Source: Joe Maring / Android Central
Android Phones Under $300
You can get a lot of phone for a modest price these days. Motorola has been a leading name in mid-range options for years, and that holds true with its excellent Moto G Power. For an extremely competitive price, you get capable specs with a big display and simple software that anyone can figure out. Plus, it has a massive battery and convenient USB-C charging.
- Best Overall: Moto G Power
- Best Alternative: TCL 10L
- Best Value: Moto G Fast
- Best Ultra Low-Cost: Moto E (2020)
- Best Display: Samsung Galaxy A50
- Best Software: Nokia 6.2
- Best Compact: Nokia 4.2
- Best Stylus: LG Stylo 5
Best Overall: Moto G Power
Source: Joe Maring / Android Central
Motorola launched a few different Moto G phones for 2020, but the one that stands out as the best pick for most people is the Moto G Power. This is a phone that nails all the basics, has a very affordable price, and a really cool trick up its sleeve — battery life.
A 5,000 mAh battery is crammed inside of the Moto G Power, meaning you can get between two and three days of use out of the phone before needing to charge it up. In a world where a lot of $1,000 flagships need to be put on the charger every night, that’s darn impressive. In addition to the long endurance, the Moto G Power also shines with its 6.4-inch Full HD+ display, reliable performance, and three rear cameras that are a lot of fun to shoot with.
The cherry on top of the Moto G Power is its compatibility with all major U.S. carriers. Whether you rely on AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, or Verizon for your cell service, the Moto G Power will work without a hitch.
- Simple and effective software
- Battery lasts two-to-three days!
- Good cameras for the price
- Plenty fast for day-to-day use
- Compatible with all U.S. carriers
- Only promised one software update
- Doesn’t have NFC for Google Pay
Moto G Power
Everything you need, for a great price
The Moto G has always been a staple of this market, with good reason. The G Power is an outstanding value in every right.
Best Alternative: TCL 10L
Source: Hayato Huseman / Android Central
You may be familiar with TCL for its low-cost televisions, but did you know the company also makes Android phones? The TCL 10L is one of the first U.S.-bound handsets we’ve ever seen from TCL, and surprisingly, it’s one of the most well-rounded devices you can get in this price range.
Speaking of TVs, one of the best parts of the TCL 10L is its display. It features a 6.53-inch LCD display with a Full HD+ resolution, and thanks to TCL’s custom NXTVISION technology, you’re treated to increased sharpness, more vibrant images, and true-to-life colors. We also appreciate the slim bezels and hole-punch cutout for the selfie camera.
Under-the-hood, the TCL 10L has a Snapdragon 665 processor and 6GB of RAM, which is one of the most impressive setups on this list. The 4,000 mAh battery allows for really good endurance, you get an NFC chip for Google Pay support, and TCL’s software is clean and fun to use. On top of all that, you also get a Smart Key — an extra physical button that you can customize to do whatever you want. Neat!
- Very good LCD display
- Ample performance chops
- Enjoyable software
- Google Pay with NFC
- Customizable Smart Key
- Weak cameras
- Bland design
- Doesn’t work with Sprint
A worthy competitor in the budget space
It may not be your first choice, but the TCL 10L stands out as one of the best cheap Android phones in the U.S.
Best Value: Moto G Fast
The Moto G Fast is an interesting device, sitting somewhere in the middle between the Moto G Power and the Moto E. It’s actually similar to the G Power in more ways than one, but it makes a few cuts in order to reach an even lower price.
You get the same 6.4-inch display size with small-ish bezels, but the resolution is dropped from Full HD+ to just HD+. This means the G Fast’s screen isn’t as sharp or pretty to look at, but it still gets the job done. You also have the same Snapdragon 665 processor, though RAM is decreased from 4GB down to 3GB. Storage also drops from 64GB to 32GB, but thankfully, there’s a microSD slot for easy expansion should you need more room.
A 4,000 mAh battery allows for very good battery life, you get a 3.5mm headphone jack, and Motorola’s excellent Android software with a promise for one major OS update. Of course, the Moto G Fast works with all carriers in the U.S.
- Large display with minimal bezels
- Good camera setup
- Headphone jack & expandable storage
- Easy-to-use software
- Supports AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon
- Just 32GB of internal storage
- Display is only HD+
Moto G Fast
Time to stretch your dollars
All of the phones on this list are good values, but the Moto G Fast strikes an excellent balance of features, specs, and price.
Best Ultra Low-Cost: Moto E (2020)
If you’re really trying to keep costs low, we recommend giving the Moto E a look. It’s not a phone that’s going to knock your socks off, but for as little as it costs, it does a good job of giving you all the basics and nothing more.
Design-wise, the Moto E looks pretty good. The plastic build with a glossy back isn’t astonishing, but there’s also nothing offensive about it. There’s a 6.2-inch display without overly large bezels, helping to give the Moto E a modern appearance. This year’s model also introduces dual rear cameras and a fingerprint sensor, which are two things never before seen on past Moto E handsets.
When you’re spending this little, there are some downsides you need to consider. The display’s 720p HD resolution isn’t all that impressive, performance is only good enough for basic day-to-day tasks, you’re limited to 32GB of storage out of the box, and Motorola isn’t promising any software updates for the phone. Those are a lot of things to consider before throwing your money down, but if money is tight and you really don’t want to spend any more than this, the Moto E is a perfectly fine choice.
- Large display with reasonable bezels
- 3.5mm headphone jack
- Fingerprint sensor
- Water-repellent design
- Works with all carriers
- Middling specs across the board
- Won’t get any software updates
- Micro-USB charging
Best Ultra Low-Cost
Moto E (2020)
Getting the basics done
The Moto E isn’t going to blow your mind, but your small investment gets you solid specs, good software and nice features.
Best Display: Samsung Galaxy A50
Source: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central
Samsung is best known for its high-end phones, but they also come with high-end prices to match. If you want that Samsung Galaxy experience without going broke, we’d recommend the Galaxy A50. This is one of the better mid-tier Android offerings from Samsung, and it has a lot going for it.
Right off the bat, one of the most impressive things about the A50 is its display. You’re treated to a 6.4-inch Full HD+ AMOLED panel, offering a crisp resolution and rich colors. When it comes to phones in this price range, the A50 definitely has one of the best displays around. We’re also a fan of the A50’s design, which features very slim bezels and a sleek waterdrop notch for the selfie camera.
The A50 gets more points for its long-lasting battery life and NFC chip for Google and Samsung Pay support, compatibility with all U.S. carriers, and its inclusion of a 3.5mm headphone jack. Samsung does drop the ball a bit when it comes to the A50’s processor and rear cameras, which aren’t quite as strong as other phones on this list. However, if you want a cheap phone with the best display money can buy, it’s still worth considering.
- Clean design
- Top-tier AMOLED display
- Incredible battery life
- Has NFC for Google and Samsung Pay
- Works with all U.S. carriers
- Disappointing processor
- So-so cameras
Samsung Galaxy A50
Great Samsung quality for a fraction of the price
Samsung phones are best known for their excellent displays, and the Galaxy A50 delivers while retaining a low price tag.
Best Software: Nokia 6.2
Source: Android Central
Nokia has established itself as one of the market leaders for affordable Android phones, and one of its most compelling handsets is the Nokia 6.2.
Hardware-wise, the 6.2 has plenty to like. The 6.3-inch Full HD+ display not only has a tiny notch and fairly small bezels, but it also supports HDR content for bright and vibrant colors. Even cooler, if you’re watching non-HDR content, the 6.2 will convert it to HDR so everything looks as good as can be. Around back, you’ll find three rear cameras and a fingerprint sensor. There’s even a dedicated Google Assistant button!
Where things get really interesting is when it comes to the Nokia 6.2’s software. It’s part of Google’s Android One program, which means it’s backed by guaranteed software updates and security patches. Major OS updates will continue through October 2021, with monthly security patches promised until October 2022. The phone shipped with Android 9 Pie, but it’s since been updated to Android 10 and should see an update to Android 11 once it’s publicly released.
- Android One software is top-notch
- Guaranteed updates
- HDR display
- Sleek glass design
- Very pretty display
- Cameras are just OK
One of the best software experiences you’ll find
The Nokia 6.2 is an incredible value. It has awesome software, a premium design, and a vibrant display.
Best Compact: Nokia 4.2
Source: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central
Compact phones are hard to come by in 2020, but one that stands out is the Nokia 4.2. A 5.71-inch display may not sound very small, but compared to the other options on this list, it’s quite the difference. Along with the petite form factor, the display also touts an HD+ resolution and a 77% screen-to-body ratio.
What else do you get with the Nokia 4.2? How does dual cameras, a fingerprint sensor, Google Assistant button, and NFC for Google Pay sound? Not to mention there’s also expandable storage, a 3,000 mAh battery, and guaranteed software updates thanks to Android One.
The use of Micro-USB for charging is a drag, but for the price, we can’t complain too much.
- Easy to use with one hand
- NFC for Google Pay
- Google Assistant button
- Guaranteed software updates
- Micro-USB charging
Bigger isn’t always better
For buyers that want a small, compact phone they can easily use with one hand, there’s no better choice than the Nokia 4.2.
Best Stylus: LG Stylo 5
The Galaxy Note series is the most popular for making the most of a stylus-touting phone, but if you don’t have the cash for a flagship Note, the LG Stylo 5 is worth a look. Just like the Note, it has an included stylus that you can hide inside the phone when you aren’t using it. Unlike the Note, however, the Stylo 5 is very affordable.
With the Stylo 5’s stylus, you can draw, take notes, and navigate the UI — something that’s quite handy when trying to tap small buttons on the screen. You also get a 6.2-inch Full HD+ display, Android 9 Pie, and 32GB of storage that can be expanded up to 2TB. There’s also Alexa push-to-talk support, meaning you can double-press the power button at any time to check in with the assistant.
The single 13MP camera won’t knock your socks off anytime soon and the plastic design isn’t the nicest we’ve ever seen, but as far as stylus-touting phones go, the Stylo 5 is a strong option.
- Comes with a stylus
- Big display for drawing and note-taking
- Push-to-talk Alexa
- Large battery
- One rear camera
- Cheap plastic build
LG Stylo 5
The budget phone with a stylus
The stylus-touting LG Stylo 5 is a great buy, allowing you to draw and take handwritten notes wherever you go.
Even when your budget is tight, you can get a great phone with the Moto G Power. It offers good performance with simple software filled with useful Moto features, and with good hardware it doesn’t look or feel like a “cheap” phone. It’s also a great size with enough screen room to get things done without feeling too large.
Amazingly, the Android market has many other great options for you at affordable prices, but when you’re looking to save money, there are going to be compromises. When shopping for these phones, take a close look at the specs to make sure you’re not missing a feature you’d like to have. Many inexpensive phones will cut out on display size, display resolution, extra cameras or bonuses like stereo speakers. However, when you shop around, you’ll be able to get a great phone for just a few hundred bucks.
Buying a new Android phone can be a pretty daunting task, especially when trying to keep prices low. You want to buy something that’ll be able to do everything you need, but getting a quality handset without breaking the bank is no easy task. If you aren’t sure where to get started, here are a few pointers to keep in mind. First thing’s first, what features are a priority for you? Do you take a lot of pictures? If so, you’ll want a good camera. A high megapixel count translates to a more detailed photo, and some phones have multiple cameras that allow for you to zoom in on subjects or capture more in the frame. The display is another factor to think about. A larger screen will be more difficult to use with one hand, but it’ll also be better-suited for watching movies and playing games. Similarly, a higher screen resolution means everything on the phone will be more crisp and easier on the eyes. Last but certainly not least, keep an eye on the battery capacity of the phone you’re looking at. The larger mAh count it has, the longer it’ll last on a single charge.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Joe Maring is a Senior Editor for Android Central and has had a love for anything with a screen and CPU since he can remember. He’s been talking/writing about Android in one form or another since 2012, and often does so while camping out at the nearest coffee shop. Have a hot tip or want to say hey? Reach out on Twitter @JoeMaring1 or send an email or [email protected]!
Hayato Huseman is a recovering trade show addict and video editor for Android Central based out of Indianapolis. He can mostly be found complaining about the cold and enthusing about prog metal on Twitter at @hayatohuseman . Got a tip or inquiry? Drop him a line at [email protected]
Daniel Bader is Managing Editor of Android Central. As he’s writing this, a mountain of old Android phones is about to fall on his head, but his Great Dane will protect him. He drinks way too much coffee and sleeps too little. He wonders if there’s a correlation.
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