Best Budget Mobile phones for photography

Just about to upgrade and I am after a phone on a plan that is budget but also takes great photo’s as I have small children and would like to have quality memories.

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I’d recommend a real camera. Phone cameras are good, usually, but not as good, even as a point and shoot. UNless you want to spend big bikkies.


Mobile phone and digital camera models/technology change very rapidly.

Working to a budget for a plan - Most of us do.
Is the request, which mobile phones available on a low cost $nn.oo monthly plan are best for quality photos and videos?

On a tight budget, the lowest cost plans offer only very basic phones. The compromise at the budget end of the mobile phone range is fewer features and very poor to basic cameras.

I tend to agree with @SueW. I have a pocket sized compact camera. My partner has had two. Between us a Canon IXUS, Sony and Nikon. $200-$400 price range. In comparison the mobile phone camera is convenient and always to hand.

If the budget is really tight, and a mobile phone camera the only option. Look for the least worse or bad within your budget.

Great photos come from the eye of the photographer. A camera just captures the greatness.

@lissimmo I’ve edited the topic header to more closely reflect your request for budget options. While Samsung make some great phones. It may be of broader interest to others to consider other brands for budget options.


Back when I had a 35mm with all the lenses and gadgets and some ability to use it. My partner had a mid range point and shoot. All the holiday photos she took were equal or better than mine printed on 3x5s at the photo kiosks of the era.

More recently I have a high end point and shoot digital and she has been using her phone and iPad cameras. I don’t remember the last time we printed more than 1 or 2, and those on an inkjet printer. Some wedding and professional baby photos excepted that were 100% professionally done.

Viewing on a PC monitor, iPad, or phone, even a mid-range phone camera provides surprisingly good results in my experience. In fact one grandma has taken some photos of a young lady that the phone processed into glamour quality shots as well as some very natural with that feature off. It was again, a mid-range phone.

I no longer discount how camera/photo technology has evolved and use my Moto G6’s modest camera more often than my trusty high end point and shoot now. It takes good enough photos and always being in the pocket when a photo-op arises, the camera is always in hand.

Searching for ‘best budget phone camera’ returns many hits although different people will have differing views of what is ‘budget’.

The Choice test also has a ‘best for photos and video’ filter [member content]

Once a phone or phones are selected then survey the telcos to see who provides what, or vice versa.


I have a Google Pixel 4a, a mid range priced phone. The camera quality is better than our old digital camera and my previous phone. I was quite impressed with the clarity and detail of pictures and how easy it was to point and shoot. I am on a Telstra pre-paid plan $30/30 days, however you can get $20 without data or $30/6months which accumulate, but the call charges are high. As we don’t have mobile coverage on the farm it is only used if we go to town and usually make about 2 calls a month.

So it is first and foremost a camera and secondly a platform for a few apps, like FrogID which uses WiFi to our Satellite NBN. It takes a good night photo.

There are a few annoyances with the camera - it automatically detects movement and turns it into a video, you can choose a frame to keep, and you can turn this auto feature off, but it keeps turning itself back on with updates. It automatically uses Google Photos and I suspect Google then has some rights to your pics. It can save to the Cloud, but I have that turned off and copy photos manually to my desktop where I back-up to an external drive. I keep a selection on my tablet and phone to show people. Otherwise I suspect I would run out of free Cloud storage and end up with a monthly bill. I would recommend it as a camera.


The art certainly has come a long way. To me the biggest problem is that the phone misses out on optical zoom ability and for children, pets etc having the choice of a longer lens is very advantageous as you get more subject in the frame. Most phones tend towards the wide side and you get little tiny kiddies in the middle of big playgrounds.

The big advantage of the phone is of course it is the camera you have with you rather than the one you left in the car. There are however very small light pocket-able P&S cameras that are no burden to carry - as long as you remember to take them.

One can talk about quality issues to do with distortions, limited resolution and the inability to shoot raw and have more processing options but for the casual user who doesn’t want do much processing or to blow up big hard copy this gets fairly academic.


I prefer using a pocket camera over a mobile phone camera…feel like I have more control and is better when one want’s depth in a photo. This is an example of (tulips growing in the front garden last year) what I mean by depth (a mobile camera everything will be in focus):

Mobile phone cameras have come a long way in the past decade, to a point where some can take good quality fast click photos. Some are even better than lower entry level type pocket cameras. These two websites provide comparisons

I find that for about 90% of photos the mobile camera will suffice…but if one wants more control over the photo taken, one can’t beat manual setting a pocket camera.


Much to my amazement, I saw 2 separate males with compact SLR cameras slung over their shoulders during the past week.

I can’t recall when I last saw anyone with one before then.

Maybe the tourists are back in Cairns?

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If the OP is determined to have a phone camera, it might be worth looking at buying outright. The Nokias are pretty decent and they get Android One, and dont stick tons of cruft that you dont want, in the phone. I think they get OS updates PDQ as well (so do the Motorolas) and, they are not expensive.


Thanks, I did ask the carrier if buying outright was cheaper but they advised it was the same. I ended up using Whistle out, found a cheap deal with another carrier then bargained with my current carrier and got it. woohoo!


Good that you have found a suitable deal. I’ve always resisted buying phones from telcos, simply because you are locked in then for the time of the contract. I don’t actually move about much but I do not like the locked down feeling. I’d rather buy outright and go prepaid which is often a better deal than a “plan”. Anyway, as long as you are happy with what you’ve ended up with.


They are using information to keep their customers on a plan. The selection of data to support that is why they are not exactly lying, but neither are they being honest.

A phone on a plan is akin to a hire purchase, but a phone owned outright allows the customer to find the best deal on the price of the phone, and then on the cost of the mobile service. It gets muddied when the two are combined. In most cases one can do better by buying a phone and then buying a service, not buying a service with a phone.


Often the cheaper phones on plans can be locked to the telco, if wanting to change after the plan finishes they then need to pay an unlock fee. Unlocked phones are often dearer to buy but them pre paid plans such as Aldi’s work out to be cheaper in the long run even considering the extra phone cost. This of course is generalisation as each package needs to be assessed first.


Thanks, however I checked out prices of this phone to buy outright compared to the deal I got and it worked out to be cheaper paying it off on the plan.


The other thing to consider is the plan more expensive than can be obtained through other bring-your-own mobile plan providers. Our own experience last year was that it was cheaper to buy a phone outright and get a cheap bring-you-own phone plan. It can be confusing exercise, but they won’t be selling a phone cheaply to make it look like they are looking after the customer.


not sure have agreed to it now do we get any cooling off periods after signing an online contract?

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The T&Cs that accompany the contract will clarify. Often not. Each carrier can vary depending on the contract.

There have been a number of different points offered from the community.

We’ve had several new mobile phones on plans and also purchased outright. It depends on the deal on the day and exact needs which was better.

Importantly, there is nothing wrong with choosing a new phone on a plan. Sometimes we forget, the up front cost of a new phone is not always affordable. Providing one shops around as you have for the best deal it is all one can do.

Sometimes mobile phone suppliers do deals with mobile network providers. I know that was the go with my last new mobile phone. When a model is not selling or there is a new model due out, there are incentives to move phones. Sometimes mobile network providers want customers. Vodafone is one that has been chasing market share.

As @grahroll said about different options

There are good reasons some of us prefer to split the purchase and buy a phone outright from a third party, IE not a Telco. And separately select a pre or post paid plan from one of the many low cost Telcos.

Some will say anyone can do it.
Many of us prefer the total simplicity of a mobile on a plan, all from the one stop provider. Single place for warranty and less challenging when things aren’t working. It’s how one of the close family prefer it.

I’ve used services with Telstra, Optus and Amaysim. None are perfect, but two have store counter service.

We are a little off track from the OP which was simply asking which budget priced mobile phone was the best available on a plan for taking photos.


Yes I agree, I did look at Woolworths mobile which is where I got the price to bargain with Optus but I don’t like the fact they don’t have store customer service. Many times in the past when I have issue’s its been a quick fix by going into the store. From what I read via the reviews online, Woolworths mobile has shocking customer service.


Not if you are a member in where there is a specific Woolworths Mobile thread. Theres a customer service rep in there much of the time and he is excellent.

BTW what “budget” phone did you get that you would choose to get it on a plan and be locked in?


I called Woolworths mobile on Friday and was on hold for 30 mins which was pretty much what the reviews said too. I ended up hanging up. I got a Samsung 20 FE and it was about 10c cheaper per month than Woolworths mobile and I got the 5g phone, WW only offered 4g.