In our always-connected world, it’s coming to a point where you’re pretty much expected to have a smartphone. Of course not everyone can afford the latest and greatest.
The good news is that technology has advanced to the point where you can actually get a great smartphone without breaking your bank — this is even more true now that Motorola has taken the veil off the Moto G.
In this article, we take a look at some of the best low-cost Android phones on the market.
In order to be included on this list, said device must meet the following criteria:
Editors note – we will be updating this list as more devices hit the market. This article reflects things from a US/EU centric perspective.
The much awaited successor to the LG Nexus 4 has arrived, and it is easily the most powerful device on this list. Of course, it’s also the most expensive, flirting with the line between “cheap” and mid-priced at $349 for the 16GB model. Still it’s worth mentioning because there is no better way to get a high-end Android experience without breaking the bank (or signing a contract).
The LG Nexus 5 is powered by a 2.3GHz quad-core Snapdragon 800 CPU and has 2GB of RAM. The new Nexus also ships with Android 4.4 KitKat right out of the box.
While the KitKat update has started rolling out to several other Nexus (and non-Nexus) devices, the Nexus 5 has the distinction of being the only Android device with Google’s brand new “Google Experience Launcher”.
For more on the LG Nexus 5, including our review, click here.
The Moto G is a major game-changer in the mobile world, offering mid-range specs at a killer price. Motorola’s new budget handset features a 1.2GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 CPU and includes 1GB of RAM.
The Moto G essentially runs on stock Android 4.3 with few modifications, and already has an upgrade available for Android 4.4.2 KitKat. While the handset doesn’t have tons of special features, it has reasonably solid specs and a price tag that’s under $200.
Sony’s Xperia L features a 1GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 CPU and 1GB of RAM. It only has 8GB of internal storage, but there is a microSD slot to increase that by 32GB.
As for software, it’s reminiscent of stock Android, taking on the Ice Cream Sandwich theme. Finally, it has very little in terms of bloatware, which is often hard to come by.
For more on the Sony Xperia L, including our review, click here.
The ZTE V956 is powered by a quad-core 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM8625Q CPU with 512MB of RAM. The handset also features a larger 4.5-inch display with a resolution of 480 x 854.
ZTE might not be a very well known brand, particularly in the United States, but the specs here are actually reasonably decent considering the handset can be yours for just a little over $100.
For more on the ZTE V956, click here.
The LG L5 II is powered by a 1GHz Mediatek MT6575 1GHz CPU with a PowerVR SGX531 GPU. The handset also has 512MB RAM and a 4-inch IPS display with a resolution of 480 x 800.
Sure, the LG L5 II isn’t going to win any awards or blow anyone away, but at under $200, you’ll find the L5 II is a reasonably solid-performer with enough oomph to provide an enjoyable basic Android experience.
For more on the LG L5 II, click here.
Any particular favorites in your list? Did we miss one? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below. We’ll be updating this piece regularly — especially considering there are quite a few interesting handsets heading our way over the next few months.
There’s a lot of great phones coming from lesser known players, and we’ll be sure to include them if they meet our criteria as well. Let us know what devices you think we should include!
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Its prob just over $300 (£285 here in the UK but I have a Motorola RAZR I xt890 an its one of the best phones I’ve had for the price
Niche product with extremely low availability. IMO.
Hey! What a winning bet you did in purchasing a Razr i n.n
I have one too. It easily compares to most top tier smartphones. Just yesterday I was comparing it to the GS4, the Razr i was as fast as that one, even faster at times. That’s where I realized (again) how useless 1080p resolution is. I opened Web pages on both and the viewing was the same! There wasn’t more content in the 1080p display than in the 540p display of the Razr i. That’s a waste of resources.
Of course the display of the GS4 is better and it’s GPU is better. But that doesn’t show much.
Xperia L fails on camera with extreme softened graininess under most conditions, Nx4 is not widely available (not even in USA now) at a low price, HTC was never a good option for budget as they barely work at all, simply not reliable enough. Even as the Touchwiz hater i am i say S3 Mini is the phone to go for here, reliable with good battery and camera. Personally i am having a hard time with these low PPI Pentile displays, Nokia N9 had higher PPI than S3 Mini and the blurred Pentile Amoled was one of the main reasons why i was not comfortable with N9. The greenish or blueish tint when viewed from even the slightest angle is also a mayor concern with Amoled, but i dont think any of that matters for a budget buyer.
S3 Mini it is then, its also the phone i generally recommend people on a budget to buy, below the price of S3 Mini you simply cant find anything thats good enough. I dont let my personal distaste for Amoled and Touchwiz get in the way for other people getting the best available phone at the price point in question.
How curious, the S3 Mini is the one I tell everyone to avoid. It’s not precisely cheap, that’s why. At its price range you can get much, much better devices like Motorola Razr i or HD. Even LG OPTIMUS G is not far above the S3 Mini price.
I’d never get a Mini version of any model, they cost nearly as much as their full models and have less than half of them to offer. The Xperia Z1 Mini is the only Mini that’s looking to be great.
Don’t forget the DROID Mini. The only differences are screen size, LCD not AMOLED, and battery size.
The tone, the structure of this comment reminds me of those paid writer/students in Taiwan whom hired by Samsung to bad mouthing their competitors and persuade others to opp for Samsung. “Although this and that is not what i fond of and this and that is well known to be the downside and I truly hated it, but given this and that, Samsung is the one to go for.” Same tactics from these promoting companies. Not that I am saying you are, but you sounds a lot like them.
Since the Nexus 4 ran out of stock, my recommendation for the best value Android was always the LG Optimus 4x HD. Here in Germany you can grab one for only 250€.
Considering the options I think I’d rather keep my Galaxy S2 (international version, Italy here – and 2000mAh official extra battery) as a cheap backup phone when I’ll get a new one (Right now possibilities are Nexus 5, Xperia Z1 or Z2, Oppo Find 5 or 7 and Note 3)… none of these compare positively to the S2 potential, aside from the 720p display of some.
And no, I’m no fan of the Nexus 4 (which is expensive in here, not sold on Google Play Store, and with street price over 349 euro).
Xperia Z2? Where did you read about it? Are you from the future? O.o
Plenty of blogs already talking of Sony already preparing the Xperia Z2 as a follow up of Z1: I think, IIRC, I did read about it over Android Police, Droid Life or somewhere else.
Thanks. I’ll check it out later.
Anyway, I’m looking forward to getting the Xperia Z Ultra. I like it because it’s big, pretty and powerful, and I want it to make a nice couple with my compact Razr i n.n The Z1 is just a little bigger than the Razr i, wouldn’t be much of an upgrade, because I’m not dropping my Razr i.
Here there’s one I found about the Z2 rumours:
IMO the best cheap android handset is the Xiaomi mi2S. for $276 you get a 720p 4.3″ display with 1.7Ghz Snapdragon 600 quad-core processor, Adreno 320 and 2GB RAM,
Oh I wish there was a 720p display versions of most of the devices with 1080p displays. I find 1080p resolution a complete waste :(
and it’s china only isn’t it?
i think not including the new droid mini is a bad move. thats a pretty powerful phone for only $450 off contract and it works on Verizon
It is more expensive than even the nexus 5. It doesn’t belong on this list.
This list consist of cheap smart phones under $350 the Droid Mini missed it by $100. Not to mention that to use its full potential you have to be locked down on vzw. The phones listed here are able to hook up to any GSM network or at least most.
How about the LG L3 ll or better, the L5 ll. The L5 ll has a clear and nice IPS screen, decent specs and good performance. I was playing with it yesterday. Didn’t disappoint.
If cheap and good is the target, that’s the smartphone I’d advice to get.
What about DROID Mini by Motorola? $99 on contract, but not sacrificing any power like Galaxy S4 Mini… It has the same processor, same camera, same amount of RAM, same features. The only differences are the 4.3″ TFT LCD screen and battery size.
This list is for low-cost, unlocked devices with no contract attached to their prices.
Good list of phones, but even though I hate M$, I would honestly recommend the Nokia Lumia 520 & 620 to people looking for sub $150 phones.
Even though the Nexus 4 is a year old phone, it’s a BEAST! Never laggs and handles anything I throw at it!
Throw a stone at it and see :)
mine Nexus 4 is still there. However, the same stone destroyed my iPhone5. In the end, I had to throw my old Nokia 8250 to destroy stone.
ROFL! and the battery on the Nokia is still running after a week of “hard” usage!!!
that’s what she said
I question this “96 guest votes” :)
And why would you do? :)
ya know, it just looked maybe a LITTLE suspicious :)
on either side of the phone for that matter…. -_-
It is! for the first time I dont think I need to upgrade…… I still want to though!
Bad mention: galaxy s3 mini :-P
Why’s it a bad mention?
My GF’s got it and it’s all good..
ANyhow, none of these phones are cheap. By cheap, I was thinking sub $200, around $150.
Try Moto G
S3 mini was costly
The Moto G is $179-199 and the S3 Mini is currently $227 on Amazon. So it’s a little more expensive than the Moto G, but not “costly.”
They said low cost, not cheap….for cheap go to amazon and look for the Blu and the rest of the phones in that category. Good luck with the OS I see some of them are still on GB…http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_0_23?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=unlocked%20android%20phones&sprefix=unlocked+android+phones%2Caps%2C465&rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3Aunlocked%20android%20phones
Inexpensive* phones. Don’t sully androids good name.
How about Cherry Mobile Cosmos X2/Konka V981.. For 260$
1.2GHz Quad-core Processor MediaTek MT6589
16GB Internal Storage, Expandable via MicroSD up to 32GB
4.8-inch Super AMOLED HD Display
Corning Gorilla Glass 2
18.0-megapixel rear-facing camera with LED Flash and BSI
5.0-megapixel front-facing camera
Dual SIM, Dual Standby
3G, HSPA+, Bluetooth, WiFi, WiFi Hotspot, GPS/aGPS, FM Radio
Android Jelly Bean 4.2
Smart Stay and Smart Call Software Technology
Also the Optimus G Pro has started seeing some price drops in Europe and here’s a loot at it:
$230+ is cheap??? … :s … not where I live on. Nice article tough.
cheap relative to most high end phones yes
I agree. When you look at the cost of service for subsidized phone on contract, pay a little upfront instead of paying a ton over the life of the agreement. Any of these phones on a prepay service like 35orless can easily you save over $500 p/year
it’s 32 hours of minumum wage here. How much is it where you live?
In india its .3$ an hour. so these phones aren’t really budget.especially after adding the 40% tax that govt’ adds on phone.
Nothing to see here besides Moto G.
Yeah but 8GB non expandable storage, for that price. Kinda gay…
That’s why the 16GB is available for only $20 more. ;)
And I find it funny I meet you here again xD
Looking for a cheap phone too?
OMG only $20 more? I hope you’re right.
It’s just released in australia, but we don’t have the 16gig… yet?
And yeah, looking for a cheap phone! The Moto G is awesome, but 8GB just will not do.
Yes, what are the best Android phones below $100? And easy to update to latest version like stock Android 4.4 KitKat. Look at dx.com or pandawill.com and you’ll see lots of phones around $50 with Android 4.x and 512MB RAM, so you can run the latest stock Android 4.4
UK buyers can now get the lovely Motorola Razr i (top end build quality/sd card/long battery life/fast) on PAYG with a certain numerically named provider for only £150.
Correct me if im wrong but i thought it said, best CHEAP smartphones
What planet are you from? Most would consider a typical “brand name” smartphone to be in the range of $500 – $800. Any Smartphone which is in the sub $300 category is Cheap by most peoples standards.
No, cheap Android phones are sub $150, entry level ones start at less than $75 these days. The phones shown here are mid-level phones.
Links please? Tried to find some on Amazon, and the cheapest I found was the Huawei phone priced at $118.
But the phones priced out sub $150 are not even worth talking about. They are out dated POSs that give Android a bad name.
funny, I search Amazon for “android phone” and the first one is sub $80 and the second is sub $70. . . and their is a Huawei about #5 for $35. . .
You may need to work on your search skills ;)
how about sony xperia sp?
The sIII mini shouldn´t stand in the last place… It´s so much better than the Xperia L…
How much is LG NExus 4 ? Translated into PHP…
do your research first and you’ll know the price :)
you are too rich to consider those model are cheap!
Poor people dont need smart phones.
Pantech Discover blows these phones out of the water with 4″8″ HD screen, 720 x 1280 pixels. Snapdragon S4 Plus, 16 GB storage (up to 32 GB), 12.6 MP camera, great stereo speakers. All for around or under $200 unlocked. Nothing comes close to this.
yeah but unlike the moto g, you get terrible updates. The moto g already has KitKat
I am still waiting for my Moto G to ship. So you pretty much know where i am on the list… ;-)
What is moto g doing there??
Nexus 5 has iOS camera? Think you are an apple lover. It got OIS camera
I think the LG L9 is a decent choice and and one of the lowest prices of the phones mentioned.
The Moto G is probably one of the best Android phones out there, not just low end!
Also, since my last comment I still hate M$ but the Lumia 520 is still an appealing device under $100.
Nexus 5 is not cheap in my country by any means 16,32 GB costs around $460, $530 respectively, so its not cheap and a mere $100 less than the lg g2…..btw I live in India
What about the Nexus 4? Still a great phone.
Don’t forget about the 50GB of Google Drive storage on the Moto G, it’s a good feature for the price.
Is it forever, or you have to pay for it after a year or two?
I love stock android and nexus 5 but i can’t afford to buy it here. It costs USD 540/unit for 16GB and even Nexus 4 still costs USD 440/unit for 8GB :(
Apart from 1 and 2 the rest of the phones should not be on the list, they are neither cheap nor good
Recently I was REALLY low on money and debts were eating me from all sides! That was UNTIL I decided to make money.. on the internet! I went to surveymoneymaker dot net, and started filling in surveys for cash, and surely I’ve been far more able to pay my bills! I’m so glad, I did this!!! With all the financial stress these years, I really hope all of you will give it a chance. – qaj8
what about Ascend Y300 ?
What aout lenovo p780 ?
anyone buying a galaxy s3 mini in late 2013 is an idiot..
Or maybe they just want a user-replaceable battery and an SD card slot, both of which are lacking in many competitors such as the Moto G.
I recently bought me an Allview A5DUO, with a fairly recent OS, 4.2.2, a dual-core A7 1.2 ghz, gpu Mali400, 512 RAM (quite dated), 4′ 800×480 display. It only costed about 120 euros here, and it’s good enough to run Vice City. So yeah, that’s what a cheap phone is.
Even though the Nexus 4 is a 2012 phone, it is a good phone for the price.
Check out the Vizio VP800 sold online from 162$.
5 inch FullHD screen, 2GB RAM, snapdragon s4 processor quad core 1,5Ghz Krait.
The Xperia Play, is 2011 MOdel is an old phone but its PlayStation Gamepad is uniqe in every phone. Costs about $80-130 at Amazon.
Moto G is the best of all these on the list, and I highly recommend it. Check it out if you don’t have one already, good job on the list by the way.
Mising BLU lineup…
Don’t buy LG L5 II I’ve had it for 6 months and it’s lagging much!!! Buy it only if you’re using it for social media, calls and messaging! Every other thing will lag it out!
thl w8 beyond. Sweet price(200 euros) and high end performance…
do you not get the budget that some of us have to deal with, I was hoping to see a phone on here for 50 dollars at the most, maybe when I start making more than minimum wage, I can look at this.
I think Alcatel One Touch Idol X should be in the list. I’m using it now. Bought it at MYR 950 (USD288) at that time. With it decent outlook design, I also impressed with the performance. So far I haven’t facing any problems with it. Can view out their specs here :
It’s a cool smartphones.
Blu Life Play X
What not to like in this article? Because if You are writing about cheapest Android phone – bear in mind, that there are even for ~30-40$ in Europe/states phones. If You want to write about cheap-est just do some research. Even from “mayor brands” You can find for ~100$ easily – e.g. older models, new not used. But the term “mayor brands” is strange, especially when writing about “cheap” not “costly”…
Nexus 5 is $450 how is that cheap ?