If you had $700 to spare, what phone would you buy? If you only had $300?

July 25, 2014

LG G3 Vs HTC One M8-90
One of the advantages to Android is the shear level of options out there when it comes to hardware. Whether you’re looking for a bleeding edge flagship or a modest budget device, you’ll find a variety of handsets from HTC, Samsung, Sony, Motorola and countless other OEMs. Of course all these options also can add a bit of confusion when it comes time to find a new phone.

With this in mind, for this week’s Friday Debate we ask what Android handset would you recommend on the premium and budget end of the scale? If you had $700 to spend on a phone right now, what handset would you buy? What if you had just $300? Keep in mind we’re talking outright prices not what you’d get them if you signed a contract.

Be sure to check out what our contributing team members had to say and then feel free to weigh in with your own thoughts in the comments below!

Jonathan Feist

Choosing a phone based on a dollar value is a difficult, but necessary undertaking for many of us. Our budgets often determine our wants, unfortunately.

There are a number of great phones on the market right now, and it is interesting to see the overall price variance between them. It is especially interesting that the price does not necessarily indicate what hardware is in use, nor the overall performance of the device.

If I had to choose one phone at under $300 and another at the $700 mark, I would choose the Moto G and the Sony Xperia Z2. Surprised?

The Moto G is a no brainer, it is a device that is absolutely unparalleled in performance, considering its specs, and indeed, its price tag. Now, let’s get into the semantics of the price, with a $300 budget, I would have plenty of money available to invest in a solid case, an external power pack, and maybe some cloud storage after dropping the ~$200 on the Moto G itself.

As awesome as the Moto G is, let’s not confuse it for a top of the line device, nor one packed with all of the bells and whistles, but I cannot think of a better, current generation, budget device with this much bang for the buck in the entire history of Android.

Now, getting to that Sony Xperia Z2. Let’s face it, at $699, it is as close to $700 as you need to get. Now, I do like the look of the Z2, I also think it packs enough size, power and features to keep me going well on to my next device.

I’ve seen a few negative reviews of the Z2 camera, but I really do think it takes great photos. And, if I must be honest, it is solely for the camera that I would choose the Z2 as compared to the other $600+ phones out there.

The LG G3 would have been my choice, but for LG’s tendency to go overboard on the contrast when taking pictures. The G3 is probably the better bang for the buck too, it just got edged out by a hair for my personal purchasing decision..

It is important to note that if I were purely making a recommendation here, I would say the G3 over the Z2.

Stepping away from the hypothetical $300 and $700 price points, for the average consumer, I would prefer to recommend something in between. The Nexus 5 has always been an excellent recommendation, as has the Moto X. Also, players like OnePlus, OPPO, Xiaomi and more have been coming to market with devices that cannot be ignored for their price.

Considering the OnePlus One, for example, is rocking pretty much the exact same hardware and specs as the current $600+ flagships, but for under $400, it is hard not to give it serious consideration. In the end, I type this on my own Moto G, still in search of my next device.

Gary Sims

Choices, choices, choices, which phones to choose! This is a great question, what would I buy?

Let’s start with the budget phone. If I had $300 to spend on a budget phone I would get the 16GB version of the OnePlus One. At $299 it is a absolute bargain. The phone looks great, it has a great screen, a fantastic processor package and CM11. As an added bonus it is also a 4G phone, something you wouldn’t necessarily expect at the lower-end. If my budget was slightly less I would agree with Jonathan and get a Moto G, but I would maybe go for the Moto G 4G version or the dual-sim version! I also think the ThL 5000 should get an honorable mention. I am just in the process of writing up a review of the device and it is very nice, especially when your consider its price – $270. Besides the HD display, Corning Gorilla Glass 3 and the octa-core processor, you also get that beast of a 5000mAh battery! Give me battery life over pixels per inch any day.

At the high-end, I am a little stuck… It isn’t in my nature to spend $700 on a phone (off contract or over two-years). I would actually get two or even three phones for that price, what about a couple of Moto G’s and a OnePlus One (64GB version), I reckon I could get all of those for under $700 total. But if I am forced to pick just one phone for $700, I guess I would get a LG G3.

The screen is very cool at 1440 x 2560 pixels, that is a pixel density of 534 ppi. The processor package is top of the range and the 3GB of RAM is a nice touch. LG have done a great job with the design of the G3. Even though it is a 5.5 inch device it is easy enough to handle. There is also a removable battery, an SD card slot and a camera that uses laser focusing, what more could you want!

Joe Hindy

It all really depends on the use case doesn’t it? It’s not really enough that everyone has their own tastes but everyone has their own needs as well and that’s what kinda makes it really hard to recommend phones to people. Generally I’ll ask what they prefer in a phone or what they want in a phone and then recommend from there.

That said, if I had to buy one for me, the premium phone I would go with is the HTC One M8. I like it’s design (it’s a snazzy looking device to me). I also store all my music on the device so the SD card slot is always a big plus. It has the latest specs which I like and because I am a root user, the prospect of getting the bootloader unlocked in under 30 minutes without all that much effort appeals to me a great deal. It actually chased me away from T-Mobile’s Xperia Z1s last year because that phone is still pretty much locked down. But that’s me and my tastes really. For others I would probably recommend something else based on what they need. Like if I knew someone who camped a lot, I would recommend the Xperia Z2 or the Galaxy S5 thanks to its dust and water protection. I would recommend the M8 to other root users thanks to its easy-to-unlock bootloader. If they wanted a dramatic and amazing multimedia experience, I’d probably tell them to pop down on an LG G3. For me, though, if I had $700 today I’d buy an HTC One M8.

On the budget side of things, I would get a Moto X. I like the voice features and the phone operates better than most other $300 phones. The OnePlus One is pretty good but I learned the day I bought my first Xbox 360 then had to go wait in line at Best Buy to return it thanks to the RROD to be patient when new stuff comes out so they can work out all the kinks. It’s an amazing phone but I’ve seen people all over the place having trouble with it (like the yellow band of doom). Once they solidify their offering, I would likely jump to them. If I were really poor and my phone broke and I had to replace it today, I’d probably go with a Moto G because pretty much everyone can afford one of those like right now.

What’s great about Android is that we have these kind of options, eh? Our choice of OEM skins, cheap or expensive phones with varying specs and features. It’s a good day to be a fan of Android!
Robert Triggs

Whilst any of the current flagship smartphones are great purchases at around the $700 mark, my money would go to the LG G3. Although the HTC One, GS5, Z2, etc, each have their own nuances, pros, and cons, I feel that LG has done the best job at putting the additional effort into the areas of a smartphone that are the most important to me at this price range.

We can quibble about the subtleties of image quality all day, but features like Optical Image Stabilisation, superfast laser assisted focus, and 4K video capture makes the G3’s camera a doddle to use, enabling users to obtain high quality snaps with minimal effort.

Furthermore, whilst a 2K display might not strictly be necessary, at $700 you might as well grab as many pixels as you can. Not forgetting that for $700 you want your device to scream good taste, and, as far as I’m concerned, the LG G3 is by far the best looking smartphone on the market right now.

Picking a device with a more reasonable price tag is a more difficult task, as we sadly have to start compromising. The Moto X is a safe pick at $300, and worthy of the praise it receives, but you can get a little more bang for your buck if you can get your hands on the OnePlus One. These devices are really putting a squeeze on the mid-range offerings from the big smartphone OEMs.

However, if you can stretch an extra Jackson to that $300 budget you can occasionally grab a Sony Xperia Z on Amazon for $320, which still holds its own against current flagship smartphones valued at twice its price. Even better, with the Xperia Z you won’t have to make any sacrifices with regards to display or camera quality, or have to worry about issues like the OnePlus One’s yellow display tint.

We’re not quite there yet, but older flagships are starting to find their way towards the $300 price mark, which will be very exciting times indeed.

Comments

  • http://plus.google.com/+JontyGamao Jonty

    If I have $300, I would get the Moto G with MicroSD card.
    If I have $700, I would get the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact. I don’t want big screen devices.

    • SContrerasMer

      Better known as Moto G LTE
      or Peregrine
      or XT1045
      i’ve got the white one

    • Jonathan Bratanata

      The z1compact actually costs less than that, in my country it can be around 400-500(converted to USD) with 700, i’d get the z3compact that’s going to be released in September *getting my wallet ready*

  • Captain Spaulding

    $700- G3
    $300- I would have used one of the two OnePlus One invitations I got instead of giving both of them away.

  • Rayyan Siddiqui

    $700-
    htc one m8
    $300-One plus one

  • King4evr

    I would definetly buy the lg g3 if I had 700$ the phone just looks so premium compared to a galaxy s5 and for 5.5 inches its very easy to handle.

    • BruceLeeRoyJenkins

      I won the G3, while I’m waiting for the Z3, and I was pleasantly surprised with what I got. I bought it on eBay for cheap, almost around the price for the Z2 and M8. Screen’s perfect, excellent head-on and the viewing angles are astonishing, even from the extreme. However, the screens a huge battery drain, I keep it at 100%, and when it gets warm it lowers itself to 90%. For such a powerful screen I have to say battery life is great, but no where near what the current flagships can boast.

      Camera great, but nothing over the top. The thin bezels make the 5.5 screen shockingly easy to use, but I get really cautious that if it drops the lack of meat (bezels) could kill it. UI side, again a Sony fan, I loved how much customization there was. It wasn’t all in your face, it sort of had that simplistic feel with all the customization’s backing it up. The customization for all the graphics, from swiping back and forth on the home screens, to turning the screen off, and much more are things I wish Sony could take notice and put into TimeScape.

      Overall its a great phone, unless you carry a charger, spare battery, or keep it plugged in a lot you may want to lower the brightness of the screen. Another bad thing, thats not LG’s fault, is that there are few things that take advantage of such a powerful screen, but hopefully with next years, and the rest of this years flagships that’ll change.

  • Kraynyan

    $300: Probably find a used N5
    $700: Probably the M8

  • Jack Parker

    Even though I own a Z2 I’d take the G3 for $700 and the oneplus one for $300

  • Furkan Sanane

    $700: oppo find 7
    $300: moto g (i think)

  • be2

    $700- Note 4 or S5
    $300- Moto G

  • truth_cutz

    G3 and One+

  • retrospooty

    I agree with Triggs.

    $700 LG G4, no question,
    $300 – Moto X?

  • arcwindz

    $700: None if i don’t have to (nothing impressive this year)
    LG G3 if i have to, Z3 compact if you ask this several months later.
    $300: One plus one (if it ever launched internationally lol)

  • Anothermuse

    $700..Maybe the G3..a little big for me..And while I’d prefer the camera on the S5 I’m just a little burnt out on Sammy. If the M8 would use different camera, would probably lean there though.

    $300- Moto X on sale…

  • Anthony Gonzalez

    $700 maybe wait for the note 4
    $300 OnePlus One 16GB

  • Fr3dwardo

    $700: Either and iPhone 5S or the M8
    $300: Oneplus One or Moto X (only costs that much in Germany)

  • Jo Rey

    I would just buy an used T-mobile s4 from craigslist for $200, as i just did to replace my HTC ONE. Will ever buy another HTC device again, after half a year the battery could not hold a charge and the camera is useless in the dark,

  • Planterz

    $700: Xperia Z2
    $300 OnePlus One 16gb or new Nexus 4 off eBay for $240 (with LTE hack).

  • Ixous

    700$ : OnePlus One
    300$ : OnePlus One (Almost)

  • http://www.thinkingbrian.com/ ThinkingBrian

    Under $700: LG G3 unlocked or on T-Mobile
    Under $300: Amazingly enough it would be the Huawei Ascend Mate2 on Amazon. The backup would be the OnePlus One.

    • Ryan Web

      Excellent choice with the Hauwei Ascend Mate 2. I am seriously thinking about getting that phone as a backup to my sony xperia z ultra.

      • http://www.thinkingbrian.com/ ThinkingBrian

        Thanks. Truth is, if I had the $300 today, I would have already ordered it from Amazon. It would replace my aging Smartphone and Tablet. Same goes for the LG G3, if I had the money, I would buy it.

  • Bianca Bezuidenhout

    $700: Lg G3
    $300: Moto G

    • A Skylit [S]unjΔy

      10/10
      Likes Android √
      Great music taste √

      Marry me!

      • Bianca Bezuidenhout

        How did you find out about my music taste? :P

        • pseudo

          he probably checked your post history

        • A Skylit [S]unjΔy

          You connected your Disqus account to your Facebook account so there’s a link to it in your about me. You should disconnect it if you don’t want to attract creeps.

          • http://www.rebelwithoutaclue.com/ Rebel without a Clue

            Lol did you just call yourself a creep???

          • A Skylit [S]unjΔy

            It’s open to interpretation, hehe :]

  • Adon

    $300= OnePlus One (White)
    $700= used Z1 Compact (Lime) and used LG G2 (Black/Gold)

    OR

    $700= LG G3 (Gold)
    $300=Nokia 1020 (used)

    I still have some change left :-)

  • Bone

    For $700 I’d wait a month or so and see what the Note 3 brings to the table. For $300, the OnePlus is pretty much the only viable option, if you can get it.

  • Adon

    OnePlus One,look at you ALL the NERD/GEEKS/TECH’s etc want your Phone. Hurry up already lol.

  • MasterMuffin

    Where would all of you get those OnePlusOnes o.O
    $300: the best Lumia for that money :)
    $700: Z2, M8 otherwise but the camera is just…

    • Jerry Rich

      was the word you were looking for, pitiful?

      • MasterMuffin

        That could be it :D

    • DU

      or wait for Z3 it’s right around the corner

      • MasterMuffin

        It could cost $701 :)

    • Nathan Brown

      You do know we are on Android authority right. (Keyword being Android)
      but I would love a lumia 620/630/635 running Android, then it would be the no 1 budget phone

      • MasterMuffin

        I knew some people wouldn’t like it, but I’m honest so deal with it >:)

  • Jerry Rich

    For $700 GS5, Perfect size, super display and camera. IP67 and battery life. Had it since day one and still love it. Say what you want, trust me the GS5 is still the best phone out there.

    For $300 Nothing interests me.

    • Nathan Brown

      Just asking, but do you run out of battery easily?

      If so, I would suggest buying a zerolemon extended battery for it. (I would wait a while file them to make it waterproof compatible)

  • a+i

    300- first preference will be to oneplus one, second to moto x, third to moto g
    700- first preference to either Z2 or M8(z2 because it has top of the line specs and m8 because i love music), second preference to lg g3

  • John Zakaria

    If it was a 300$ it would be 1+1 else i would prefer to buy a Gaming PC instead

  • Peerpressure

    $700: LG G3
    $300: OnePlus if available, Moto X on sale if not. Or maybe I would get the Huawei Ascend Mate2 LTE. 6.1″ screen, with a 3900 mAh battery. Looks pretty nice.

  • Fer

    A Lumia any day

  • Jayfeather787

    $700: LG G3
    $300: Used Nexus 5 or Nexus 4. Maybe the Moto X is that cheap now, haven’t checked.

    • Jordan Vasquez

      Its on sale for $300 for a couple of days.

  • Shark Bait

    300: nexus 5
    700: 2 x nexus 5

    • rmkilc

      Amen.

    • Oliver Nxi

      I wouldn’t just from the fact that mine heats up alot and i clean the ram and apps all the time and use it well ( Non rooted)

      • Shark Bait

        Don’t clear the apps all the time them, apps will just restart taking up more of the CPU

    • Stephan Hall

      Nexus 5 …all the way. No better phone!

    • http://zer0lab.net/ zer0lab.developers

      that’s the same reply I was going to place! Then I saw your..! ;)

  • A Skylit [S]unjΔy

    $700 – Z2 or G3
    $300 – Moto G

  • rickneworleansla

    I just bought two OnePlus One’s in the last couple of weeks for $720 and some change.

  • http://mobilexperten.blogspot.se/?m=1 MobilExperten

    If I had $ 700 I would choose either the LG G3 or HTC One M8. Great phones both. If I only had $ 300 I would choose Xiaomi Mi 4, One Plus One, or Nexus 5. I just bought a Nexus 5 by the way.

  • Sinan Cagrı Kurt

    I would go for xiaomi mi3 for 300$ budget and note 3 would be my choice for flagship or I would wait for note 4. Even though I hate Samsung, note3 has great screen body ratio and 5.7 inc screen is great for media consumption. But i wouldn’t use touchwiz

  • Henry

    If i were to buy a smartphone for $700, id have to think very carefully about what to choose. Samsung, HTC, Nokia, LG, etc all bring great devices, each with great strengths. At that price range, id be stuck between the 64 GB OnePlus One, the G3, or the Oppo Find 7. From a developer standpoint, its hard to beat the bargain on the One, yet the 2K displays from the 7 and G3 are hard to pass up. I guess it depends on what specs matter to you.

    Now, for $300, it gets tricky. Id look into a previous iteration flagship. The Galaxy S4 is no slouch, but the Lumia 1020 and its 41-mpx camera has no peer from any Android phone. Then again a Nexus 4, or a 5, would be affordable…

  • Ryan Web

    $700: I would go with with the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 or the LG G 3.
    $300: Realistically , I would but the Hauwei Ascend Mate 2. But if I got an invite I would go with the One Plus

  • saradduclos

    Start working at home with Google! It’s by-far the best job I’ve had. Last Wednesday I got a brand new BMW since getting a check for $6474 this – 4 weeks past. I began this 8-months ago and immediately was bringing home at least $77 per hour. I work through this link, go to tech tab for work detail

    ✒✒✒✒✒✒ Jobs700.Com

    ===========================

  • Oliver Nxi

    One plus One for 300 and Lg G3 For 700

  • joseph carmine nero

    700$=Z2

    300$=Moto G or xperia Z

  • ernest

    $700: Galaxy Note 3 or wait for 4.
    $300: LG G2 mini or Optimus L9-II. neither Moto nor OnePlus coming to my country.

  • Alex

    $700: Moto X+1 / LG G2
    $300: Moto X / Moto G

  • Daniel D

    700-GALAXY S5 LTE ADVANCE
    300- ONE+ONE

  • Will S.

    $300: Moto G LTE
    $700: Note 3/4

  • Jermaine Smit

    Nexus 5
    S5 or note 3(4)

  • Aar0nC

    300: Nexus 5
    700: Google Play edition S4 & another Nexus 5

  • Jordan Vasquez

    $700: M8 GPE
    $300: Moto X, Moto G, or used Nexus 5

  • Tomato88

    $300: Moto X
    $700: Galaxy Note 3 or wait for Note 4 coming soon.

  • John Grabb

    700 dollars blackberry passport
    300 dollars blackberry q10

  • lenohtna

    700: Note 4, Z3, or G3 Prime (if will come internationally), or two Xiaomi Mi 4
    300: Xiaomi Mi 3

  • Dani Antonio Ona

    $300 – Nexus 5
    $700 – LG G3

  • eliHd

    300: 16gb 1+1
    700: oppo find 7a + prostitutes + cocainne & caviar

  • Jonathan TAM

    Honestly I have never bought a phone on contract. The full price of phones in my country is pretty cheap. Here’s a price list in USD:
    LG G3 36gb: $619
    S5: 645
    LG G pro 2: 490
    Z2: 606
    M8: 619
    Z1 compact: 387
    Z1: 425
    Anyways what I would get:
    $700: Z2
    $300: cheapest Z1 compact I can find (only because 1+1 is non-existent)

    P.S. Am I the only one that thinks the M8 is not premium?

  • doug

    Nexus 6 baby!

  • Cole Raney

    I don’t usually byy phones out of contract. I spend a maximum of $200 on a phone. However, if I were to get an off contract phone, at $700 budget I’d get the G3. The Z2 is my second favorite, but the bigger screen makes the G3 a lot better to me.

    As for the $300 mark, the Nexus 5 is the best for me.

  • rebirthofcool

    OnePlus One for $300…not more

  • Furkan Sanane

    Why nobody want to buy a find 7 ? :D whats the reason :D

  • pseudo

    300-moto g 4g
    700 sony xperia z1 compact

    I prefer smaller mobile phones.

  • Roberto Tomás

    I live with my family and just this week we cancelled our land line. At the same time, I am without a mobile subscription. So I can either get a phone that is perfect for me, or one that is cheap and reasonable. I don’t think I will wait longer than the Note 4. So I’m definitely interested in reading this article’s responses.

    Things I know I would buy premium for:
    • 300+ gflops GPU
    • YOUM/LG thin-film OLED display
    • VNAND

    Things I would require for even a cheaper phone:
    • USB 3.0
    • Good camera
    • 1080p
    • 2GB RAM, >= 800MHz
    • > 30k in antutu
    Just last year, these reqs would have meant a premium phone, but this year it is any old mid-tier import.

    I would want LTE-A (the cat-6 stuff goes to 600Mbps — which probably means real-world speeds of ~60Mbps), but alas I live in the black hole that is Washington DC — the best service available here is typically ~17Mbps (so probably ~150Mbps LTE).

  • Stephan Hall

    For $700.00 I’d buy the Nexus 5, the accessories I need and pocket the remainder. If I had just $300.00 I’d buy the Moto X.

  • me me

    No debate, bought a Nexus 5 for $385 delivered, recently bought 3 OnePlus for $376 delivered, one for my son, one for a neighbor, one for me. $700 just seems to me now as a stupid high price and you’re sick if it drops smashed. I guess I’ll sell a phone, I sold my Nexus 4 for $130 less than the cost of my Nexus 5 so that’s like 25cents/day to “lease” own.

  • DynamicAdrenaline

    300-Nexus
    700-Note4 or M9!

  • A.o.D

    $300- xiaomi mi3 just for $233 in india
    $700- xperia z2 at $624 from ebay india

  • Nathan Brown

    Lumia 520 or 630/635 running android for best value. I hope someone can do this, ahhhh,, the wonders of science. I look for this but if not I will buy Goophone n3/4.

    Note 4 If there is front facing speakers, otherwise lg g3, note 3 or nexus 6(if there is a removable battery)

  • RH

    If I had 700 dollars to spare, I still wouldn’t buy a “top tier” smartphone. I’d do what I already did.
    Wanting to upgrade from my almost 3 year old Note1 (GT-N7000), I was going to get the OnePlus One, but, well, you know about that mess. On their own user forums section, several had mentioned the Huawei Ascend Mate2, which at first, I didn’t consider because it didn’t have “flagship specs”. After seeing several posts about how good it was, and was going to spend around the same amount, so what the heck. It may not have “flagship” specs, but it’s light years faster than my Note, screen is bigger, clear & sharp, does what I need it to do. Big whoop on specs. Might not be 4.4 1080p etc, but for my needs it fits perfect. I think sometimes, specs are overblown, unless you are a bleeding edge guy who does nothing but run benchmarks, rooting, tweaking for every millisecond of performance. I use my phone as a phone, 1500-2000 minutes per month, around 100 emails, few dozen texts, maybe a youtube video here & there, web browsing and a few pictures. No games. I’d put the other money in the bank and sit on it, until time for another device.
    Hey, it’s your money, but I just don’t get the obsession with buying 2-3-4 new phones every year.

  • Mahmoud Abd El-Hady

    300$ : Nexus 5
    700$: HTC ONE M8

  • AndroidKid

    $300 – A used 2 (OnePlusOne) hahaha
    $700 – LG G3

  • Revliathan

    $300 – Nexus 5
    Best in the range.
    $700 – HTC one m8
    Sexiest phone.Believe it or not,looks matters.

  • Iran Matias-Elias

    300: Oneplus One or Moto X or hopefully Moto X+1
    700: HTC One

    I’m actually looking forward to the Moto X+1. The only downsize was the rear speaker and I just saw the leaked photos putting the speakers in the front, so I’m pump. Also, if they sell it as a combo with the Moto 360, I’m in, no doubt.

  • arsenal

    IPhone 6 700
    IPhone 5 300

  • http://www.rebelwithoutaclue.com/ Rebel without a Clue

    300: Nexus 5 16GB
    700: Nexus 5 32GB & moto360

  • Jose A. Medina

    300:1+ One/ next nexus
    700: HTC One M8 GPE/ Lg G3

  • The-Sailor-Man

    LOL
    As I see here, most of you say that will buy for $700 M8 aluminium handicap brick.
    But I bet on, that you buy only iphones,

  • Lilith_Black

    300: One Plus One
    700: LG G3 (I don’t feel like wrestling with horrible battery drain issues like on S3 and S4 =/ )

  • TheOracle

    $700: Asus Padfone X, S or E. High end phone and tablet with option for a keyboard. The E version is dual sim.
    $300: Huawei Honor 6. Beast of a phone that ticks all the boxes.