Thursday, May 31, 2018

Best Cheap Smartphones: From Best to Worst

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These days you have more choices than ever before when it comes to finding the best cheap smartphones. Devices like the Moto G6, iPhone SE, LG Q7 and more. Whether that’s a cheap Android phone, unlocked budget devices, or a cheap iPhone.


If you don’t need the latest and greatest, want to sign a 2-year contract, or can’t pay over $700 for a smartphone you do have other options. In 2018, budget phones rival the best of the best and typically have features once reserved only for flagship smartphones.


Read: Best Android Phones Under $300


Millions of users are looking for a cheaper route, like budget-friendly phones under $100, $200, or even $300. We’ve gathered up the best cheap phones from popular brands, or refurbished and used devices to deliver a list of the absolute best cheap smartphones you can buy today.



Buying a premium phone like the Galaxy S9 or the iPhone X is nice, but they’re also well over $700 and too expensive for a lot of people. And just because you can’t afford one doesn’t mean you should settle for something terrible. That’s why we found deals like a pre-owned Galaxy S8 for only $299. That’s also why Motorola, Nokia, and others are putting a ton of effort into high-quality cheap phones.


Types of Cheap Phones to Consider


  • Budget Smartphones

  • Buying Used

  • Refurbished Deals

Motorola makes some of the best budget Android phones on the market. You can also get a good deal on used phones from sites like Swappa or Gazelle, usually with a warranty. Or, find a refurbished phone that’s a year old and get a high-end experience without breaking the bank. Basically, don’t just settle for the cheapest phone you find on a Verizon or AT&T shelf.


The devices outlined below are cheap, but they’re good cheap phones, and that’s what’s important. They’re actually worth your hard-earned money, instead of junk devices that’ll never get an update or last very long. Everyone is different, and each buyer has different needs or wants. That’s why our roundup below has a little of everything for potential buyers.


Best Cheap Smartphones: From Best to Worst


  1. Moto G6

  2. iPhone SE

  3. Nokia 6.1

  4. Honor 7X

  5. iPhone 6s (Pre-owned)

  6. Moto X4

  7. ZTE Blade Z Max

  8. LG Q6/Q7

  9. Moto G6 Play

  10. ASUS ZenFone V

  11. Galaxy S8 (Pre-owned)

  12. Moto E5 Play

  13. Alcatel V3

  14. Moto G5s Plus

  15. LG K30

Moto G6



Motorola’s most popular and successful smartphone was the Moto G from 2013. It’s what started the high-end budget smartphone trend, and they haven’t slowed down since. Every year Motorola makes our best cheap phones list, and the all-new Moto G6 for 2018 tops it.


If you want a high-end flagship phone without the expensive price tag the Moto G6 should be your first choice. Packing a gorgeous 5.7-inch Full HD display inside a premium all metal and glass phone. The design compares to a $700 Galaxy S9, it’s that nice.


The Moto G6 is the best phone you can get for the money. It has everything you’d expect from a phone in 2018. Small bezels around the screen, dual rear cameras, a fingerprint scanner, and good performance. Don’t forget 3GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, and microSD. You also get Turbocharging, all-day battery life, up-to-date software, and support for every major carrier. It’s unlocked and works on Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint and more.


Buy it Now for $234 at Amazon


iPhone SE



One of the main reasons people buy “cheap Android phones” is because they broke their expensive iPhone 8 or iPhone X, again. So, if you’re on a budget, can’t afford the latest Galaxy S9, or don’t want to shell out hundreds to fix a broken iPhone, just get an iPhone SE.


Loyal iOS fans can get an unrivaled smartphone experience for under $150 if they know where to look. The iPhone SE is a return to the old iPhone days, with squared edges and a 4-inch screen. That said, it packs a serious punch, runs iOS 11, has a fingerprint scanner, and takes great photos for the price you’re paying. It’s a great replacement for someone in a pinch. It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of the latest iPhone, but it does have all the essentials.


Buy it Now for $139 at Walmart


Nokia 6.1



Believe it or not, Nokia actually makes some pretty excellent Android phones. And for 2018, the new Nokia 6.1 is one of the best phones for the money. You get a premium, durable, attractive design with a big 5.5-inch screen at an affordable price.


The Nokia 6.1 has a 5.5-inch 1080p HD display, runs Android 8.1 Oreo (Android One) and will see Android P soon. You’ll also love the 18:9 long and skinny screen ratio similar to the Galaxy S9 or iPhone X. It has 16 and 8MP cameras, a powerful Snapdragon 630 processor with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage, and a microSD slot for storage expansion. Nokia packed in a big 3,000 mAh battery for all-day usage too. This gives the Moto G6 a serious run for its money.


Buy it Now for $265 on Amazon


Huawei Honor 7X



Honor is a sub-brand of Huawei, one of the largest smartphone manufacturers in the world. We’re big fans of the Honor 5X, 6X, and the new 7X. In fact, it’s on our list for the best phones under $200, because it’s only $199. However, it’s better than most more expensive phones and a lot of older devices that are starting to go on sale.


Honor’s phone has a beautiful all-metal design that feels like a $700 phone. You’ll enjoy a large 5.93-inch edge-to-edge screen with tiny bezels, similar to the Galaxy S9. Honor gives you dual rear cameras, 16 and 6MP, a fingerprint scanner, Android 8.0 Oreo and more. This phone packs a powerful 8-core processor, 3GB of RAM, and 32GB of storage. Plus, you can add a microSD card to expand storage. Considering the price, this phone has everything you’d need while looking and feeling like a much more expensive device. It’s unlocked, works with most carriers, and costs under $200. Or you can get a model with 4GB of RAM and 64GB storage for a few more dollars.


Buy it Now on Amazon for $199


iPhone 6s (Pre-owned)



This list is the best cheap smartphones you can buy, regardless of brand, operating system, or how you get it. A lot of people on a budget think a cheap Android is the only option. It’s not. In fact, there’s no reason to pass up an excellent certified pre-owned iPhone 6s from popular sites like Gazelle, your carrier, or Swappa.


Did you know you can get an iPhone 6s with a 4.7-inch Retina display, a highly capable camera, iOS 11, and everything else you love about Apple phones for under $240? Whether you find refurbished, pre-owned, or buy it used from Swappa, some start under $200 with only 16GB of storage.


Being 2018 though, you want at least 64GB for apps, games, movies, and Netflix offline downloads. That’s why we found a 64GB iPhone 6s with a warranty and a 30-point inspection certification from Gazelle for only $239. Again, it’s not the latest iPhone X but you get an extremely similar experience for a lot less money.


Buy it Now for $239 at Gazelle (or $14 a month if you’re on a tight budget)


Moto X4



In late 2017 Motorola released the 4th generation Moto X, the Moto X4. It offers a premium design with glass on the front and the back, a big 5.2-inch HD screen, dual rear cameras, IP68 dust and water-resistance, and a clean version of Android 8 Oreo.


The Moto X is no longer Motorola’s flagship smartphone, but you’d never tell by looking at it. They kept the fingerprint scanner on the front, jumped into the dual rear camera game, and put a big 3,000 mAh battery in a relatively small phone. This means it’ll last all day along with getting great performance, takes good photos, and won’t get ruined if you drop it in a pool. It’s a good little phone that you can get unlocked, from carriers, or on Google’s Project Fi network where you only pay for what you use.


Buy the Moto X4 from Project Fi for $249


ZTE Blade Z Max



The biggest trend in 2018 is long and skinny screens with small bezels. This makes phones easier to use with one hand, without making the screen tiny. We’re seeing it more and more, even from budget phones. And while the ZTE Blade Z Max is only on MetroPCS or Sprint, it’s certainly a phone worth considering.


The ZTE Blade Z Max packs a big 6-inch HD display with small bezels. You’ll also enjoy a 16MP dual rear camera setup, 32GB of storage, a microSD slot for expansion, Android 8.0 Oreo, and all-day battery life. The ‘Max” in the name is for the massive 4,080 mAh battery that’s bigger than any other phone battery on our list.


Buy the ZTE Blade Z Max for $129 at MetroPCS


LG Q6 and Q7



If you love the LG G6 or LG G7 ThinQ but can’t afford the high price tag, consider LG’s affordable choices. The LG Q6 is one of the best bezel-free cheap smartphones. It’s basically the best LG phone from late 2017 turned into a more affordable brother.


With the Q6 you’ll get a big 5.5-inch edge-to-edge 1080p HD display, a Snapdragon 435 with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage, microSD support, and a decent 13MP camera on the back. You don’t get dual rear cameras or a fingerprint scanner, but it looks like a modern high-end phone, and that’s what a lot of people want.


You can get this phone for around $224, or even less if you’re ok with some ads from Amazon built-in. There’s also an LG Q7 coming this summer that promises an upgraded experience, fingerprint scanner, and dual cameras for just a few dollars more.


Buy the LG Q6 on Amazon for $189


Moto G6 Play



If you liked what you saw from the Moto G6 but want something a little more affordable, consider the Moto G6 Play. It takes the same idea as the G6 and makes a few subtle changes to the battery and features.


The Moto G6 Play has the same big 5.7-inch screen but it’s only 720p HD. You get a single 13MP camera on the back, a 5MP front camera, a fingerprint sensor, and a slightly slower processor than the Moto G6. However, they add in a huge 4,000 mAh battery which lets you “Play” with the phone more. The lower specs and screen resolution paired with a big battery means this phone will last all day, and then some.


It’s a great well-rounded phone for someone looking to spend around $200. Just know that others have a better screen or improved performance for a similar price.


Buy it Now for $215 on Amazon


ASUS ZenFone V



The ZenFone series is basically ASUS trying to compete with the Moto G. And if the new ZenFone V for Verizon is any indication, they’re doing a pretty good job. You’d expect this phone to cost around $500, but it’s under $240. This phone has powerful internals you’d expect from a flagship phone, like a Snapdragon 820 processor and 4GB of RAM.


You get a smaller 5.2-inch 1080p HD display, a premium design, and an excellent 23MP rear camera that takes great photos. We really like the brushed aluminum design, rounded edges, and capable camera. It also packs a 3,000 mAh battery and will last all day. If you sign a contract it’s even free at Verizon Wireless.


Buy it Now for $239 at Verizon


Samsung Galaxy S8 (Pre-Owned)



Honestly, if we’re comparing these phones from best to worst the Galaxy S8 deserves to be near the top of the list. It’s barely a year old but still more powerful and capable than almost every affordable phone on the market. The Galaxy S8 delivers a stunning design with curved edges, a curved 5.8-inch AMOLED display, water-resistance, wireless charging, mobile payments and more.


Everyone knows what to expect from the Galaxy S8. It’s fast, pretty, powerful, and takes great photos with Samsung’s award-winning 12 DualPixel camera on the back. If you know where to look, you can find a used or refurbished Galaxy S8 for the same price as these “budget phones” that don’t offer nearly as great of an experience.


That’s why we’re recommending the pre-owned Galaxy S8 from BoostMobile. Obviously, this deal doesn’t apply to someone on AT&T or Verizon, but if you’re willing to switch, you’ll get a great phone.


Buy the Galaxy S8 for $299 at Boost


Moto E5 Play



Motorola knows how to make great affordable phones, and the 2018 Moto E5 Play is no exception. The E5 Play looks and feels like a much more expensive phone, but it’s not quite as nice as the Moto G6. You get a 5.2-inch 720p HD display, a capable Snapdragon 425 processor with 2-3GB of RAM, and only 16GB of space. There is a microSD card for expansion though, which is nice.


Considering how cheap it is, you can’t expect everything to be good. That’s why you’ll only get an 8MP camera on the back, 5MP front shooter, and a 2,800 mAh battery. However, it looks good, works great, runs Android 8.0 Oreo and costs under $100. It’s a truly cheap phone for someone who really can’t afford anything else at the moment.


Look, there are better phones on our list, for sure. That said, if you’re only spending $100 this is probably your best bet without signing a contract or getting on a monthly payment plan.


Buy it Now for $94 at Verizon


Alcatel V3



Another relatively unknown brand that makes pretty great cheap phones is Alcatel. We’ve recommended its Idol series in the past, but the all-new Alcatel V3 is what makes this list. Announced in May 2018, the Alcatel V3 gets you a 6-inch 1080p HD display, dual rear cameras, a fingerprint scanner, and most other bells and whistles all at an affordable price.


At first glance, the Alcatel V3 looks like most other flagship phones released this year. There’s no notch in the screen, but it’s big and stretches to all four corners of the phone. You’ll enjoy a rear-mounted fingerprint scanner, Android 8.0 Oreo, and a 3,000 mAh battery. The rear cameras are only 12 and 2MP, but it should be more than enough considering it only costs $150.


This phone has Face Unlock, a nice design, and comes with a case and screen protector in the box. Giving you everything you need to get started.


Buy it Now for $150


Moto G5S Plus



This next phone is a tough one. The Moto G5 Plus was the best cheap phone released in 2017. However, then phones started coming out with bigger bezel-free screens and dual rear cameras. So, Motorola unleashed the dual camera Moto G5S Plus.


Basically, the Moto G5S Plus is bigger, better, faster, and still under $300. It’s basically last years version of the Moto G6. So if you can save a few dollars by getting this, go for it. You’ll enjoy a 5.5-inch 1080p HD display, Android 8.0 Oreo, 4GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, and a great overall experience. We recommend the new G6 first, but this is a good alternative for those interested.


Buy it Now for $215 on Amazon


LG K30



Last but not least, for now, is the LG K30. This is LG’s “do a little of everything” phone and it’s only $139. The LG K30 is one of the best super cheap unlocked Android phones. You can use it on T-Mobile, Verizon, or AT&T, and it won’t break the bank.


The K30 delivers a 5.3-inch HD display, 8 and 5MP cameras, Android 8.0 Oreo and a pretty big 3,000 mAh battery that lasts all day. You’ll get a rear-mounted fingerprint scanner, a nice overall design, and a pretty capable phone for one low price. Again, there are better phones on our list, but if you’re really on a budget this is one worth considering.


This phone is originally $179 but most of the time you can find it for even less.


Buy it Now for $139 at Amazon


We’ll continuously monitor the market for exciting new phones and update this list as more options arrive throughout 2018.

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