This year has been a great year for smartphones in general. A year which brought with it a number of top of the line handsets and from the likes of Samsung, LG, HTC, among others. However, while the flagship devices have done well in 2015, where we have seen the biggest momentum over the past twelve months has probably been in the budget sector. This was a category which up until recently was reserved for low price/low spec devices. However, the last year has seen some really great products come through, at really great prices and sporting some really great specs. As a result, the budget Android smartphone sector has been one which has seen plenty of fierce competition. In spite of that increased competition though, there has been a number of standout affordable smartphones and here is our selection for the top three budget Android Smartphones of 2015.
3rd Place – Moto G (3rd Gen)
Sometimes budget elicits the notion of being cheap. However, if you view it from the perspective of offering value for money, then little can be argued with Motorola being a company making a budget list. While you can debate whether the Moto X is a premium or mid-range priced device, the third generation Moto G is very firmly budget priced, with a starting price of only $179.99. Although, for the money you get some seriously good hardware. Not forgetting, that this being a Moto device means that you can also can make use of Moto Maker. In fact, this was a device which not only allowed you to customize the exterior but was sold in a way that you could also customize the specs. If you were happy with 1GB RAM and 8GB for the base price, then the base price is all you had to pay. If you wanted a bit more power then you could always opt for 2GB RAM and 16GB storage for a few dollars more. The bottom line though, for $180, where else are you likely to find Moto G levels of specs, the ability to customize and a very close to stock level of Android. Motorola did not just bring to a market a very well-priced smartphone with the Moto G, but they brought to market a very good phone at a very good price.
2nd Place – ASUS ZenFone 2
The ASUS ZenFone 2 was one of those phones that a lot of people did not see coming at first. However, once ASUS announced and introduced the device, it was one which people suddenly did pay close attention to. In fact, this was one of the smartphones which came through in 2015 and first showed the market that budget does not mean low quality or specs. In reality, the ZenFone 2 was a premium spec device. At least the larger variant was and this was a device which still only crept towards the lower end of what would be considered mid-range pricing. For $299, you were looking at 4GB RAM and 64GB internal storage. For that power and that price, the ZenFone 2 quickly became one of the hottest devices around. If you were happy with a less powerful variant, then you could opt for one with 2GB RAM and 16GB internal storage and this one would only cost you $199.99. So whichever option you went for, the ZenFone 2 was an extremely aggressively priced device. One which firmly placed the ZenFone 2 as one of the best budget devices of the year. And this is before we even begin to factor in the 5MP and 13 MP front and rear cameras or the 3,000 mAh battery.
Winner – OnePlus X
Love them or hate them, OnePlus is very quickly becoming masters at offering value for money. This is an extremely new company compared to the likes of ASUS or Motorola and yet they are a company who attracts as many, if not more headlines. While some feel that their devices are too hard to buy due to the invite system, the benefit of the invite system is that OnePlus can keep costs as low as possible – while still managing to offer very premium devices. Their debut device was one of the best devices of 2014 and yet it was one which came with a mid-range price. A year later and OnePlus repeated the feat with the OnePlus 2 which also came with top of the line specs, but again, for a mid-range price. However, the OnePlus X is where the company took things just a little bit further.
The OnePlus X is the first device to be offered by OnePlus as an even more affordable alternative to their already affordable flagship device and this is a smartphone which for $250, will net you the best specs of last year. Specs which are still very much relevant on a number of smartphones that have been released this year. 3GB RAM and the Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 power the device, while the camera prowess comes in the form of a 13-megapixel rear camera and an 8-megapixel front facing camera. Not forgetting, the OnePlus X comes running on Android 5.1.1 (in the form of Oxygen OS) and boasts a 1920 x 1080 resolution display.
However, it is not just just the inside that differs and sets the OnePlus X apart from the likes of the ZenFone 2 or the Moto G. While they both rightfully offered great value for money, they do compromise a little on the build quality. This is not the case with the OnePlus X which offers an extremely premium build for its price. One which combined with the specs makes it difficult to argue against the OnePlus X being the best budget smartphone of 2015.