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.
NEW FOR MAY:
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.
Best Android Phones You Can Buy
Motorola basically defined what a budget Android smartphone should be years ago with the original 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.
Along with the Moto G6 family, Motorola also debuted the Moto E5 series earlier this year. Like the G6 family, these phones are aimed at the budget market, but in this case, we’re talking the ultra-budget sector. The Moto E5 and Moto E5 Plus have 5.7-inch and 6-inch 18:9 1440×720 displays, but the notable aspect of both of these phones are the battery sizes. On the E5, you get a 4,000 mAh power pack, with an even larger 5,000 mAh battery on the E5 Plus.
Both devices pack rear-facing fingerprint sensors hidden in the logo with designs similar to the Moto G6 and Moto G5 series. Unfortunately, it’s unclear at the moment when these phones are coming out, or how much they’ll cost. Stay tuned for more.
FROM EARLIER THIS YEAR:
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.
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. If you want decent updates, though, the Android One variant is your best bet.
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.
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.
The Q6 is available on Amazon right now both with and without ads ($229 with $299 w/o) and works with AT&T, T-Mobile, and any other GSM carriers.
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.
The Moto E4 Plus is available for purchase from Amazon ($139 as Prime Exclusive), Verizon, B&H Photo, Newegg, Best Buy, and other retailers.
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