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 the best affordable Android devices you can buy today.
The best gifts for Android users
Since the holidays are here, you’re probably looking at this list to find the best phone as a gift for someone, so unlike our usual list, this month we’re going to give you a couple of top picks.
Motorola’s Moto X line was once a flagship that stole our hearts, but now a few years later, it’s turned into a mid-ranger that’s simply an excellent value. Right now, the Moto X4 is the best phone we think you can buy at its price point.
Under the hood, the Moto X4 offers a Snapdragon 630 octa-core processor paired with 3GB of RAM, 32GB of storage (with expandable storage), and a 3,000 mAh battery. It ships with Android Nougat and a 5.2-inch 1080p IPS display, as well as USB-C and a headphone jack.
Around back there’s also a dual-camera setup, this time with a standard 12MP sensor and a secondary 8MP sensor with an LG-style 120-degree field of view. The front-facing shooter comes in at 16MP with a flash, and the entire package is IP68 dust and water resistant.
Internationally, the Moto X4 ships with Motorola’s software suite on board, and it’s a great package with thoughtful additions. One of the latest exclusives to this phone, for now, is the ability to connect up to 4 Bluetooth audio devices at once for streaming audio from your phone.
In the US, however, the Moto X4 serves as the first Stateside Android One device, meaning that it will ship with stock Android if you’re buying it from/for Project Fi. The standard version without Motorola’s software will still be sold in the US, though.
Pricing lands at a reasonable $399 and you can order now from Project Fi. Alternatively, the phone is also available unlocked from Amazon, and sold at a discounted $329 as part of the Prime Exclusive program.
FROM EARLIER THIS YEAR:
HTC U11 Life
HTC’s flagships have been great for the past couple years, but most of the company’s mid-range phones have just faded into the background. Now, HTC has debuted one that’s worth your attention — the HTC U11 Life.
The U11 Life’s main claim to fame is that it’s the company’s first Android One device, but it offers a lot more than that. For it’s $300 price, the HTC U11 Life offers up a 5.2-inch 1080p SuperLCD display, front-facing fingerprint sensor, and an acrylic back that has the same striking look of the flagship U11.
HTC also hasn’t skimped when it comes to features. Like its older brother and Google’s latest Pixels, the U11 Life has a squeeze-sensitive frame for various actions, and there are also 16MP cameras on either side of the phone.
As for specs, the U11 Life offers a Snapdragon 630 processor, 3GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, IP67 dust/water resistance, and a 2,600 mAh battery that charges over USB-C. There’s no headphone jack, but you do get a set of uSonic active noise canceling headphones in the box. That’s a pretty good package for the $299 price tag, and it’s even better thanks to the recent Android Oreo update.
In Europe, you’ll be able to own the HTC U11 Life as an Android One device, but in the States, it’s being sold exclusively through T-Mobile for $300.
After making its debut overseas earlier this year, LG’s most affordable bezel-light device has recently come to the United States thanks to Amazon’s Prime Exclusive program. The LG Q6 offers up a 1080p 5.5-inch 18:9 display with slim bezels for just $229. If you’re going for looks at a low price, it certainly doesn’t disappoint.
As for specs, the LG Q6 has a Snapdragon 435 processor, 3,000 mAh battery, Android 7.1 Nougat, 3GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, and a microSD card. It even has a facial recognition unlock feature to make up for the lack of a fingerprint sensor.
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.
Moto E4 Plus
One of Motorola’s many smartphones for 2017 is the Moto E4 Plus. This mid-range phone seems pretty average at a glance, but it packs a ton of power under the hood — literally. With a giant 5,000 mAh battery powering this phone, you’ll see battery life for days, especially thanks to the power efficient chipset and lower-resolution display.
The Moto E4 Plus also offers up a Snapdragon 427 processor, 2GB of RAM, and 16GB or 32GB of storage depending on the model you select. Further, the phone has a 13MP rear camera, front-facing camera with flash, and a full-metal design with a fingerprint sensor. For its starting price of $180, it’s a solid value, especially with its battery capacity.
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.
Alcatel Idol 5
If you’re looking for a sub-$200 device for Cricket Wireless, one of your best options is the Alcatel Idol 5. While it ditches things like the glass build and fingerprint sensor of some of its siblings, the Idol 5 is a respectable offering.
The Alcatel Idol 5 is an aluminum-clad smartphone with a 5.2-inch 1080p display, Mediatek Helio P20 octa-core processor, 2GB of RAM, and 32GB of storage. There’s also a microsSD slot, USB-C port with fast charging, a headphone jack, and 12MP/8MP cameras. You’re not exactly getting a flagship experience, but for the $149 Cricket asks for this phone, it’s a good offering.
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.