You don't have to spend an arm and a leg to get a great phone anymore. At the tail end of 2018, low-cost phones are better than ever, and you can get amazing build quality and great software and performance for under $400 these days. The Nokia 7.1 is a shining example, with a glass and metal build and clean software through Android One.
The Best Affordable Phone
Premium build quality meets regularly updated software at a great price.
There's just no beating the Nokia 7.1 for the price. It looks and feels great, has a gorgeous display, excellent battery life, and much more. Performance can be a little sluggish at times, but for just $350, you're getting far more than your money's worth.
Why we picked the Nokia 7.1 as the Best Affordable Android Phone of 2018
The Nokia 7.1 is a remarkably modern-looking phone with an 18:9 display, dual cameras, a rear fingerprint sensor and, for better or worse, a small notch. It's a gorgeous phone with a glass and metal design and slim bezels, outfitted with all of the hardware standards you'd expect of a high-end phone; USB-C charging, Bluetooth 5.0, NFC, and 64GB of storage.
One of the biggest advantages of the Nokia 7.1 is its Android One software. Not only does this mean you get a pure Android experience that's free of the obnoxious bloatware that plagues most affordable phones, but it guarantees years of longterm software support. Nokia has a great track record of quickly rolling out security patches to its phones, and the 7.1 is amazingly already on Android 9 Pie.
Considering how few devices run Pie, even on the high end, that's a great reason to pick up a Nokia 7.1 on its own.
Success in compromise
For almost half the price of the Nokia 7.1, the Moto G6 is a great alternative that's available on nearly every carrier — even CDMA networks. There are a few tradeoffs in getting a phone for this cheap; the G6 has an unimpressive display, occasional lag, and Motorola is notoriously slow to roll out software updates. But the clean software experience and surprisingly good camera make it hard to beat for just $200.
Value in simplicity
The Nokia 6.1 may not be as modern-looking as the 7.1, but it's still one of the best bang-for-your-buck options around. Even at under $200, you get an all-metal build with USB-C charging and a convenient rear fingerprint sensor. You still get a great software experience (Nokia has committed to using Android One), and Nokia lives up to its reputation of timely updates — this one's already running Pie, too.
It's pretty incredible to think about how much low-cost phones have improved over the years. The $350 Nokia 7.1 could reasonably pass as a flagship from a design perspective, and the Android One software is the same great experience you'll find on phones costing three or four times as much. Hell, there are plenty of phones on the high end that are still running Android Oreo near the end of 2018.
If you're more concerned with getting a good deal than getting timely software updates, though, the Moto G series has always been one of the best in its price range. The Moto G6 brings some of Motorola's best traits to a more affordable price, including Moto Action gestures and TurboPower charging. Considering how much cheaper it is versus the Nokia 7.1, it's a remarkable deal — and one of the only affordable phones worth considering on CDMA networks.
Lastly, the Nokia 6.1 is possibly the cheapest way to experience Android 9 Pie at just $179. The aluminum unibody design feels leagues better than the price tag would have you believe, and you might even prefer the 6.1's design over the newer 7.1 if notches make you see red.
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