Ordinarily, fall's IFA 2019 event provides a perfect opportunity to check out new high-value Android smartphones. This year, new offerings a bit on the slim side. Moreover, nothing really seems to land from that event until later on in the month at the earliest.
There will certainly be a few high-value devices from those that will be worthy of being included here. But this is, after all, the Android Headlines "Top 10 Best Value Smartphones You Can Buy Right Now." User reviews, Android Headlines reviews, and other reports about those devices may change whether or not they can be dubbed truly great devices and included later on.
In the meantime, little has changed for Huawei in its ongoing struggle to spread its high-value offerings westward or to work with companies like Google. OnePlus, conversely, has apparently pulled down pages for its OnePlus 7 on its global site, among others. That effectively relegates the company to the flagship end of the market and off of this list.
As a result, there's been at least a slight stir in this admittedly somewhat subjective ranking, as has a recent review period spent with the Nokia 7.1. Without further ado, here is Android Headlines's top ten best smartphones that deliver the highest value at below the premium price mark for September 2019.
10. Xiaomi Mi 9T
With a 6.39-inch AMOLED FHD+ (2340 x 1080) display with no punch-holes, notches, or waterdrop cutouts, Xiaomi's Mi 9T is still one of the best devices to be found in the value segment. For right around $300, it's also among the best equipped Android smartphones on the market, making it an exceptional value at a price that's not too high.
That display does fully support HDR content and houses an in-display fingerprint scanner. But one of the most prominent features here is going to be the cameras. Around the back of the device is a triple camera with a 48-megapixel wide-angle primary snapper. An 8-megapixel telephoto lens and 13-megapixel 124-degree wide-angle lens back that up. The cameras not only take great photos but allow video shooting at 4K and up to 960 frames-per-second for high-detail slow-motion captures.
Another aspect that makes this handset great is the fact that Xiaomi includes a Snapdragon 730 SoC backed up by 6GB RAM and 64GB storage. A 4,000mAh, 18-watt fast-charging battery can be found powering that. All of that hardware is used to present users with a near-stock Android 9 Pie experience which is fully expected to be updated to Android 10 in the future.
There's no notches or cutouts, conversely, thanks to Xiaomi's decision to include its front-facing 20-megapixel camera on a mechanical pop-up mechanism. That keeps the aesthetic of the body, available in a stunning Flame Red or Glacier Blue, looking clean. Those who don't want a gradient can opt instead for a carbon fiber-inspired Carbon Black variant.Xiaomi Mi 9T - Amazon - $296
9. Razer Phone 2
There is at least one other smartphone here with a slightly better processor but, for those who are looking for a gaming-centric device, the Razer Phone 2 is going to be it. For anybody else, it's going to be a hard deal to pass up anyway since it delivers one of the best display experiences around for around half its original cost.
Packed with a Snapdragon 845 flagship chipset from the last generation with 8GB of RAM and 64GB of expandable storage, the Razer Phone 2 is an absolute powerhouse. The QHD 5.72-inch display pushes near-stock Android 9 Pie at a whopping 120Hz refresh rate. That's only an LCD panel but the screen and dual-forward-firing speakers also deliver HDR and Dolby Digital Plus 5.1.
Underpinning that, tucked cleanly into a unique candy bar IP67-rated frame, is a 4,000mAh capacity battery. That can be charged via wireless or standard cable.
For cameras, buyers get two 12-megapixel cameras at the back and an 8-megapixel selfie snapper. Just below the primary cameras is a neat logo all lit up with LEDs and ready to be customized.
Upon close inspection, all of that should equate to a package that leaves the mid-range category well behind. In reality, it absolutely does. This is a phone that starts out on Amazon priced at over $799. It also happens to be on sale for right around $399.99 for a bit longer. For just a few bucks more, Razer will send a case along with that.
Razer hasn't said whether the Razer Phone 2 will ever receive Android 10. But if all of that that doesn't make the Razer Phone 2 one of the most high-value Android smartphones around, nothing will.Razer Phone 2 - Amazon - $399
8. OPPO Reno Z
Purely in terms of design, OPPO's Reno Z is a masterclass-level device, with a high-contour Gorilla Glass 5 panel offering minute hints at the internal components and its overall value compared to other Android smartphones. That frame is available in both Aurora Purple and Jet Black. That's accented by an "O-Dot anti-abrasion structure" and a slightly off-color center stripe with branding.
The O-Dot is designed to protect two rear cameras with a 48-megapixel sensor and an LED flash, giving the device a unique look. The edges are all rounded too, for a great in-hand feel to match the aesthetic.
Aside from a water-drop notch, also housing a forward-firing speaker and earpiece, there are almost no bezels at the front. The camera in that is a 32-megapixel sensor.
At 6.4-inches, the OPPO Reno Z's AMOLED Full HD+ display panel delivers a screen-to-body ratio of 92-percent. A fingerprint scanner is found underneath the glass. Also under the hood, there's plenty of power to spare. That's thanks to a MediaTek P90 SoC with either 4GB or 8GB RAM. OPPO supplies 128GB of expandable storage. The battery is a 4,035mAh capacity unit with rapid charging via VOOC Flash Charge 3.0.
OPPO's biggest features in the Reno Z all come down to software, however. Looking past the Dolby Atmos-tuned speakers and "frame-by-frame" optimizations provided by Game Boost 2.0, this device is going to provide a great photography experience. MFNR and HDR algorithms couple with electronic image stabilization, multi-frame noise reduction, a plethora of modes and tools, and "Ultra Night Mode 2.0" for one of the best camera experiences around.
All of that makes the Reno Z a solid offering from OPPO at under $400. The only thing holding this handset back is its comparatively limited availability.OPPO Reno Z
7. Sony Xperia 10/10 Plus
Two mid-range smartphones that would go amiss on any value-focused Android device list are Sony's Xperia 10 and Xperia 10 Plus.
Sony took the opportunity presented by the Xperia 10 and the "Plus" counterpart to bring together the latest from each of its previously split tech units. Now, because Sony opted for a much taller format, 21:9, these handsets are a bit on the niche side. But the 6- and 6.5-inch full HD+ resolution displays harbor something other phones don't have. The screen here is not just media-friendly but which shows colors with cinematic accuracy.
Tech has also been brought over from Sony's camera division. The unit is responsible for sensors in such a wide variety of phones that, without a wider recent entry into that space from Samsung, it would effectively be the smartphone camera supplier. In this case, that means a dual-lens 13-megapixel and 5-megapixel primary snapper in the Xperia 10. The secondary camera in the Plus version adds 2x optical zoom at 8-megapixels.
For audio, Sony's experts deliver Hi-Res Audio backed by DSEE HX and LDAC encoding from the company.
Setting aside that each is expected to receive Android 10 and its optimizations, both of these handsets already ships with capable Snapdragon SoCs. Either 3GB or 4GB of memory back that up, depending on the model, with 64GB storage in both.
So the display, camera, and audio here are coupled with plenty of power to drive a more premium experience to match the build. Prices start at $323 for the Sony Xperia 10 and $333 for the Xperia 10 Plus. The larger model in a Black coloration, with no U.S. warranty or CDMA support, costs just $327.Sony Xperia 10 - Amazon - $323 Sony Xperia 10 Plus - Amazon - $333
6. Samsung Galaxy A50
Samsung's Galaxy A50 keeps on coming down in price and currently hits the wallet at just short of $264 on Amazon. That's down $4 from last month's nearly $100 price drop which coincided with the launch of the next entry. In fact, that doesn't just make it the least expensive of the 'high-value' Android smartphones here. It very nearly puts it ahead of that other handset.
Pricing isn't everything but Samsung has made sure that its Galaxy A50 delivers where it matters too. At its surface, Samsung includes an in-display fingerprint reader and 6.4-inch near-bezel-free Super AMOLED Infinity-U display. Underneath, the OEM includes its own Exynos processor. That's a capable Samsung-built chipset driving Android 9 Pie-based OneUI and driven by a sizeable 4,000mAh battery.
Now OneUI means that everything stays in reach of a thumb despite the large screen, making the Samsung Galaxy A50 easier to use overall. Super AMOLED means that blacks are created by turning pixels off for the darkest contrasts. But Samsung's wallet-friendly mid-ranger also has a decent camera, informed by its flagships just like everything else.
The cost is decided based on warranty status, region, color, and storage options. Buyers can select from four different colors to match their personality and style preferences.
So what Android users get in buying a Samsung "Galaxy A" series device at the budget end here, is a list of the latest features with just enough hardware to keep things smooth. That experience should only improve with Android 10, if and when Samsung releases it to the A-series.Samsung Galaxy A50 - Amazon - $265
5. Samsung Galaxy A70
Samsung followed up its Galaxy A50 with a device that builds on what that other device started in pretty much every way. Dubbed the Galaxy A70, the company's second high-value Android smartphone on this list isn't too much more expensive either.
That's because Samsung has redesigned its handset families to espouse everything that makes its smartphones great. Each successive increase in price, rather than delivering a completely new experience, bolsters what's there with better specs. From the moderate chipset in the Galaxy A50, Samsung includes a Snapdragon 675 SoC in the Galaxy A70. RAM sees a boost by 2GB, landing at 6GB while storage is doubled up to 128GB.
The main camera, while keeping the software features delivered with Android 9 Pie-based OneUI, bumps from 25-megapixels to 32-megapixels. The display to showcase the user experience and any photos taken is 0.3-inches larger at 6.7-inches. OneUI also serves here to keep everything important within thumb's reach.
Underlying all of that and powering the whole experience, the battery in the Samsung Galaxy A70 has been pushed ahead by 500mAh. That means it's a 4,500mAh unit compared to the 4,000mAh unit in its smaller counterpart. Samsung's Galaxy A90 might be a flagship that's more comparable in price, size, and features to the Galaxy S10. But the Galaxy A70 is a true value offering that won't disappoint those who need a great all-around experience.Samsung Galaxy A70 - Amazon - $369
4. Nokia 7.1
The HMD-built Nokia 7.1 may be among the older devices here and it may just be on the verge of receiving a replacement with the announcement of the Nokia 7.2 at this year's IFA 2019. As our recent review of this device showed, it really does stand out beyond its gorgeous design language. Realistically, this smartphone should have occupied a higher placement here earlier on because it's just a high-value Android option.
Not only will this phone certainly receive Android 10 in future and a plethora of security updates — as promised by its OEM. This Android One handset also only costs $299 for the Steel variant and $249 for the Blue.
Pricing can be deceiving though. This shouldn't be viewed as a gadget just above the budget category. It features a capable octa-core Snapdragon SoC, 4GB RAM and 64GB of onboard expandable storage. That's tucked into a two-tone frame holding a comfortable 5.8-inch PureView display with all the tech needed for an HDR-like experience that actually fits that description.
Cameras here stand apart as well, though it lacks some features of Google's Pixel devices. But support for GSM carriers and Verizon too in the U.S. ensure wide network support. Bluetooth 5.0, USB Type-C charging, and a headphone jack set it above the crowd in most cases too. A case might be all but required with this slippery glass-sandwiched smartphone, but it's one that can't go unmentioned in terms of value.Nokia 7.1 - Amazon - $299
3. ASUS Zenfone 6
The ASUS Zenfone 6 is, for all intents and purposes, a flagship. It's also mostly held back due to limited carrier compatibility and availability. That's true with many ASUS devices and not at all surprising. What may be surprising is that this device falls squarely into the mid-range in terms of pricing.
That's because it packs the same great processor found in a Samsung Galaxy S10 in the U.S. alongside 8GB RAM and 256GB storage. There's a Sony IMX 586 48-megapixel dual Quad Pixel snapper around the back. That's coupled with a near-unhindered bezel-less 6.4-inch full HD+ Gorilla Glass 6 display at the front. All of that costs just $549.99.
Now, obviously, there's no traditional front camera in that display, with its 92-percent screen-to-body ratio. There's no punch-hole, see-through portions, mechanical pop-up, slider, notch, or waterdrop incursion from the top bezel. But that doesn't mean selfies can't be taken and it doesn't mean there's no forward-facing camera. No second screen is needed for that either.
Rather than placing the camera on any of the mechanical solutions listed above, ASUS has put its flagship main shooter on a flip-up rocker. That means the main camera quality is also the quality of the selfie-snapper. At the touch of a button, the camera folds itself forward to a wide variety of angles.
The software allows for a variety of specialty modes to accent the camera — including all of the modes usually associated with a main dual-camera array. For anybody who wants a top-of-the-line selfie experience, in a flagship that's over $400 below flagship pricing, this is the one to buy where carrier bands support it.ASUS ZenFone 6 - Amazon - $499
2. Moto Z4
For now, the Moto Z4 is going to be the only device on this list compatible with next-gen 5G networking. That does take away at least some of the 'value' aspect since it requires the standalone purchase of a 5G pogo-pin-attaching moto mod and only works with Verizon. But it is still likely the cheapest way to gain access to 1Gbps+ speeds.
Setting that aside, the semi-modular design of this $499 handset doesn't only lend itself to mobile connectivity either. That is, in fact, a large part of what makes this high-value Android offering stand out among other smartphones. Buyers also have options for battery extension, screen projection, gaming controllers, and cameras from this flagship-killer. All of those attach via a back-plate and are hot-swappable.
Making the deal all that much sweeter, the Moto Z4 is slated to get access to a near-stock moto variant of Android 10. The Lenovo-owned company hasn't provided exact details as to when that will be. But it is coming at some point.
The Moto Z4 comes packed with a Snapdragon 675 SoC, 4GB RAM, and 128GB of expandable storage driven by a two-day battery. Android 9 Pie, for now, is pushed across a better-than-average screen in a unique and stylish frame. Its camera, even without mods, stacks in a low-light photo mode that will rival the Google Pixel and is a very good camera even without that.Moto Z4 - Amazon - $499
1. Google Pixel 3a/3a XL
Presently priced at either $399 or $463, the Google Pixel 3a and 3a XL carry every hallmark of what it takes to make a great high-value Android smartphone. That all starts with one of the best-available octa-core mid-range Snapdragon processors with 4GB LPDDR4x RAM and 64GB storage.
The battery here is a USB-C charged — at 18W — 3,000mAh or 3,700mAh unit depending on whether or not the XL variant is chosen. But the specifications of these 5.6-inch or 6.0-inch smartphones with a fullHD+ resolution and OLED displays only tell part of the story.
Google's Pixel 3a and 3a XL are true budget counterparts of their namesakes. For the cost, users are getting the same great cameras and software found in the "premium" versions of the Pixel 3 line coupled to pure Android. The squeezable frame has made its way down the line too for added quick-access functionality.
Even without any marketed ingress-protection against dust and water or top-end glass back panels, these are exceptional handsets. That's setting aside that they don't seem to have been plagued by the same software issues of the more expensive models.
Better still, Google included the 3.5mm headphone jack not found in the larger Pixel devices. And there aren't any notches to contend with either. What users get is everything to love about the original Google Pixel 3 series, with none of the hassles. That's in a more affordable package with three colors available too. Those include Clearly White, Just Black, and Purple-ish. Each of those comes in the same two-tone configuration as the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL.Google Pixel 3a - Amazon - $399 Google Pixel 3a XL - Amazon - $479