With the holidays coming up, maybe you’re thinking about buying members of your family, yourself or even your friends, smartphones as gifts. Upgrading your smartphone is always a good idea and it’s a pretty rad pick-me-up for technology fans. Buying smartphones as gifts isn’t that easy, though, because most of them are too expensive. Nonetheless, there are a variety of budget-friendly Android phones out there which you can choose from, and we’ve compiled a list of the best cheap Android phones on the market right now to help you out. Whether you want a new daily driver on a budget or want to surprise your teen sister with a new phone perfect for Instagram, we’ve got vry close to something for you.
These cheap Android phones were picked according to their bang for buck. That means that the devices on this list all have friendly prices and features that not only match those prices, but pertain to handsets that you would expect to have a much higher price, such as biometric security features, fast charging, high-res audio or premium design. Some of the cheap Android phones on this list are from Chinese companies and while they do seem like flagship smartphones, consider that their shelflives are a bit shorter than what you would expect from a mainstream brand. Nonetheless, with our experience with these phones, we’ve found they are fit for gifts or daily drivers, as long as you go the extra mile and take care of them. So, without further ado, let’s see our picks for the best cheap budget-friendly Android phones you can find.
Asus ZenFone 2 – between $180 and $300 unlocked
The Asus ZenFone 2 was launched this year with multiple different variants available. The Asus ZenFone 2 Laser is the Snapdragon family of the device, while the classic ZenFone 2 boasts with Intel chipsets and 4 GB RAM in the most expensive variant. Although these Android phones are on the more expensive side within this list, they are here because their bang for buck is surprisingly good. The design of the ZenFone 2 is very similar to that of the LG G3 and LG G4, but the plastic it’s made from is slightly lighter and the handset itself is a good deal more rounded than its mainstream counterpart. Under the hood is what makes the ZenFone 2 truly worth its price.
Up front, the ZenFone 2 has a a 5.5-inch display on all its variants, but the Laser comes with inferior resolution. The Laser has 720p while the ZenFone 2 and the ZenFone 2 Deluxe come with FHD displays. The Laser has two different versions, one with a Snapdragon 410 CPU and another with a Snapdragon 615 SoC. Both come with 2 GB RAM and 16 GB expandable storage. The Asus ZenFone 2 uses the Intel Atom Z3580 in the 4 GB RAM model and the Intel Atom Z3560 in the 2 GB RAM variant. The ZenFone 2 Deluxe has the same setup of processors, but has 4 GB RAM in all its variants. The ZenFone 2 comes with 16, 32 or 64 GB internal storage, but the Deluxe has both a 128 GB and another 256 GB variant, all complete with microSD cards.
The camera setup is the same on all the models, the handsets sporting 13 MP shooters with autofocus and dual-tone LED flash on the rear and come with 5 MP selfie cameras on the front. The Asus ZenFone 2 Laser has extra autofocus capabilities added to its front camera, so it has a bit of an extra feature there. All handsets’ cameras perform quite well and are on par with sensors found on the OnePlus One, Galaxy S5 and even newer smartphones like the HTC One A9 or Moto X Style.
Each handset in the ZenFone 2 family comes with a 3000 mAh battery, but only the ZenFone 2 and the Deluxe feature fast charging to go with it. The Snapdragon-outfitted Laser doesn’t come with Quick Charge, which is another reason why it’s the cheapest Android phone from the family. Since their pricing is very close, we thought that all the models deserve to be on the best budget-friendly Android phones list. With great bang for buck and future-proof features, the only thing that doesn’t live up to expectations about the ZenFone 2 is its design, but if you get the Deluxe model, that won’t be a problem, as it comes with a mosaic pattern on the back panel that makes it look futuristic to say the least. Overall, the ZenFone 2 family offers something for everyone.
Whether you are looking for a daily driver or a neat gift, one of these are surely going to satisfy your needs, and on a tight budget, too. Asus is pushing into the American and European smartphone markets with the ZenFone 2, being received rather well so far. When it comes to cheap Android phones, one of these can be found on Amazon or on other retail sites like GearBest, Everbuying, CooliCool, Tinydeal, Geekbuying and other Chinese retailers. They usually sell the handset for a lower price, so it’s worth checking all the sources out for the best deal. If you want to wait until Black Friday, make sure to check out our guide on how to prep for Black Friday and our guide on how to avoid buying tech you don’t need.
Motorola Moto G 3rd generation – between $180 and $220
The Moto G could not be omitted from this list. Motorola has kept its G smartphones at the top of the budget-friendly Android phones list for years now, with many fans all across the globe. The Moto G is now at its third generation, launched last Summer. The Lenovo-owned company has been having trouble with software updates, but otherwise it has kept its fans pretty close with staple designs and a close to stock Android operating system on top of their phones.
The Moto G 3rd generation is one of the best and cheapest Android phones on the market, with especially many fans in emerging economies like India. The handset also has a lot of fans in the U.S., as many choose this device as their back-up or even their daily driver. The Moto G has great bang for buck and finds itself in an even sweeter spot than Asus’ ZenFone 2. With its near-stock Android OS and unique Motorola features included, the Moto G 3rd gen is a powerhouse, even though it’s an entry-level device.
The design of the handset, much like with the ZenFone 2, is not remarkable but it is improved compared to the Moto G 2nd gen and Moto G 2013. Largely, the Moto G 2015 update comes with the same ergonomic plastic design, but it has metal edges to give it sturdiness. The metal plate on the back moves over from the Moto X line-up of devices. Motorola also added water resistance to the feature list of the device, and while that doesn’t mean you can use it under water, it does mean you won’t have to worry about accidentally getting it wet if you don’t have insurance.
Up front, the Moto G 3rd gen comes with a 5-inch 720p display, which is exactly the same as on previous models. Although it would have been nice to have a higher-res display, the Moto G doesn’t really need one since its display is pretty small and the ppi is pretty close to a comfortable 300 ppi. Under the hood, the handset sports a Snapdragon 410 CPU, backed by 1 GB RAM for the 8 GB model and 2 GB RAM for the 16 GB variant, which is why it’s the more expensive one. Android 5.1.1 Lollipop is on board the device, with a planned upgrade to Android 6.0 Marshmallow, expected in December.
The camera setup of the Moto G wouldn’t give away that it’s one of the cheapest Android phones out there, seeing as the handset sports an improved 13 MP sensor with autofocus and dual-LED flash on the rear and a 5 MP camera with autoHDR. Although the Moto G 3rd gen won’t give you Galaxy S6-level photos, it will come close to what you would expect from an expensive smartphone. And last but not least, the handset comes with a 2470 mAh battery, which is usually good for two or even three days of regular use.
The Moto G 3rd gen qualifies as one of the best affordable Android phones on the market because its near-stock Android software and good hardware make for a smooth user experience. The long autonomy of the device only adds to its appeal as a daily driver or as a long-haul smartphone. The fact that Motorola included 4G LTE in the feature list acts as another bonus, especially for those who have access to high-speed data connections. Overall, this entry-level smartphone is probably the best budget-friendly Android phone that you can get right now, provided you want a near-stock Android user experience.
Xiaomi Mi4C – between $200 and $240
Xiaomi has not been a notable presence on the international smartphone market, although its Android phones are beyond popular in China, India and other Asian regions as well. With the Xiaomi MI4 last year, the company grew its fanbase by releasing multiple different types of the handset, with different crowds in mind. The Xiaomi Mi4C is one of the best budget-friendly Android phones because it is affordable, but still manages to get performance and user experience to the level of the newly released Nexus 5X, for half the price.
The Xiaomi Mi4C is going to be available in two different versions, the standard one and the Advanced model, which has more processing power. The standard Xiaomi Mi4C and the advanced version come with largely the same specs, the difference being the storage space and RAM amount that’s inside each variant. Otherwise, they both have a 5-inch FHD display, Snapdragon 808 CPU, 2GB RAM or 3 GB RAM and 16 or 32 GB internal storage.
An interesting feature in the Xiaomi Mi4C is Force Touch on the side of the device, a feature you won’t see on other phones at this time. There are pressure points on the side of the handset that will allow users to access shortcuts and are customizable to a certain degree. The handset is also outfitted with a USB Type-C port and adaptor, as well as 4G LTE and a pretty beefy 3080 mAh battery that features fast charging via Quick Charge 2.0.
Dual-SIM slots as well as a 13 MP camera with autofocus and LED flash on the rear and a 5 MP sensor on the front are also part of the Xiaomi Mi4C setup. As you can probably tell already, the Xiaomi Mi4C is actually very similar to the Nexus 5X, but it’s a good deal cheaper. That’s why the handset is on this list while Google’s new phone isn’t. The Xiaomi Mi4C has one of the best bang for buck ratios we’ve seen in the past three years and it deserves recognition. Although Xiaomi is still not as popular as it can be on the international market, the Xiaomi Mi4C and Xiaomi Mi4C Advanced certainly have a shot at becoming flagship killers.
Thanks to its great specs, future-proof features and very affordable price tag, the Xiaomi Mi4C qualifies as one of the best budget-friendly Android phones on the market. With a sub-$300 price tag and features many new flagships from Samsung, Apple, LG and even Google don’t feature. Xiaomi really made this phone a powerhouse and a competitor smartphone makers should be very wary about in the future.
Motorola Moto E – under $100
Although the Moto E is nowhere near as impressive as the other smartphones on this list, it deserves a spot for its balanced nature. The Moto E 2nd gen is a relatively new phone that comes as an upgraded version of its predecessor, launched a year ago. This is the cheapest phone on this list, costing around $75 unlocked in most markets. At the same time, it’s a great phone with good bang for buck and reviews that boasts with decent performance, long battery life and a fast data connection, even using 4G LTE. The Moto E 2nd gen is considered by many the best budget-friendly Android phone on the market right now and the handset does enjoy great popularity in emerging economies.
Even if there’s not much to say about the Moto E 2nd gen, it can be best described as the daily driver of someone who doesn’t bother with social media and games that much. Although you can run new games smoothly on the handset, its specs are not fit for power users. Nonetheless, the Moto E is a great entry-level phone for younger people or even older people who want a smartphone. It’s also a great first Android smartphone thanks to the near-stock OS that it’s featuring.
the Moto E 2nd gen comes with a 4.5-inch 960*540 resolution display, Snapdragon 200 CPU in the 3G model and Snapdragon 410 in the LTE model, 1 GB RAM and 8 GB internal storage. The handset features a microSd card slot for storage expansion, comes with a 5 MP camera on the rear and a VGA one on the back, without a flash, unfortunately. A 2390 mAh battery and Android 5.0 Lollipop complete the rather bland picture of the Moto E.
Although bland and a bit boring, the Moto E is a perfect entry-level budget-friendly Android phone that is suitable for all types of users. Power users can make use of it as a secondary phone or a backup phone, while beginners and those who just need basic functions can use the Moto E as their daily driver with no problem. Thanks to its balanced nature and good specs, the Moto E does feel like one of the cheapest Android phones available on the market nowadays.
Doogee Valencia 2 Y100 Pro – $100
This is one of the Chinese smartphones I was talking about in the introduction. I’m putting this one on the list because I have an intimate relationship with this smartphone and are in the ability to attest its worthiness. Jokes aside, for the price that this handset goes for, it’s worth all the money and more – provided you don’t take photos that much.
The Doogee Valencia 2 has been my daily driver for the past couple of months, by choice. Although the design might not sit well with some, the handset having a plastic chassis wrapping around the sloped edges of the display is pretty comfortable and adds a durable feeling to the phone. I’ve dropped this phone many times, many times on concrete from a couple of foot high. It didn’t crack nor did its performance change in any way. However, when I kneeled on the display with all my 90 pounds of weight, the display cracked pretty badly. That was about a month ago and the handset is still working like a charm.
If I would have been smart enough to keep a case on the phone, the Doogee Valencia 2 display would have still been intact. Oh well. Fact of the matter is I’ve been very happy with this budget-friendly Android phone for the past few months. It has a good deal of storage, I got about three updates since I have it so software updates are pretty fast, it performs marvellously even with intensive apps and games that are resource-hungry and its battery life is decent – when not gaming. The photos it takes are not spectacular and social media fans who post a lot won’t like them, but the camera is good for snapshots.
Nonetheless, if you don’t know what phone to get started with from the multitude of affordable Android phones, the Doogee Valencia 2 is a good option. You can read my full review of the device (when its display was still intact) right here on Geek Reply if you want in-depth information about my experience with the handset.
The Doogee Valencia 2 Y100 Pro comes with a 5-inch 720p display, MTK6735 CPU, 2 GB RAM, 16 GB expandable internal storage, dual-SIM slots, 13 MP rear camera with autofocus, 8 MP camera on the front, Android 5.1 Lollipop on board and a 2200 mAh battery. Although Chinese retailers list that the handset is made of metal – it’s not. It’s made entirely out of plastic, with metal dust sprinkled on top for the metallic effect. Most retailers tell you this, but you might omit it – since they put headlines like Metal Unibody. Don’t be fooled. Chinese smartphones are good, but their marketing is bad on occasion.
The Valencia 2 is a good phone and one of the most affordable Android phones on the market. With very good performance and decent everything else, I would recommend this for power users on a budget or as a backup phone, but it would be very neat as an entry-level phone too. Thanks to its compact size and lightweight construction, it can be a good first smartphone for someone. It’s also pretty durable and sturdy, although I do recommend using it with a case.
Watches, because they can be phones. You can find a multitude of SIM-equipped smart watches for prices between $20 and $500, all around the internet. If you’re into being different and want to try something new, try one of these watches. They come with their own SIM slots and while most of them don’t have data connections or Wi-Fi, some of them do and those are the ones you should be after. Although using a smart watch as a phone might sound a bit elitist at first, it’s actually pretty fun and disconnecting. If you feel like you’re addicted to your smartphone and want to give it up, but still be able to communicate and get your most important notifications, a SIM smart watch phone would be perfect. They’re not exactly budget-friendly Android phones, but they’re budget friendly and they can be used as phones. 🙂
Also, the OnePlus X deserves to be on this top, too, but it’s already in the top spot of our best Android phones of 2015 list, so I thought it would be enough to mention it. The OnePlus X costs $250 so it’s a bit over our price limit in this list, but it’s nonetheless the best affordable Android phone out there right now – in my opinion. Invites aren’t readily available, but you can register for them on the official OnePlus website.
Motorola’s Moto G 2nd gen and even the first Moto G can be on this list. They’re still good entry-level smartphones that offer all the necessary features for a beginner and can support being either a daily driver or a backup phone, thanks to the near-stock Android software which will be kept updated for a little while longer. Motorola’s last few releases are very impressive, so I think we should keep an eye on the company.
Xiaomi’s Redmi Note 2, Redmi 2 Pro and the slightly more expensive Xiaomi Mi4I are also great affordable options, sporting high-end metal design and good quality hardware inside. Xiaomi has a wide array of smartphones that you could pick from, in flagship categories too, so it’s a company Android fans should be aware of, even if their presence on the international market is limited. Of course, there are many other budget-friendly Android phones out there, and we’d like to know if you have any suggestions for this list. We’re curious about your interests, so use the comment section to tell us what you like.