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We bring you the best smartphones that don't break the bank - take your pick. Image Credit: Pexels/Lisa Fotios

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 back-up that is at least 5,000mAh to last you a day, with fast-charging capabilities. Redmi's latest drop, Note 12, is a case in point, boasting top-of-the-line specs that give you more bang for your buck. We're still awaiting Redmi Note 13 launch in the region.

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 same or the 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, the Samsung Galaxy A13 is Zubair's number-one affordable pick, and it's marked by Amazon for fewer returns. 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 Dh50.75 for 12 months with select banks.

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

2. Best for Gaming: Xiaomi Poco X5 5G

Pros

  • ROM expandable to 1TB
  • 120Hz AMOLED screen
  • Snapdragon chipset
  • Long-lasting 5,000mAh battery
  • 5G cellular support

Cons

  • Camera is just decent

This phone has bezels that are so discrete, they look nonexistent. The Poco X5 model features a large 6.67-inch AMOLED screen with a 120Hz refresh rate and 48MP rear camera, along with a 2MP macro lens and an 8MP wide-angle lens. At this price, the phone is fitted with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 695 chipset, which ultimately powers its 5G cellular support and full-sized 5,000mAh battery. Even more good news is the smartphone's 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 curate a library of games, you can always expand the 256GB storage to 1TB with a microSD card. Reviewers love the long battery performance during intensive use, and gamers leave five stars after trying their hand at first-person shooter titles thanks to the high refresh rate. They also confirm that it runs the heaviest games on Play Store smoothly.

Bonus: Buy with zero per cent instalments and pay Dh63.75 for 12 months with select banks.

Warranty: Amazon offers one-year of extended warranty for Dh46 and two years for Dh65.

3. Best Budget for 5G Phone: Redmi Note 12 5G

Pros

  • Clear 6.67-inch Super AMOLED display, with 120Hz refresh rate
  • Snapdragon 4 Gen 1 chipset
  • Get 50 per cent charge in just 22 minutes
  • Dual 5G SIM
  • 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 a Snapdragon 4 Gen 1 processor, complete with a spacious 8GB RAM. It works brilliantly as a second smartphone, with 256GB 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 Dh54.92 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 3 Lite 5G

Pros

  • Excellent 108MP camera system
  • Large 8GB RAM, with up to 8GB of virtual RAM expansion
  • Supports 5G cellular network
  • Very fast 67W charging
  • 5,000mAh battery

Cons

  • Not suitable for gaming, say reviews
  • LCD screen, not OLED

Another 5G-ready smartphone to consider is the OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite, equipped with the Qualcomm 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 6.72-inch LCD screen, you get to stream TV shows for longer without worrying about the charge. Reviewers love the 108MP camera system that has 3x lossless zoom and 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 8GB virtual RAM.

Bonus: Buy with zero per cent instalments and pay Dh70.75 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 G22 4G

Pros

  • Accessible self-repair design
  • Large-capacity 5,050mAh battery that lasts for three days
  • Guaranteed security and OS updates for years
  • 50MP main camera
  • Storage expandable up to 2TB

Cons

  • Doesn't support 5G

Coming in rich lagoon blue or meteor grey, Nokia G22 4G is a stylish smartphone with rounded corners. Its minimalist design reflects its pledge to sustainability, with 100 per cent recycled plastic on the back cover and a self-repair build. Nokia G22 allows users to repair their own phone with easy-to-follow replacement tutorials for a broken display, charging port or battery. You're purchasing a longevity-first smartphone that promises up to three years of monthly security updates and two years of operating system upgrades from Android 12. As for the specs, it carries a 6.52-inch screen with a 90Hz refresh rate, a solid 50MP main camera, long three-day battery life and up to 6GB RAM with virtual expansion. You can also boost your storage space with a 2TB microSD card. The box arrives with a Nokia wired headset, screen protector and charger for you to get started right away, at this incredible value.

Bonus: Buy with zero per cent instalments and pay Dh44.58 for 12 months with select banks.

Warranty: The manufacturer offers a three-year 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.