Best Smartphones for the Cash - March 2018

MWC’s announcements of new units, and new mobile technologies has resulted in quite a few changes to this list with some units no longer being recommended and others getting price drops.
As usual, these prices are for unlocked, direct sale units.

Sub $150

Moto E Plus (4th Generation)
Still going for less than $150, you will be hard pressed to find this combo of 5.5” HD screen, removable battery, quad core CPU, microSD card slot and a fingerprint reader. As usual with the Moto E line, you get a lot for a surprising price. Considering Moto’s history with updates this is a worthwhile consideration for anyone trying to get a lot for less. There is also a 32GB built-in storage version for close to $200.


Huawei Honor 7X
Replacing the 6X from the last listing is the 7X which is a worthwhile addition in this price segment. This phone has an almost 6” display with minimal bezels giving it a premium tier phone look for about $200. Also equipped on this feature packed budget phone are a dual lens camera setup in the rear, a 3340mAh battery, an octa-core processor, fingerprint sensor, 8MP selfie camera,32GB of storage and 3GB of RAM. This may not be stock Android, or receive updates as often as the Motos, but that's the trade off for getting so much for this price.

The mid range phone market is a more contested space with some great options to choose from:

Moto G Plus (5th Generation)
For $220(32GB)/$299(64GB) you can get a Phone with a 5.2” HD display. Both phones also come with a microSD card slot, quick charge capability, a fingerprint sensor, aluminum finish, and an Octa-core processor. As usual with Moto’s you get a near stock Android experience that makes for a quick and clean user experience.

Nokia 6
The Nokia name has been making a return to the world of smartphones lately and at $230 this is a great option to consider. The Nokia 6 has a 5.5” HD display, a Snapdragon 430 Octa-core processor, 16MP main camera with a 8MP front facing camera, fingerprint sensor and a microSD card slot. A unique feature of this unit is the inclusion of Dolby Atmos and a Smart Amplifier showing a focus on audio.


Moto X4
Normally about $400, but can be found on sale for closer to $300. The X4 is an excellent deal in the category that comes in a glass and Metal design with IP68 weather resistant. Keeping with the trend of many of its competitors this phone has a dual sensor camera setup in the back. In this particular configuration there is a 12MP camera that offers Dual Autofocus, and larger pixels for low light performance, and there is a 8MP sensor for a wider angle 120 degree field of view. The front camera is a relatively high 16MP unit. At the core of this phone is a Snapdragon 630 Octa-core processor with 3GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, a micro SD card slot and a 3000mAh battery. Up front is a 5.2” HD display

$400+ is the top tier category for most manufacturers

Essential Phone
Now down to $450, this phone is excellently priced for its specifications. Essentialis new to the smartphone scene, but it has a strong pedigree being head by Andy Rubin who co-founder both Danger Inc(Sidekick phones) and Android Inc. As can be expected with a founder of Android at the helm, the OS on this phone is extremely close to stock Android with the only changes being made to accommodate the unique close to edge screen and the add module port in the back of the phone. Even more extreme than the S8, this phone pushes the boundaries of how far to the edge a screen can extended. With a top tier processor, a QHD display, and 128GB of storage, this is a hard option to ignore for any person looking for a clean Android experience on a cutting edge phone.

OnePlus 5T
While the bezel-less approach is not as extreme as the Essential phone, the 5T manages to push the screen very close to the edge with its 18:9 AMOLED display at 6 inches. Inside this aluminum phone you get the Snapdragon 835, a dual camera setup with 16MP and 20MP sensors and a 3300mAh battery. Depending on if you speed $500 or $560, you get 6GB of RAM/64GB of storage or 8GB of RAM/128GB of storage (consider the choice carefully as it does not have a microSD card slot). This phone has the specs and looks to easily makes it bargain when compared to some of competition that will charge $600-800 for something similar.