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 some of the best affordable Android devices you can buy today.
NEW FROM IFA 2018:
BlackBerry Key2 LE
Announced at IFA 2018 this year, BlackBerry is bringing the physical keyboard to its most affordable price point yet. The new BlackBerry Key2 LE trades out a few specifications of the standard Key2 for a much lower price point of $399. For that price, you’re getting essentially the same experience, though.
The Key2 LE has, more or less, same dimensions as the Key2, but with a less weighty and plastic build, but it also has the same 4.5-inch 1650×1080 display and Android 8.1 Oreo. Where this device differs is in the specifications. At the core of this device is a Snapdragon 636 chipset, a slight downgrade from the Snapdragon 660 in the standard Key2, as well as 4GB of RAM and 32GB of storage (64GB tier also available). While that’s certainly a downgrade, it’s nothing that should alter the experience too much. There’s also a 3,000 mAh battery and 13MP/5MP camera setup.
Sales haven’t opened up for the Key2 LE just yet, but they should be open during the month of September starting at $399 for the 32GB model ($449 for 64GB, €399 EUR / £349 GBP / $519). Available colors include “Atomic,” “Champagne,” and “Slate.”
LG G7 One
A surprise from IFA 2018 came from LG in the form of the LG G7 One. This is LG’s first entry into Android One, and it’s a pretty fascinating offering. The device offers a lot of the perks of the standard LG G7 ThinQ, but in a package that has cleaner software and, presumably, a lower price point. We don’t know what that price is just yet though, so for now, we’re going to leave this on both of our best phones lists.
Taking a look at what the LG G7 One offers, there’s a Snapdragon 835 paired with 32GB of storage, 4GB of RAM, and Android 8.1 Oreo without any of LG’s skin. There’s also only one 16MP camera on the rear. LG has also brought over the same IP68-rated metal and glass build, Boombox speaker, and the 6.1-inch LCD notched SuperBright display. It also has the same Google Assistant button on the side and a headphone jack with 32-bit HiFi DAC.
NEW FOR SEPTEMBER:
Xiaomi Pocophone F1
While this one isn’t coming to the States, well, ever, it’s hard to ignore this beast when you’re talking about affordable Android smartphones. Xiaomi’s spin-off brand Pocophone F1 is a $300~ Android smartphone for international markets that packs a Snapdragon 845, 6.18-inch display, 6/8GB of RAM, 64/256GB of storage, a 4,000 mAh battery, Android 8.1 Oreo, USB-C, a headphone jack, and even dual-cameras. The phone will be available in select regions and pricing will vary, but it’s a killer value if you live in an area where you can scoop one up.
For those looking for an ultra-cheap smartphone, Alcatel is adding on to the Alcatel 1X with an even less expensive device, the Alcatel 1. This $79 smartphone runs on top of Android Oreo (Go Edition) and packs an 18:9 5-inch 960×480 display, quad-core MediaTek chipset, 1GB of RAM, 16GB of storage, a 5MP rear camera, and LTE on GSM carriers. The phone is available now on Amazon.
FROM EARLIER THIS YEAR:
Nokia made its return to the smartphone space just over a year ago, and in the time since it’s seen some major success. Now, the company is starting to roll out its various releases for 2018, and that starts with the Nokia 6.1.
A follow-up to last year’s Nokia 6, the 6.1 refreshes that successful phone with updated specs, a refined design, and inclusion in Google’s Android One program. The phone is powered by a Snapdragon 630 processor, has a 5.5-inch display with on-screen navigation, a rear-facing fingerprint sensor, 16MP dual-camera, and USB-C for fast charging. That’s all wrapped up in a metal body with a 3,000 mAh battery.
Out of the box the phone runs on top of Android Oreo and as part of the Android One program, it’ll definitely be getting updated on the regular. Unfortunately, this one is limited to GSM carriers only, meaning you’ll need to be using AT&T or T-Mobile as far as major networks go here in the States.
If you’re interested in picking up the Nokia 6.1, it’s available now from Amazon or Best Buy for $269.
Moto G. Over the years, that lineup has evolved a lot, but its core remains the same – an awesome Android phone for an affordable price point.
For 2018, we’ve got the Moto G6 family. This set of three Android smartphones takes a few design cues from the well-received Moto X4, but with some choice alterations. Firstly, let’s establish that in the United States, only the Moto G6 and Moto G6 Play will be available, with the higher-end G6 Plus being restricted to other regions (for the time being anyway).
The standard Moto G6 arrives with a Snapdragon 450 under the hood paired with 3GB/4GB of RAM, and 32/64GB of storage. There’s a 5.9-inch, 18:9 2160×1080 display up front, as well as a dual-camera system around back that has a primary 12MP sensor backed up by a 5MP sensor for “depth.” There’s also a fingerprint sensor on this device at the bottom of the display, as well as USB-C for charging.
With the Moto G6 Play, you’ll save $50 but lose out on quite a bit. Here, you’re getting a smaller 5.7-inch 18:9 1440×720 display without a fingerprint sensor, as well as just a single 13MP rear camera. Under the hood, the phone is powered by the Snapdragon 427 with 2/3GB of RAM, and just 16GB of storage. It’s not a terrible package, but the only truly redeeming quality is the 4,000 mAh battery (that charges over microUSB).
At $249 and $199 respectively, these aren’t terrible phones by any means. In fact, with Oreo out of the box and support for all US carriers, they’re quite good. My one reservation, though, is Motorola’s update policy which is, to be frank, pathetic this year. We’ve got more on that in another article, but basically, don’t expect on-time security updates or a timely Android P update.
If you’re interested in picking up the Moto G6 or Moto G6 Play, hit up the links below.
Moto Z3 Play
While the Moto Z lineup as a whole hasn’t really been popular this year, the “Z Play” collection has been a great option year by year. For 2018, the Moto Z3 Play delivers a refresh to the Z2 Play, this time with better specs, a refreshed design, and some extras for the price point.
The Moto Z3 Play’s biggest change comes in the form of the design. The metal back of the Z2 is gone, replaced with a glass back more akin to the original Moto Z Play. As you’d expect, the device still works with Moto Mods, meaning there are still pins towards the bottom and a big camera bump at the top.
Up front, though, things have been refreshed a lot more. The display is now a larger 6.01-inch 18:9 panel with on-screen navigation keys. It has slimmer bezels all around, and the fingerprint sensor has been pushed over to the side of the device as well.
As for specifications, the Moto Z3 Play runs on top of a Snapdragon 636 processor paired with 4GB of RAM and either 32GB or 64GB of internal storage. It also offers Android 8.1 Oreo out of the box and a 3,000 mAh battery w/ fast charging over USB-C. There’s also a dual 12MP/5MP camera setup on the back and an 8MP sensor up front.
Pricing on the Moto Z3 Play lands at $499 (or $449 through Amazon’s Prime Exclusive program) unlocked for all carriers. The phone also ships with a Moto Battery Mod in the box. Orders are open now through Amazon, Best Buy, B&H Photo, Motorola, and more.
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 that is half of most other options on the market. 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. The Honor View10 is available now.
Nokia’s rise to fame in the Android space has been thanks in large part to its affordable devices, and not long ago, the company launched the Nokia 3.1. This device might not impress on paper, but with an affordable price and stellar support, it’s easy to recommend.
The Nokia 3.1 is powered by a MediaTek MT6750 chipset, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of storage, and a 2,990 mAh battery. It also has a 5.2-inch HD+ display, 13MP rear camera, and 8MP front-facing camera. That’s a pretty simple package, but for just $159, it’s a solid offering.
The biggest selling point here, though, is software. Nokia has made a big commitment to updates with the Android One program, and for the Nokia 3.1, that means you’ll be buying an affordable device that will get timely security updates, and even a guaranteed Android Pie upgrade.
Sony Xperia XA2/Ultra
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 and both phones are promised Android Pie upgrades.
One of our favorite devices from last year 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. If you want decent updates, though, the Android One variant is your best bet.
Alcatel is a pretty respectable brand when it comes to budget smartphones, and in 2018 the company has launched a lot of affordable devices with 18:9 displays. Its latest is the Alcatel 7, and it brings a fair bit to its $179 price tag.
As mentioned, there’s an 18:9 display which measures in at 6-inches diagonally. There’s an octa-core 2.5GHz MediaTek MT6763 processor, 2GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, Android Oreo, a rear fingerprint sensor, and face unlocking. The cameras around back are a 12MP/2MP dual setup, and on the front, you’ll find a single 8MP shooter. There’s also a 4,000 mAh battery.
The Alcatel 7 is a pretty solid overall package, but it’s unfortunately only available for MetroPCS users. The phone is exclusively available there for $179.99, or as low as $129 with select offers.
Alcatel is no stranger to inexpensive devices, and the company is just continually getting better at making them. This year, one of the most intriguing smartphones Alcatel has to offer is the Alcatel 3V. This $150 Android smartphone is pretty standard when it comes to specs, but it wraps them up in a good-looking device that you don’t often find at this price point.
Under the hood, the Alcatel 3V is powered by a MediaTek MT8735A processor which is paired with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of internal storage. There’s also microSD support and a sizable 3,000 mAh battery which, unfortunately, charges over microUSB.
The main attraction here is the design. Alcatel has gone for a design similar to what we’ve been seeing with flagship devices including the reflective back, 2.5D curved glass around the display, and a taller 18:9 aspect ratio with slim bezels. The display itself measures in at 6-inches and is a 1080p panel which you don’t often see at this price point.
On the software side, the phone comes with Android Oreo with Alcatel’s fairly light skin. The company even built-in a Face Unlock option using the 5MP front-facing camera.
Speaking of cameras, the Alcatel 3V offers a dual-camera setup on the back comprised of a 12MP sensor with a 5MP sensor for depth (used for portrait mode). You’ll also find an LED flash on the back and the front of the phone.
As mentioned, the Alcatel 3V costs $149 and is available now from retailers such as Amazon for use on GSM carriers.
Android Go Devices:
On this list, you’ll generally find phones that range from around $100 up to about $500. Of course, sometimes even less expensive phones are needed, but we’ve often avoided listing those because, well, really cheap Android phones are generally pretty terrible. Google is trying to fix that, though, with the arrival of Android Go, and Alcatel’s 1X is one of the first devices available in the US with it.
There’s nothing on the Alcatel 1X that qualifies it as a high-end device. The phone is powered by a MediaTek chipset, has a just 1GB of RAM and 16GB of storage, and a measly 960×480 5-inch display. Android Go is its saving grace, though, as early reports gave the phone a lot of credit for running it well on such minimal specs.
If you’re interested in picking up the Alcatel 1X, it’s available now through Amazon for $99 and works on GSM carriers.
Asus ZenFone Live
Android Go hasn’t made too much of a splash in the market just yet, but Asus recently jumped on board with its first option – the ZenFone Live. This $109 smartphone is pretty bare bones, but a bit better equipped compared to other Android Go devices we’ve seen.
It has a 5.5-inch 18:9 HD display, 16GB of storage, a 3,000 mAh battery, 8MP/5MP cameras, dual-SIM support, and just 1GB of RAM. That RAM, though, is paired with a Snapdragon 425 chipset which is much more powerful than what’s seen in other Android Go devices. The ZenFone Live also comes with Android 8.1 Oreo, but it has Asus’ ZenUI over top.
As mentioned, pricing lands at $109 and the phone is available now from Best Buy for GSM carriers.
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