The days of needing to pay top dollar to get a good smartphone are dead and buried. The smartphone is now a commodity, and as such, the costs of manufacturing something decent has decreased. That means great phones are now common around the 400 Dollars mark, and good phones are available for much less than that. But some devices are better than others. In our ongoing quest to help you find the best of the bunch, we’ve broken down the affordable end of the smartphone market, and rounded up the handsets worth buying today.
Huawei Honor 6X
To be clear: While there are other perfectly solid devices in the RP 200-300 range, none of them put it all together the way the Moto G5 Plus does. That said, Huawei’s RP 250 Honor 6X does have a few key selling points. Its 5.5-inch 1080p panel is bigger, a bit more accurate, and much brighter than that of the Moto G5 Plus. Its metal body is thinner, and just as solid. Its fingerprint sensor is fast. Battery life is also a strength, even if it’s not as long-lasting as Moto’s.
Most notably, the dual-camera setup on its back allows you to mess with the focus of your photos, akin to what Apple’s iPhone 7 Plus can do. It’s not always accurate, but it’s impressive when it works, and it tends to do better in low-light than the Moto’s camera either way.
There are issues, though. Huawei’s HiSilicon Kirin 655 chip is fine, but results in a few more stutters than the Moto’s Snapdragon. The display lacks oleophobic coating, meaning it’ll pick up finger grease way too easily. And the whole thing puts a heavy skin over the already-dated Android 6.0, complicating bits of the software that don’t need to be complicated.
Huawei says it will update the Honor 6X to its newest software skin, which is much better, by the middle of the year. But until then, the phone will merely be a decent alternative to the Moto G5 Plus.
ZTE AXON 7
ZTE’s RP 400 Axon 7 is another flagship phone masquerading at a mid-tier price. It runs a tad slower than the OnePlus 3T, but only by a little, and its 5.5-inch 2560×1440 display looks superb. The camera and battery life are strong as well.
The big separation from the OnePlus is in design — the Axon 7 has heft, which some might not like, but gives off a more expensive feel. It’s good and slim for a handset with a screen this big, and its dual speakers are superb.
You can quibble about ZTE’s mostly unnecessary software touches, but it really comes down to your preferences with hardware, and whether or not you can spare the extra RP 40 for the cleaner and faster 3T. Either way, you get good value.
the iPhone SE is the best phone on this list. It didn’t have to do much to get there: It is a strong, genuinely compact phone, and nobody makes those anymore. After years of fumbling with phablets on the train, I cannot tell you how refreshing it is to go back to a device you can actually use with one hand or stash in a shirt pocket.
The key thing is that nothing important is compromised. Outside of a couple minor omissions, this is just an iPhone 6s in the body of an iPhone 5s. Its Apple A9 chip is aging, yes, but it’s still never slow, the camera’s still above-average, the display’s still accurate, and iOS is still a breeze to use. Because it pushes fewer (unnecessary) pixels, its battery is even better, easily capable of lasting over a day. It’s as sturdy as it always was, and again, it never feels difficult to handle.
The only thing that was wrong with the SE was its limited storage, but Apple fixed that in March by bumping the entry-level model from 16GB to 32GB of space by default. You could say RP 400 is expensive for a recycled design, but that design never stopped being great, and iOS isn’t as dependent on high-powered specs. Time has passed small phones by, which keeps the OnePlus the better device for most, but those who want their phone to feel like a phone can rejoice.