The world of the high-value smartphone continues its relentless push forward with the launch of new flagships but not everybody either wants 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 or a used car 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.
Top 10 Best Budget Smartphones 2020 Summary
But not every high-value smartphone is quite up to 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.
Below the summary, you'll find a slightly longer description of each item along with the where to buy links.
|Cost||Where to buy||RAM/Storage||Processor|
|Realme 6 Pro||From $339.95||Amazon||Up to 8GB/128GB||Snapdragon 720G|
|Poco F2 Pro||From $524||Amazon||Up to 8GB/256GB||Snapdragon 865|
|Sony Xperia 10/10 Plus||From||Amazon||Up to 4GB/64GB||Up to Snapdragon 636 SoC|
|Moto G Power||$249.99||Motorola||4GB/64GB||Snapdragon 665|
|Samsung Galaxy A51||From $349.99||Samsung||Up to 6GB/128GB||Exynos 9611|
|Samsung Galaxy A70||From $329.79||Amazon||Up to 8GB/128GB||Snapdragon 675|
|Moto Z4||$399.99||Amazon||4GB/128GB||Snapdragon 675|
|Nokia 7.2||$349||Amazon||Up to 6GB/128GB||Snapdragon 660|
|OnePlus 7t||$499||OnePlus||8GB/128GB||Snapdragon 855 Plus|
|TCL 10L/10 Pro||From $249.99/449.99||Amazon||Up to 6GB/128GB||Snapdragon 665/670|
Best world-ready smartphone under
Realme 6 Pro
- Price: From $339.95
- Where to buy: Amazon
The Realme 6 Pro may be designed for use in India, first and foremost, but it works in the US. So it likely works in quite a few other regions — although network bands should be checked first. And it's easily among the best devices on the market at below $350. In fact, it can often be found for purchase for under $250 despite packing in some of the best features in any smartphone under $600.
A lot of what makes this Realme device great stems from a decision to launch a brand new Realme UI OS overlay. That operates almost as smoothly as stock Android and leaves behind the majority of the bloatware found in some other handsets. It's also well-optimized for gaming at a level that's comparable to top-tier mid-rangers. However, that's hardly the entire story.
Realme settled on a 6.6-inch FHD+ display panel with a 90Hz refresh rate, to begin with. It also determined that a Snapdragon 720G would be the best SoC. Backing that, the company includes configurations with either 6GB or 8GB LPDDR4x RAM. Storage weighs in at a healthy 64GB or 128GB. Behind that, there's a 4300mAh capacity battery that's capable of keeping the screen going for well over 8-hours.
Dolby Atmos support, 30W VOOC charging, a dedicated gaming mode, and respectable cameras round out the package, making this a high-value smartphone that's well worth consideration. Realme sells this handset in Lightning Blue or Lightning Orange.
Best value smartphone for gamers
Poco F2 Pro
- Price: From $524
- Where to buy: Amazon
The Poco F2 Pro is arguably the most budget-friendly flagship around, packing up to 8GB LPDDR5 RAM and 256GB of UFS 3.1 storage. That's sitting behind a Snapdragon 865 flagship SoC. The 4,700mAh battery also lasts over 9 hours on a single charge and charges up in just over an hour.
But this is also a gaming handset with a 6.67-inch Super AMOLED HDR+ display panel — setting aside the lower-than-expected 60Hz refresh rate. The company utilized a pop-out camera and razor-thin bezels to ensure that screen is all users really see while gaming. And there are plenty of extra features under Settings to improve visual quality and touch accuracy too.
Now, Poco additionally packed in Bluetooth 5.1 and Wi-Fi 6 to make connections as solid as the internal components. And, thanks to advanced cooling, this phone never really heats up under pressure. The cameras are well beyond acceptable, as is sound quality — despite relying on a single bottom-firing speaker. A 3.5mm audio jack is part of the build so that headphones can be used if that's more desirable.
There's plenty of customizations in terms of LED notification lighting, theming, and the LEDs surrounding the front camera too.
But the real kicker for this device is its price. Available in Neon Blue, Phantom White, Electric Purple, or Cyber Gray, this handset only costs between €499 and €599 — roughly $561 to $673 brand new. That places it, despite its flagship underpinnings and gaming focus, at around half the cost of a top-tier device from Samsung or others.
Best value smartphone with an odd form-factor under $250
Sony Xperia 10/Xperia 10 Plus
- Price: From $257.99
- Where to buy: Amazon
Currently priced at just $257.99, Sony's Xperia 10 is a bargain that's going to be hard to match. For a bit more, at just a few pennies shy of $279, the Xperia 10 Plus takes things a bit further. One of the things that make the Xperia 10 and 10 Plus so unique is its form factor.
At a ratio of 21:9 and either 6-inches or 6.5-inches, the Xperia 10 and Xperia 10 Plus from Sony pack in an FHD+ display. That drives Android 10, bringing the latest software and innovations from Google to users.
But the real selling point is that this is the first phone that brought all of Sony's various hardware divisions together. So the screen is among the most cinematically accurate in terms of color on the market. Audio features DSEE HX and LDAC encoding, added by Sony's audio division.
The cameras are similarly geared toward the top end. The company included a dual-lens 13-megapixel and 5-megapixel primary snapper. The latter is boosted to 8-megapixels with 2x optical zoom in the Plus variation.
Under the hood, the Sony Xperia 10 features 3GB RAM and a Snapdragon 630 SoC. A Snapdragon 636 SoC and 4GB RAM are included in the Xperia 10 Plus. Both pack in 64GB expandable storage up to 512GB. Providing power to all of the hardware, the smaller Xperia 10 features a 2,879mAh battery compared to the 3,000mAh capacity battery in the larger Plus model.
Best value smartphone for battery life
Moto G Power
- Price: $249.99
- Where to buy: Motorola
Motorola has stepped forward its 'Power' branded offerings this year with the launch of the Android 10-powered Moto G Power. Available unlocked for use on GSM carriers, this handset is built for those who need a great battery life without skimping on the power.
The now-Lenovo-owned Moto division built the G Power with to serve those who need a smartphone that can last up to 3 days. But Motorola also stuffed its latest G-series smartphone with enough specs to fit in just about anywhere. To begin with, there's a respectable 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage, doubling down on last year's G7 Power.
That hardware is backing up an updated Snapdragon 665 SoC. There should be plenty of performance to power through most smartphone tasks and even enough for most mobile games without issue.
The company also built-in a 5,000mAh capacity battery to drive the other components. That's including a 10W fast-charging system this time around. So, not only is that coupled with a more battery efficient chipset. Moto made sure this handset will refuel comparatively quickly.
The previously released Moto G7 Power was capable of surviving two full days of use still left the 30-percent to 50-percent battery mark remaining. That's a serious step above what's usually available in the mid-range value segment. At just under $250, if battery life is what really matters, this device should only improve on that and at a price that is well worth the expenditure.
Best value smartphone under $350
Samsung Galaxy A51
- Price: From $349
- Where to buy: Samsung
The Samsung Galaxy A-series is now a firmly-set staple when it comes to high-performance, high-value smartphones. Centered in the middle of that range is Samsung's newest available entry, the Galaxy A51. Like other handsets in the Galaxy A-Series, this Samsung handset is all about testing experimental upcoming features for flagships. That means it delivers a flagship-like experience at a fraction of the cost.
The Galaxy A51 comes in at a slightly higher cost than its predecessor, the Samsung Galaxy A50. It starts out at $349.99 in the US, direct from Samsung. An upgraded in-house Exynos processor lies at the center of the price increase, as well as a larger 6.5-inch Super AMOLED 6.4-inch slim-bezel Super AMOLED Infinity-O display. In the states, that's backed by 4GB RAM with 6GB available internationally and up to 128GB storage.
The big-ticket item, however, is its quad-camera array centered around a 48-megapixel primary snapper with Super Steady OIS Mode. An-display fingerprint scanner, top-tier Android 10-based OneUI 2.0 software experience, and fast charging 4,000mAh capacity battery round things out.
As already noted, that's loaded with the same features found in the reputation-building flagship Galaxy S series. And it's all packed into a premium-looking frame that's delivered in
All of that is packed into a frame that comes in three colors. Those include a gradient-laced Black, White, or Pink, although US buyers appear stuck with just the black option for now.
Fans of Samsung would do well to start their buying process by considering the Samsung Galaxy A51 or the next entry in place of its much pricier flagships. At under $350 in the US, the Galaxy A51 performs and delivers its complete package at a bargain.
Best value smartphone for flagship features
Samsung Galaxy A70
- Price: $329.79
- Where to buy: Amazon
If the Samsung Galaxy A50 was a bargain, the more powerful Galaxy A70 is a steal with its starting price of $329.79.
Like that other device, this phone features Samsung's now-renowned OneUI with updates that point entails and all the features users could want. The camera is bumped to 32-megapixels too, ensuring an even better experience on that front. It's also available in three hues. Namely, that's Blue, Black, or White on Amazon.
Unlike the Samsung Galaxy A50, however, Samsung has included even more powerful hardware under the hood — with a screen that measures 0.3-inches larger to boot.
That starts with an 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. There is a 4,500mAh capacity battery under the 6.7-inch panel too — 500mAh bigger than the Galaxy A50.
Now, that's all good and well but what that really means is that this phone will do all of the flagship-like things the S series or Galaxy A50 will do. But it will do them faster and more smoothly as well. Its better cameras mean that the Samsung Galaxy A70 is the far better choice for those who can afford it, without getting into flagship pricing territory.
Best value smartphone for 5G and mods
- Price: $399.99
- Where to buy: Amazon
Motorola's Moto Z4 serves as a modular-first gadget with plenty of options that make it a worthwhile pick. For users who don't necessarily need all the power that comes with a flagship but still want a high-value deal with extras, this is going to be a strong contender.
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. That includes moto mods for snapping 360-degree photos, battery, projection, gaming, and more. But it also includes a moto mod for 5G for those who happen to get phone service through Verizon.
The pricing on those mods varies significantly and, in the case of 5G, can be expensive. But if the speed of networking matters more than the performance in games, this is still going to be a hard device to beat.
It's also great because it ships with better specs than many competitors at a high-value cost of just under $400. That's setting aside near-stock Android and some very Pixel-like features in the camera and elsewhere — as well as other value-added features too.
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 tucked neatly behind a 6.4-inch OLED display in a stylized frame that could only be a Moto handset.
The company makes the Moto Z4 in either Frost White or Flash Gray.
Best value smartphone with stock Android
- Price: $349.99
- Where to buy: Amazon
Nokia's follow-up to the brilliant 7.1, the Nokia 7.2 is priced at just a penny short of $350. But that doesn't mean it's a slouch in any regard. In fact, it's easily one of the best high-value smartphones on the market today.
The Nokia 7.2 starts out with an HD+ PureView display that's been vamped up with an HDR 10-compatible tech. The company bolstered its size from the last model, resulting in a 6.3-inch screen with a dewdrop cutout. That houses a camera for selfies at a whopping 20-megapixels. Around the back of the phone, there's a 48-megapixel tri-camera. That's a quad-pixel camera for better light and detail capture.
The primary camera is accompanied by an 8-megapixel wide-angle and 5-megapixel depth sensor lenses. That's a Zeiss-built snapper too.
The glass on the back and front is accented by a Charcoal Grey, Ice Silver, or Cyan Green coloration.
Under the hood, Nokia is providing Android 10 powered by a Snapdragon 660 SoC. That's backed by 4GB or 6GB RAM options and 128GB on the storage side — expandable to 512GB. A 3,500 mAh battery powers the package for multi-day performance under the right conditions.
Now, what makes this device truly special is that it's still a part of the Android One program. That means that Android 10 will be updated fairly frequently, falling in line with stock Android. It also means that Android 10 will be followed up by its predecessor at a more rapid clip than many other phones. But the biggest advantage is the ease of use and its clean, bloat-free install.
Best value smartphone that's a flagship
- Price: $499
- Where to buy: OnePlus.com
The OnePlus 7T is a monster of a device that does everything a top-tier flagship does for cheaper. So if it's a flagship that's needed without breaking the bank, this is going to be it. Set to sell at just $599, this is a high-value smartphone packed with a revamped Snapdragon 855 Plus SoC backed by 8GB RAM. Storage rings in at a more-than-healthy 128GB.
Put simply, the OnePlus 7T is a flagship killer.
That continues with the battery behind the internals. That's a 3,800mAh battery capable of charging at 30W, something OnePlus calls "Warp Charging."
The screen is a fit for any top-tier device at 6.55-inches and a refresh rate of 90Hz. AMOLED underpins that, complete with HDR10+ technology and a peak brightness of up to 1,000 nits. The bezels surrounding the panel are slim and almost entirely even from side to side. A minuscule waterdrop notch tops that with a 16-megapixel EIS-enabled selfie snapper.
The back half of the phone houses a triple-camera array. That's a 48-megapixel sensor, along with a 16-megapixel ultra-wide-angle camera and an 8-megapixel telephoto lens with 2X zoom.
The operating system, Android 10-based OxygenOS, is lauded as among the best around. In fact, it's been pegged by some as being better than stock is in its entirety. That's packed with industry-standard Portrait and Night modes as well as a Macro mode that can shoot from just 2.5 centimeters with crystal clarity.
OnePlus makes the OnePlus 7T available in either Frosted Silver or Glacier Blue and features a stunning curved design that would be just as at home on a $1000 Samsung as it is for OnePlus's flagship-destroying handset.
Best value smartphone overall
TCL 10 Pro/10L
- Price: From $249.99
- Where to buy: Amazon
Google has not yet launched its Pixel 4a in any form and has, in fact, stopped selling the device. So the spot that almost invariably ends up stolen by the company's devices has been relinquished to another. And, given that fact and the recent entry of TCL into the space, it may seem a bit odd that company's 10L and 10 Pro are topping that list. But these two devices are a cut above the rest for their price, especially as a first first-party offering.
Now, as with Google's devices and most other's here, it's fair to start by pointing out that there's no waterproofing rating for this device. But, due mostly to TCL's history and a partnership with Pixelworks, these phones arguably have the best display in their class. In fact, they function much more closely to flagships than just about any device at their price point. And there are plenty of advanced features and options underneath to ensure a personalized experience.
That personalized experience carries over to the OS side for both handsets too. With Android 10 and at least one update guaranteed atop frequent security updates promised, this device is nearly stock where it matters. If users want a gesture-driven experience, they can have it. If they like a more traditional navigation or a combination experience, that's possible too. Meanwhile the app drawer functions like a straightforward aftermarket launcher. And there's no lag to speak of on either device.
The primary differences are going to be in terms of camera features, display size and technology, and internal components. But, even there, the devices are incredibly similar and more than capable. At the more budget-friendly end, starting at just under $250, is the 6.53-inch 24-bit color panel-equipped TCL 10L. That packs a 1080 x 2340 resolution, powered by a somewhat older Snapdragon 665. TCL backed that with 6GB of RAM, coupled with either 64GB or 128GB storage.
The TCL 10 Pro, conversely, features a Snapdragon 675 octa-core chipset and with 6GB of RAM, coupled with 128GB storage. A 4,500mAh battery capable of upwards of 8-hours of screen-on time drives that package, compared to the 10L's 4,000mAh. The latter handset can last over 7-hours in terms of screen-on time with no issues.
Build-quality, meanwhile, approaches flagships in terms of design and in-hand feel. Summarily, neither phone feels cheap or performs like it is. These two phones prove that TCL is going to be a company to watch when it comes to cheaper Android smartphones. And either is well-worth a deeper dive for those who are looking for a device that performs well without breaking the bank.