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.
The best gifts for Android users
NEW FOR MARCH:
After debuting in China last year, Honor is bringing its View10 flagship to the United States. This device packs flagship specs into a price tag half of many on the market today. At $499 unlocked, it impressively offers a Kirin 970, the same chipset powering the Huawei Mate 10 Pro.
Alongside that powerful chipset, there’s 6GB of RAM, Android Oreo, and a whopping 128GB of storage. You won’t find anything else packing that sort of power under $500. There’s also an 18:9 display and dual-camera array on the back, all with Huawei’s EMUI skin which is… fine.
The main reason this phone is worth considering is admittedly its price and its price alone. It’s rare to find such a good value with so few strings attached. Honor starts shipping the Honor View10 in the US starting March 22nd, and pre-orders are open now.
COMING SOON FROM MWC:
Nokia 6 (2018) and Nokia 7 Plus
MWC saw a lot of new devices, but Nokia was one of the biggest highlights. Its new lineup of smartphones are all part of Google’s reinvigorated Android One program, and they bring a lot to the table. That’s true of the more affordable options as well, including the Nokia 6 (2018) and Nokia 7 Plus.
The Nokia 6 (2018) offers a similar design and metal build just like its predecessor. Under the hood, though, it offers a Snapdragon 630 processor, up to 4GB of RAM, Android 8.0 Oreo, and a 3,000 mAh battery which includes USB-C this time around. All-around, it looks like an excellent improvement.
Nokia’s new 7 Plus, on the other hand, is a much bigger deal. This is the company’s first device with an 18:9 display, and it’s a pretty compelling overall package. There’s a 6-inch 2180×1080 display, Snapdragon 660 processor, dual-camera array headlined by a 12MP sensor, and 4GB of RAM. Impressively, there’s a 3,800 mAh battery to keep this device powered up, which means it will probably have pretty incredible battery life.
Both of these devices will be available in April.
Android Go – The solution for the ultra-cheap
The biggest story for affordable phones at MWC was the arrival of Android Go. This new program from Google optimizes Android for ultra low-end hardware with specs as low as just 1GB of RAM. We saw a ton of new hardware at the show, and it’s coming to regions all over the globe, including the US.
If you want to catch up on all the announcements, check out our roundup from earlier this month.
FROM EARLIER THIS YEAR:
One of the most notable releases in the affordable space has been the Moto X4 from Motorola. The return of the well-known Moto X line is totally different this time around than it was in years past, but it brings a lot of interesting things to the table.
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 water and dust 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, through outlets like Amazon. Pricing lands at a pretty 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.
Huawei’s sub-brand Honor has done a lot in the past few years to expand its US presence, and the X series of phones has been a major part of that. The 5X was a hit with the press and the public, and last year’s Honor 6X was a pretty awesome device as well.
Now, though, we’ve got the Honor 7X. This $199 device has been on sale in the US for a fair bit, and it’s one of the best you can get right now.
The Honor 7X has a lot of impressive selling points for its low price tag. That includes a Kirin 659 processor, 3GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, a huge 3,340 mAh battery, and Android Nougat. That’s a pretty nice package for the price tag, and the 5.93-inch FHD 18:9 display up front is certainly a highlight. There’s also a fingerprint sensor and a dual-camera array (16MP/2MP).
I’ve spent a bit of time using the Honor 7X personally, and it’s a pretty excellent device overall. At the very least, it’s ready to compete with the rest of the budget Android market, and should absolutely be on your list of considerations. You can pick up an Honor 7X from Honor’s website or from Amazon for $199.
Sony Xperia XA2
Sony isn’t mentioned much in the United States, but its latest devices are worth a shout-out. The Xperia XA2 and XA2 Ultra debuted at CES 2018 with one stand-out change, a refreshed design that finally delivered fingerprint sensors that work in the United States.
Out of the box, the Xperia XA2 family runs on top of Android Oreo and packs some decent specifications such as the Snapdragon 630 chipset, 3GB of RAM, and 32GB of storage.
Sony’s 23MP camera sensor supports 4K recording and 120fps slow-motion video, and there’s also a 16MP front-facing wide-angle camera (with OIS on the Ultra) as well.
Further, there are some pretty big batteries in these phones. The smaller Xperia XA2 with its 5.2-inch FHD display has a 3,300 mAh battery. The XA2 Ultra with its larger 6-inch 1080p display packs an even bigger battery, now at 3,580 mAh.
Both phones are available in black, blue, silver, and gold. Pricing starts at $349 for the XA2 and jumps up to $449 for the Ultra. Orders are open now at Best Buy.
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 Android Oreo being installed out of the box.
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.
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.
LG Q6 (Prime Exclusive)
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 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.
The Alcatel IDOL 5S also supports all carriers, both GSM and CDMA included.- 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.