Best cheap phones in the US for 2017
Trying to find the best cheap phone, especially in the US, is a herculean task in 2017, as carriers want to lock everyone into contracts even at budget prices. You want to spend less money – not more, right?
That’s why we’ve deployed our knowledge of the best phones under $300 and tested hundreds of cheap phones to rank the best devices. Unlocked, contract free and SIM-free phones are included in the top ten.
While most are $200 or under, you’ll likely recognize the brands: Motorola, Google and Apple. But there are some that you’ve probably never heard of, namely Honor and ZTE, but they’re just as worthy of your time and money.
1. Moto G5 Plus
Our favorite cheap phone with a premium new look
Weight: 155g | Dimensions: 150.2 x 74 x 7.7 mm | OS: Android 7 | Screen size: 5.2-inch | Resolution: 1,920 x 1,080 | Chip: Snapdragon 625 | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 64GB | Battery: 3000mAh | Rear camera: 12MP | Front camera: 5MP
The Moto G5 Plus is the best cheap phone you can buy right now mostly because it doesn’t look or feel like a budget phone. It has a metal build, a 5.2-inch Full HD screen, a fingerprint sensor, quick charging and 64GB of internal storage with a microSD card reader for expansion.
Supported by all major US carriers, including Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint, the G5 Moto Plus also runs on Android 8.0 Oreo and includes Google Assistant, which we’ve found to be comparable to Siri. It has a Snapdragon 625 CPU, and while it’s not going to be blowing away the benchmarks, it’s powerful enough to play games and multitask. The only features that the more expensive Moto Z2 has that you’ll really be missing are a better camera, VR capabilities and MotoMods. Most people will do just fine with this phone, and it is less than a third of the cost of Motorola’s flagship.
Amazon is offering the Moto G5 at an even deeper discount to Prime members. It’s just $239 with Amazon’s lockscreen ads, or the normal $269 without those ads for everyone else.
Read the full review: Moto G5 Plus
2. iPhone SE
iOS on an incredible budget
Weight: 113g | Dimensions: 123.8 x 58.6 x 7.6mm | OS: iOS 11 | Screen size: 4-inch | Resolution: 1,136 x 640 | CPU: A9 processor | RAM: 2GB | Storage: 32/1128GB | Battery: 1,624mAh | Rear camera: 12MP | Front camera: 1.2MP
Apple’s return to the four-inch form factor is faithful to the iPhone 5S, but packs a serious punch in the performance department, bringing specs that put in on par with the iPhone 6S.
The fact that you can get this smartphone for under $300 makes it an absolute steal if you’re a loyal iOS user. Sure, it doesn’t come with all of the bells and whistles of a brand new iPhone 8 or iPhone X, but complete with iOS 11, it still holds up with the latest.
Read the full review: iPhone SE
3. ZTE Blade V8 Pro
One of ZTE’s best is also one of its most affordable
Weight: 185g | Dimensions: 155 x 76 x 9.1mm | OS: Android Marshmallow | Screen size: 5.5-inch | Resolution: 1,920 x 1,080 | CPU: Snapdragon 625 | RAM: 3GB | Storage: 32GB w/ microSD | Battery: 3,140mAh | Rear camera: 13MP + 13MP | Front camera: 8MP
At its core, the Blade V8 Pro offers a lot for the money. It doesn’t wow when compared to flagship but if all you want is a phone to do the basics, you’ll be happy with the Blade. ZTE did a great job balancing price, performance and features.
After using the ZTE Blade V8 Pro for a month, we were impressed at just how little we missed from a flagship phone. Sure, you don’t get the multitasking performance of more powerful smartphones but for a majority of tasks, the Blade V8 Pro is perfectly adequate.
The ZTE Blade V8 Pro is an excellent smartphone for the price. Its bargain bin price gets you good battery life, decent dual-rear cameras and a near-stock Android experience. If you’re okay with having an older version of Android, the Blade V8 Pro is among the smartest choices if you’re in need of a budget smartphone.
Read the full review: ZTE Blade V8 Pro
4. Asus Zenfone 3 Zoom
A lot of phone for the money
Weight: 170g | Dimensions: 154.3 x 77 x 7.9mm | OS: Android Marshmallow | Screen size: 5.5-inch | Resolution: 1,920 x 1,080 | CPU: Snapdragon 625 | RAM: 3GB | Storage: 32/64GB | Battery: 5,000mAh | Rear camera: two cameras, each 12MP | Front camera: 13MP
I’m surprised by the Asus Zenfone 3 Zoom. While I was fairly impressed with its specs and the much-improved design over the original Asus Zenfone Zoom, its direct predecessor, I wasn’t completely sold. That’s mostly because I didn’t know how much it would cost.
Not only is it cheaper and far better than the Zenfone Zoom, it’s one of the best mid-tier options available. Asus’ ZenUI has improved to the point where it’s no longer a red flag for most users and the value here in terms of spec and design is tough to beat.
While not perfect in its execution, it’s full of crowd-pleasing features and rocks a pleasing design that defies its price point, coming together as a smart buy for just about anyone.
Read the full review: Asus Zenfone 3 Zoom
5. Moto E4
Who knew the low-end could be so good?
Dimensions: 144.7 x 72.3 x 9.3mm | OS: Android 7.1.1 | Screen size: 5-inch | Resolution: 1,280 x 720 | CPU: 1.3GHz quad-core | RAM: 2GB | Storage: 16GB with microSD storage | Battery: 2,800mAh | Rear camera: 8MP | Front camera: 5MP
If you’re looking for a truly affordable device that doesn’t sacrifice too much to meet an attractive price tag, the Moto E4 is still a good option you could take a look at. We particularly liked the slick design, Android Nougat software, fingerprint sensor and the general value of the phone.
There’s still the issue of it only having 16GB of storage and the performance isn’t fantastic, but if you can get over those issues the Moto E4 will be a great phone for you.
Read the full review: Moto E4
6. Honor 6X
A whole lot of features for not a lot of cash
Weight: 162g | Dimensions: 150.9 x 76.2 x 8.2mm | OS: Android Nougat | Screen size: 5.5-inch | Resolution: 1,920 x 1,080 | CPU: Kirin 655 octa-core | RAM: 3/4GB | Storage: 64GB with microSD storage | Battery: 3,340mAh | Rear camera: 12MP + 2MP | Front camera: 8MP
The Honor 6X builds upon the many successes of the 5X: it’s an affordable phone that’s packed full of features that make it one of the best values on the market.
While decidedly lacking that flagship feeling in the hand, in that it’s not hefty or made up of premium materials, the 6X pleases if you can look past it.
It has a bright, clear display that you can unlock with the rear fingerprint reader. The dual rear-facing cameras provide better results than most phones in its price range.
Honor has cemented itself as one of the world’s best budget phone makers with the Honor 6X.
Read the full review: Honor 6X
7. Nokia 6
Premium doesn’t have to come at a high cost
Weight: 169g | Dimensions: 154 x 75.8 x 7.8mm | OS: Android Nougat | Screen size: 5.5-inch | Resolution: 1,920 x 1,080 | CPU: Snapdragon 430 | RAM: 3GB | Storage: 32GB w/ microSD | Battery: 3.000mAh | Rear camera: 16MP | Front camera: 8MP
If you can stretch to the quite reasonable price tag it’s the Nokia phone we’d recommend you go for, thanks to its large Full HD display, tidy performance and solid camera.
The only real negatives are that the phone isn’t as comfortable to hold as the rounded Nokia 5 and Moto G5 Plus, and we’d have liked the battery life to last a full day on a single charge more comfortably.
Overall then, the Nokia 6 is like a really good, affordable smartphone. It’s got a decent spec sheet and a great design, while the stock Android interface should mean it gets software updates promptly.
Read the full review: Nokia 6
8. iPhone 5S
Apple’s iPhone makes the cut if you jump through hoops
Weight: 112g | Dimensions: 123.8 x 58.6 x 7.6mm | OS: iOS 10 | Screen size: 4-inch | Resolution: 1,136 x 640 | CPU: Dual-core 1.3 GHz | RAM: 1GB | Storage: 16GB | Battery: 1,560mAh | Rear camera: 8MP | Front camera: 1.2MP
It’s very, very hard to fit an Apple device on a best cheap phones guide, but there is bound to be at least one that’s cheap enough for iOS fans who refuse to try the more affordable Android devices above.
The cheapest is iPhone 5S. When it was last sold through the Apple Store, it cost $450 without a contract – until the iPhone SE showed up and replaced it. That was too expensive to include here.
Now it’s the cheapest iPhone we can find thanks to third-party stores like Amazon. It’s under $199 through the main store and many third-party sellers are also hawking it for under $199.
Read the full review: iPhone 5S
9. Nextbit Robin
A solid Android phone with a clever trick
Weight: 150g | Dimensions: 149 x 72 x 7mm | OS: Android 6.0 | Screen size: 5.2-inch | Resolution: 1,920 x 1,080 | CPU: Hexa-core 2GHz | RAM: 3GB | Storage: 32GB | Battery: 2,680mAh | Rear camera: 13MP | Front camera: 5MP
The Nextbit Robin isn’t like most phones. First off, its design sets it apart from the get-go. Available in mint (as seen above) and red, the Robin pushes a bold visual statement that makes other devices look boring.
But thankfully, it’s not all talk: Nextbit’s tweaked version of Android Marshmallow (and soon, Android Nougat) allows users to take advantage of 100GB of free cloud storage to offload apps, games and photos to make way for what space you might need to use.
In addition, it’s just a slick phone that doesn’t shirk on features. You’ll commonly find the Robin under the $200 mark. And, so long as you’re on a GSM carrier, this could be your next device.
Read the full review: Nextbit Robin
10. Blu R1 Plus
One of the cheapest Android phones we’ve reviewed
Weight: 191g | Dimensions: 153 x 76 x 10.5 mm | OS: Android 6 | Screen size: 5.5-inch | Resolution: 720 x 1,280 | Chip: MediaTek 6737 | RAM: 3GB | Storage: 32GB | Battery: 4,000mAh | Rear camera: 13MP | Front camera: 5MP
If you’re shopping for a cheap phone that isn’t tied up in an annoying contract that’s just slightly more than $150, this is our recommendation as it often gets discounted through Amazon flash sales.
The Blu R1 plus comes in right at $159, and that includes an Android phone with an HD display, metal build and a large 4,000mAh battery. It also has a dual-SIM feature, making it a great phone for travelers, plus it even includes a case and has a passable camera (great in daylight, not so great in low light).
This device is solely for the sub-$200 crowd as it can’t handle 3D games well, has no fingerprint sensor and runs an outdated version of Android. It’s capable of the basics, and gets you an in to Google’s app environment.
Read the full review: Blu Plus R1
Powered by WPeMatico