Affordable, not cheap: 8 best low-cost smartphones (2017 edition)

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Affordable, not cheap: 8 best low-cost smartphones (2017 edition) in Android Picks Windows
When it comes to technology, some people just don’t find it reasonable to spend crazy amounts of money on a gadget that gets old in just several years. Yet, those same people still want the full smartphone experience, the camera, the apps, and the speed. Are there any affordable phones that would fit all those criteria?

Affordable without being ‘cheap’ in an embarassing way

Good news is that with recent launches the answer is a resounding ‘yes’. We now have phones that are cheap without being downright ruined by terrible issues – those affordable devices do not lag terribly, they have decent cameras, and some of them even come with a very likable design.

But which ones are they? We’ve picked the best affordable phones, where affordable does not mean ‘cheap’ in any embarrassing way. Take a look at these best value-for-the-money devices that you can get right now, and let us know which you think is the best low-cost smartphone.

#8: Xiaomi Redmi Note 4

Price: $200
Affordable, not cheap: 8 best low-cost smartphones (2017 edition) in Android Picks Windows
Affordable, not cheap: 8 best low-cost smartphones (2017 edition) in Android Picks Windows
The Redmi Note 4 would be the ultimate affordable smartphone had Chinese company Xiaomi made it for the U.S. or Europe. Unfortunately, it did not. With a killer metal design, a fast and reliable fingerprint scanner, decently good-looking display and a fast performance with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage, it is a heck of a deal for $200 or less (yes, that’s the full retail price). You can still get the phone on eBay or via some less-known third-party seller, but you won’t get any proper warranty or service. The risk’s on you, but if you want to take it, we understand.

#7: LeEco Le S3

Price: $250
Affordable, not cheap: 8 best low-cost smartphones (2017 edition) in Android Picks Windows
The $250 LeEco Le S3 is a great value for the money and best of all, it’s officially available in the United States, so you can get proper customer service. The phone is sleek, made out of metal and features impressive hardware. First, though, let’s say a few words about LeEco. This is a Chinese brand that long was known for its Netflix-like streaming service, but has recently switched to making phones. It has made its official entry to the U.S. market in late 2016, and the Le S3 is its affordable offering. It undercuts its rivals by offering a rich featur-set including a 5.5-inch Full HD display, the Snapdragon 652 system chip with 3GB of RAM, quick charging and a 16-megapixel main camera with support for 4K video. Its interface, “eui” is among the more confusing parts of the experience, but you get used to it after a while and if you like something different you might even like it.

#6: ZTE Axon 7 Mini

Price: $200Review
Affordable, not cheap: 8 best low-cost smartphones (2017 edition) in Android Picks Windows

ZTE Axon 7 Mini

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Affordable, not cheap: 8 best low-cost smartphones (2017 edition) in Android Picks Windows

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Affordable, not cheap: 8 best low-cost smartphones (2017 edition) in Android Picks Windows
With its cute and good-looking metal design, the ZTE Axon 7 Mini stands out in a crowd. The thing you notice first are its dual front-firing speakers, they are louder and better than what you get on many other things, and are a great thing to have. The phone runs on a mid-range chip, but performs reasonably well and has an above average camera, but its battery is nothing to write home about.

#5: Samsung Galaxy J7 (2016)

Price: $250Review
Affordable, not cheap: 8 best low-cost smartphones (2017 edition) in Android Picks Windows

Samsung Galaxy J7 (2016)

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Affordable, not cheap: 8 best low-cost smartphones (2017 edition) in Android Picks Windows

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Affordable, not cheap: 8 best low-cost smartphones (2017 edition) in Android Picks Windows

One of the most popular Samsung phones is – surprise, suprise! – the Galaxy J7 (2016). It’s shocking because it’s definitely not a looker: with its plastic body and uninspiring design it reminds us of times long past. But it performs well, has very good battery life, very decent camera and a familiar user interface. Unlike other unproven brands, you can also rely on Samsung’s customer service here and the price is right, all enough to make the J7 (2016) worth considering. It’s out of necessity, not out of affection, though.

#4: Sony Xperia XA

Price: $240Review
Affordable, not cheap: 8 best low-cost smartphones (2017 edition) in Android Picks Windows

Sony Xperia XA

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Affordable, not cheap: 8 best low-cost smartphones (2017 edition) in Android Picks Windows

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Affordable, not cheap: 8 best low-cost smartphones (2017 edition) in Android Picks Windows

The Xperia XA, introduced in late 2016, shows that you can have a different design even in affordable phones. Sure, it’s plastic, but it has those nice curves and compact fit to it. It’s also a Sony phone, bringing with it the brand’s recognition and simple, down-to-business interface. The XA has an above average camera and very good battery life, and while it is not among the most exciting phones out there, it gets the job done for good money.

#3: Honor 6X

Price: $250Review
Affordable, not cheap: 8 best low-cost smartphones (2017 edition) in Android Picks Windows

Honor 6X

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Affordable, not cheap: 8 best low-cost smartphones (2017 edition) in Android Picks Windows

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Affordable, not cheap: 8 best low-cost smartphones (2017 edition) in Android Picks Windows

Honor does a lot right with the 6X. The phone’s attractive, while not being particularly flashy, offers some solid hardware for casual usage without getting weighed down by too many extraneous bells and whistles, and runs software that, while it’s getting a little old, is all kinds of functional and customizable.

#2: Apple iPhone 5s

Price: $150Review
Affordable, not cheap: 8 best low-cost smartphones (2017 edition) in Android Picks Windows

Apple iPhone 5s

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Affordable, not cheap: 8 best low-cost smartphones (2017 edition) in Android Picks Windows

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Affordable, not cheap: 8 best low-cost smartphones (2017 edition) in Android Picks Windows

The Apple iPhone 5s is your cheapest iPhone still sold at MVNOs like U.S. Cellular, Cricket Wireless, Virgin Mobile, and you can also find refurb models going for a price of around $150. The iPhone 5s might be an old phone and its small, 4-inch display is not everyone’s cup of tea, but if you don’t mind that, you’d pleased to find that – unlike many Android phones of that time – the 5s works on the latest iOS 10 software platform. It also performs well. It’s not the fastest phone around, but it does not stutter or lag significantly either, it captured good-looking images and has access to all the awesome applications available on Apple’s App Store.

#1: Motorola Moto G4 Plus

Price: $230 for 16GB, $300 for 64GBReview
Affordable, not cheap: 8 best low-cost smartphones (2017 edition) in Android Picks Windows

Moto G4

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Affordable, not cheap: 8 best low-cost smartphones (2017 edition) in Android Picks Windows

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Affordable, not cheap: 8 best low-cost smartphones (2017 edition) in Android Picks Windows
The Moto G4 Plus is our favorite affordable phone at the moment. At $230 it checks all the important marks: it has a reasonably fast performance with a clean, easy-to-use interface, it features a fingerprint scanner, has an above average camera and a splash-proof body. Unlike many other phones by more obscure brands, it’s also got one important advantage: proper service and repairs, something important for a device that you will likely use everyday in the next two years or so. And like a phone made for the United States and Europe, it has full 4G LTE band coverage and support. Battery life is also very good and the phone recharges in less than two hours, which is not the fastest around, but not slow either.