Best overall

Moto G5 Plus

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Motorola performed yet another pricing miracle with the Moto G5 Plus, the successor to last year's excellent Moto G4 series and a contender for the best affordable smartphone today.

It starts with the excellent 5.2-inch Full HD display, but the real benefit to the G5 Plus this year is the excellent performance and battery life from the combination of a Snapdragon 625 platform and a 3000mAh battery.

Also of note is the improved low-light performance from the 12MP camera, which boasts the same hardware as (and similar results to) the Galaxy S7.

Bottom line: This is the best sub-$250 phone you can buy today, and it's still a great device even if price isn't a factor.

One more thing: Motorola.com is offering the Moto G5 Plus with inexpensive financing if you don't want to pay up front.

Why the Moto G5 Plus is the best

Last year, we recommended the $199.99 Moto G4 over its $249.99 Plus variant, but this year the only distinction is between memory and storage amounts: the Moto G5 Plus comes in either a $229.99 2GB RAM / 32GB storage version, or a $299.99 4GB RAM / 64GB storage version — they are otherwise identical.

With either decision, you'll be happy with your purchase. Motorola has changed up the phone's design this year, adding a metal back and a more compact, mature look that complements the Moto Z series, and the excellent 5.2-inch IPS display is much more manageable in one hand. Also more manageable is the improved shape of the front fingerprint sensor, which is turned oblong and considerably easier to activate.

Motorola has also bestowed a fantastic camera on the Moto G5 Plus this year, giving it the same 12MP sensor and lens combination that's in the Galaxy S7 — though the results aren't quite as good. The phone isn't perfect — there's no NFC on the U.S. model, and it still uses the older Micro-USB charging port — but it's close.

And if you buy it through Amazon, you can save $45 on the base model, bringing it down to $184.99!

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Best for dual camera

ZTE Blade V8 Pro

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Who would have thought that a device with an absurd name like the Blade V8 Pro (it sounds like a weaponized drink) would end up on this list, but here we are. ZTE has done an amazing thing: make a big, plastic phone that adds up to far greater than the sum of its parts. The 5.5-inch 1080p display is fantastic, and it runs like a dream on the Snapdragon 625. There's a massive 3,100mAh battery inside, too, to go along with the dual-13MP cameras, something you don't see from this class of phone.

Bottom line: The ZTE Blade V8 Pro has everything going for it, including great hardware, endless battery life and competent cameras.

One more thing: The phone runs Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow, with no timeline for an upgrade to Nougat.

Best all-metal

Honor 6X

Honor 6X

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For the new year the Honor 6X replaces its predecessor the 5X on this list. While you won't be blown away by magnificent design or all of the top-end features, the Honor 6X is an exercise in what you can get for about $250. You get a good enough screen, expandable storage and a fingerprint sensor, wrapped in a metal body that's better than the plastic offerings out there. There's also a neat dual camera setup around back that can take interesting-looking shots.

Sure it's stuck on Micro-USB and the software has yet to make the jump to Huawei's new EMUI 5.0 (and we can't wait for that to come), but you can't get that complete of a package in a phone this inexpensive.

Bottom-line: It doesn't offer everything, but it's a solid package for the money.

One more thing: Keep an eye out for discounts and promotional "flash sales" at lower prices.

Best for even less

Moto E4

Moto E4

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The Moto E line has always been about getting a barebones smartphone experience in order to get a super low price, and that's where the Moto E4 still lands. The specs aren't amazing, nor is the physical design, but you get that core Moto DNA that means this is a slick little phone for a great price.

You get a 5-inch HD display, a Snapdragon 425 processor, and 2800mAh battery. But you also get nice-to-haves at this price, like an 8MP auto focus camera and a fingerprint sensor.

It all retails for just $129 brand new, and it's tough to argue with that. Amazon has a Prime Exclusive version for $99, and Verizon's prepaid service charges just $70 for this phone — both are a steal of a deal.

Bottom-line: For a bargain basement price, it's tough to get a phone that performs better or has the features of the Moto E4.

One more thing: Be on the lookout for better deals and sales — this is a phone that will be discounted regularly to entice budget buyers.

Best in Europe

Wileyfox Swift 2 X

Wileyfox Swift 2 X

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The Wileyfox Swift 2 X is the British company's latest budget phone, an update to the previous Swift 2. You're getting a 5.2-inch 1080p display in a solid body, filled with surprisingly good specs: a Snapdragon 430, 3GB of RAM, 3010mAh battery with Quick Charge, 16MP camera, fingerprint sensor, NFC and dual SIMs.

At £219 the Swift 2X competes nicely with the other budget offerings from Moto, while offering a bit more hardware style and a different software experience. You get a clean version of Android 7.1.1 here, and Wileyfox has historically been surprisingly good with software updates as well.

Bottom-line: For those in Europe looking something a little nicer than a Moto G4 Play, with a fresh software experience, the Swift 2 X is a good choice.

One more thing: Don't be tempted by the cheaper Wileyfox models. The Swift 2 X is the only one we recommend.

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Conclusion

If you don't want to spend over $250 and still want a great Android phone, the Moto G5 Plus is the best choice. You don't get the best looking or feeling phone, but it offers a top-notch experience, especially for the price.

Best overall

Moto G5 Plus

See at Amazon

Motorola performed yet another pricing miracle with the Moto G5 Plus, the successor to last year's excellent Moto G4 series and a contender for the best affordable smartphone today.

It starts with the excellent 5.2-inch Full HD display, but the real benefit to the G5 Plus this year is the excellent performance and battery life from the combination of a Snapdragon 625 platform and a 30000mAh battery.

Also of note is the improved low-light performance from the 12MP camera, which boasts the same hardware as (and similar results to) the Galaxy S7.

Bottom line: This is the best sub-$250 phone you can buy today, and it's still a great device even if price isn't a factor.

One more thing: Motorola.com is offering the Moto G5 Plus with inexpensive financing if you don't want to pay up front.

Best Android phones under $400
Best Android phones under $100

Updated July 2017: The $229 Moto G5 Plus is still our top pick, but we've removed the Moto G4 Play in favor of the Moto E4 and updated our "for Europe" pick to the newer Wileyfox Swift 2 X.