Best Android Phones Under $400 Android Central 2021
If you are looking for an affordable, mid-range smartphone, we think the Google Pixel 4a is the best Android phone you can get for under $400. That's because it offers the same core experience as the higher-end Pixel 4 that preceded it. You get the same software and features and the same camera experience. The only shortcomings come in the hardware and a couple of the specs — a fine trade-off to save hundreds of dollars.
- Best Overall Android Phone Under $400: Google Pixel 4a
- Best Value Android Phone Under $400: TCL 10L
- Best Software on an Android Phone Under $400: Nokia 7.2
- Best Battery on an Android Phone Under $400: Moto G Power (2020)
- Best Display on an Android Phone Under $400: Samsung Galaxy A71
- Best International Android Phone Under $400: Xiaomi Redmi Note 9 Pro
Best Overall Android Phone Under $400: Google Pixel 4a
The Pixel 3a from 2019 stood out as one of the best Android values for well over a year, and to fill its impressive shoes, we now have the Pixel 4a. Google took what worked about the 3a, kept it in place, and added a few improvements to make the Pixel 4a as fully-featured as possible — all while selling the Pixel 4a for less than what the 3a cost.
As with any Pixel phone, the best thing about the Pixel 4a is its camera. The 12.2MP single rear camera certainly isn't impressive on paper, but it's outstanding in actual use. Pictures are detailed, colors are great, and low-light photography is a piece of cake. As we said in our Pixel 4a review, this is one of those phones that you can whip out of your pocket, press the shutter button without too much thought, and get a great-looking photo every single time.
While the camera is certainly the main draw to the Pixel 4a, it has many other things going for it, too. The AMOLED display looks nice; you can easily get through a full day on a single charge, the 128GB of storage is very generous, and you get a clean build of Android 10 that's backed by three years of guaranteed updates.
- Flagship-level camera
- Reliable battery life
- Lots of storage
- Simple and useful software
- Guaranteed software updates
- Cheap plastic build
- No secondary cameras
Best Value Android Phone Under $400: TCL 10L
There's no denying just how good of a phone the Pixel 3a is, but we also understand if it's a bit more money than you were hoping to spend. If you're trying to keep costs even lower, you owe it to yourself to consider the TCL 10L, which was featured in our TCL 10 series review. Hands down, it has some of the specs and features you'll find in this price bracket.
For starters, the TCL 10L has an excellent display. It's a 6.53-inch LCD panel, with its secret weapon being TCL's NXTVISION technology. This allows for a sharper image and more vibrant colors, resulting in a great canvas for games, movies, and more. The internals for the TCL 10L are just as great, with the phone offering good performance, 64GB of expandable storage, and a large 4,000 mAh battery.
We're happy that the TCL 10L includes an NFC chip, which allows for contactless Google Pay payments and is something you won't find in our next pick. It also comes with a "Smart Key," an extra physical button that you can customize to do whatever you want.
- Crips and vibrant display
- 4,000 mAh battery
- Has an NFC chip
- Customizable Smart Key
- Mediocre cameras
Best Software on an Android Phone Under $400: Nokia 7.2
Nokia just keeps making great, affordable phones with the same basic formula. You get solid (if understated) hardware, capable specs with just a little extra, solid cameras, and Android One software that's clean and regularly updated.
The Nokia 7.2 adds in some spice with neat color options and a new triple camera that brings a much higher resolution on the main sensor and supports it with a new ultra-wide lens for interesting shots. The processor, RAM, storage, and battery are all improved from the Nokia 7.1, and it was already no slouch.
Going back to the Android One software mentioned above, this is where the phone really shines per our Nokia 7.2 review. The phone shipped with Android 9 Pie and has since been updated to Android 10. The phone should get an update to Android 11 in the future. Nokia promises two years of major OS updates and three years of monthly security patches for its phones, making them some of the best-supported you can find.
- Android One software is clean and simple
- Guaranteed software update future
- Triple camera system
- Sleek hardware with interesting colors
- Big screen and suitably large battery
- Not easy to use in one hand
- Snapdragon 660 processor is starting to get old
Best Battery on an Android Phone Under $400: Moto G Power (2020)
Motorola's Moto G phones often represent some of the best values the Android landscape has to offer, and that's no different with the Moto G Power (2020). The G Power was one of three Moto G phones launched in the U.S. in 2020, and it easily stands out as the best of the best from the lineup.
The Moto G Power (2020) impresses with its long battery life right out of the gate. Thanks to a massive 5,000 mAh battery, the Moto G Power (2020) gets up to three days of use on a single charge. That's among the best battery life you can find on a phone right now, making the Moto G Power (2020) an excellent choice if endurance is a top priority for you.
There are plenty of other areas in which the G Power stands tall, including its fast performance, triple rear cameras, clean software, and the presence of a 3.5mm headphone jack. The lack of NFC is a bummer, as is Motorola's policy of only delivering one major software update, but they're not enough to diminish the overall package.
Moto released an updated 2021 version of the Moto G Power (2020), but in most respects, we see it as a downgrade to the 2020 version and are sticking with our original pick here, for now. The Moto G Power (2021) has a lesser processor and lesser screen, it costs the same, and it also still ships with Android 10.
- Up to 3-day battery life
- Reliable performance
- Triple cameras are good
- Clean software with great features
- Has a headphone jack
- No NFC for Google Pay
- Only promised one software update
Best Display on an Android Phone Under $400: Samsung Galaxy A71
Samsung's Galaxy S series gets the most buzz and attention as the go-to lineup of Galaxy phones, but they're far from the only ones the company makes. If you're eager to get your hands on a powerful and striking Samsung handset without going broke, check out the Galaxy A71.
As we noted in our Galaxy A71 review, this phone has just about everything you could ask for, starting with the design and display. While it is made out of plastic, the sturdy build quality and gorgeous pattern on the back make the A71 look and feel like a much more expensive phone. Further contributing to this is the 6.7-inch AMOLED display with a Full HD+ resolution. It's large, vibrant, and offers great visibility in direct sunlight. Even better, it's paired with slim bezels and a small hole-punch cutout for the selfie camera. The Galaxy A71 also delivers fast performance, a large 4,500 mAh battery, and four rear cameras that can take excellent photos.
Originally, the A71 sold over the $400 ceiling of this article, so our primary recommendation was an international version that wasn't necessarily compatible with all U.S. networks. However, the unlocked A71 now comes at or under $400 from many retailers like Amazon, making it a great buy!
- AMOLED display is stunning
- Sleek, modern design
- Huge battery
- Extremely capable camera system
- International model
- Made from plastic
- In-screen fingerprint sensor
Best International Android Phone Under $400: Xiaomi Redmi Note 9 Pro
Speaking of international phones, another one we'd like to highlight isn't officially available in the U.S. in any capacity. When we conducted our Xiaomi Redmi Note 9 Pro review, we noted that it's a simply outstanding piece of tech that delivers a phenomenal experience at an even better price.
Looking at the spec sheet, there's a lot going for the Note 9 Pro. The phone has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 720 processor, 6GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, and a 5,020 mAh battery — even bigger than the one found on the Moto G Power. It also has a large 6.67-inch LCD with slim bezels, along with four cameras on the back.
Similar to the Galaxy A71, the Redmi Note 9 Pro has similar international quirks. Not only does it lack a U.S. warranty, but Xiaomi's custom Android interface also takes some getting used to. Assuming you're fine with those two things, this is one heck of a deal.
- LCD looks very good
- 5,020 mAh battery is ginormous
- Fast and reliable performance
- Tons of RAM and storage
- Quirks of owning an international phone
The sub-$400 market is both extremely competitive and a little confusing, but there have never been more options in this price point among the best Android phones readily available. The Google Pixel 4a clearly stands out as the best possible value for the money under $400 because it's based on the same principles as Google's higher-end Pixels. That means it has the same software, features, and camera as the Pixel 4, but at a considerable discount.
Sure it's made of plastic, and the screen isn't as nice, but at this price point, you kind of expect those shortcomings. When it comes to the actual experience of using the phone on a day-to-day basis, those missing specs and features fade away, and you just experience Google's fantastic software and flagship-level camera.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Joe Maring is Android Central's Senior Editor and has had a love for anything with a screen and CPU since he can remember. He's been talking/writing about Android in one form or another since 2012 and often does so while camping out at the nearest coffee shop. Have a tip? Reach out on Twitter @JoeMaring1 or send an email to email@example.com!
Daniel Bader is the Managing Editor of Android Central. As he's writing this, a mountain of old Android phones is about to fall on his head, but his Great Dane will protect him. He drinks way too much coffee and sleeps too little. He wonders if there's a correlation.
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