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 Android 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 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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Nexus 5X (Project Fi only)

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Google chose to release two Nexus smartphones in 2015 – the higher-end Nexus 6P made by Huawei and the LG-made Nexus 5X, which is the true sequel to LG’s beloved Nexus 5 from 2013. Both of these devices feature similar specifications, but they still manage to stand out dramatically from one another. The Nexus 5X has a solid Snapdragon 808 processor, a 2,700 mAh battery and a really great 12.3 megapixel rear-facing camera. It also boasts a fingerprint scanner on the back, a front-facing speaker that provides decent audio quality and of course, this phone runs the latest version of Android.

In our full review, we had just a few gripes. While the Snapdragon 808 processor is very capable of performing just about everything you throw at it, the fact that the 5X comes with just 2 GB of RAM makes us nervous for the future. It also only comes with 16 or 32 GB of on-board storage with no microSD card expansion, so folks who are used to 32 or 64 GB variants will need to rely on cloud storage when it comes to keeping media on the phone.
Considering that the Nexus 6P costed only $120 more than the 5X at launch, it was a tad difficult to recommend this smartphone at the start. Now Google is offering the Nexus 5X on Project Fi for the low price of just $200. If you’re looking for a solid smartphone in this price range and would like to try out Google’s Project Fi network, the Nexus 5X is for you.

Specs

  • 5.2-inch IPS LCD display with 1920 x 1080 resolution, 423 ppi
  • 1.8 GHz hexa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 processor
  • 2 GB of RAM
  • 16/32 GB of on-board storage, no microSD card expansion
  • 12.3 MP rear camera, 5 MP front camera
  • Non-removable 2,700 mAh battery
  • Android 7.1 Nougat
  • 147 x 72.6 x 7.9 mm, 136 g

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Best phones under $300

Moto G5 Plus

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If you’re in the market for an affordable, unlocked smartphone 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 awhile now, 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 bang for your buck smartphones 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 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 solid flagship device.

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 phones you can buy for around $400.

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 budget-friendly options Android has to offer at the moment. 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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