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. So 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 Android Smartphone
- Best value Android phone under $400: TCL 20S Android Smartphone
- Best 5G Android phone under $400: OnePlus Nord N200 5G
- Best cameras on an Android phone under $400: Nokia 5.4
- Best battery on an Android phone under $400: Moto G Power (2020) Android Smartphone
- Best display on an Android phone under $400: Samsung Galaxy A52 Android Smartphone
- Best international Android phone under $400: Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro Android Smartphone
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 20S
There's no denying just how good of a phone the Pixel 4a is, but we also understand if it's a bit more money than you were hoping to spend. However, if you're trying to keep costs even lower, you owe it to yourself to consider the TCL 20S. Hands down, it has some of the best specs and features you'll find in this price bracket.
For starters, the TCL 20S has an excellent display. It's a 6.67-inch Full HD+ LCD panel, with its secret weapon being TCL's NXTVISION technology. This allows for a sharper image and more vibrant colors, creating a great canvas for games, movies, and more. The internals for the TCL 20S are just as great, with the phone offering good performance, 128GB of expandable storage, and a large 5,000 mAh battery. Its 64MP main sensor dramatically improves the 48MP shooter on the 10L, and the 20S is guaranteed to get updated to Android 12.
We're happy that the TCL 20S includes an NFC chip, which allows for contactless Google Pay payments, and you can also summon the Google Assistant via a dedicated key. It is available in two gorgeous colors, North Star Blue and Milky Way Black.
- Crisp and vibrant display
- 5,000 mAh battery
- Has an NFC chip
- Improved primary camera
- No 5G
- No official IP water-resistance rating
Best 5G Android phone under $400: OnePlus Nord N200 5G
As 5G networks continue to grow worldwide, the technology is also starting to make its way into ever more affordable phones. For example, the OnePlus Nord N200 5G is not only one of the cheapest 5G-enabled phones we've ever seen, but it's also one of the best phones you can buy for under $400.
To start with, the N200 5G shares the same design language as the much more expensive OnePlus 9 series and continues OnePlus's tradition of beautiful blue gradient finishes. It may be made of plastic, but you'd never know it, thanks to the coloring and matte texture on the back. The screen is a full HD+ LCD with a 90Hz refresh rate, and it even comes with NFC for contactless payments and 18W fast charging (though not OnePlus's Warp Charging). You also get a fast and responsive side-mounted fingerprint sensor and 3.5mm headphone jack, though you lose out on the alert slider on higher-end OnePlus devices.
By far, the best thing this phone has going for it is its 5G connectivity for such a low price. That and the build should make this phone last a long time in your hand, though it is limited to one major Android platform update.
- One of the most affordable 5G phones
- Beautiful design
- 90Hz refresh rate
- Fantastic battery life
- No alert slider
- Middling cameras
- Only one Android update
Best cameras on an Android phone under $400: Nokia 5.4
Like the 7.2, the Nokia 5.4 offers a clean version of Android with practically no bloatware and a promise of two years of software updates, including three years of monthly security patches. While certainly not the most powerful or feature-packed phone on this list, it is more than capable of handling most of your daily tasks, from web browsing to social media to video consumption.
The big upgrade from its predecessor, the Nokia 5.3, is in its cameras. The primary sensor made a massive jump from 13MP in the 5.3 to 48MP in the 5.4. In addition, Nokia's AI and the Qualcomm Snapdragon 662 allow for a snappy camera app experience, with good colors and cinematic video recording.
The other three cameras didn't appear to change much from the 5.3, at least on paper. You still get a 2MP depth camera, a 2MP macro camera, a 5MP ultra-wide camera, and a 16MP selfie camera. You can take or leave the 2MP shooters, but our testing found the 5MP ultra-wide very usable. Sometimes the shots could appear a little washed out, but that was nothing that a basic touchup in Google Photos couldn't fix. All in all, we were very pleased with these cameras — especially for the price!
- Android One software is clean and simple
- Guaranteed software update future
- Quad-camera system
- Sleek hardware with interesting colors
- Big screen and suitably large battery
- Slow fingerprint scanner
- No official waterproofing or wireless charging
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 A52
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 A52.
As we noted in our Galaxy A52 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 colorways make the A52 look and feel like a much more expensive phone. Further contributing to this is the 6.5-inch AMOLED display with a 90Hz refresh rate. It's large, vibrant, and offers great visibility in direct sunlight. It's even better, paired with slim bezels (except for a small chin at the bottom) and a small hole-punch cutout for the selfie camera. The Galaxy A52 also delivers fast performance, a large 4,500 mAh battery, and four rear cameras that can take excellent photos.
You can find the A52 for well under $400 right now, which makes it a perfect high-end budget phone. There is also a 5G variant available, but that is priced closer to $500. Note that this version below is an international variant. It should work just fine on GSM networks like T-Mobile and AT&T, but not on CDMA carriers like Verizon.
- 90Hz AMOLED display is stunning
- Sleek, modern design
- Solid cameras
- Three guaranteed Android updates
- Doesn't have 5G
- Made from plastic
- No 4K 60fps video recording
Best international Android phone under $400: Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro
Speaking of international phones, we'd like to highlight that another one isn't officially available in the U.S. in any capacity. We've long been fans of the Redmi Note series. The 10 Pro is just the latest in that line. It's another outstanding piece of tech that delivers a phenomenal experience at an even better price.
Looking at the spec sheet, a lot is going for the Note 10 Pro. The phone has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 732G processor, 6GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, and a 5,050 mAh battery — even bigger than the one found on the Moto G Power. It also has a large 6.67-inch AMOLED with slim bezels, along with four cameras on the back.
Similar to the Galaxy A52, the Redmi Note 10 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. Plus, the device only works on GSM networks, so you're out of luck if you are on Verizon. Assuming you're fine with those things, however, this is one heck of a deal.
- AMOLED looks very good
- 5,050 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 expect those shortcomings. However, when it comes to the experience of using the phone on a day-to-day basis, those missing specs and features fade away, and you experience Google's fantastic software and flagship-level camera.
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