It’s that time of the year again: time to start buying gifts for the friends and loved ones in your life. For many, a new phone would make a perfect gift, but not all of us have the budget to give a flagship phone. We’ve slimmed down the massive number of affordable phones on the market to five in our Best Affordable Android Phones Gift Guide.
THE BEST AFFORDABLE ANDROID PHONES
The best Android One phone on the market
It used to be when you thought about affordable Android phones, that the idea of a slow, clunky experience would come to mind. Thanks to Android One, this is no longer the case. Android One strips back the layers that OEMs normally stack on top of Android that slow it down, delivering a stock Android experience.
After years of chasing the Windows Phone market, Nokia has returned to making Android devices. With the Nokia 7.1, the company has managed to deliver the best Android One phone we’ve seen thus far. Powered by a Snapdragon 636 processor, the Nokia 7.1 features 4GB of RAM, 64GB of storage, 3000mAh battery, dual SIM card slots, a microSD card slot, a headphone port, and a fingerprint scanner. The phone also has a 5.8-inch 1080p notched display with HDR support.
As noted by our Damien Wilde in his full review of the phone, the Nokia 7.1 is as tough as the Nokia name implies. This durability, a solid spec sheet, and the inclusion of still-loved features that many flagships have dropped, like the microSD card slot and the headphone jack, make the Nokia 7.1 an easy recommendation, even if you weren’t specifically in the market for an “affordable” Android phone.
As the Nokia 7.1 has hit the market only days ago, the chances of a Black Friday deal are slim, but with a retail price of $350, it’s an excellent gift choice.
Where to buy the Nokia 7.1:
An incredible deal when on sale
For all intents and purposes, the Essential Phone is a flagship device with top-notch specs (for 2017) and premium build materials. Beyond the hardware, Essential also has the best device support from any third-party OEM. For example, it’s not uncommon for the Essential Phone to receive the latest Android updates within hours of them hitting the Google Pixel devices.
Despite being a 2017 phone in what is now the end of 2018, the Essential Phone is still quite relevant, having just received its second attachable accessory. The long-awaited and newly released Essential Audio Adapter HD boosts the phone with a 3.5mm headphone jack and a high-quality DAC for $149.
The Essential Phone is the phone to watch for in Black Friday sales and beyond. When it last went on sale, for Amazon’s Prime Day, the Essential Phone was a steal at $250 – 50% off it’s already low $500 price. No retailers have announced a sale for the Essential Phone yet, but be sure to follow 9to5Toys for this and all the best deals this season.
Where to buy the Essential Phone
Motorola Moto G6
The best Android phone under $250
Motorola is the perfect example of an affordable phone maker as it has offered plenty of options over the years in their Moto G series. Their latest, the Motorola Moto G6, continues the tradition, offering a solid Snapdragon 450, 3GB of RAM, and 32GB of storage. On the surface, the Motorola Moto G6 also features a 5.9-inch, 2160×1080 display, dual rear cameras, and a fingerprint sensor.
This combination of specs with a $250 retail price make it a solid gift option without breaking the bank. Of course that price tag comes with some compromise, as the device will not receive regular monthly security updates, but should receive Android Pie at some point in the future. The Moto G6 is actually on sale now from Best Buy for $199, making the deal even sweeter.
Where to buy the Moto G6
Blackberry Key2 LE
Productivity above all
For many people, especially in the business world, there’s nothing quite like a Blackberry and its signature physical keyboard. The Blackberry Key2 LE brings the iconic keyboard to modern Android in an affordable package.
The Blackberry Key2 LE, a step down from the more premium Key2, features a Snapdragon 636 processor with 4GB of RAM, 32GB and 64GB storage options, and a 3000mAh battery. Of course the star of the show is the 35-key backlit QWERTY keyboard with a fingerprint sensor embedded in the space key.
Despite being focused on the business and productivity markets, the Blackberry Key2 LE offers decent media options. These include two respectable cameras, 15MP rear and 5MP front, and a 4.5-inch 1650×1080 display.
With a retail price of $449, the Blackberry Key2 LE would make an excellent gift for anyone still reminiscing of the original Blackberry or the early days of Android when external keyboards were standard.
Where to buy the Blackberry Key2 LE
Xiaomi Pocophone F1
The best phone outside of the United States
If I were to describe the Xiaomi Pocophone F1 in two words, I would say “optimized compromise.” One look at the spec sheet, and you would believe it was a flagship, meeting and even exceeding some of the Google Pixel 3’s specs. The Xiaomi Pocophone F1 rocks a Snapdragon 845, a massive 6GB of RAM, 64GB/128GB of storage and a 4000mAh battery. Xiaomi has also promised to update the Pocophone F1 to at least Android Q.
The compromises come from Xiaomi’s calculated cost cutting measures. For example, the phone is housed in plastic instead of a premium material like glass or metal. Also the Pocophone F1 does not have the necessary NFC hardware for services like Google Pay.
Coming in at a price roughly equivalent to $300, it’s an honest shame the device cannot be purchased or even used properly in the United States (lacking support for most US LTE bands). For the rest of the world, the Xiaomi Pocophone F1 is the perfect way to get a powerful Android phone on a budget. As of writing, the Pocophone F1 is actually 15% off on Amazon in the UK.