Why you shouldn’t buy a budget 5G Android phone in 2023

If you’re looking for a new budget Android phone, 5G might be the last thing you should look for. Unless you’re willing to buy upper mid-range or flagship phones, we’d suggest avoiding 5G entirely and looking for good 4G budget phones instead.

We’re not saying 5G is bad, but there’s no point putting it in a budget phone and basically wasting your money as a price-conscious buyer. In this article, let’s understand the main reasons why you should avoid buying cheap 5G Android phones.

5G infrastructure takes time to set up

Moving to a new generation of mobile technology requires much more than smart marketing and fast modems. For context, the world’s first 4G phone was released in 2010, but it wasn’t until 2019 that 4G technology was adopted by about half of the world’s population.

Even our most optimistic projections for global 5G adoption point to 2025. And given that most people carry their phone with them for two to three years, it’s very likely that you’ll want to buy a new phone by 2025 anyway, so it makes don’t feel like buying a new 5G Android phone right now.

Two cell towers and blue sky.

In addition, budget Android phones are made from cheaper, less durable materials and are therefore more likely to become obsolete, so the 5G capabilities you paid for will ultimately go unused due to the lack of proper 5G infrastructure.

On the other hand, flagships are made from high-quality materials and are much more durable and so can be used for many years, so you can actually use 5G on them when the technology eventually becomes mainstream after a few years.

Some 5G plans are unnecessarily expensive

When you buy a budget phone, your priority is to get the most bang for your buck. And since 5G is still in its infancy, 5G plans are often much more expensive. So you’re probably better off sticking with 4G for the foreseeable future.

Even if you buy a 5G plan, you won’t necessarily get significantly faster speeds. When service providers claim to offer nationwide 5G coverage, they are usually referring to Sub-6GHz 5G, which is only slightly faster than 4G.

5g versions

The really lightning fast mmWave 5G will remain inaccessible and unaffordable for most people until 2025. Making matters worse is that service providers are pushing confusing 5G standards like 5G, 5G+, 5G UW, and 5G E, making it harder for the average user to compare plans.

Budget 5G phones have major compromises

Perhaps the biggest reason why you should avoid cheap 5G Android phones is that they come with a lot of compromises. The profit margin on budget phones is already too low, and adding 5G modems in a device only increases production costs.

So to maintain their profit margin, smartphone manufacturers have to compromise on other features. Perhaps the camera hardware is outdated, the build quality is poor, the software is not optimized, or the battery has not gone through enough quality control testing.

Person using a Samsung Galaxy smartphone

The other option is to offer two different versions of the same phone: one with 5G and one without 5G. For example, the Galaxy A13 costs $189, but the Galaxy A13 5G costs $249.

Not only is the 5G model more expensive, but it also lacks an ultra-wide lens and Gorilla Glass protection, and comes without Dual SIM support, thicker bezels and – get this – a 720p HD display! As if it wasn’t obvious enough, these specs are completely unacceptable by today’s standards.

For more information, check out our guide on how much you should spend on a phone.

Avoid 5G if you buy a budget phone

When you buy a cheap 5G Android phone, you’re paying extra for a service that you’ll probably never use on a device that’s made worse for supporting said service. It’s a lose-lose situation.

If you are mainly looking for value for money, you can spend your money much better if you just buy a cheap 4G phone. If your budget is flexible, consider upgrading to a premium or flagship Android phone so you can actually take advantage of its 5G capabilities.