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These cheap phones are hot numbers

The Apple iPhone SE, though older and smaller,

The Apple iPhone SE, though older and smaller, performs well with iOS 10. Credit: CBS Interactive

When it comes to good cheap phones, we're living in a world of plenty. Costs have dropped and software is getting better, which means that inexpensive phones with last year's parts (or even parts from the year before) are still going to serve you well. Here are four top cheap phones we love.

Motorola Moto G5 Plus

CNET rating (out of 5)

4 stars (excellent)

THE GOOD The splash-resistant Moto G5 Plus has a near stock version of Android Nougat, a good camera and video, and a metal build — and it's extremely kind to your wallet.

THE BAD There's no near-field communication on the U.S. model, and audio sounds tinny through the built-in speaker.

THE COST $219.99 to $229.99

BOTTOM LINE With a long list of features you want and only a few that you don't, there is no better budget phone than Motorola's Moto G5 Plus.

Apple iPhone SE

CNET rating (out of 5)

4 stars (excellent)

THE GOOD It sports a small, hand-friendly design; solid speed; good front and rear cameras; and great built-in storage (up to 128GB). The lowest-priced iPhone you can buy.

THE BAD The older giant-bezel design and limited screen size are love-it-or-hate-it. The hardware hasn't changed since its 2016 debut.

THE COST $159.99 to $349

BOTTOM LINE The iPhone SE is getting older, but its added storage options and strong performance running iOS 10 still make it a great choice for small-phone fans.

Motorola Moto G5

CNET rating (out of 5)

3.5 stars (very good)

THE GOOD The Moto G5 costs little but packs a full-HD screen, good cameras and enough power for your everyday essentials.

THE BAD The dim screen can be difficult to read under bright lights, and you'll need to be careful if you want to get a whole day out of the battery.

THE COST $159.96

BOTTOM LINE This is the phone to get if you want an everyday phone for as little as possible.

Alcatel Idol 5S

CNET rating (out of 5)

3.5 stars (very good)

THE GOOD The Idol 5S has a premium build, amazing speakers and a fingerprint reader, and it runs Android Nougat — all while being affordable.

THE BAD It has the shortest battery life of any phone we’ve tested in the past two years.


BOTTOM LINE The Alcatel Idol 5S is an otherwise great budget phone, but the battery is its Achilles’ heel.

The following CNET staff contributed to this story: associate Editor Patrick Holland, senior associate editor Lynn La, and senior editors Andrew Hoyle, Scott Stein and Laura K. Cucullu. For more reviews of personal technology products, visit

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