September 18, 2018
You can spend a small fortune on a smartphone, if you just have to have the top-of-the-line iPhone or Samsung. However, you (and your bank balance) will be pleased to know that you needn’t pay the extortionate prices for the latest models in order to get a good phone.
In fact, you can pick up handsets which will be nearly as potent as the latest flagships and also bear a more than a passing resemblance to their pricier cousins. If your budget can stretch to just under $400, we'd recommend going for the brilliant Google Pixel 3a, a premium-budget smartphone that can hold its own against the best. If you'd rather keep things under $250, then your best bet is to opt for one of the Motorola Moto G7 series phones. We detail all these phones and more, below.
Remember, this isn’t about buying the absolute cheapest phone you can – it’s about buying a good value phone. Spend too little on a poor phone, and you’ll end up buying another one sooner, spending more along the way.
There are some duds and some brilliant models among the low to mid-range options, so let Tech.Co remove the uncertainty when choosing your next phone.
In this guide:
Scroll horizontally to view full table on mobile devices
|Google Pixel 3a||Google Pixel 3a XL||Motorola Moto g7 Plus||Motorola One Vision||Motorola Moto g7 Power||Sony Xperia 10||Sony Xperia 10 Plus||Motorola Moto g7 Play|
|Screen size (in)||5.6||6||6.2||6.3||6.2||6||6.5||5.7|
|Operating system||Android 9||Android 9||Android 9||Android 9 (Android One)||Android 9||Android 9||Android 9||Android 9|
|Battery size (mAh)||3000||3700||3000||3500||5000||2870||3000||3000|
|Procesor||Snapdragon 670||Snapdragon 670||Snapdragon 636||Exynos 9609||Snapdragon 632||Snapdragon 670||Snapdragon 636||Snapdragon 632|
|Ease of use score|
|Buy now||From Verizon||From Verizon||From Amazon||From Amazon||From Amazon||From Amazon||From Amazon||From Amazon|
Incredible value, but not available in the US
The Moto g7 Plus costs £269 in the UK, about $350. It's not yet widely available on the US market, and, if we're honest, Americans are missing out. Fortunately, you can find it unlocked on Amazon.
The g7 Plus combines flagship looks with the slim bezels and teardrop notch with a delightfully lightweight version of Android and an impressive camera setup. Motorola's been on a roll with its cheap phones of late, and this one is the best of the bunch.
It's not all good news, though, the processor isn't the quickest and its plastic construction can leave a little to be desired. However, unless you're playing high-end mobile games all day long, the Moto g7 Plus will likely have enough power for you.
All told, it's a phone that punches way above its price tag.
Brilliant cameras and Android One
The One Vision is Motorola's offering for people who want a cheaper phone, but don't want to give up a top-quality camera or flagship looks. It has a 48Mp rear camera with quad pixel technology to make images appear bright and colorful. Round the front, you get a single 25Mp punch hole camera placed in the top-right corner of the display.
It also uses Android One, a variant of Android. This gives users speedy updates and software support for at least two years — not something that all Android phones can boast.
The price for all this tech is just £269. It's tricky to track down in the US, though if you get the chance to pick up an international unlocked model, you should do so.
|Motorola One Vision Key Specs|
The best for battery life
If you want a phone that will last for ages, then the Moto g7 Power is for you.
Its 5,000 mAh battery is one of the biggest found in any phone, at any price. And, combined with its admittedly sluggish processor and slightly low-res screen, it can last for close to three days in regular use and about a week on standby.
It also has ridiculous fast-charging abilities — a fifteen minute charge from flat can give you 16 hours of battery life.
The price for all this battery power? Just $249.
A good multimedia phone
The Sony Xperia 10 is defined by its tall, 21:9 ratio display. That aspect ratio makes the screen three times taller than it is wide. This can make the phone a bit daunting to use with one hand.
However, the tradeoff for that slightly unwieldy design is that the Xperia 10 is perfect for watching films and TV shows or playing games. That extra screen real estate gives you a genuinely widescreen experience in the palm of your hand, and makes everything super-immersive.
It costs $299, and for that you get dual rear cameras and performance that belies its slightly meagre specs. It's a quirky phone, but far from a bad one.
A fantastic screen for watching videos
The Sony Xperia 10 Plus costs $429 and, like its cheaper brother the Xperia 10, it uses the 21:9 aspect ratio – but, it's even bigger. It has a 6.5-inch screen, and if we're honest, it feels like a mini tablet, rather than a phone.
But, when it comes to watching movies and TV shows, there are few phones better suited.
Aside from the screen, the Xperia 10 Plus has dual rear cameras, which take pretty good photos. It uses a Snapdragon 636 processor with 4GB of RAM, which is plenty for most people. The Xperia 10 also feels really solidly built, which isn't something you can say for all phones in this price bracket.
A big, uncompromising multimedia phone
The Moto g7 Play costs just $199. That's right, a new phone in 2019 for less than $200. It's not a bad phone, either. The g7 Play might not have the best specifications in the world, but its lightweight Android skin and decent rear camera make it a perfectly usable phone.
The g7 Play doesn't even look particularly cheap. It has a respectable 5.7-inch display, with slim bezels and an iPhone-like notch. The screen is only a 720p panel, but it's not completely unusable and will be fine for flicking through social media.
It also has surprisingly strong battery life, thanks to that low-end processor and screen. We typically squeezed about one-and-a-half day's battery life from the g7 Play — perfect for those who don't need to be on their phones all the time.
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