Best smartphones under R3,000 in South Africa

There are numerous capable budget smartphones available in South Africa for less than R3,000.

The expansion of mobile broadband has helped bring online connectivity to people living in rural areas and small towns in South Africa.

Recently, Vodacom announced it completed the rollout of 84 base stations in remote locations across KwaZulu-Natal, bringing cellular connectivity to certain communities for the first time.

Many cannot afford the prices paid by more affluent long-time smartphone users, who in some cases cough up R20,000 or more for the latest flagship models.

However, leading smartphone manufacturers now offer a wide selection of mid-range and budget smartphones to cater to people who need a more affordable device.

Samsung and the Chinese heavyweights

We assembled a list of smartphones from well-known manufacturers available in South Africa that offered a balance of solid specifications and affordability, with price tags between R1,500 and R3,000.

South Korean giant Samsung, which dominates smartphone sales in the country thanks to its Galaxy A series, boasted two strong entries in the form of the Galaxy A12 and Galaxy A21s, its two best-selling smartphones globally in the first quarter of 2021.

The Galaxy A21s has a particularly formidable arsenal of specifications at its disposal in this price range including Samsung’s own Exynos 850 processor, a quad rear camera with a 48MP main sensor, and a large 5,000mAh battery supporting 15W fast charging.

However, Samsung’s prominence is being challenged by a handful of up-and-coming Chinese makers that are making big inroads globally — Xiaomi, Vivo, and Oppo offer powerful smartphones for under R3,000 in South Africa.

Perhaps most notable among these is the Xiaomi Rednote 9, which offers the same quad-camera configuration as the Galaxy A21s, but with double the internal storage.

It is also the only smartphone at this price with a 1080p display, while all the others we found only offered 720p resolutions.

Huawei goes missing and South Africa enters the fray

Huawei, however, does not have any strong contenders in this price range at the moment.

Its popular P Smart S and P Smart 2021 handsets are priced between R4,000 and R5,000, and its best entry among our cheaper smartphones was 2019’s Huawei Y6s.

Local manufacturer Mara has also attempted to capture the budget market, with various models models at different affordable price-points.

Its Mara X1 costs R2,799 and offers similar components as the other smartphones we found.

Mara’s primary advantage is that it ships the near-stock Google’s near-stock Android One operating system, as opposed to the third-party skins used by other OEMs to customise the experience on their handsets.

This means it comes with no bloatware, saving valuable storage space and minimising any impacts on performance unwanted apps my cause.

Below are 13 of the best budget smartphones you can buy in South Africa right now.


Honor 8S – R1,574

Honor 8S
OS Android 9
Display 5.71-inch 720 x 1,520 LCD
Processor Mediatek MT6761 Helio A22 quad-core
RAM 2GB
Storage 32GB, microSD up to 512GB
Rear camera 13MP
Front camera 5MP
Connectivity and ports 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0, microUSB, 3.5mm audio jack
Cellular LTE
Biometrics
Battery 3,020mAh

Xiaomi Redmi 9A – R1,699

Xiaomi Redmi 9A

Xiaomi Redmi 9A
OS Android 10
Display 6.53-inch 720 x 1,600 LCD
Processor MediaTek Helio G25 octa-core
RAM 2GB
Storage 32GB, microSD up to 512GB
Rear camera 13MP
Front camera 5MP
Connectivity and ports 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0, microUSB, 3.5mm audio jack
Cellular LTE
Biometrics
Battery 5,000mAh

Vivo Y91C – R1,999

Vivo Y91C

Vivo Y91C
OS Android 8.1
Display 6.22-inch 720 x 1,520 LCD
Processor MediaTek MT6762R
RAM 2GB
Storage 32GB, microSD up to 256GB
Rear camera 13MP
Front camera 5MP
Connectivity and ports 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0, microUSB, 3.5mm audio jack
Cellular LTE
Biometrics
Battery 4,030mAh

Xiaomi Redmi 9C – R2,399

Xiaomi Redmi 9C
OS Android 10
Display 6.53-inch 720 x 1,600 LCD
Processor MediaTek Helio G35 octa-core
RAM 3GB
Storage 64GB, microSD up to 512GB
Rear camera 13MP + 2MP + 2MP
Front camera 5MP
Connectivity 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0, microUSB, 3.5mm audio jack
Cellular LTE
Biometrics Rear mounted fingerprint reader
Battery 5,00mAh, 10W charging

Hisense Infinity E50 – R2,499

Hisense Infinity E50
OS Android 11
Display 6.55-inch 720 x 1,600 LCD
Processor Unisoc SC9863A octa-core
RAM 4GB
Storage 64GB, microSD up to 512GB
Rear camera 13MP + 5MP + 2MP
Front camera 8MP
Connectivity 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2, microUSB
Cellular LTE
Biometrics Rear-mounted fingerprint reader
Battery 5,100mAh

Nokia 2.4 – R2,599

Nokia 2.4
OS Android 11
Display 6.5-inch 720 x 1,600 LCD
Processor Mediatek MT6762 Helio P22 octa-core
RAM 2GB
Storage 32GB, microSD up to 512GB
Rear camera 13MP + 2MP
Front camera 5MP
Connectivity and ports 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0, microUSB, 3.5mm audio jack
Cellular LTE
Biometrics Rear mounted fingerprint reader
Battery 4,500mAh

Samsung Galaxy A11 – R2,699 

Samsung Galaxy A11
OS Android 11
Display 6.4-inch 720 x 1,560 LCD
Processor Snapdragon 450 octa-core
RAM 2GB
Storage 32GB, microSD up to 512GB
Rear camera 13MP + 5MP + 2MP
Front camera 8MP
Connectivity and ports 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2, USB-C, 3.5mm audio jack
Cellular LTE
Biometrics Rear mounted fingerprint reader
Battery  4,000mAh, 15W fast charging

Huawei Y6s – R2,799

Huawei Y6s
OS Android 9
Display 6.09-inch 720 x 1,560
Processor Mediatek MT6765 Helio P35 octa-core
RAM 3GB
Storage 64GB, microSD up to 512GB
Rear camera 13MP
Front camera 8MP
Connectivity 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2, microUSB, 3.5mm audio jack
Cellular LTE
Biometrics Rear mounted fingerprint reader
Battery 3,020mAh

Mara X1 – R2,799

Mara X1
OS Android 10
Display 6.09-inch 720 x 1,560 LCD
Processor MediaTek Helio MT6761D
RAM 3GB
Storage 32GB, microSD up to 256GB
Rear camera 13MP + 2MP + 2MP
Front camera 8MP
Connectivity 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2, microUSB, 3.5mm audio jack
Cellular LTE
Biometrics Rear mounted fingerprint reader
Battery 4,000mAh

Oppo A15 – R2,999

Oppo A15
OS Android 10
Display 6.52-inch 720 x 1,600 LCD
Processor Mediatek MT6765 Helio P35 octa-core
RAM 3GB
Storage 32GB, microSD up to 256GB
Rear camera 13MP + 2MP + 2MP
Front camera 5MP
Connectivity 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0, microUSB, 3.5mm audio jack
Cellular LTE
Biometrics Rear mounted fingerprint reader
Battery 4,230mAh, 10W charging

Samsung Galaxy A21s – R2,999

Samsung Galaxy A21s
OS Android 11
Display 6.5-inch 720 x 1,600 LCD
Processor Exynos 850 octa-core
RAM 3GB
Storage 32GB, microSD up to 512GB
Rear camera 48MP + 8MP + 2MP + 2MP
Front camera 13MP
Connectivity 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0, USB-C, 3.5mm audio jack
Cellular LTE
Biometrics Rear mounted fingerprint reader
Battery 5,000mAh, 15W fast charging

Vivo Y20 – R2,999

Vivo Y20
OS Android 10
Display 6.51-inch 720 x 1,600 LCD
Processor Snapdragon 460 octa-core
RAM 4GB
Storage 64GB, microSD up to 512GB
Rear camera 13MP + 2MP + 2MP
Front camera 8MP
Connectivity 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0, microUSB, 3.5mm audio jack
Cellular LTE
Biometrics Side mounted fingerprint reader
Battery 5,000mAh, 18W fast charging

Xiaomi Redmi Note 9 –  R2,999

Xiaomi Redmi Note 9
OS Android 10
Display 6.53-inch 1,080 x 2,340 LCD
Processor MediaTek Helio G85 octa-core
RAM 3GB
Storage 64GB, microSD up to 512GB
Rear camera 48MP + 8MP + 2MP + 2MP
Front camera 13MP
Connectivity 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0, USB-C, 3.5mm audio jack
Cellular LTE
Biometrics Rear mounted fingerprint reader
Battery 5,020mAh, 22.5W fast charging

Now read: Samsung launches door-to-door smartphone repair service in South Africa

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Best smartphones under R3,000 in South Africa