You don’t need a flagship to get a good Android experience, not anymore. With initiatives like Android One and Android Go, and Google’s own step into the affordable market, Google has made mid-range and even low-range devices usable again. With so many options on the market now, it’s hard to tell which ones are even worth your time. Let’s dig through and get to know the best affordable Android phones you can buy, as of April 2020.
BEST AFFORDABLE ANDROID PHONES – APRIL 2020
New for April:
Google Pixel 3a / Pixel 3a XL
The full Google Pixel experience, but affordable
For the last three years, Google’s Pixel phones have been the pinnacle of the Android phone experience. Pixel phones offer consistent, monthly updates, exceptional camera quality, and a pleasantly near-stock Android OS. Thus far, this experience has come at a flagship price (barring purchasing an older, discounted model).
That all changed with the launch of the Google Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL at Google I/O almost one year ago. While not spec sheet stuffers like some other devices, the Pixel 3a and 3a XL have the most important spec secured: an identical rear-facing camera to the one found on last years flagship Pixel 3.
If you really do care about the specs, there are some important differences you should be aware of. For example, the Pixel 3a has a 5.6-inch, 2220×1080 display, while the Pixel 3a XL, the larger phone, has a 6-inch display with a smaller resolution of 2160×1080. Thankfully, both models still feature OLED panels. Additionally, the Pixel 3a XL has a 3700mAh battery to the smaller Pixel 3a’s 3000mAh one.
Beyond these core differences, the devices are identical, with a Snapdragon 670 processor, 4GB of RAM, and 64GB of storage. The design basis for the 3a is the Pixel 3’s “glass sandwich” design, which has been replaced with a plastic back. Honestly, that can be seen as both a positive or negative, depending on whether you prefer design or durability.
Audiophiles will also be happy to know that the Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL still feature a traditional 3.5mm headphone jack on the top of the chassis.
Why it’s arguably still the best affordable Android phone you can buy:
The Google Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL feel, outside of the obvious hardware differences, almost identical to the more expensive Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL. It will be shunted aside when the Pixel 4a comes to market in the coming months but the combination of the software and hardware experience with a $399 starting price makes for an extremely compelling offer. They also run Android 10 and can even have the Android 11 Developer Preview installed, which no other sub-$500 smartphones can even match.
Where to buy Google Pixel 3a / Pixel 3a XL:
Unlike Pixels past, the Google Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL are not carrier exclusive to Verizon in the US, but can both be purchased from Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon, and US Mobile. For a brief time, all the main carriers offered $100 off both phones, but it seems Sprint is the last carrier with this offer, making the Pixel 3a essentially $299.
As always, though, the Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL can be purchased unlocked from a variety of retailers including Amazon, Best Buy, B&H Photo, and Walmart for $369 and $479 respectively. At the time of writing, Best Buy has the best deal, offering a $50 discount off the Google Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL if you choose to activate the phone immediately.
The best Android One device you can get, with Nokia durability
With the Nokia 7.2, the company solidified its strong comeback in the world of Android, having spent enough years chasing after the Windows Phone market. Powered by a Snapdragon 660 processor, the Nokia 7.2 features 4GB of RAM, 64GB of storage, 3500mAh battery, dual SIM card slots, a microSD card slot, a headphone port, and a fingerprint scanner. The phone has a 6.3-inch 1080p notched display with an HDR10 certification.
Running on Android One, the Nokia 7.2 offers the absolute best of stock Android, without any OEM tastes, styles, or opinions getting in the way. This makes for a much snappier experience than you would expect from a phone less than half the price of most flagships. The Nokia 7.2 even recently received an update to Android 10 earlier this year.
For cameras, the Nokia 7.2 showcases a 48MP rear camera supported by a 5MP camera used to sense depth for things like the bokeh effect, and an 8-megapixel ultra-wide angle lens. That is quite the selection for almost every scenario. There’s also an 8-megapixel camera hiding in the display notch, for your selfie needs.
Why it’s one of the best affordable Android phones you can buy:
As we noted in our full review of the Nokia 7.2, the phone is tough, as we’ve all come to expect. In the era of dropping a phone and breaking the phone, Nokia devices were joked to instead break the floor. Some of this ruggedness carries through in the Nokia 7.2, offering sturdy metal edges and a healthy amount of weight in the hands. However, the glass back detracts from its durable form.
Its durability, spec sheet, and inclusion of still-loved features that many flagships have dropped, like the microSD card slot and the headphone jack, make the Nokia 7.2 an easy recommendation, even if you weren’t specifically in the market for an “affordable” Android phone.
Where to buy Nokia 7.2:
The Nokia 7.2 is available on Amazon for $299. You can also pick up the Nokia 7.2 from B&H Photo and BestBuy unlocked or for $329. All retailers have the handset available in the Charcoal and Cyan Green color options. The unlocked version will work with any GSM carriers (like AT&T and T-Mobile) in the US.
The best not-quite-a-flagship phone you can buy
The OnePlus 7T is arguably not that affordable but it manages to strike an excellent balance. The important flagship specs to make the phone as fast as you could ever need are matched by sensible compromises to keep the Android device affordable.
In raw specifications, the OnePlus 7T outpaces or at least matches flagship contenders like the Pixel 4 and most late 2019 flagships, packing a Snapdragon 855+, 8GB of RAM, 128GB or 256GB of UFS 3.0 storage.
With a retail price now in or around $500 USD, this is most definitely a premium device but at a price lower than you are used to. The entire package even manages to exceed some handsets that cost twice the entry price of the OnePlus 7T.
The OnePlus 7T also uses an impressive 6.55-inch, 2400×1080 resolution display with a super smooth 90Hz refresh rate. As we noted in our review the 20:9 aspect ratio really ensures that movies and TV shows look great. While the viewing angles are superb, with HDR10+ certification also being a massive boon.
Having an ultra-clean experience with OxygenOS is yet another benefit — and worth the slightly bumped costs alone. The triple camera setup might not win any awards, but it definitely goes toe-to-toe with almost any smartphone under $500.
Why it’s probably the best overall affordable Android phone you can buy:
The OnePlus 7T is outright one of the best smartphones on the market because it straddles the high-end and affordable sections so effortlessly. While it is — in some cases — double the entry price of many other budget devices on this list, it includes some serious hardware that will only increase longevity and ensure everyday performance remains fluid and consistent.
You get superb software support, a gorgeous design, beautiful screen, super-fast charging, and it doesn’t break the bank. OnePlus smartphones are the go-to for many around the globe, and it’s easy to see why with such a fantastic piece of hardware.
Where to buy OnePlus 7T:
OTHER EXCELLENT AFFORDABLE ANDROID SMARTPHONES
Samsung Galaxy A50
Like any Samsung Galaxy device, the A50 offers a little bit of the top-tier S series devices but at a reduced price. The Galaxy A50 is more than just a taster though, with an experience mimicking the high-end Samsung smartphones.
While most affordable Android phones tend to go with cheaper LCD displays, the 6.4-inch FHD+ AMOLED display is notched using Samsung’s “Infinity-U” design. That notch houses a 25MP camera, and lower down on that display there’s also an in-display fingerprint sensor hidden underneath.
The Samsung Galaxy A50 also packs in an octa-core processor, 4GB of RAM, 64GB of internal storage, and support for microSD cards up to 512GB. There’s also a 4,000 mAh battery, NFC, fast charging, and a headphone jack. Android Pie is also available out of the box with One UI on top — but Android 10 is expected within the next few months.
There’s also a triple-camera array on the back of the Galaxy A50. That consists of a primary 25MP f/1.7 sensor, an 8MP f/2.2 lens with a 123-degree field-of-view for wide-angle shots, and a 5MP sensor used for capturing depth. All that for just under $300? Sign us up.
Motorola Moto One Action
Not many Android phones have adopted the 21:9 aspect ratio, but the Motorola Moto One Action joins the recent Sony Xperia devices in bringing the cinematic aspect ratio to mobile. It’s an impressive affordable Android phone for under $300.
The new Motorola One Action packs a triple-camera array and mid-range specs. Under the hood, there’s a Samsung Exynos 9609 processor, 4GB of RAM, 128GB of UFS storage, a 3,500 mAh battery, and a headphone jack too.
It’s also an Android One device with Pie, Google’s Digital Wellbeing tools, and the promise of timely updates and security patches. Some of Motorola’s software tricks are also included with Moto Display, Moto Actions, and the company’s One Button Nav gestures.
Motorola Moto G7 / G7 Power
The latest in the Moto G series, the Moto G7, G7 Power, and G7 Play, continue in the tradition of offering fair specs at a fair price. All three models feature the same Snapdragon 632 processor, which should ensure mostly consistent performance, give or take the differences in RAM.
The standard Motorola Moto G7 is built on the solid foundation of 4GB of RAM and 64 GB of storage space. Externally, the Moto G7 also features a 6.2-inch, 2270×1080 display with a waterdrop notch, dual (12MP / 5MP) rear cameras, and a rear fingerprint sensor. You can pick up the standard Moto G7 for $229 from Amazon, and B&H Photo.
The next model down, is the Moto G7 Power, which has a bit less RAM at 3GB, and only 32GB of storage. It also takes a big step down in resolution with a 6.2″ 1520×720 display. While these may be somewhat steep downgrades, the G7 Power has a huge advantage in the battery. Compared to the standard G7 and the G7 Play’s 3000mAh battery, the G7 Power has a massive 5000mAh battery. This model is currently available from Best Buy for $249 and B&H Photo for $229.
For another $50 discount, you can pick up the Moto G7 Play with a meager 2GB of RAM and 32GB of storage. For the same price though, you’d be better off picking up an Android One phone from elsewhere on this list.
EXCELLENT ANDROID ONE SMARTPHONES
If you’re looking for the stock Android experience, look no further than Android One. Android One is Google’s push for consistency, against the well-meaning but sometimes power-hungry OEM themes placed on top of Android. Devices running Android One have an almost Pixel-like stock Android experience.
Also, by being able to skip porting (or updating) their custom theme to the latest version of Android, manufacturers are normally able to bring the latest versions of Android and security updates to Android One devices in a timely manner. As far as affordable Android phones go, it’s hard not to recommend one running Android One.
Nokia has truly cornered the market for great affordable Android One phones. The best model in their lineup to get the best of affordability and great features is the Nokia 4.2. It features a Snapdragon 439 processor with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage space. The device comes in black and pink, with the pink being reminiscent of (but much bolder than) the Google Pixel 3’s “Not Pink.”Despite these reduced specs, compared to the 7.2 and 8.3, the Nokia 4.2 is still easy to recommend, thanks to “premium” features like a Google Assistant button and face unlock. Combined with Android One’s consistent updates and a retail price of $189, the Nokia 4.2 strikes the perfect balance for its price range.
The Nokia 4.2 will be superseded by the Nokia 5.2 in the coming months but still is a fantastic affordable Android phone. As you may expect, though, the Nokia 4.2 only works on GSM networks in the US for just $110.
EXCELLENT ANDROID GO SMARTPHONES
Android Go specializes in making Android work for the tightest of budgets of all kinds — financial, mobile data, storage, etc. Android Go includes slimmed-down versions of the Google apps you know and love, that also slim down on data usage where possible. Their availability in the United States is extremely limited, however, which makes selection difficult.
Probably one of the most surprisingly impressive “cheap” smartphones that we’ve tested in a long time. The Nokia 2.2 also happens to be one of the most up-to-date affordable Android phones on the market right now. It was recently updated to Android 10, which means you’ll get all the benefits of the latest OS without having to spend a great deal.
It does have very modest specs but does come with a removable battery, dual SIM support, a headphone jack and plastic design. Overall though, it’s far ahead of the competition at under $100.
If you’re not interested in the Nokia 2.2, the maybe the C2 is more your style. The device isn’t available quite yet but will come with a 5.7-inch display, a quad-core UniSoc chipset, just 1GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage (that can be expanded up to 64GB with a microSD card), and a headphone port.
Like most ultra-budget smartphones, the Nokia C2 relies on the outdated micro USB for charging, but the relatively small 2,800mAh battery is user-removable. Another notable hardware inclusion is that of a dedicated Google Assistant button, which allows you to quickly enter voice search and give the Assistant commands.
It will likely go on sale in the coming months but we’d expect very modest pricing.
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