The world of the high-value smartphone continues its relentless push forward with the launch of new flagships from OnePlus and Huawei, among others. But not everybody either wants to or can afford to spend an exorbitant amount of money on their next smartphone.
The reality is that there’s no real reason to spend the cost of a new computer on a smartphone either. Most smartphones above a certain price and value point will more than meet the needs of most users. The majority of those will be replaced by users with a new gadget within just a few years' time.
Fortunately, the technology keeps moving forward too, whittling away at the contrasts between a ‘premium’ device and a ‘budget’ device. That shift offers potential buyers a bit more flexibility when it comes to brands and models.
But not every high-value smartphone is quite on par. There are still plenty of differences and caveats to consider for those looking for a great experience that suits their individual needs. Given the sheer number of OEMs and devices to consider, choosing one can be a daunting task. Here at Android Headlines, we do a lot of research and reviews to help make the decision easier.
That doesn't mean that every device that deserves placement here is going to have earned it. Device evaluations are subjective and there are dozens upon dozens of devices to select from. A significant portion of those may suit any single user's needs as well as the phones listed here.
With that in mind, here’s our take on the top devices available to buy now. Each offers a great value to users that we feel surpasses all others without breaking the bank.
10. Xiaomi Mi 9T
Anybody looking for an all-around great experience for around $300 is going to want to add the Xiaomi Mi 9T to their list. Not only does this 6.39-inch device sport an HDR-compatible AMOLED FHD+ (2340 x 1080) panel. That panel also packs in a fingerprint scanner and isn’t marred by notches, holes, or cutouts. Instead, the front-facing 20-megapixel snapper is hidden on a mechanical slider that activates only when it's needed.
That display is used to give users ready access to nearly stock Android 9 Pie — and later, it’s expected, Android 10. Powering that experience, apps, and everything else, Xiaomi incorporated a powerful Snapdragon 730 SoC coupled with 6GB RAM and 64GB storage. Conversely, the hardware’s powered by an 18-watt fast charging-compatible 4,000mAh battery. That should be more than enough to get just about anybody through a day on a single charge.
Those are all great features to have but aren’t the only features that are noteworthy here. The primary cameras Xiaomi placed in the Mi 9T’s gorgeous Flame Red, Glacier Blue, or Carbon Black frame are nothing to scoff at either.
Xiaomi includes a triple camera array that all centers around a 48-megapixel wide-angle camera. Backing that up is a pair of snappers at 8-megapixels and 13-megapixels. Those are telephoto and 124-degree wide-angle lenses, respectively. 4K video capture and slow-motion at up to 960 frames-per-second are part of that package too.
So, where this handset is available, it's absolutely a solid choice in the high-value smartphone portion of the Android spectrum.Xiaomi Mi 9T - Amazon - $296
9. Razer Phone 2
Android gamers who don’t mind waiting on Android 10 — actually the sole reason this phone is ranked so low in this list — need to look no further than Razer Phone 2. The manufacturer only just got around to finishing the Android 9 Pie rollout. So the latest firmware isn’t going to be the biggest selling point here.
But this is a phone that’s made explicitly to play the biggest titles available on mobile. It has plenty of design and software touches to back that up.
That all starts with last year’s flagship SoC, the Snapdragon 845. The chipset is older but still going to be among the strongest performers in any smartphone. Razer packed in 8GB of RAM too, along with 64GB of expandable storage. Providing power to the package is a 4,000mAh battery with both wireless and wired charging.
The specs listed there are all good and well but do nothing without a good display. So Razer topped all of that with a QHD 5.72-inch LCD panel. That HDR-compatible screen drives graphics at a refresh rate of 120Hz.
Audio is on point here as well, propping up the experience further for gamers and making this a competition-ready phone. A large top and bottom bezel may seem a bit old school but dual front-firing speakers might just make up for that. Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 serves to make that all the more appealing.
For just $379 — down from a $799 MSRP — users also gain a customizable LED logo, dual 12-megapixel primary snappers, and an 8-megapixel selfie shooter in the IP67 rated frame. For a few bucks more on Amazon, buyers can pick up a silicone case or a screen protector bundled in too. The value here is high for smartphone gamers.Razer Phone 2 - Amazon - $397
8. Sony Xperia 10/10 Plus
At a respective price of just over $323 or $392, Sony’s Xperia 10 and Xperia 10 Plus will be the top high-value-focused Android smartphones for fans of the brand. Not only does it represent an initial effort bringing all of Sony’s previously tech separated divisions together. The company has also begun the process of updating some of these gadgets’ assets to Android 10.
That means the hardware experience is well accented by a software experience that should be updated sooner than later with these Sony devices too.
On the former front, Sony has loaded up the Xperia 10 and 10 Plus with either a 6-inch or 6.5-inch FHD+panel. That’s featuring
Sony’s tech to deliver cinematically accurate color in a 21:9 ultra-wide (or ultra-tall) format. The same joining of tech applies to Sony’s camera unit. The company includes a dual-lens 13-megapixel and 5-megapixel primary snapper with the latter being boosted to 8-megapixels with 2x optical zoom in the Plus variation.
Audio won’t be lacking either, thanks to DSEE HX and LDAC encoding being added by Sony’s audio division.
A Snapdragon 630, with 3GB RAM in the Sony Xperia 10. 4GB memory back up a slightly more powerful Snapdragon 636 in the larger model. Both models have ample storage at 64GB. That’s expandable to 512GB via a microSD card. The battery capacity in either is either 2,870mAh or 3,000mAh, depending on the model chosen.Sony Xperia 10 - Amazon - $323 Sony Xperia 10 Plus - Amazon - $392
7. ASUS Zenfone 6
While the flagship-level ASUS Zenfone 6 was already held back by limited carrier capability, the state of availability for the smartphone has actually worsened since it first appeared on this list of high-value devices. No longer available via Amazon, users are going to have to turn to less-well-known sites if they want to pick on up.
At just $499, however, it still unquestionably belongs here among its high-value smartphone counterparts.
A dual-camera packing a Sony IMX 586 at 48-megapixels can be found at the back, which flips forward on a hinge to act as a selfie shooter. That leaves the entire front of the device, at 6.4-inches, to the gadget’s FHD+ Gorilla Glass 6 display panel. ASUS built Zenfone 6 around a Snapdragon 855 SoC with 6GB or 8GB RAM and 64GB, 128GB, or 256GB storage. Storage is expandable.
The camera is going to be the primary selling point since it’s a primary snapper instead of a selfie shooter. That includes all of the expected modes that come with the main camera on a modern smartphone. But the biggest advantage is going to be the quality that delivers for selfies and wide-angle selfies. That experience is going to arguably be second-to-none on the simple basis that it's the main camera taking the images.
But the ASUS Zenfone 6 earns its place here with its flagship specs above all else, priced well below the expected price point. It currently runs Android 9 Pie and is expected to receive an update to 10 too. So that’s only going to get better going forward. Or at least it will where it can still be purchased for use.ASUS ZenFone 6 - Amazon - $499
6. Samsung Galaxy A50
Samsung’s splash in the high-performance mid-range segment comes in the form of the Galaxy A-series. The devices are intended to set a bar for testing and experimenting with new features with a wider audience than its flagships typically draw in. Among the best of those devices is the Galaxy A50.
The Samsung Galaxy A50 continues falling in price, making it even more appealing. Last month it fell four dollars following a nearly $100 price drop before that. This month, that cost fell again to land at a starting point of just $238 on Amazon. Or, users can pick it up with a case and 64GB microSD card for just under $250.
Despite that price, the Samsung Galaxy A50 is a sum of plenty of top new features. That all starts with the in-display fingerprint scanner. A 6.4-inch slim-bezel Super AMOLED Infinity-U display tops that, delivering Android 9 Pie-based OneUI — expected to receive Android 10-based OneUI 2.0.
A feature-rich triple camera array adorns the back of this high-value smartphone. That comes complete with almost all of the same features found in the popular and reputation-building Galaxy S series.
Under the hood, that package is coupled with a larger than average 4,000mAh battery and in-house Exynos processor.
Three colors are available for this flagship-emulating handset. Those include a stately Black, Blue, or White. Samsung has ensured that each comes with ample RAM and storage to back the processor — on par or better than what most competitors in the cost bracket have available.
Fans of Samsung would do well to start their buying process by considering the Samsung Galaxy A50 or the next entry in place of its much pricier flagships.Samsung Galaxy A50 - Amazon - $240
5. Samsung Galaxy A70
Likely the reason for continued price drops for the Samsung Galaxy A50, the Galaxy A70 is a more powerful device following in the same vein. It’s also been getting its own price drops recently. In fact, it’s now available for $338.00 or just under a dollar over that, depending on the color that's picked. That’s nearly $30 cheaper than last month.
For that price, users are getting many of the same features as the Galaxy A50 via Samsung’s OneUI. That will be updated to a second-generation iteration at some point in the future but it’s the fact that the A70 is backed by considerably better hardware that sets it apart.
Here, users are getting the octa-core Snapdragon 675 SoC backed up by 6GB of RAM and 128GB of expandable storage. That’s double the capacity and 2GB more on memory than the smaller device.
The cameras are bolstered too, starting with the primary snapper. That sensor has been bumped from 25-megapixels to 32-megapixels.
Digging deeper under the hood, the 4,500mAh battery is 500mAh bigger thanks to the larger 6.7-inch display panel adding some room. That’s the same type of display found in the Samsung Galaxy A50 but 0.3-inches won’t go amiss for those who might need extra space.
All of those singularly minor updates stack to a much better device for comparatively little money. That high-value smartphone package is only made better by the fact that this is a Samsung-built device. As the world's top smartphone manufacturer, that brings a level of reputation not found with many competitors as well as plenty of support if anything does go wrong. Users can pick up the Samsung Galaxy A70 in Blue, Black, or White from Amazon.Samsung Galaxy A70 - Amazon - $338
4. Moto Z4
Motorola’s Moto Z4 is maintaining its position for three reasons. Chiefly, it’s because this device is 5G compatible, with some caveats. It’s also because of better specs than many competitors at high-value cost intrinsic in a top Android smartphone. Alongside that, there are some Pixel-like features and other value-added features too.
On the first of those highlights and the last, the Moto Z4 is a semi-modular handset. There are magnetic pins at the back which attach to add-on ‘moto mods’ to add functionality. The only available moto mod for 5G is through Verizon but as a leader in U.S. 5G, that’s not necessarily a bad deal. The somewhat expensive mod doesn’t take the cost quite as high as most competing 5G handsets.
Meanwhile, other mods extend things further. Mods exist for taking 360-degree photos, battery, projection, gaming, and more.
On software, Motorola has ensured the Moto Z4 is as close to stock Android as possible. The Lenovo-owned company didn’t take that quite so far as to enroll in the Android One program. Regardless, this handset will gain Android 10 at some point.
Part of the stock software includes a Pixel-like night mode that actually performs on a comparable level. That’s something not many OEMs have managed to match but Moto comes very close. The standard camera modes, conversely, shoot exceptionally well for a phone in this price bracket.
Driving the software, a Snapdragon 675 SoC, 4GB RAM, and 128GB of expandable storage are great to have. The average two-days of life via optimizations and an appropriately-sized battery are even better.
That’s all squeezed behind a 6.4-inch OLED display in a stylized frame that could only be a Moto.
For just $499, the Moto Z4 can be had in either Frost White or Flash Gray.
3. Nokia 7.2
Now, Nokia didn’t go crazy when it iterated on its 7-series this year. The Nokia 7.2 is priced just above the previous iteration at $349.99 and effectively builds on everything great about the previous model.
To begin with, Nokia has kept its HD+ PureView display panel, powered by HDR 10-compatible technology. But that’s been boosted to a larger 6.3-inch full size and its large notch has been replaced by a dewdrop cutout. The camera above that has been taken up significantly to 20-megapixels.
Cameras at the back are improved but keep the same quad-pixel technology that made the 7.1 great. That’s a 48-megapixel primary snapper with an 8-megapixel wide lens and a 5-megapixel depth sensor.
Nokia used glass on both the front and back to create a truly premium in-hand feel but there are different colors this time around. Those are Charcoal Grey, Ice Silver, and Cyan Green.
On the inside, everything’s been pushed forward to prepare for near-stock Android 10. Nokia’s 7.2 is, like its predecessor, part of the Android One Program. So it should gain updates for a long time to come and quickly. The internal rework starts with a RAM boost with 4GB or 6GB options backed by up to 128GB storage. The storage can be expanded up to 512GB.
Nokia reinforced the memory and capacity to match the update to an octa-core Snapdragon 660 SoC. Battery life from the Nokia 7.1 was a multi-day affair and that should improve here with a bigger battery. The capacity is rated at 3,500mAh, up from the previous 3,060mAh battery.
Taken together, Nokia’s 7.2 is going to quite easily hold the device's place as a high-value Android smartphone worthy of its position in the segment.
2. OnePlus 7t
OnePlus has now released a stellar update to its OnePlus 7. Dubbed the 7T, and costing just $599, the high-value new member to the company’s smartphone lineup can only be described as a flagship killer.
Although it's priced like a mid-range handset, the OnePlus 7T is a flagship through and through, fit to rival any other device on the list. There are dozens of reasons well beyond the price that value is so high for this smartphone. But everything starts with its update to a 6.55-inch, 90Hz “Fluid AMOLED” panel. That's HDR10+ with a peak brightness of up to 1,000 nits.
A nearly dead-even bezel surrounds that with a comparatively tiny waterdrop notch at the top. Underneath that facade — available in either Frosted Silver or Glacier Blue — the power provided by OnePlus 7T is exceptional. A revamped Snapdragon 855 Plus SoC underpins everything, backed by 8GB RAM. Storage doesn't fall short either at 128GB.
A 3,800mAh battery with 30W "Warp Charging" drives that hardware to deliver Android 10-based OxygenOS 10. That OEM variation on Android is widely touted as being better than stock while maintaining stock roots. So the OnePlus 7T should deliver an experience that's well worth the cost and then some.
Of course, all of that is stepping past one of this phone's most exciting aspects. Namely, those are its triple-arrayed 48 MP primary camera, 16 MP ultra-wide camera, and 8 MP 2X telephoto camera.
Enhancements to the now almost industry-standard Portrait and Night modes are present here. OnePlus also introduces a Macro mode capable of shooting at as close as 2.5 centimeters. The front camera is no slouch either at 16-megapixel with EIS, among other features.
1. Google Pixel 3a/3a XL
In the leadup to this month’s announcement of the Google Pixel 4 lineup, Google’s budget-minded Pixel 3a lineup has seen price drops yet again. Or at least it has for most of those via Amazon. Available in Clearly White, Purple-ish, and Just Black, the cost is now going to depend on the version and color.
The Clearly White Pixel 3a, for instance, is holding its standard $399 price while the larger Pixel 3a XL in Purple-ish only fell by a few bucks to $459. Other versions are down but quite a bit more. The Pixel 3a price starts at just $349 while the larger XL device now starts at just $429.
Buyers are getting quite a lot for their money here too. One of the most solid mid-range Snapdragon processors around is included, alongside 4GB of RAM and 64GB storage, for starters. That’s an octa-core chipset driven by an 18W fast-charging 3,000mAh or 3,700mAh battery depending on which version is selected. Of course, that presents users with the fastest-updating stock Android available anywhere.
At 5.6-inches and 6.0-inches, the Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL both ship with FHD+ resolution OLED display panels. On the opposing side of that, the widely lauded camera features found in the larger flagship devices are packed behind similar sensors. Another sensor is embedded in the frame of the gadget that’s squeezable, adding more functionality.
There’s no glass rear-paneling and no IP incursion rating for Pixel 3a or 3a XL. There doesn’t seem to be any major software-based caveats like those initially found on the flagship counterparts either. Everything just comes together smoothly to present users with a near-perfect Pixel-branded Google-made Android experience in a seriously premium device at a low cost.