There are new smartphones hitting the market constantly, but which is the best to pick up when you’re trying to save a buck or two? We’ve seen some great launches this summer and we’re only expecting more over the coming months, but for now, let’s go over the best budget Android smartphones you can go pick up today…
New For August:
ZTE ZMax Pro
Cheap phones are hardly ever good, but the $99 ZTE ZMax Pro is easily the best option at its price point. For that price you’ll get a massive 6-inch display, Snapdragon 617 processor, 2GB of RAM, and 32GB of storage. It also comes with a 13MP rear camera, 3,400 mAh battery, and even a fingerprint sensor. These same specs are found on devices which are far more expensive, so for $99 this is a fantastic deal, however it’s not without compromises.
For now the ZMax Pro is an exclusive to MetroPCS and only comes down to $99 after a rebate. You can unlock it for use on other GSM networks, but only after 3 months of active service. You can learn more about the ZMax Pro in our full review here. If you’re looking to buy, it’s available now through MetroPCS.
BLU Studio Touch
Another great $99 smartphone that released recently was the BLU Studio Touch. For $99 the Studio Touch brings a 5-inch HD display, MediaTek 1GHz quad core chipset, 8GB of storage, and 1GB of RAM. It also comes with an 8MP rear camera, 5MP front camera, 8GB of storage, and a fingerprint sensor, all wrapped up in an all-metal body. Another variant will also be coming next month with double the storage and RAM for an extra $10.
Obviously this device doesn’t compare very well to the ZMax Pro mentioned above, but this device runs just $99 outright, no rebates required. For a quick and cheap option, this is a fine device that will work for just about anyone using a GSM carrier.
The BLU Studio Touch is available from Amazon for $99 in both Gold/White and Black/Grey.
ZTE Axon 7
The second device from ZTE to land on this list is the Axon 7. Starting at just $399, the Axon 7 packs a 5.5-inch AMOLED display, an all-metal design, front facing speakers, and premium specifications including the top of the line Snapdragon 820 chipset. It also packs an insane 6GB of RAM and support for Google Daydream.
Alcatel IDOL 4S
The last major new release this month is the Alcatel IDOL 4s. This one hits our budget cap at $399, but for that price it’s a fantastic phone. The design is made up from glass and metal with a 5.5-inch QHD AMOLED display, Snapdragon 652 processor, 3GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, a 16MP rear camera, and a 3,000 mAh battery. The device’s packaging also doubles as a VR headset with several pre-loaded VR applications on the device. There’s also a fingerprint sensor on the rear and stereo speakers on both sides of the phone.
You can order the IDOL 4S now from Alcatel for $399 with a free set of JBL headphones and Incipio case along with the phone.
From Earlier This Year:
Moto G4 Family
After debuting last month, the Moto G4 family continues to be one of the best budget options available right now. Starting at $199 you’ll get the standard G4 with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage. An extra $30 will double the storage. The G4 Plus on the other hand will start at $249 for the 16GB model with 2GB of RAM, but you can also upgrade to the top tier model to get 64GB of storage and 4GB of RAM for another $50 ($299).
Both phones share 5.5” 1080p displays with Gorilla Glass 3 and the Snapdragon 617 processor under the hood. They also both pack 3,000 mAh batteries with support for fast charging. Last but not least, they also both share near-stock builds of Android 6.0 Marshmallow.
The differences come into play in the camera department. Both have 5MP front cameras, but the standard G4 has a 13MP sensor with the G4 Plus getting a slightly better 16MP sensor with Lenovo’s ‘Hybrid Focus’ autofocus system. The G4 Plus also packs a fingerprint sensor on the front which can recognize and unlock the phone in less than 750 milliseconds.
The G4 Plus will be available with 2, 3, or 4GB of RAM with 16, 32, or 64GB of internal storage. The standard G4 will carry 2GB of RAM with either 16 or 32GB of storage. microSD card slots are of course available for both.
One of the big highlights to keep in mind with this device is that it’s not only unlocked, but compatible with all major US carriers. AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint, and just about everyone else is compatible, just pop in a SIM and go.
Blu R1 HD
Another great option is the $99 Blu R1 HD. For that low price you don’t get a ton, but you certainly get a capable device.
The display on the R1 HD measures in at 5-inches with a 720p resolution and Gorilla Glass 3. There’s also an 8MP rear camera, 5MP front camera, and even a flash on the front for low light selfies.
Powering everything is a 1.3GHz MediaTek chipset and Android Marshmallow. The base model is limited to 8GB of storage and a measly 1GB of RAM, but an extra $10 will double both specs (trust us, just do it).
This is more or less your run of the mill budget Android device, but with it’s inclusion in Amazon’s Prime Exclusive program you can save $50 for adding a bit of bloatware to the device. For that price this is easily the best option available right now.
It’s no doubt that one of the more impressive releases earlier in the year was the Honor 5X from Huawei. With an all-metal build, solid specs, and a price tag under $200, it was a no-brainer for many consumers. 6 months after the release, the 5X is still without a doubt a device we can recommend for its price.
Worth noting also is that the Honor 5X has recently picked up Android Marshmallow here in the States, a huge plus for anyone looking to purchase.
With a Snapdragon 616 processor, 2GB of RAM, a 5.5” 1080p display, 13MP rear camera, and built-in fingerprint sensor, this is a great device for just about anyone.
It’s available unlocked for use on all GSM carriers and you can pick it up right now for $199 brand new. One thing we’re glad to see though is that several retailers have been offering the phone for as little as $159 on special deals, so be sure to stay tuned to 9to5Toys if you’re on the lookout for this phone.
The Honor 5X is available for $199.
Alcatel GO Play
Another great Android smartphone that flew under the radar a bit this year is the Alcatel GO Play. It features a 5” display, Snapdragon 410 processor, 1.5GB of RAM, and 16GB of storage, however what makes this one unique is the IP67 water/dust resistance rating.
While we’re not fans of the flaps, the GO Play is a solid choice for those who spend extra time outdoors and don’t want to worry about their phone getting wet or dirty.
This certainly isn’t a great pick for those looking for a powerful yet cheap Android smartphone, but at $199 you won’t find a better option sporting this level of water/dust resistance.
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Nexus 5X (w/ Project Fi)
One last honorable mention is the Nexus 5X. While this doesn’t fall under our $299 price ceiling, it does do so when paired with Google’s Project Fi network. Picking up the phone with Fi service cuts the price down all the way to just $199 and to help things out even more, you might even save a bit of cash using a Fi plan.
As for specs, the Nexus 5X packs a 5.2” 1080p display, Snapdragon 808 processor, 2GB of RAM, 16 or 32GB of storage, and Android Marshmallow out of the box. You’ll also get a spectacular 12MP camera on the back, 5MP shooter on the front, and even a front facing speaker.
Pricing without Fi starts at $349, however we’ve seen numerous deals over the past few weeks that take even the 32GB variant well under $300. Keep your eye out and you’ll see some solid deals come.
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