HDR10 and 90Hz refresh rate. Even though the screen is an LCD instead of OLED, the display does offer pretty consistent and bright colors. The phone is powered by a Snapdragon 765 processor paired with 4G of RAM and 128GB onboard storage. The camera module on the back comprises 48MP primary lens and the phone has dual selfie cameras on the front. The phone runs Android 10 out of the box but has a large 5,000 mAh capacity battery that supports 15W fast charging and comes with 3.5 headphone jack.

OnePlus Nord CE 5G

Positioned as a core edition based on the original Nord, the OnePlus Nord CE is another affordable 5G phone that leaves one impressed with a great bright display, almost day and a half worth of battery life. If you’re an existing OnePlus user, you may dislike the omission of the alert slider, otherwise, an always-on display here on the $330 device should be a subtle crowd puller.

What We Like

– Decent sized always-on display
– Pretty responsive fingerprint scanner

What We Don’t Like

– A brighter display would be better
– No stereo speaker

OnePlus Nord CE 5G features a 6.43-inch fluid AMOLED full HD+ display with 90Hz refresh rate and comes with only a triple camera setup as opposed to a quad camera on the original Nord – the setup is spearheaded by a 64MP lens. On the front, the core edition model has only one 16MP sensor in notch form factor. Drawing power from a Snapdragon 750G processor, the phone with a 4,500mAh battery comes with up to 12GB RAM and 256GB of internal storage.

POCO F3

With the launch of POCO F3 in March this year, the company ensured it had a powerful smartphone on the mid-range 5G phone market. The incredibly arranged design of the phone may be based on Redmi K40 – China-exclusive model – but the phone packs in a strong processor, powerful battery, bright and responsive display, all at an affordable $350 starting price.

What We Like

– Bright AMOLED display
– Dolby Atmos dual speakers
– Nice performance

What We Don’t Like

– Improvement in battery life was possible
– Average camera performance

Arriving with a 6.67-inch full HD, 120Hz AMOLED display, the POCO F3 features HDR10+ and delivers a 1300nits peak brightness. With Snapdragon 870 under the hood paired up to 8GB RAM and 256GB internal storage, the POCO smartphone feels like a real bargain. With a triple camera setup featuring 48MP primary lens, the phone gets a 20MP selfie camera, 4,520mAh (with 33W fast charging support) battery and runs Android 11 based MIUI 12.5 for POCO.

Google Pixel 4a 5G

Google made remarkable progress with the Pixel 4a, then it launched the Pixel 4a 5G, which comes with support for Sub-6 GHz 5G. If you want to leverage the Ultra-Wideband network, you need to shell an extra $100 for Pixel 4a 5G UW. This however defies the purpose, considering Pixel 4a 5G is priced at $499 making it a good bargain in the affordable 5G market.

What We Like

– Great battery life
– Nice camera performance
– Excellent Android experience

What We Don’t Like

– Average built quality
– No IP rating

Launched with a 6.2-inch OLED display, the Pixel 4a 5G has one of the biggest screens of Google’s line-up from last year. It boasts 1080 x 2340 resolution but has only a 60Hz panel. There’s no IP68 dust or water resistance on the device but is powered by a Snapdragon 765G chipset which is paired to 6GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage. The battery at 3,885mAh seems modest, but it offers good playback and it supports 18W fast charging. The phone features a 3.5mm headphone jack and you get dual rear cameras including 12.2MP primary sensor and a 16MP ultra-wide lens.

Wrap up

While things may have tread at snail’s speed during the pandemic, the 5G industry galloped at a horse’s pace. An increasing number of OEMs have ventured into the 5G scene and mobile network carriers in various countries worldwide are pushing to extend the 5G coverage.

The 5G chipset costs are also becoming affordable and OEMs are trying to pass down their savings to the end-user. Therefore, even before 5G becomes a norm, smartphone makers are filling the budget and mid-range market with numerous devices.

Today thus there is a handsome collection of 5G devices for every budget on the market. The coverage of 5G is increasing with every passing day, and if you are in a country where the network carriers are doing their share, it may be a good time to invest in an affordable 5G smartphone.

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