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 a lot of big releases in the budget market lately, so let’s take a look at all of the best affordable Android devices you can buy today.
NEW FOR JULY:
Moto Z2 Play
Following up on last year’s underdog hit, the Moto Z Play, Motorola recently introduced the Moto Z2 Play. This device introduces an altered design, improved specifications, and the same great Moto Mod-compatibility as the original.
The Moto Z2 Play ditches the Play’s glass back for metal with the same camera bump and pins on the bottom. The new phone is considerably thinner, though, coming in at just 5.99mm. Despite that, it still offers a 3.5mm headphone jack. The battery does see a downgrade however, landing at a disappointing mere 3,000 mAh.
Similar to the original, the Moto Z2 Play runs on mid-range specifications. That includes the Snapdragon 626 processor, 3GB of RAM, 32GB of storage and Android Nougat. It also uses another 5.5-inch 1080p AMOLED display which helps achieve the 30-hour quoted battery life. There’s also a 12MP rear camera and USB-C.
The Moto Z2 Play is exclusive to Verizon Wireless for its first few weeks, but it will be available unlocked soon. On Verizon, the phone costs $408 ($17/month) and the unlocked will likely land somewhere around $500.
Along with the Moto Z2 Play, Motorola has also recently debuted an “ultra-budget” device that is available both on Verizon and unlocked. The Moto E4 offers some of Motorola’s best software features, including a fingerprint sensor on the front and the gestures that come with it, but at a cost of just $129.
The E4 has a 5-inch 720p display which has a 1.4GHz Snapdragon 425 processor and 2GB of RAM powering the show. As detailed in our review, it provides a fast and fluid experience, and combined with a 2,800 mAh battery it offers solid battery life.
Alcatel IDOL 5S
The 5S offers a 5.2-inch 1080p display, Snapdragon 625 processor, 3GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, Android 7.1, front-facing 3.6W stereo speakers, and a rear-facing fingerprint sensor on its glass back. There’s also a 12MP rear camera and an 8MP front facing camera.
Only GSM carriers are supported for now, but Alcatel has a CDMA (Verizon/Sprint) model coming “this summer.” Amazon has the Alcatel IDOL 5S available for $279 at full retail or $199 with ads.
One of Alcatel’s other recent releases is the Alcatel A50. This mid-range device debuted at MWC and got attention for its optional LED back cover. The A50 is a “modular” phone with a couple of rear covers that extend the device’s functionality. One of those is a back panel coated in LEDs that you can customize through the app.
Aside from the modular components, the A50 offers a 5.2-inch 720p display, 1.5GHz quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of storage, a 13MP rear camera, and Android Nougat.
Amazon offers the Alcatel A50 for $99 with ads for just the phone, or $129 for the phone with ads and the LED cover. If you want to skip the ads, tack on $50 to the cost.
After its announcement at MWC 2017, Nokia has finally brought its return to the smartphone world device to the United States. The Nokia 6 is a mid-range device with a premium build and near-stock Android, all for just over $200.
The Nokia 6 offers a 5.5-inch 1080p display, Snapdragon 430 processor, 3GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, Android 7.1, and a 16MP rear-facing camera. The phone also offers a fingerprint sensor on the front and an all aluminum unibody design.
While it is available for GSM carriers, the phone lacks full LTE support on AT&T, so you’ll probably want to stick to T-Mobile on this one. Pricing lands at $179 with Amazon ads or $229 without.
FROM EARLIER THIS YEAR:
Moto G5/Moto G5 Plus
Motorola made its return to MWC this year with two new G Series phones in tow ─ the Moto G5 and Moto G5 Plus. While the former won’t be coming to the US, both make up solid options for the mid-range Android market. The Moto G5 offers a 5-inch 1080p display, Snapdragon 430, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of storage, 2,800 mAh battery, and Android Nougat out of the box. It also comes with a 13MP rear camera and is available now in Europe for €199.
The Moto G5 Plus, on the other hand, is available in the US. It offers up a slightly larger 5.2-inch 1080p display, larger 3,000 mAh battery, and a stronger processing package with the Snapdragon 625, up to 4GB of RAM, and up to 64GB of storage. The 12MP camera also offers up better low-light performance compared to what’s found in the Moto G5.
Both of these phones also feature fingerprint sensors and full metal builds. The Moto G5 Plus is available now via outlets such as Amazon and B&HPhoto. Amazon also offers the 64/4GB variant with ads for just $239.
ASUS ZenFone 3 Zoom
Announced early this year at CES, ASUS has finally released the ZenFone 3 Zoom. This metallic Android smartphone features a dual-camera design with an iPhone 7 Plus-esque zoom feature. One of the 12MP sensors is used for standard shots at 25mm while the other sensor is used for 2.3x zoom shots at 59mm.
The ZenFone 3 Zoom runs on top of Android Marshmallow out of the box with an update to Nougat coming at some point. Under the hood the Zoom offers a Snapdragon 625 chipset, 3GB of RAM, and a massive 5,000 mAh battery. All of those specs combined with the 5.5-inch 1080p display should end up offering a device with outstanding battery life. Pricing for the ZenFone 3 Zoom lands at $329 and the device is available now for GSM networks at Amazon, Best Buy, and other retailers.
LG X Venture
AT&T and LG have partnered to introduce a new affordable rugged Android smartphone in the LG X Venture. This $329 smartphone offers Android Nougat in a very rugged form factor. With both IP68 protection and 14 passed MIL-STD 810G for temperature, water, shock, and more, the phone should be able to handle just about anything you throw at it.
Powering the device is the Snapdragon 435 processor, 2GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, and a huge 4,100 mAh battery. Combined with the 5.2-inch 1080p display, that should offer up some solid battery life. AT&T is the exclusive carrier of the X Venture in the US, but LG will open up sales of the device in parts of Europe, Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America in the coming weeks. Orders in the US are open now with payments as low at $11/month.
ZTE Blade X Max
Also available this month is a new phablet from ZTE for Cricket Wireless. Very similar to the Zmax Pro and Max XL, the ZTE Blade X Max is a 6-inch budget Android device that is actually pretty spectacular for the price. The Blade X Max offers a Snapdragon 435 processor, 2GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, and Android 7.1 out of the box.
The Blade X Max also offers a 13MP rear camera, rear-mounted fingerprint sensor, 3,400 mAh battery, and Qualcomm Quick Charge 2.0 over the USB-C port. Cricket is offering the ZTE Blade X Max for as little as $99 for new customers but sells it normally for $149.
ZTE Max XL
Following on the success of last year’s Zmax Pro, ZTE has recently released the ZTE Max XL for Sprint, Boost Mobile, and Virgin Mobile. The new $129 smartphone includes a pretty outstanding collection of specifications for the price, including a Snapdragon 435, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of storage, and a 6-inch 1080p display. The build is, of course, entirely plastic, but offers up a grippy texture on the back and a fingerprint sensor as well.
The Max XL also includes Android 7.1.1 out of the box with a very clean, near-stock build of the OS. There are only a handful of changes through the UI, and most aren’t bad at all. The phone also includes a giant battery, measuring in at 3,990 mAh with USB-C charging with Quick Charge 2.0.
For the foreseeable future, the ZTE Max XL will be exclusive to Sprint, Boost, and Virgin Mobile. Regardless, it’s one of the best devices you’re going to get for this sort of price point. Currently, orders are only available on Boost Mobile.
Alcatel A30/A30 Plus
Another phone in Amazon’s refreshed collection of Prime Exclusive devices is the Alcatel A30. This is a very bare-bones device, but considering its price of just $60 unlocked, it’s not a bad deal at all.
The device runs on top of the Snapdragon 210 chipset, offers up Android Nougat out of the box, 16GB of storage with a microSD card, and a 5-inch 720p display. There’s also an 8MP rear camera and 5MP front facing, along with front-facing speakers. Sounds pretty good for $60 right?
The main caveat is the presence of Amazon’s ads, but forking over an extra $40 will get you an ad-free version. One of the awesome extras is that this device is also available for Verizon customers.
Amazon currently has the A30 in GSM and CDMA variants.
Alternatively, Alcatel has also introduced the larger Alcatel A30 Plus. It features the same look as the A30, but with a larger 5.5-inch display and 13MP rear camera. GSM is all that’s available for now, but a CDMA variant is coming soon. The A30 Plus costs $79 with Amazon ads and $129 without.
After debuting in China last year, Honor brought the successor to the popular Honor 5X, the Honor 6X, to the United States at CES 2017. As expected, the Honor 6X brings a 5.5-inch 108op display, Huawei’s in-house Kirin 655 chipset, 3GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, and a new dual-camera system on the rear.
The dual-camera brings one 12MP sensor paired with a secondary 2MP sensor. Like the Honor 8 and Mate 9, the secondary camera is a monochrome sensor which helps sharpen photos especially in low light conditions. On the front, there’s also an 8MP camera. The Honor 6X also brings a fingerprint sensor on the rear and a large 3,340 mAh battery. Plus, the entire phone is built from aluminum and feels absolutely spectacular in the hand.
That all sounds pretty decent for a $249 device, but the Honor 6X isn’t without compromise. The phone lacks NFC as well as USB-C. Rather, it uses the older microUSB standard. Those could be deal breakers for you, but if you’re interested in checking out the 6X, it’s currently available from Amazon, Newegg, Best Buy, and various other retailers unlocked for $249. Keep in mind, too, that Android Nougat with EMUI 5.0 now available for the device, and it vastly improves the experience…
One of the devices we need to talk about is the 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, and a 3,000 mAh battery with USB-C. The Honor 8 has been very well received so far, but it’s an even better device now that Android Nougat has landed with EMUI 5.0. Pricing starts at $399 and goes up to $449, although we’ve seen deals as low as $299 recently.
ZTE Axon 7
If you want a flagship experience, but at a slightly lower price point, the ZTE Axon 7 is an option worth considering. Starting at just $399, the Axon 7 packs a 5.5-inch AMOLED display, all-metal design, front facing speakers, and premium specifications including the top of the line Snapdragon 820 chipset.
It also packs 4GB of RAM and support for Google Daydream. All of that combined makes for an absolutely fantastic smartphone, and at its price tag of just $399, it’s easily one of the best bang-for-your-buck deals out there today.
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. It’s even been on sale for $349 recently. Plus, it now has the added bonus of Android Nougat.
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