The Motorola Moto G7 currently offers the best combination of performance, features, and value. It overshadows the competition with its wide availability, fast performance, and support for nearly every network in the world, beating out a number of rivals from Nokia and Honor. If you're after the best photography for the lowest cost, however, look no further than the Pixel 3a.

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.

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.

Pros:

  • Incredible camera
  • Good build quality with polycarbonate shell
  • Three years of updates
  • Clean Android build

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.

Great Value: 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

Great Value

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.

Below $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 metal-and-glass construction 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.

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:

  • MicroUSB charging
  • Not CDMA-compatible

Below $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.

Below $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

Below $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.

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 — though if you need the absolute best camera, you should absolutely buy the Pixel 3a.

Credits — The team that worked on this guide

Daniel Baderis 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 Martonikis 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 .

Jerry Hildenbrandis Mobile Nation's Senior Editor and works from a Chromebook full time. Currently he is using Google's Pixelbook but is always looking at new products and may have any Chromebook in his hands at any time. You'll find him across the Mobile Nations network and you can hit him up on Twitter if you want to say hey.

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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