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 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.
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|
|Xiaomi Mi 9T||From $286.99||Amazon||6GB/64GB||Snapdragon 730|
|Razer Phone 2||From $349||Amazon||8GB/64GB||Snapdragon 845|
|Sony Xperia 10/10 Plus||From||Amazon||Up to 4GB/64GB||Up to Snapdragon 636 SoC|
|Moto G7 Power||$199.99||Amazon||3GB/32GB||Snapdragon 632|
|Samsung Galaxy A50||$289.99||Amazon||Up to 6GB/128GB||Exynos 9610|
|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|
|Google Pixel 3a/3a XL||From $349/429||Amazon||4GB/64GB||Snapdragon 670|
Xiaomi Mi 9T
- Price: From $286.99
- Where to buy: Amazon
Anybody who is outside of the United States and looking for an all-around great experience for under $300 is going to want to look at the Xiaomi Mi 9T. to their list. This 6.39-inch device comes packed in with a lot of great features from the display to the camera. And it comes in a great looking package too.
The screen is an HDR-compatible AMOLED FHD+ (2340 x 1080) panel. No notches, holes, or cutouts are to be found on that either. The fingerprint reader is under the screen and the forward-facing 20-megapixel camera is hidden on a mechanical slider. That activates only when it's needed.
Around the back half of the phone, Xiaomi includes a triple camera array that all centers around a 48-megapixel wide-angle camera. Set alongside that are snappers rated at 8-megapixels and 13-megapixels. Those are telephoto and 124-degree wide-angle lenses, respectively. The camera array is capable of 4K video capture and slow-motion at up to 960 frames-per-second, in addition to its great photo capabilities.
Behind the cameras and running Android 10, pending an update from Android 9 Pie, a comparatively powerful Snapdragon 730 is in place. That's joined by a healthy 6GB RAM and 64GB storage. An 18-watt fast-charging 4,000mAh battery drives the package for up to a full day or more of use on a single charge.
Those are all great features to have but aren't the only features that are noteworthy here. The company built the Xiaomi Mi 9T's in a gorgeous Flame Red, Glacier Blue, or Carbon Black frame, too. Those come in a $286.99. A few dollars more nets buyers the Flame Red variant.
So, where this handset is available, it's absolutely a solid choice in the high-value smartphone portion of the Android spectrum.
Best value smartphone for gamers
Razer Phone 2
- Price: From $349
- Where to buy: Amazon
Until the next wave of Android gaming phones arrives, gamers who don't mind waiting on Android 10 need to look no further than Razer Phone 2. This Android 9 Pie handset is 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 an older flagship SoC, the Snapdragon 845 packed in alongside 8GB of RAM. That's more than enough to play the latest games for at least the next couple of years. 64GB of expandable storage means there's plenty of space for games, too. A 4,000mAh battery drives that experience and features both wireless and wired charging.
Razer topped all of that with a still-best-in-class display panel too. That's a QHD 5.72-inch LCD panel that's HDR-compatible and drives graphics at a refresh rate of 120Hz. The device's 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.
The bezel provides ample space to grip the device for those who don't want to spend the extra money on the available controller grip.
For just $349 — 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.
That's for the Satin Black variant while a controller tacks on an additional $100. A similar price is needed for the Mirror Black variant, with that device shipping with a controller for around the same cost on Amazon.
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 G7 Power
- Price: $249
- Where to buy: Amazon
Sometimes all that's needed is a high-value smartphone that has a great battery life without skimping on the power. That's where the Moto G7 Power comes into play and, as its name implies, it definitely isn't skimping anywhere.
The now-Lenovo-owned Moto division built the G7 Power with a few goals in mind. Not least among those is extending battery life beyond a single day, even while playing games. To that end, Motorola packed in 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage to back up a Snapdragon 632. That should be more than enough to push through most games, including some heavy hitters like Asphalt 9.
The company also built in a 5,000mAh capacity battery. That's a step above the overwhelming majority of value-focused smartphones. But it's also a far cry from what most deliver because it's coupled with such a capable system-on-chip. The great thing about a mid-range SoC, however, is that it's more battery efficient too.
That means that the Moto G7 Power can play the above-mentioned game for an hour and then keep going all day long. In our review of the device, 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 $200, if battery life is what really matters, it's a no-brainer.
Best value smartphone under $300
Samsung Galaxy A50
- Price: $289.99
- Where to buy: Amazon
The Samsung Galaxy A-series is now a firmly-set staple when it comes to high-performance, high-value smartphones. Like its more expensive counterparts, the Samsung Galaxy A50 is an accomplishment of bar-setting and testing for experimental features. In effect, it's a flagship-like mid-ranger that delivers top-of-the-line features at a fraction of the cost.
The Galaxy A50 jumped in price this month, coming in at $299 give or take a few pennies. Despite the price, this smartphone packs a capable in-house Exynos processor under its 6.4-inch slim-bezel Super AMOLED Infinity-U display. That's backed up by ample RAM and storage but the big seller is its in-display fingerprint scanner, cameras, and software experience.
Running Android 9 Pie-based OneUI and set to receive Android 10-based OneUI 2.0, the Samsung Galaxy A50 delivers a triple 28-megapixel camera to start. That's loaded with the same features found in the reputation-building Galaxy S series. The software throughout the system emulates that via Samsung's OneUI — and soon, OneUI 2.0.
A larger than average 4,000mAh battery drives that experience.
All of that is packed into a frame that comes in three colors. Those include a stately Black, Blue, or White.
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. At under $300, the Galaxy A50 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
Google Pixel 3a/3a XL
- Price: From $319.99
- Where to buy: Amazon
Google's Pixel 4 has been revealed and gone on sale and the Pixel 4a lineup will certainly follow. But for now, the Google Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL are going to be the best pure Android smartphone money can buy. In terms of value, that's going to be very high for the budget-minded person looking at new smartphones.
Now, it's fair to say there's no waterproofing rating for this device. But thanks to its tie-in with the namesake Pixel 3 devices, this is also one of the best smartphone cameras around. In fact, the features here are almost identical from the rear-facing snappers. And the forward-facing camera isn't at all bad either. The sensors are going to be almost indistinguishable to the untrained eye.
Those are packed into a poly-plastics frame instead of a glass panel, arguably making this handset more durable in many regards. That's available in Clearly White, Purple-ish, and Just black. Pricing, meanwhile, will start at $319.99 for the smaller Google Pixel 3a. The larger Pixel 3a XL starts at $419.99.
Finishing off features that make this phone unique on the outside, the Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL have a squeezable frame. That allows instant access to Google Assistant among other things.
At 5.6-inches and 6.0-inches, the Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL both ship with FHD+ resolution OLED display panels.
In terms of internal specs, Google built its Pixel 3a lineup around an octa-core mid-range Snapdragon SoC with 4GB RAM and 64GB storage. The 3,000mAh or 3,700mAh battery, respective to either the Pixel 3a or Pixel 3a XL, are 18W fast-charging compatible.
For software, of course, stock Android is not only present, in this case Android 10. It's going to be, as with other Pixel gadgets, the fastest-updating variant of Android around.