Best cheap phones (July 2017)

There was a time, not all that long ago, that in order to own a powerful smartphone you would either need to commit to a two-year contract, or you would be expected to pay as much as $600 – $800. Thankfully this has changed considerably in the last few years. There are now several manufacturers that offer handsets that bring quality specs and yet are priced low enough you don’t need to take out a second mortgage or sign your life away to a carrier. In this article, we take a look at some of the best cheap phones on the market.

Now, obviously the idea of “low-cost” is somewhat subjective. For some folks it is anything under $300, for others it might mean devices that are under $200. With this in mind, we’ll bring you nine devices in all: three that are under $200, three that are under $300, and three that are under $400 — this way everyone wins.

As for how we’ll ‘rank’ the phones? Basically we are looking at a number of factors though price/value ratio is probably among one of the highest factors here. It is also worth mentioning that all devices on this list will be full unlocked, and off contract. For those US readers looking for even cheaper phones and don’t mind going with a locked-down handset through a prepaid carrier, you’ll want to check out our Cricket, AT&T, Boost, T-Mobile and Verizon prepaid lists.

Editor’s note – we will be updating this list as more devices hit the market. This article reflects things from a US/EU centric perspective, though many of these devices and pricing will apply to other international markets as well.

Best cheap phones under $200

Moto G4 Play

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Lenovo’s Moto G4 Play enters the market with a low price tag, solid specifications and a familiar design language we’ve all grown to love.

It sports a 5.0-inch HD display, solid Snapdragon 410 processor, 2 GB of RAM, and an 8 MP rear camera that’s great for snapping the occasional photo. Plus, you get a removable 2,800 mAh battery, which is a feature many manufacturers have been leaving out of their phones lately.

Specs

  • 5.0-inch IPS LCD display with 1280 x 720 resolution, 294 ppi
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 processor
  • 2 GB of RAM
  • 16 GB of on-board storage, microSD expansion up to 256 GB
  • 8 MP rear camera, 5 MP front camera
  • Removable 2,800 mAh battery
  • Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow
  • 144.4 x 72 x 9.9 mm, 137 g

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Motorola Moto E4

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The newly launched Motorola Moto E4 is the latest cheap phone from Lenovo-owned Motorola, and it continues the Moto tradition of bringing solid performance for as little money as possible. Many people don’t want to spend a lot of money to get a mobile phone, but they also don’t want a feature phone either that’s made mainly for voice and text messages. The Moto E4 is an Android 7.1 Nougat handset that also won’t break the bank.

The 5-inch phone has a plastic body, and inside it has the quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 425 processor, with a clock speed of 1.4 GHz. The display has a 1,280 x 720 resolution, and a decent amount of memory, with 2 GB of RAM. It has 16 GB of onboard storage, with a microSD card slot for adding up to 128 GB of additional storage. The front-facing camera is pretty good at 5 MP, while the rear camera has 8 MP, with features like autofocus, a four-piece composite lens, and LED flash. The Moto E4 has a removable 2,800 mAh battery that is supposed to offer a full day’s worth of use on a single charge. It even has a fingerprint sensor, which is something most new phones that are priced under $100 don’t have.

Overall, the Moto E4 won’t win any performance or design awards, but it manages to pack in some decent hardware specs in a package with a near rock bottom price tag. In the US, you can purchase the phone from Verizon Wireless for just $69.99 if you sign up for one of its pre-paid plans. If you don’t want to use Verizon, Amazon is also selling the Moto E4 in a version that will work with all four major US carriers  (AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, and Verizon). Amazon Prime members can buy it for $99.99, with lock screen ads, or anyone can get it without any Amazon ads for $129.99.

Specs

  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 425 1.4 GHz quad-core CPU
  • Adreno 308 GPU
  • Android 7.1 Nougat with Moto experiences
  • 5.0-inch 1,280x 720 HD display
  • 16 GB internal storage
  • microSD card support up to 128 GB
  • 2 GB RAM
  • 8MP rear camera with autofocus, 4 piece composite lens, and LED flash
  • 5MP front camera with selfie flash
  • Video Capture 1080p (30fps)
  • 2,800mAh removable battery

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Best cheap phones under $300

Moto G5 Plus

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If you’re in the market for an affordable, cheap phone for under $250, look no further. Lenovo’s Moto G5 Plus is one of the best cheap Android phones on the market, and for good reason.

The 1080p display is vibrant and perfect for watching YouTube videos and surfing the web, and the big 3,000 mAh battery will help keep you going all day long. Plus, with the Snapdragon 625 processor coupled with 2-4 GB of RAM, this thing can basically handle everything you throw at it.

And for those of you interested in a bare-bones software experience, you’ll be happy to hear that the G5 Plus runs a very slimmed-down version of Android 7.0 Nougat.

The Moto G5 Plus is reliable, sleek, and inexpensive.

Specs

  • 5.2-inch IPS LCD display with 1920 x 1080 resolution, 424 ppi
  • 2.0 GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor
  • 2/3/4 GB of RAM
  • 32/64 GB of on-board storage, microSD expansion up to 256 GB
  • 12 MP rear camera, 5 MP front camera
  • Non-removable 3,000 mAh battery
  • Android 7.0 Nougat
  • 150.2 x 74 x 7.7 mm, 155 g

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Honor 6X

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2015’s Honor 5X has been one of our favorite budget-friendly smartphones for a while, but its specifications and software have been aging a little bit lately. Luckily, Huawei’s sub-brand Honor is back with a successor to the 5X, aiming to win over the growing number of consumers looking for a great smartphone that won’t break the bank.

The Honor 6X sports a big 5.5-inch 1080p display, a zippy Kirin 655 processor, plenty of RAM, 32 or 64 GB of on-board storage and microSD card expansion up to 256 GB. This device also comes with a feature that we don’t often see on sub-$300 phones – a dual camera setup.

Perhaps our favorite part about this phone is the battery life. While a 3,340 mAh unit doesn’t seem all that big, it allowed our Honor 6X to last well into a second day on a single charge. Not bad at all!

This is one of the most competitive phones you’ll find in this price range. Dual cameras, a long-lasting battery, an excellent fingerprint sensor and an asking price of only $250… what more could you want?

Specs

  • 5.5-inch IPS LCD display with 1920 x 1080 resolution, 403 ppi
  • Octa-core HiSilicon Kirin 655 processor
  • 3/4 GB of RAM
  • 32/64 GB of on-board storage, microSD expansion up to 256 GB
  • Dual 12 and 2 MP rear cameras, 8 MP front camera
  • Non-removable 3,340 mAh battery
  • Android 7.0 Nougat
  • 150.9 x 76.2 x 8.2 mm, 162 g

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Moto G4 Plus

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The Moto G series has always been among the best cheap phones around, and things remain the same with Lenovo’s 2016 mid-ranger, the Moto G4 Plus. It has everything you’d want in an inexpensive smartphone: a big Full HD display, plenty of RAM and onboard storage, and also a great 16 MP rear-facing camera. This G4 Plus model also comes with a fingerprint sensor, which is a first for the Moto G line.

The best part? It’s available for just $250.

Specs

  • 5.5-inch IPS LCD display with 1920 x 1080 resolution, 401 ppi
  • Octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 processor
  • 2/3/4 GB of RAM
  • 16/32/64 GB of on-board storage, microSD expansion up to 256 GB
  • 16 MP rear camera, 5 MP front camera
  • Non-removable 3,000 mAh battery
  • Android 7.0 Nougat
  • 153 x 76.6 x 9.8 mm, 155 g

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Best cheap Android phones under $400

ZTE Axon 7

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ZTE’s Axon Pro from 2015 was a good phone, but it fell short in a few key areas. It came to market with only one storage option, no expandable memory, and the dual camera setup on the back of the device felt a bit gimmicky. Not only does the company’s latest flagship fix all of those problems, it brings much more to the table.

It has a big 5.5-inch Quad HD AMOLED display, the latest Snapdragon processor, plenty of RAM, multiple storage options, and yes, expandable memory up to 256 GB. It also sports some killer front-facing speakers, all-day battery life, a great camera, and a sleek, attractive design. While certain parts of the software could use a little more polish, the ZTE Axon 7 goes toe-to-toe with the best in the Android market. It’s also inexpensive at only $400, making this an even more attractive option for folks looking to score a cheap Android phone that has flagship prowess.

Specs

  • 5.5-inch AMOLED display with 2560 x 1440 resolution, 538 ppi
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor
  • 4/6 GB of RAM
  • 64/128 GB of on-board storage, microSD expansion up to 256 GB
  • 20 MP front camera, 8 MP rear camera
  • Non-removable 3,250 mAh battery
  • Android 7.1.1 Nougat
  • 151.7 x 75 x 7.9 mm, 175 g

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Honor 8

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Huawei has brought what many have wanted from an affordable flagship for a while now: a gorgeous design, a smaller size, and a great camera. In addition, the Honor 8’s excellent performance and IR blaster are not always common on an affordable smartphone. The Honor 8’s software might not be for everyone, but we think the impressive camera performance and high-end design really make up for it.

While the Honor 8 enters the market in an incredibly competitive price segment, we can say that this is one of the better cheap Android phones you can buy.. in fact, there’s really nothing ‘cheap’ about it, except for the price.

Specs

  • 5.2-inch LTPS display with 1920 x 1080 resolution, 423 ppi
  • HiSilicon Kirin 950 processor
  • 4 GB of RAM
  • 32/64 GB of on-board storage, microSD expansion up to 256 GB
  • Dual 12 MP rear cameras, 8 MP front camera
  • Non-removable 3,000 mAh battery
  • Android 7.0 Nougat
  • 145.5 x 71 x 7.5 mm, 153 g

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So there you have it – our picks for the best cheap Android phones around. In fact, we could argue these are the best cheap phones period — as Apple tends to not offer much in the way of cheap unless you really want an old phone, and Windows Phone really isn’t a good choice for most consumers these days.

Did we miss anything? Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.

See also:

Best Android phones

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