Tired of overspending for the latest and greatest? Get flagship-level performance at half the price.

Best overall

OnePlus 3

See at OnePlus

The OnePlus 3 is, simply put, the best package under $400. You're basically purchasing Samsung-level performance at an unlocked price.

Inside, the OnePlus 3 is like any other flagship: It has a powerful Snapdragon 820 processor, a solid 3000mAh battery, and a stellar 16-megapixel rear-facing camera with capable low light performance. The OnePlus 3 also has 6GB of RAM, which might not seem entirely significant at first, but the extra bit of memory really does come in handy over time. And though its 5.5-inch display is a mere 1080p in a Quad HD world, you'll come to appreciate the energy savings.

Do keep in mind that if you bring home this aluminum-bodied beauty that you won't have Google behind the software updates. OnePlus is in charge of its OxygenOS, and while it provides a near-similar experience as Google's Android, it's packed with extra features that you'd typically have to download a third-party app to implement. Still, it's a better alternative to the other versions of Android floating around out there.

Bottom line: Flagships are expensive without a subsidy, so if you're looking to save some cash but you don't want to skimp on the features, the OnePlus 3 is a worthy choice.

One more thing: Because of its unlocked nature, the OnePlus 3 is only compatible with AT&T and T-Mobile (and their respective MVNOs) in the U.S.

Why the OnePlus 3 is the best

The phone to get if you want bang for your buck.

For a mere $400, you get the top of the line specifications, stellar smartphone performance, a rear-facing camera that's almost as good as the competition, and solid battery life. And sure, the OnePlus 3 may be the "alternative" flagship, but it hardly looks it.

It might not appear exemplary at first, but Andrew Martonik's review of the device earlier this year makes a convincing argument for why it's so stellar:

Every edge, every join of materials, every cutout, every transition from curve to flat — every placement is perfect. This precision is hardly exclusive to OnePlus nowadays, as just about any manufacturer can now do things with metal and glass that were previously reserved to multi-billion-dollar companies just a few years ago. But just because you can do it now doesn't mean every phone is built as well as the OnePlus 3.

The design on this device is stunning, and it's even more attractive after you pop on one of OnePlus's fashionable back covers.

OnePlus hasn't typically had the best track record when it comes to its device launches and software updates, but the company is quickly changing its tune. OnePlus ditched its archaic, invite-only business model and made the phone readily available for anyone who has cash to burn.

The only drawback of the OnePlus 3 is that its software and security updates depend entirely on its small software development team, which historically hasn't kept up with the industry leaders in updates. But the OnePlus 3 is a hell of a deal at its price point, so if you're looking to save some cash without compromising much, this smartphone is your best bet.

Best shiny phone

Honor 8

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Do you like shiny things? The Honor 8 is plenty shiny for those of you attempting to add more sheen into your life. I mean, just look at the blue color featured here. It's even more gorgeous in person, and it doesn't cost an arm and a leg.

The Honor 8 is Huawei's second attempt at entering the U.S. market. It's got a 5.2-inch 1080p display, a 3000mAh battery, 4GB of RAM, and Huawei's in-house developed Kirin 950 processor. The Honor 8 also has dual 12-megapixel rear-facing cameras, both of which work in conjunction to produce the best possible photo you could want. As we discussed in our review, it's plenty capable of being your primary shooter.

The only drawback of the Honor 8 is that Huawei's EMUI is a bit of a doozy to get used to. Its default launcher doesn't offer an app drawer, so you'll have to find another launcher if you're used to having one. It also comes with a bit of bloatware and extra apps you might find redundant alongside Google's offerings, though you can thankfully uninstall and deactivate them at will.

Bottom line: If you're looking for last year's flagship performance at an affordable price point, the Honor 8 is an impressive little package.

One more thing: Like the OnePlus 3, the unlocked Honor 8 is only compatible with AT&T and T-Mobile's networks, along with their associated prepaid MVNOs.

Best to try something new

ZTE Axon 7

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You might have forgotten that ZTE is a major player in the U.S. smartphone wars, but that's okay. The good news is that the company is the brains behind the very impressive Axon line and the Axon 7 is a worthwhile choice if you don't mind dealing with a clunky Android interface.

The ZTE Axon 7 offers a 5.5-inch Quad HD AMOLED display, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor, 4GB of RAM, and a 3250mAh battery. It also has a 20-megapixel rear-facing camera, though it's not the best shooter in low light environments. But if you're an audiophile, the Axon 7 might make your ears perk up.

Bottom line: If you're tired of the same old smartphone brands in your life, the ZTE Axon 7 might be that "something new" that becomes your "something constant."

One more thing: The Axon 7 is equipped with the bands necessary to work on a network like Verizon Wireless, but your best bet is to be an AT&T or T-Mobile (or their prepaid brands) subscriber before purchasing this device.

Best for even less

Moto G4 Plus

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Not everyone wants to wield the latest and greatest. The Moto G4 Plus will do just fine if you're simply in the market for a solid smartphone. The G4 Plus offers a 5.5-inch Full HD display, a 1.5GHz Snapdragon 617 processor, and up to 3GB of RAM. It also has a 16-megapixel rear-facing camera and a front-facing fingerprint sensor, so you can be just as secure as all your friends with their cool flagships.

Take heed that there are several versions of the Moto G4. Here's a look at what's different between the two primary models, the Moto G4 and G4 Plus.

Bottom line: If you love living the unlocked life and only need the basics to get you through it, the Moto G4 Play Plus is the way to go.

One more thing: Motorola's been pretty consistent with its software updates.

Best overall

OnePlus 3

See at OnePlus

The OnePlus 3 is, simply put, the best package under $400. You're basically purchasing Samsung-level performance at an unlocked price.

Inside, the OnePlus 3 is like any other flagship: It has a powerful Snapdragon 820 processor, a solid 3000mAh battery, and a stellar 16-megapixel rear-facing camera with capable low light performance. The OnePlus 3 also has 6GB of RAM, which might not seem entirely significant at first, but the extra bit of memory really does come in handy over time. And though its 5.5-inch display is a mere 1080p in a Quad HD world, you'll come to appreciate the energy savings.

Do keep in mind that if you bring home this aluminum-bodied beauty that you won't have Google behind the software updates. OnePlus is in charge of its OxygenOS, and while it provides a near-similar experience as Google's Android, it's packed with extra features that you'd typically have to download a third-party app to implement. Still, it's a better alternative to the other versions of Android floating around out there.

Bottom line: Flagships are expensive without a subsidy, so if you're looking to save some cash but you don't want to skimp on the features, the OnePlus 3 is a worthy choice.

One more thing: Because of its unlocked nature, the OnePlus 3 is only compatible with AT&T and T-Mobile (and their respective MVNOs) in the U.S.