You don’t need a flagship to get a good Android experience, not anymore. With initiatives like Android One and Android Go, Google has made mid-range and even low-range devices usable again. With so many on the market now, it’s hard to tell which ones are even worth your time. Let’s dig through and get to know the best affordable Android phones you can buy, as of January 2019.
BEST AFFORDABLE ANDROID PHONES – JANUARY 2019
The best Android One device you can get, with Nokia durability
With the Nokia 7.1, the company is solidifying its strong comeback in the world of Android, having spent enough years chasing after the Windows Phone market. 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 has a 5.8-inch 1080p notched display with HDR support.
Running on Android One, the Nokia 7.1 offers the absolute best of stock Android, without any OEM tastes, styles, or opinions getting in the way. This makes for a much snappier experience than you would expect from a phone less than half the price of most flagships. The Nokia 7.1 even recently received an update to Android Pie late last year.
For cameras, the Nokia 7.1 showcases a 12MP rear camera supported by a 5MP camera used to sense depth for things like the bokeh effect. There’s also an 8MP camera hiding in the display notch, for your selfie needs.
Why it’s the best affordable Android phone you can buy:
As our own Damien Wilde noted in his full review of the Nokia 7.1, the phone is tough, as we’ve all come to expect. In the era of dropping a phone and breaking the phone, Nokia devices were joked to instead break the floor. Some of this ruggedness carries through in the Nokia 7.1, offering sturdy metal edges and a healthy amount of weight in the hands. However, the glass back detracts from its durable form.
Its durability, spec sheet, and 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.
Where to buy Nokia 7.1:
The Nokia 7.1 is available in two colors, Blue and Steel, both ringing in at $349. Like most other devices in our list, the Nokia 7.1 is not available direct from carriers, but the unlocked version will work with any GSM carriers in the US.
Motorola Moto G6 / G6 Play
The best Android phones under $250
In recent years, Motorola has been the definitive affordable phone maker, offering solid, consistent (if sometimes uninspired) devices. In particular, their Moto G series has been a mainstay of the affordable Android phone market. Last year’s Moto G6 lineup continues the tradition of offering fair specs at a fair price.
Motorola Moto G6 offers a solid Snapdragon 450, 3GB of RAM, and 32GB of storage. On the surface, the standard Moto G6 also features a 5.9-inch, 2160×1080 display, dual rear cameras, and a fingerprint sensor.
For a $50 lower retail price, the Moto G6 Play brings the Snapdragon 427, 2GB of RAM, and 16GB of storage space. These internal reductions are matched by a smaller 5.7-inch, 1440×720 display, a single rear camera, and no fingerprint sensor.
Why it’s the best affordable Android phone you can buy:
This combination of specs with a $250 retail price make the Moto G6 a solid 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 be updated to Android Pie at some point in the future.
If you’re fine with further compromise, the Moto G6 Play retails for $199, offering the same overall experience with downgraded but comparable specs. Whether or not settling for the lesser specs is worth saving $50 is not an easy decision.
At time of writing though, the standard Moto G6 is available on Amazon for a cool $180, making it the clear winner.
Where to buy Motorola Moto G6:
The Motorola Moto G6 family is available directly from a few carriers (including Google Fi) and retailers, but the best deal at time of writing is through Amazon.
- Amazon – Moto G6
- Amazon – Moto G6 Play
- Google Fi – Moto G6
- Verizon – Moto G6
- Verizon – Moto G6 Play
- AT&T – Moto G6 Play
- Best Buy – Moto G6
- Best Buy – Moto G6 Play
Xiaomi Pocophone F1
The best phone not coming to the United States
The Xiaomi Pocophone F1 manages to strike an excellent balance. The important flagship specs to make the phone as fast as you could ever need are matched by sensible compromises to keep the Android device affordable.
In raw specifications, the Pocophone F1 outpaces or at least matches flagship contenders like the Pixel 3 and OnePlus 6T, packing a Snapdragon 845, 6GB of RAM, 128GB or 256GB of storage, and a headphone jack to boot.
With a retail price of around $300 USD, you’re likely wondering how Xiaomi has managed to pull this off. The answer is compromises. While most “flagship” phones are built with premium materials like glass, aluminum, or stainless steel, the Pocophone F1 is simply plastic.
The Pocophone F1 also uses an unimpressive 5.99-inch, 2246×1080 resolution display. As Damien notes in his review the screen itself also attracts smudges and dirt. Under the surface, Xiaomi also cut NFC capabilities, which means wireless payment solutions like Google Pay are unavailable (though this could be resolved with the right Wear OS device).
Some may also consider the Pocophone’s use of Xiaomi’s MIUI to be a downside. If you’re unfamiliar, suffice it to say, don’t expect the traditional Android experience on the Pocophone F1. Unlike many devices on this list though, the Pocophone F1 has received the update to Android Pie, which is a plus.
Why it’s the best affordable Android phone you can buy:
The Xiaomi Pocophone F1 is optimized for those who want a high-powered phone but don’t have a flagship budget. Coming in at prices that translate to about $300 in the US, the Xiaomi Pocophone F1 is an obvious choice for many enthusiasts in the European market, including the UK.
Unfortunately, the Pocophone F1 is entirely unavailable in North America, and has little-to-no support for the cell bands used by US carriers. This means you shouldn’t even attempt to import it, as it outright will not work.
Where to buy Xiaomi Pocophone F1:
Where you can buy the Xiaomi Pocophone F1 and how much it will cost varies from country to country. The official Pocophone website has a proper list of where to buy the phone depending on your country.
OTHER EXCELLENT AFFORDABLE ANDROID SMARTPHONES
Blackberry Key2 LE
The Blackberry Key2 LE knows its target audience, anyone and everyone who used (and loved) the classic physical keyboard on any number of older Blackberry devices. That target audience will take great comfort that, despite being an Android, the Key2 LE is most definitely still a Blackberry, physical keyboard and all.
(Check out Ben Schoon’s review of the last-gen Keyone to get an idea of what to expect from the keyboard.)
Blackberry also comforted our wallets by offering the Key2 LE, with mid-grade internals inside the same standard Key2 exterior, for almost half the price. On the inside, the Key2 LE rocks a Snapdragon 636, 4GB of RAM, and 64GB of storage.
Simply put, if you miss your old Blackberry, the Android-powered Key2LE is almost a no-brainer at an affordable $449 retail.
Motorola Moto Z3 Play
With a Snapdragon 636, 4GB of RAM, 64GB of storage space, and a 3,000mAh battery, the Moto Z3 Play seems like any other affordable Android phone on this list. What makes it special is the ability to add on Motorola’s signature Moto Mods, which can deliver things like a bigger battery, a better camera, or even a full on projector.
The Moto Z3 Play is definitely targeted at those who believe that smartphones can be more. For some, as our Damien Wilde points out in his review, the device’s modular nature can be, instead, frustrating.
Honor View 10
Huawei’s Honor sub-brand is focused on making great, budget-friendly Android phones, and the Honor View 10 is no exception. For a retail price of $499 (now down to about $395 on Amazon), you get a Kirin 970 processor, 6GB of RAM, and 128GB of storage space.
Unlike some newer phones from Huawei, the Honor View 10 should work on some American carriers, including some 4G support. While the release of the Honor View 20 is just around the corner, it likely won’t have the same support for US carriers. If you’re stateside, you’ll want to pick up the View 10, otherwise, consider waiting for the View 20.
The only gaming phone on this list is the Honor Play, also from Huawei’s budget-friendly sub-brand Honor. With the Kirin 970 processor, 4GB of RAM, 64GB of storage space and a microSD card slot, the Honor Play is ready to tear through whatever games you may throw at it.
It’s very rare to see “budget-friendly” and “gaming” together these days, especially in the world of Android phones. With a retail price of about $286 though, the Honor Play is an easy choice for gamers looking for a dedicated device. I’m also a touch partial to this phone due to its use by Huawei to test Fuchsia.
Unfortunately, like many newer Huawei devices, the Honor Play is hampered by its very limited support for American wireless networks.
Sony Xperia XA2 / XA2 Ultra
Unless you’re a fan of industrial design, the Sony Xperia XA2 and XA2 Ultra are, admittedly, nothing to look at. With sharp-looking corners, large upper and lower bezels, and an interesting front-facing camera and sensor array, they’re certainly not the best looking phones on this list. But what the Sony Xperia XA2 and XA2 Ultra lack in visuals, they make up for in specs and value.
The base XA2 model packs a Snapdragon 630, 3GB of RAM, 32GB of storage (expandable via microSD), a 3,300mAh battery, and a 1920×1080 IPS display. The 8MP front and 23MP rear cameras should be more than enough for your inner photographer. This model retails for $299, but has been seen as low as $200.
The Xperia XA2 Ultra steps it up a notch with 4GB of RAM, a 3,580mAh battery, and the ability to record videos in 4K. The XA2 Ultra typically runs $399, but you can sometimes find it for around $250.
The first of many Alcatel phones on our list, the Alcatel 7 has quite the spec sheet for its price. Rocking a MediaTek MT6763, 2GB of RAM, and 32GB of storage, the Alcatel 7 is a capable Android Oreo phone that won’t break the bank at $179.99. The 6-inch 2180×1080 resolution display, 4000mAh battery charged via USB-C, and rear fingerprint sensor sweeten the deal further.
The phone’s unassuming 12MP/2MP rear cameras, with support for the portrait/bokeh effect, will likely surprise you with what a budget phone can offer.
Unfortunately all the specs in the world can’t save the Alcatel 7 from its exclusivity to MetroPCS. If you do happen to be a MetroPCS customer though, this is a great deal that is at least worth considering.
Unlike its sibling above, the Alcatel 3V is available unlocked from multiple retailers. At $149.99, the Alcatel 3V offers a MediaTek MT8735A, a 2180×1080 resolution display, 2GB of RAM, and 16GB of storage. Like the Alcatel 7, the 3V offers the portrait/bokeh effect for its 12MP/2MP rear cameras.
The Alcatel 3V comes with a lightly-themed Android Oreo with support for both face and fingerprint unlocking. But where it really shines is its design, which keeps in-step with some recent flagships. From the exterior, you’d have a bit of trouble of telling that the Alcatel 3V is not a more premium device, given the extremely glossy shine on the plastic back.
It’s worth noting that the Alcatel 3V only supports GSM carriers.
EXCELLENT ANDROID ONE SMARTPHONES
If you’re looking for the stock Android experience, look no further than Android One. Android One is Google’s push for consistency, against the well-meaning but sometimes power-hungry OEM themes placed on top of Android. Devices running Android One have an almost Pixel-like stock Android experience.
Also, by being able to skip porting (or updating) their custom theme to the latest version of Android, manufacturers are normally able to bring the latest versions of Android and security updates to Android One devices in a timely manner. As far as affordable Android phones go, it’s hard not to recommend one running Android One.
Compared to the Nokia 7.1, our current top-dog for budget phones, the Nokia 6.1 is a step downward in many aspects, including price. For about $150 less (almost half), you can get a Snapdragon 630, 3GB of RAM, and 32GB of storage all on the same consistent Android One experience. The Nokia 6.1 is also one of the few devices on this list to run on Android Pie, as it received the update at the end of October.
The Nokia 6.1 has a somewhat smaller display resolution than the 7.1, 1920×1080, but this can be accounted for by the device’s lack of a notch. For those who truly dislike the notch, this is the Nokia phone for you.
You really can’t go wrong with an Android One phone, especially an affordable and well-built one from the likes of Nokia. If you’re in the market for an Android phone with a budget of about $200, the Nokia 6.1 is the clear and obvious choice.
The only issue is that both Nokia phones only support GSM networks in the US.
Motorola Moto X4
As the first Android One phone to reach the US, you would think the Motorola Moto X4 would be showing its age. Thanks to Android One, this is not the case. In fact, the Moto X4, which launched with Android Nougat, has been updated to Android Pie.
Under the hood, the Moto X4 features a Snapdragon 630, 3GB of RAM, and 32GB of storage, all very competitive in the Android One space, despite being released at the end of 2017. Where the Moto X4 stands out is its hefty dual rear cameras, weighing in at 12MP and 8MP.
Like most other Android One phones, the Motorola Moto X4 is easily affordable at the low price of $189.99. Another feather in the Moto X4’s cap is its availability directly from Google Fi. This means it fully supports the network switching used by Google Fi to maximize coverage.
Nokia has truly cornered the market for great affordable Android One phones. The lowest model in Nokia’s Android One lineup, the Nokia 3.1 features a MediaTek MT6750 processor with 2GB of RAM and only 16GB of storage space. The device comes in three colors, black, white, & blue, with white being my personal favorite.
Despite these significantly reduced specs, compared to the 6.1 and 7.1, the Nokia 3.1 is still easy to recommend, as Android One will ensure you have a stable, consistent Android experience with a guaranteed upgrade to at least Android Pie. As you would expect, the lower specs also mean a lower price, with the Nokia 3.1 ringing in at $159 retail.
As you may expect, the Nokia 3.1 also only works on GSM networks in the US.
EXCELLENT ANDROID GO SMARTPHONES
Android Go specializes in making Android work for the tightest of budgets of all kinds — financial, mobile data, storage, etc. Android Go includes slimmed down versions of the Google apps you know and love, that also slim down on data usage where possible.
If it hasn’t already been made clear, Alcatel takes making affordable Android phones very seriously, and the Alcatel 1X, the first Android Go phone, is no exception. For the easily affordable price of $99, the Alcatel 1X features a MediaTek chip, 1GB of RAM, 16GB of storage, and a tiny 960×480 display.
Despite the otherwise meager specs, Android Go is able to compensate and make the phone feel “quick,” according to hands-on reports.
At CES this year, Alcatel unveiled a revamped 1X for 2019 and the new Alcatel 1C. Neither model has launched yet, but may be worth considering, if you’re able to wait before buying.
As with many other devices on this list, the Alcatel 1X only supports GSM carriers in the US.
Asus ZenFone Live
At the same $100 or less price point, the Asus ZenFone Live is a very solid choice, for an affordable Android Go phone. In fact, it even sports a Snapdragon 425 processor and a 1440×720 display, which is more than can be said for most other Android Go phones released so far.
Otherwise, the ZenFone Live’s specs are still weak, but fitting for the price range, with 1GB of RAM, 16GB of storage. You also still have Asus’s ZenUI 5 laid on top of Android Oreo (Go edition).