smartphone
We bring you the best smartphones that don't break the bank - take your pick. Image Credit: Unsplash/Freestocks

Affordable smartphones with great specs offer the same convenience as their expensive alternatives. When we think of a smartphone, often three criteria come to mind: excellent camera, sensitive touch screen and intelligent features. You don’t have to shell out much to get these and more, whether you’re looking into a work phone, a replacement or gaming on-the-go.

"You can find a range of phones under Dh1,000, from old iPhone models to the latest Android smartphones," said Freshy Singh, a retailer at Qasr Al Huda Mobile Phones in Dubai. Some of these also support the latest 5G cellular network, and a RAM (random access memory) that can peak at 8GB for buttery smooth gameplay and multi-application use. Singh lists popular manufacturers of budget lines, like Redmi, Oneplus and, of course, Samsung.

Another retailer over at KP Mobiles in Dubai highlights Samsung models as the most sought-after by customers on a budget, especially the A13 series. Zubair tells us to look out for a battery backup that is at least 5,000mAh to last you a day, with fast-charging capabilities. Redmi's recent drop, Note 12, is a case in point, boasting top-of-the-line specs that give you more bang for your buck.

We compiled expert recommendations in the list below, featuring smartphones with only the best ratings and reviews on Amazon, all under Dh1,000. Order the device as a Prime member and get it delivered to you the very next day.

1. Best Overall: Samsung Galaxy A13

Pros

  • Quad camera with 50MP main camera
  • Battery delivers 20 hours of video playback
  • Lightweight at 195 grams
  • Dual-SIM capacity
  • Top-up memory with 1TB microSD card

Cons

  • Headphones are sold separately
  • No NFC (near field communication) feature for contactless payment

A solid all-rounder, Samsung Galaxy A13 is Zubair's number-one affordable pick. Reviews call it the perfect budget phone, with a highly responsive 6.6-inch Infinity-V display, lightweight and slim build, and a 50-megapixel quad camera. Its 8MP front camera even features a bokeh effect for selfies that mimics the portrait mode in most phones. The Octa-Core processor delivers 4GB RAM, and you can take the 128GB storage to an additional 1TB with a microSD card. Although it doesn't support 5G, the smartphone can take up to two SIM cards. The 5,000mAh battery capacity guarantees 20 hours of video playback or two entire days of uninterrupted use. Buyers do mention that the box arrives without headphones.

Bonus: Buy with zero per cent instalments and pay Dh46.16 for 12 months with select banks.

Warranty: Amazon offers one-year extended warranty for Dh57, one-year accidental damage protection for Dh95, two-year damage protection plus one-year extended warranty for Dh121.

2. Best for Gaming: OPPO A95 Dual SIM Smartphone

Pros

  • Charge for five minutes and get 5.7 hours of calling time
  • 8GB RAM, with expansion of up to 13GB
  • Ultra lightweight – 175 grams
  • Game focus mode
  • 16MP front camera

Cons

  • Low frames per second (fps) rate, compared to other phones

This phone has bezels that are so discreet, they look nonexistent. OPPO A95 model features a large edge-to-edge screen with a 16MP front camera and 48MP triple rear cameras. The AI scene enhancement feature lets you shoot details never visible before, even in dark-lit environments. But the best part about this smartphone is its 33W flash charging spec, which means you get 5.7 hours of calling time out of just a quick five-minute charge. Also, if you want to carry out intensive gaming, you can always borrow 5GB of ROM temporarily to play with a whopping 13GB RAM on this phone. It comes in two colours - the iridescent Glowing Rainbow Silver and Glowing Starry Black. Reviewers love the camera quality and the battery performance, but they do note that the device doesn't come with headphones.

Bonus: Buy with zero per cent instalments and pay Dh65.58 for 12 months with select banks.

Warranty: Amazon offers one-year extended warranty for Dh57, one-year accidental damage protection for Dh95, two-year damage protection plus one-year extended warranty for Dh121.

3. Best New Release: Redmi Note 12, 5G

Pros

  • Clear 6.67-inch Super AMOLED display, with 120Hz refresh rate
  • Snapdragon 4 Gen 1 chipset
  • Dual 5G SIM
  • Get 50 per cent charge in just 22 minutes
  • Lightweight at 188 grams

Cons

  • Could have regionally limited features

Xiaomi's ever-popular Redmi Note series rolled out its 12th instalment globally in 2023. Zubair pinpoints how fast the 5,000mAh battery fuels up with the 33-watt charger, and draws attention to the dual 5G SIM slots. Redmi Note 12 is powered by Snapdragon 4 Gen 1 processor, complete with a spacious 6GB RAM. It works brilliantly as a second smartphone with 128GB storage, expandable with a 1TB SD card, whether for work or light mobile gaming. The large 6.67-inch Super AMOLED display brings crisp contrast and clarity to your everyday tasks, as the phone sits light in your hand, weighing just 188 grams. More impressive is the screen's high refresh rate of 120Hz, for smooth transitions and lag-free gaming. Though the triple rear cameras peak at 48MP, you get a 13MP selfie camera with video-recording features. Roll-outs are still limited to certain countries, but, rest assured, this version of the phone is unlocked for all carriers.

Bonus: Buy with zero per cent instalments and pay Dh70.67 for 12 months with select banks.

Warranty: Amazon offers one-year extended warranty for Dh57, one-year accidental damage protection for Dh95, two-year damage protection plus one-year extended warranty for Dh121.

4. Best Camera: OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite, 5G

Pros

  • Excellent 64MP camera quality
  • Uses a 16MP Sony sensor in the front camera
  • Large 8GB RAM, with up to 5GB of virtual RAM
  • Supports 5G cellular network
  • Fast 33W charging

Cons

  • Not suitable for gaming, say reviews

Another 5G-ready smartphone to consider is the OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite, equipped with the Snapdragon 695 chipset. Its large 8GB RAM and 120Hz refresh rate might raise heating concerns, but the nine built-in temperature sensors and a chip work extra hard to keep your 5,000mAh battery cool. Thanks to the energy-saving 6.59-inch LCD screen, you get to stream TV shows for longer without worrying about the charge. Reviews love the 64MP triple rear camera that has AI (artificial intelligence) features, which come in handy for picturesque night shots. You can also shoot fluid slo-mo clips at 120 frames per second, in 720p. Five-star reviews attest to the fast charging, excellent camera and stutter-free performance, given that the phone converts its internal storage into an additional 5GB virtual RAM.

Bonus: Buy with zero per cent instalments and pay Dh80 for 12 months with select banks.

Warranty: Amazon offers one-year extended warranty for Dh57, one-year accidental damage protection for Dh95, two-year damage protection plus one-year extended warranty for Dh121.

5. Best Budget: Nokia X10 5G Android Smartphone

Pros

  • Large 6.67-inch HD screen
  • Pro suite of photo and video editing tools
  • Focus mode and Bedtime mode
  • User-friendly operating system
  • Fingerprint scanner

Cons

  • Battery capacity is 4,470mAh, less than others in the list

Coming in rich forest green or snow white, Nokia X10 5G is a stylish smartphone with rounded corners. Its minimalist design reflects the editing tools within; you’re getting pro colour-grading tools for your videos and photos so that your library is always share-ready. Nokia X10 is the ideal companion for those who lead busy lives – the phone has Focus Mode, which puts a pause on distracting apps, and a Bedtime Mode to help you unwind. A bonus for music lovers is that Nokia smartphones, including the X10, come with Spotify pre-installed. Reviewers commend the premium build quality and the user-friendly operating system. Some have picked it up for their elderly parents, who appreciate the loud speakers, bright screen and decent battery backup.

Bonus: Buy with zero per cent instalments and pay Dh566.66 for 12 months with select banks.

Warranty: Amazon offers one-year extended warranty for Dh57, one-year accidental damage protection for Dh95, two-year damage protection plus one-year extended warranty for Dh121.

Our recommendations are independently chosen by Gulf News editors. If you decide to shop through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission, as we are part of Amazon Services LLC Associates Program.