The 8 best cheap smartphones in South Africa

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South Africans have a great choice of smartphones with the world’s major brands represented on our shores. Here are the best cheap smartphones from the top 8 cellphone manufacturers. We have put together specs of what we consider a good smartphone, or else any phone with a camera and a colour screen can be considered a smartphone (and we’re looking at you, Mobicel S1 Dual SIM) instead of a feature phone.

The best cheap smartphones should have these specs as the bare minimum:

  • Good main (13MP) and selfie (5MB) cameras.
  • At least 2GB RAM and 32GB storage, or a MicroSD slot.
  • LTE/4G data speed.
  • HD screen.
  • Android 10 or above.
  • Extra features, like a fingerprint, or face, unlock.

These smartphones can be considered cheap smartphones as they are a step up from entry-level smartphones by offering good performance, great features, and Hi-definition screen quality without breaking the bank.

So, here is the cheapest smartphone from each manufacturer.

1. Samsung

Samsung Galaxy A04e (2022)

CamerasMain camera 13MP
Selfie camera 5MP
RAM and StorageRAM Size 3GB
Storage Size 32GB
MicroSD (Up to 1TB)
Internet speed4G (LTE), Dual SIM
HD ScreenFull HD (1902×1080) 6.5-inch screen
Android 10 or aboveAndroid 12, upgradable to Android 13
Extra featureFingerprint scanner
PriceR1,999.00 from Bradlows.co.za
The Samsung Galaxy A04e 32GB Dual Sim price, specs, and features.
The Samsung Galaxy A04e Dual Sim.
The Samsung Galaxy A04e Dual Sim.

The Samsung Galaxy A04e works well as a cheap smartphone. We expect it to be perfect for an older person who wants to send and receive pictures on WhatsApp and then check out a video on YouTube. As a brand, Samsung smartphones perform well, but under heavy browsing, we suspect you may overwhelm this Galaxy A04e.

We excluded the cheaper Samsung Galaxy A03 Core 32GB and Galaxy A03 because they are older 2021 models and they use the slow Android Go. You can get a smartphone with “lower” specs or those on the Android Go platform. Still, you may soon become frustrated with the cloudy pictures, slow internet speeds, or the inability to install the latest Instagram/Twitter your friend has.

2. Huawei

Huawei Nova Y61 (2020)

CamerasMain camera 50MP
Selfie camera 5MP
RAM and StorageRAM Size 4GB
Storage Size 64GB
MicroSD (Up to 512GB)
Internet speed4G, Single SIM
HD ScreenHD+ (1600×720) 6.3-inch screen
Android 10 or aboveEMIU 12 (Android 12)
Extra featureFingerprint scanner, NFC for Tap-to-pay
PriceOn special for R2,999 from Edgars
The Huawei Nova Y61 64GB price, specs, and features.
The Huawei Nova Y61 Dual Sim
The Huawei Nova Y61 Dual Sim. Source: X Corp

The Huawei Nova Y61 comes in under R3,000, making it quite reachable to some who want to buy it in cash. It is well specced, with an above average camera in the cheap smartphone market.

We previously recommended the Huawei Y6p, but it’s priced around the same yet has a 13MP camera versus the Y6p’s 50MP. Also, the Y6p is a 2020 model, which means you will not be able to upgrade your OS sooner than later.

3. Nokia

Nokia G21 128GB (2022)

CamerasMain camera 50MP
Selfie camera 8MP
RAM and StorageRAM Size 3GB
Storage Size 64GB
MicroSD (Up to 512GB)
Internet speed4G, Dual SIM
HD ScreenHD+ (1600×720) 6.5-inch screen
Android 10 or aboveAndroid 11, upgradable to Android 13
Extra featureA fingerprint scanner, face unlock, and NFC for Tap-to-pay
PriceR2,999 from Takealot.
The Nokia G21 price, specs, and features.
The Nokia G21 128GB price, specs, and features.

The latest Nokia phones are shipped with a combination of 2/3 year Android OS upgrades, and 2/3 year security upgrades in a bid to ease the minds of a consumer looking for a smartphone that will last beyond 2 years.

The Nokia G21 then becomes one of the best options when you’re looking for a cheap smartphone because it gives you a sense of security and longevity when you purchase it.

The Nokia 1.4 costs R1,899 and fits our smartphone specs well, except it uses Android Go, which we think should be avoided like the plague! Another option is the Nokia G10, but it’s a year older than our choice of the G21 above.

4. Xiaomi

Xiaomi Redmi 10A Dual Sim (2022)

CamerasMain camera 13MP
Selfie camera 5MP
RAM and StorageRAM Size 2GB
Storage Size 32GB
Internet speed4G, Dual SIM
HD ScreenFull HD (1600×720) 6.5-inch screen
Android 10 or aboveAndroid 11, MIUI 12
Extra featureFingerprint unlock
PriceR2,299 from HiFiCorp.
The Xiaomi Redmi 10A 32GB Dual Sim price, specs, and features.
The Xiaomi Redmi 10A 32GB Dual Sim
The Xiaomi Redmi 10A 32GB Dual Sim.

The Xiaomi Redmi 10A often gets bad reviews on the internet which say it lags and freezes, which might be attributed to the 2GB RAM size. If you can, spend a bit more then maybe try the Xiaomi Redmi 12C with 3GB RAM size, available from HiFiCorp for R2,699.

5. OPPO

OPPO A16 32GB LTE Dual Sim (2021)

CamerasMain camera 13MP
Selfie camera 8MP
RAM and StorageRAM Size 3GB
Storage Size 32GB
MicroSD (Up to 256GB)
Internet speed4G, Dual SIM
HD ScreenHD+ (1600×720) 6.5-inch screen
Android 10 or aboveColorOS 11.1 (Android 11)
Extra featureFingerprint scanner on the side button, and face unlock
PriceOn sale for R2,299 from Bash.
The OPPO A16 32GB LTE Dual Sim price, specs, and features.
OPPO A16
OPPO A16

A really good product, at a neat price. No more convincing is needed.

6. Hisense

Hisense E50 Dual Sim (2021)

CamerasMain camera 13MP
Selfie camera 8MP
RAM and StorageRAM Size 4GB
Storage Size 64GB
MicroSD (Up to 128GB)
Internet speed4G, Dual SIM
HD ScreenHD+ (1600×720) 6.55-inch screen
Android 10 or aboveAndroid 11
Face unlock or fingerprint sensorFace unlock, Finger print unlock
PriceR1,499 from MR Price
The Hisense E50 Dual Sim price, specs, and features.

We recommend that you consider this really cheap Hisense E50 smartphone because of its relatively low price in the cheap smartphone market.

We don’t recommend the cheaper Hisense E50 Lite because it is still on the older Android 9 Operating System.

7. Vivo

Vivo Y21 (2021)

CamerasMain camera 13MP
Selfie camera 8MP
RAM and StorageRAM 4GB
Storage Size 64GB
MicroSD (Slot available)
Internet speed4G, Dual SIM
HD ScreenHD+ (1600×720) 6.52-inch screen
Android 10 or aboveFuntouch OS 11.1 (Android 11)
Face unlock or fingerprint sensorFingerprint unlock
PriceOn sale for R2,999 from Game store
The Vivo Y21 price, specs, and features.
vivo Y21 Dual SIM
vivo Y21 Dual SIM

The Vivo Y21 has some great specs but might be a bit pricey for what we’re looking for: a cheap smartphone! The Vivo Y01 32GB Dual Sim is a lot cheaper at around R2,200, but it is on Android Go.

8. Tecno

Tecno Spark Go 2023 (2023)

CamerasMain camera 13MP
Selfie camera 5MP
RAM and StorageRAM Size 3GB
Storage Size 64GB
Internet speed4G, Dual SIM
HD ScreenFull HD (1600×720) 6.52-inch screen
Android 10 or aboveHiOS 12 (Android 12)
Face unlock or fingerprint sensorFingerprint unlock
PriceOn special for R2,099 from Vodacom (Network locked)
The Tecno Spark GO 2023 64GB Dual Sim price, specs, and features.

The Tecno Spark GO is a really pretty phone and does all you need in a smartphone. It’s not a direct descended of the Spark 7, but it seems like it’s a technical upgrade from it.

Our best cheap smartphone is the Tecno Spark GO 2023. Price, look, and capability in a pretty package.

The Tecno Spark GO 2023 64GB
The Tecno Spark GO 2023 64GB.

Bonus: The cheapest Apple iPhone

Apple iPhone SE 64GB (2022)

CamerasMain camera 12MP
Selfie camera 7MP
RAM and StorageRAM Size 4GB
Storage Size 64GB
MicroSD –
Internet speed5G, 4G
HD ScreenHD+ (1334×750) 4.7-inch screen
iOS versioniOS 15
Face unlock or fingerprint sensorFront-mounted fingerprint unlock
PriceR11,699 from Technomobi.
The Apple iPhone SE 2022 price, specs, and features.

While recommending the iPhone SE 2022 version, you can still buy a refurbished iPhone 8 64GB (that looks similar to the iPhone SE we recommend) for around R6,000 online and save R3,000. That way you will not miss out on the new 2022 iOS 16 update that comes later in the year.

Apple iPhone SE 2022.

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