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 affordable Android smartphones you can go pick up today…
Nomad case for Pixel 3
NEW FOR OCTOBER:
Moto Z Play
We mentioned it last month, but now we finally have a date. Starting October 20th, the Moto Z Play will officially go on sale unlocked. This new $449 smartphone isn’t the least expensive device on this list, but it is the least expensive way to enter the world of MotoMods, by far. The device is compatible with the same MotoMods as the Moto Z and Moto Z Force, but this device changes things up by offering a 5.5-inch 1080p display, a 2.0GHz octa-core chipset, 3GB of RAM, and a 16MP rear camera.
The biggest highlight of the Moto Z Play is by far its battery. While the Moto Z Force impressed us with its great battery life, the Moto Z Play extends that battery life by over 10 hours by packing a 3,600 mAh battery. That’s 50 hours in total, pretty impressive to say the least.
The Moto Z Play is already available on Verizon, but it’ll go on sale unlocked for GSM networks for $449 starting October 20th.
FROM EARLIER THIS YEAR:
One of the devices we need to talk about is the new Honor 8. For just $399, this device is nothing short of great. It brings a great looking, premium feeling metal and glass build with a compact 5.2-inch display and rear-mounted fingerprint sensor. Also on the back, you’ll find a dual-camera system similar to the Huawei P9..
Under the hood, the Honor 8 brings the Huawei-made Kirin 950 octa-core chipset, 4GB of RAM, up to 64GB of storage, Android Marshmallow with EMUI 4.0, and a 3,000 mAh battery with USB C. The Honor 8 has been very well received so far and has also just gone on sale in the US. Pricing starts at $399 and goes up to $449. You can pick it up from Amazon, Best Buy, B&H, Newegg, and of course Honor itself. The Honor 8 is compatible with all GSM carriers.
You can also read our review here.
BLU Pure XR
BLU has been very popular in the affordable phone space for a while now and with its latest option the company lands on this list yet again. The new BLU Pure XR is a flagship for the manufacturer, and at just $299 it’s a pretty solid deal. For that price you’ll get an all-metal build, MediaTek Helio P10 processor, 4GB of RAM, Android Marshmallow, USB C, a fingerprint sensor, 16MP/8MP cameras, and a 3,000 mAh battery.
On the front you’ll also find a 5.5-inch SuperAMOLED display with Gorilla Glass 3. BLU has also made it a point to emphasize the 3D-Touch capable display, bringing some iOS-like tricks to the phone. For the price, the Pure XR seems pretty solid, and like most of BLU’s other devices, this one is GSM only, so you’ll be able to use it on AT&T, T-Mobile, and other GSM carriers here in the US. You can pick it up through Amazon or Best Buy.
ZTE Warp 7
The ZTE Warp 7 is the latest in the collection of carrier-specific ZTE Android smartphones, this time on Boost Mobile. The device is available now for just $99 and brings a 5-inch, 720p display, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of storage, a 1.2GHz Qualcomm processor, and Android Marshmallow. It also brings a large 3,080 mAh battery with Quick Charge support and of course it brings LTE connectivity and 13MP/5MP cameras.
Moto G4 Play
Another device available this month is another addition to the popular Moto G4 series. The new Moto G4 Play brings a smaller size at just 5-inches, also with slightly lesser specifications. The Moto G4 Play brings a Snapdragon 410 processor, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of storage a 720p display, 8MP/5MP cameras, and Android Marshmallow. Really, this is just a cheap version of the standard Moto G4. It has the same software and design and starts at just $149 unlocked for use on any carrier. Alternatively, you can get it for as little as $99 if you opt for the ad-supported Prime Exclusive edition.
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.
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.
The ZTE Axon 7 is available for purchase from ZTE, Amazon, and many other retailers around the web for $399 unlocked for use on GSM carriers. Alternatively, you can also grab the slightly smaller and cheaper Axon 7 Mini.
Alcatel IDOL 4S
There’s also 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. There’s also a fingerprint sensor on the rear and stereo speakers on both sides of the phone.
Now let’s talk about a near carbon copy of the Idol 4S from BlackBerry. Similar to the design of the smaller IDOL 4, the DTEK50 brings an affordable Android device into the company’s arsenal while still offering the same great security features. You won’t find a physical keyboard on this one, but it is great for anyone who needs a decent, affordable phone for business or who just wants a more secure Android experience.
The DTEK50 comes out of the box with Android Marshmallow with BlackBerry’s added features. Powering the phone is Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 617 processor, 3GB of RAM and 16GB of storage. The device also has a 5.2-inch 1080p display and gets monthly security patches as well. Pricing lands at just $299 and you can pick it up from Amazon, B&H Photo, Best Buy, and BlackBerry’s website.
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-inch 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.
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. Both devices are available now with full MotoMaker customization. You can also pick up the Moto G4 or Moto G4 Plus on Amazon, with a “prime-exclusive” Moto G4 also available starting at $149.
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 its inclusion in Amazon’s Prime Exclusive program you can save $50 for adding a bit of bloatware to the device. For a price that low this is easily the best option available right now.
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