Best Cheap Android Phones Android Central 2019

It's 2019, and flagship smartphones are all nearly a thousand dollars or more. But as high-end phones get more expensive, cheaper phones are getting better. Phones under $300 are beautifully designed, with great screens, super-long battery life, excellent cameras, and awesome speakers. We've researched and ranked all of the best cheap Android phones you can buy and with our buyer's guide you'll find the perfect phone for you.

Best Overall: Moto G7

The Moto G7 and its other budget counterparts on this list have awesome, high-resolution touchscreens, reliable software, and great cameras. Some features, like NFC, drive up manufacturing costs, so you have to weigh whether you need NFC-enabled features like mobile payments. And the Moto G7 also lacks the same graphical power as its more expensive competitors, but most games play without issue, even at medium or high settings, because Android games are designed to play on hardware of all sizes and prices.

At the same time, Motorola's given the G7 a computational and memory upgrade, shipping the new Snapdragon 632 along with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage standard, numbers that would have been unheard of in a $300 phone just two years ago.

The Moto G7 has all the major features you need from a modern smartphone.

Motorola has had years of practice making the Moto G line into a budget powerhouse; when it designed the first Moto G back in 2013, it eschewed expensive materials like metal and glass and focused instead on the core experience. Starting in 2016, Motorola began finding ways to add important features like fingerprint sensors, and now the Moto G7 is made from a premium-feeling and resilient plastic frame and is covered on the front and back with Gorilla Glass.

But while the Moto G lineup tends to use less expensive components and materials, Motorola's excellent manufacturing results in a device that does not sacrifice quality.

At the same time, Motorola understands its audience, which is why it includes a dual camera setup to the Moto G7. The second camera adds depth effects like portrait mode without sacrificing the excellent pedigree of the main 12MP sensor.

Finally, if you're in the U.S., the Moto G7 is one of the few sub-$300 phones to work on all four U.S. carriers, and it's even sold at directly at a few carriers, another advantage of Motorola's long-standing relationship with companies like Verizon.

Pros:

  • Great build quality and design
  • Excellent main rear camera
  • Compatible with all major U.S. and international carriers
  • Moto Display adds tremendous value
  • Comes with Android 9 Pie

Cons:

  • Moto G line isn't known for swift software updates
  • Lacks NFC

Best Overall

Moto G7

The best budget Android phone for most people

Motorola's 2019 Moto G is well-built, nicely-designed, and has some excellent upgrades over its predecessor, including a faster processor, improved display, and rear fingerprint sensor.

Best Value: Nokia 6.1

The Nokia 6.1 packs a lot of phone into its $229 price tag. It may be a year old at this point, but the phone's got a lot of life left thanks to its Android One software and promise of at least two years of platform updates (it was already updated from Oreo to Pie last October). Unlike the Moto G7, it has a rigid aluminum frame and you can feel the 182-gram heft as soon as you pick it up. The front is covered with 5.5-inch 1080p LCD display in a bit of a dated 16:9 aspect ratio, but that's really the only whiff of antiquity you'll find on this excellent device.

A Snapdragon 630 and 3GB of RAM ensures that there's breathing room for performance — and Nokia's always been excellent about maintaining excellent performance on its budget phones, while releasing regular security patches and bug fixes to round things out — and a 3,000mAh battery keeps the phone alive all day and well into the evening. In our review, we pointed out that the Nokia 6.1 is a huge upgrade over the original Nokia 6, especially in the performance department.

The camera is also pretty good for the price segment, though it's not at the same level as the Moto G7, nor our upgrade pick, the Pixel 3a. But for $229, this is one of the best values in smartphones around.

Pros:

  • Durable chassis with outstanding build quality
  • Clean software and timely updates
  • All-day battery life with USB-C charging

Cons:

  • Average camera
  • 16:9 display

Best Value

Nokia 6.1

An incredible smartphone with superb build quality and performance for the price.

Nokia's hit the balance between price and performance with the Nokia 6.1. It's not quite as feature-filled at the Moto G7 or the Nokia 7.1, but for $229 there isn't a better deal in town.

Upgrade Pick: Google Pixel 3a

The Pixel 3a manages to pack all of the best parts of the standard Pixel 3 into a more affordable package by using a middle-of-the-road chipset and a polycarbonate body. The result is a nearly identical-looking phone for hundreds less that takes incredible photos using the same image processing and Night Sight technology.

While it'll run you an extra Benjamin over the Moto G7, the Pixel 3a is without a doubt the phone you should look at if photography is your main priority. It's not just good for its price, the Pixel 3a takes some of the best photos of any phone on the market, even though it only has one lens. You also get a squeaky clean build of Android with three years of guaranteed software updates. It's also available at three of the four major U.S. carriers, which is a first for the Pixel lineup.

Pros:

  • Incredible camera
  • Good build quality with polycarbonate shell
  • Three years of updates
  • Clean Android build
  • Available at most carriers

Cons:

  • $400 isn't super cheap
  • Performance is a bit slow

Upgrade Pick

Google Pixel 3a

The uncontested budget photography king

The Pixel 3a takes absolutely stunning photos, using the same image processing as the standard Pixel 3, and comes with the promise of three years of software updates. It's a bit pricey compared to other phones on this list, but it's the best photography option by a mile.

Best Features: Samsung Galaxy A50

Samsung isn't usually associated with good cheap phones — at least that used to be the case — but in 2019 the company has invested tremendously in its new Galaxy A line, bringing the best features of its flagships down to a much more reasonable price bracket. The Galaxy A50 is one such beneficiary, with a beautiful 6.4-inch Super AMOLED display — probably the best on this list — along with a super-fast Exynos 9610 processor, 4GB of RAM, 64GB of storage, and a huge 4,000mAh battery.

But the pièce de résistance of the Galaxy A50 is its triple rear camera setup, which includes a main 25MP sensor, an 8MP secondary super wide-angle camera, and a third 5MP sensor for depth. There's also a massive 25MP front-facing selfie camera, too, hidden in the teardrop notch.

To justify its $275 to $350 price (depending on where you buy it), Samsung's included an under-display fingerprint sensor, something missing on all the other phones on this list. Samsung's also making a big deal of its One UI software, which runs on top of Android 9 Pie.

Pros

  • Big, beautiful AMOLED display
  • Excellent triple camera setup
  • Samsung's One UI is among the best Android skins around
  • Huge 4,000mAh battery

Cons

  • Unlocked model lacks NFC
  • Main camera isn't quite as good as Nokia 7.1 or Pixel 3a

Best Features

Samsung Galaxy A50

Samsung's best budget phone in years.

Samsung's bringing its A-game with the Galaxy A50, a fantastic device that you can (and should) pick up for under $300 if you value plenty of features and a beautiful display.

Best Build Quality: Nokia 7.1

The Nokia 7.1 brings a ton of value to a $350 unlocked phone. From the dual camera setup that shoots impressive low-light photos to the premium-feeling 6000-series aluminum design, you would be forgiven for thinking this device costs double its actual retail price.

The best part isn't even the hardware — the phone ships with Android 9 Pie on board, and thanks to Android One, will get two years of platform updates and security patches. The downside is that it's only compatible with GSM carriers like AT&T and T-Mobile in the U.S., meaning that if you're on Sprint, Verizon, or one of their prepaid subsidiaries, you're out of luck.

Pros:

  • Beautiful glass and metal design
  • Two years of updates and security patches
  • Clean and simple Android One software
  • Cameras are relatively good in low light
  • Snapdragon 636 is speedy

Cons:

  • No CDMA carrier support
  • Not everyone will love the notch

Best Build Quality

Nokia 7.1

Way more phone for a little more cash

The Nokia 7.1 packs a whole lot of phone into $350. It has a powerful Snapdragon 636 processor and 4GB of RAM, along with ample 64GB storage and a beautiful 5.85-inch screen. If you don't mind a bit of a notch, it's a looker, too, with a sharp aluminum frame and a lovely dual camera rear design.

Best Battery Life: Moto G7 Power

If you're more into viewing content than worrying about how good that content looks, the Moto G7 Power is the better choice than the Moto G7 — or practically any other budget handset. It's got a massive 5,000mAh battery that keeps it going longer than practically any phone on the market, but trades in some screen resolution — its 6.2-inch display is only 720p, compared to the 1080p panel on the main Moto G7.

Other than that, though, the Moto G7 Power has the same basic specs as the G7 — a Snapdragon 632 processor and 3GB of RAM, as well as a rear fingerprint sensor and a 12MP rear camera. It also features Motorola's excellent Android software, which takes Google's stock Android Pie and adds a bunch of Moto Experiences, including an unmatched ambient display and some handy gestures.

But really, at $249 the main draw here is the price — and the amount of crazy uptime you're going to get with this phone. If you're not the kind of person who likes to charge their phone every night, or just uses it all the time, this is the one to get.

Pros:

  • Huge battery lasts days, not hours
  • Great software experience
  • Decent rear camera
  • Nice design
  • Works on all four U.S. carriers

Cons

  • Low-res 720p display with a notch
  • Motorola has a poor software update track record
  • No NFC support

Best Battery Life

Moto G7 Power

The biggest battery you'll find today.

If battery life is your primary concern, and screen or photo quality less so, the Moto G7 Power is the best phone you can buy. Just beware of slow updates.

Best Under $200: Nokia 4.2

If you were impressed by the Nokia 7.1's build materials for the money, the Nokia 4.2 features the same design, and similar construction (the frame is metal but the body is plastic) for just over half the price. Its tiny teardrop notch means you get an almost all-display device, and you still get Android 9 Pie thanks to the phone being part of the Android One program.

There's a fingerprint sensor along the back, and a dedicated Google Assistant button on the side for quick voice commands. The power button doubles as a notification LED, glowing different colors to denote specific apps, and remarkably, this $190 phone has NFC to allow for Google Pay — something you almost never see in this price range.

You do have to sacrifice a bit of performance, but in the end, Nokia's latest is a steal at under $200.

Pros:

  • Outstanding build materials
  • NFC-compatible
  • Android One with Pie out of the box
  • Notification LED in the power button
  • Smooth performance over Snapdragon 439

Cons:

  • Micro- USB charging
  • Not CDMA-compatible

Best Under $200

Nokia 4.2

Excellent hardware and clean software on the cheap

The Nokia 4.2 has a fantastic metal and glass design and a clean build of Android 9 Pie with the promise of timely, continued updates thanks to Android One. It even has NFC for mobile payments. For under $200, there's really not a lot to complain about.

Best Under $100: Alcatel 1X

There's not much fancy or extravagant about the Alcatel 1X; it's all plastic, and has a mere 1GB of RAM. But if all you need is a basic smartphone to make calls, browse the web and social media, and take a few photos of questionable quality, the 1X is a great option.

It runs Android Go Edition, a scaled-back version of the operating system that's optimized to run well on low-level hardware. That hardware isn't all bad, either; the 5.3-inch display is refreshingly easy to use in one hand, and has a modern 18:9 aspect ratio for squeezing in as much content as possible. You also get a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor, and the 1X is compatible with both AT&T and T-Mobile's networks.

Pros:

  • Extremely affordable
  • Fingerprint sensor for quick authentication
  • Android Go is optimized for inexpensive hardware
  • Compatible with GSM networks in the U.S.

Cons:

  • Very modest specs
  • Weak camera performance

Best Under $100

Alcatel 1X

An awesome Android experience under a hundred

Priced under $100, the Alcatel 1X runs Android Oreo Go Edition, Google's suite of apps and software optimizations to make Android run great on less-expensive hardware.

Best With a Caveat: Honor 8X

Honor is a Huawei subsidiary but is increasingly releasing great phones that stand out on their own. The Honor 8X is one of the best budget phones you can buy, but it's not really available in the U.S. Instead, it's marketed in European and Asian markets, and competes with the likes of Xiaomi, OPPO and Vivo for the increasingly-important slice of the low-cost market. As a result Honor packs a lot of great features into the 8X, including a fast processor, 4GB of RAM, 64GB of storage, and a fantastic dual camera setup on the back. There's also a massive 3750mAh battery on board to ensure all-day uptime.

The blue version also has this gorgeous pattern on the glass back that refracts light and makes it beautiful to look at and a joy to hold.

U.S. buyers take note: The version on Amazon US is an international model and won't work on Sprint or Verizon or any of their MVNOs. It will work perfectly on AT&T and T-Mobile. It also has no U.S. warranty.

Pros

  • Big, vivid display
  • Huge battery
  • Great camera quality

Cons

  • Honor phones are affected by Huawei trade ban
  • Software updates may not be prompt
  • Micro-USB port for charging
  • Will only work on AT&T and T-Mobile in the U.S.
  • No U.S. warranty

Best With a Caveat

Honor 8X

A fantastic value device with a huge battery.

You'd be hard-pressed to find a phone with better value for your dollar (or pound, in this case) than the Honor 8X.

Best Outside the U.S.: Xiaomi Redmi Note 7

If you don't know the Redmi brand from Xiaomi, you should probably learn about it. The company doesn't officially sell its products in the U.S., but the Chinese company has been expanding like crazy into India and parts of Asia and Europe. The Redmi brand is its budget line, taking on Honor, OPPO and Vivo, and the Redmi Note 7 is one of the best deals you can find.

Like the Honor 8X, if you're in the U.S. you're buying a phone that wasn't really made for that market — but it will work great on AT&T and T-Mobile (and their sub-brands Cricket and Metro, along with other MVNOs). But Xiaomi is a company that you should probably learn more about, because the Redmi Note 7, with its Snapdragon 660 processor, 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage — all for under $200 — is one of the best deals in town.

The back has a massive 48MP camera, along with a second 5MP sensor for depth, and the 6.35-inch display is incredible for the price.

U.S. buyers take note: The version on Amazon US is an international model and won't work on Sprint or Verizon or any of their MVNOs. It will work perfectly on AT&T and T-Mobile. It also has no U.S. warranty.

Pros

  • Amazing specs and performance for the price
  • Nice, simple design with teardrop notch
  • Comparatively huge rear camera for the segment
  • USB-C charging
  • Huge 4,000mAh battery

Cons

  • MIUI isn't for everyone
  • Not compatible with Sprint or Verizon
  • No U.S. warranty

Best Outside The U.S.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 7

A great phone that you may want to import.

Xiaomi isn't a huge brand in North America but it's building great budget phones like the Redmi Note 7. With some of the best specs for the price, along with a huge battery and a lovely design, the Note 7 is one of the best deals around.

Bottom line

There's no shortage of awesome Android phones these days, whether you want to spend more than $700, less than $300, or even $100. The above phones represent the best of a set limitation — that of not wanting to overspend on a product that, inevitably, will need to be replaced in a couple of years.

But that's the beauty of a device that costs a third of what you'd spend on a Galaxy S10 or Pixel 3. It offers 90% of what those phones cost and can be replaced more easily. While you may miss out on some of the more advanced features like waterproofing and wireless charging, and you may not receive as many updates, or for as long, these phones represent a new breed of budget devices you can feel confident in buying.

And the Moto G7 is the best value of the bunch.

Credits — The team that worked on this guide

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.

Andrew Martonik is the Executive Editor, U.S. at Android Central. He has been a mobile enthusiast since the Windows Mobile days, and covering all things Android-related with a unique perspective at AC since 2012. For suggestions and updates, you can reach him at andrew.martonik@androidcentral.com or on Twitter at @andrewmartonik.

Hayato Huseman is a recovering trade show addict and video editor for Android Central based out of Indianapolis. He can mostly be found complaining about the cold and enthusing about prog metal on Twitter at @hayatohuseman . Got a tip or inquiry? Drop him a line at hayato@mobilenations.com.

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