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Best unlocked Android phones (February 2017)

Now that an increasing amount of smartphone manufacturers are selling their phones at cheaper price points, it’s much easier for consumers to afford an off-contract device rather than purchasing one with a two-year contract. At least in the United States, the way smartphones are priced has changed dramatically, and that’s a good thing.

So, what are the best smartphones out there for those who’d like to forgo the standard contract and buy unlocked? We’re here to take you through the best unlocked Android smartphones for under $250, under $500 and over $500. As always, if you have anything you’d like to suggest, be sure to speak up in the comment section at the bottom of the post.

Editor’s note: We’ll be updating this list regularly as new devices launch. It’s also worth noting that this article is written for a U.S.-centric point of view, though (since they are unlocked) pretty much all of these devices are available outside of the U.S., at least in some capacity.


Best phones under $250

Honor 6X

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If you’re looking for a phone under $250, you should definitely check out the Honor 6X. With its big 5.5-inch 1080p display, long-lasting battery, metal construction, dual-SIM support and super fast fingerprint sensor, the 6X gives many other budget phones a run for their money.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this device is its rear-facing dual camera setup, which features 12 and 2MP sensors. While every dual-camera setup utilizes the secondary camera differently, the 6X uses the 2MP sensor to capture depth information that can be taken advantage of when using the camera’s wide aperture mode.

This phone isn’t perfect, though. It doesn’t come with USB Type-C support, EMUI is a little unpolished, and the device’s bottom-firing speaker isn’t the greatest. If you can get past those few caveats, though, the Honor 6X might be well worth your money.

Specs

  • 5.5-inch IPS LCD display with 1920 x 1080 resolution, 403ppi
  • Octa-core HiSilicon Kirin 655 processor
  • 3/4GB of RAM
  • 32/64GB of on-board storage, microSD expansion up to 256GB
  • Dual 12 and 2MP rear cameras, 8MP front camera
  • Non-removable 3,340mAh battery
  • Android 6.0 Marshmallow
  • 150.9 x 76.2 x 8.2mm, 162g

Read more

Buy now from Amazon

Motorola Moto G4 Plus

Best unlocked Android phones (February 2017)

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Instead of announcing just one Moto G variant this year, Lenovo brought us three different devices – the Moto G4 Plus, Moto G4 and Moto G4 Play.

The highest-end of the bunch is the Moto G4 Plus, and it brings a handful of notable improvements to the Moto G range. It has a big 1080p display, capable processor, expandable storage, and even a fingerprint sensor this time around. While we had a slight problem with the volume/power buttons and the camera in low light, we can honestly say this is one of the best budget offerings in 2016.

Right now you can buy it in the U.S. for $249.99 through Amazon or Motorola.com.

Specs

  • 5.5-inch IPS LCD display with 1920 x 1080 resolution, 401ppi
  • Quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 processor
  • 2/3/4GB of RAM
  • 16/32/64GB of on-board storage, microSD expansion up to 256GB
  • 16MP rear camera, 5MP front camera
  • Non-removable 3000mAh battery
  • Android 6.0 Marshmallow
  • 153 x 76.6 x 9.8mm, 155g

Read more

Buy now from Motorola

Moto G4 Play

Best unlocked Android phones (February 2017)

See more Moto G4 Play photos

Lenovo’s Moto G4 Play enters the market with a low price tag, solid specifications and a familiar design language we’ve all grown to love.

It sports a 5.0-inch HD display, solid Snapdragon 410 processor, 2GB of RAM, and an 8MP rear camera that’s great for snapping the occasional photo. Plus, you get a removable 2800mAh battery, which is a feature many manufacturers have been leaving out of their phones lately.

Specs

  • 5.0-inch IPS LCD display with 1280 x 720 resolution, 294ppi
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 processor
  • 2GB of RAM
  • 16GB of on-board storage, microSD expansion up to 256GB
  • 8MP rear camera, 5MP front camera
  • Removable 2800mAh battery
  • Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow
  • 144.4 x 72 x 9.9mm, 137g

Read more

Buy now from Amazon

Best phones under $500

OnePlus 3T

Best unlocked Android phones (February 2017)

See more OnePlus 3T photos

We weren’t expecting OnePlus to release another new flagship in 2016, but it happened. If you were a fan of the OnePlus 3, you’ll certainly love the OnePlus 3T.

With its powerful Snapdragon 821 processor backed by 6GB of RAM, the 3T absolutely flies through web browsing, gaming and most other everyday tasks. It also has a bigger battery this time around (3,400mAh to be exact), which is more than enough to get you through a full day of use on a single charge. In addition, the 3T now sports 16MP rear and front-facing camera sensors, a dual-SIM card slot, plenty of on-board storage, and a fast front-facing fingerprint sensor on the front.

Basically the OnePlus 3T is a better OnePlus 3, and we’re certainly not complaining. You can buy it from OnePlus’ website in Gunmetal and Soft Gold color options.

Specs

  • 5.5-inch Optic AMOLED display with 1920 x 1080 resolution, 401ppi
  • 2.35GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 821
  • 6GB of RAM
  • 64/128GB of on-board storage, no microSD card expansion
  • 16MP rear camera, 16MP front camera
  • Non-removable 3,400mAh battery
  • Android 7.0 Nougat
  • 152.7 x 74.7 x 7.35mm, 158g

Read more

Buy now from OnePlus

ZTE Axon 7

Best unlocked Android phones (February 2017)

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ZTE’s Axon Pro from 2015 was a good phone, but it fell short in a few key areas. It came to market with only one storage option, no expandable memory, and the dual camera setup on the back of the device felt a bit gimmicky. Not only does the company’s latest flagship fix all of those problems, it brings much more to the table.

It has a big 5.5-inch Quad HD AMOLED display, the latest Snapdragon processor, plenty of RAM, multiple storage options, and yes, expandable memory up to 256GB. It also sports some killer front-facing speakers, all-day battery life, a great camera, and a sleek, attractive design. While certain parts of the software could use a little more polish, the ZTE Axon 7 goes toe-to-toe with the best in the Android market. It’s also inexpensive at only $400, making this an even more attractive option for folks looking to score a solid flagship device.

Specs

  • 5.5-inch AMOLED display with 2560 x 1440 resolution, 538ppi
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor
  • 4/6GB of RAM
  • 64/128GB of on-board storage, microSD expansion up to 256GB
  • 20MP front camera, 8MP rear camera
  • Non-removable 3250mAh battery
  • Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow
  • 151.7 x 75 x 7.9mm, 175g

Read more

Buy at Amazon

Best phones above $500

Google Pixel and Pixel XL

Best unlocked Android phones (February 2017)

See more Google Pixel and Pixel XL photos

Google’s Pixel and Pixel XL are here, and they truly are some amazing smartphones.

Not only are they the first phones to ship with the Google Assistant on board, they also come with plenty of exclusive software features and some of the best smartphone cameras in existence.

Under the hood, they sport some killer specs, too. Both devices have an AMOLED display, a Snapdragon 821 processor, 4GB of RAM, plenty of on-board storage and long-lasting batteries. The overall design of these phones may not be the most unique, but they do feel like premium phones through and through.

There are a few things about these phones that will turn some people away, though. For starters, they only sport an IP53 rating for dust and water resistance, meaning they’re not nearly as waterproof as the Galaxy S7 or S7 Edge. There are ways around that, but none that will make the devices truly waterproof. Plus, if you buy the Verizon model, you’ll have to deal with a small amount of bloatware (though you will be able to uninstall it), you won’t be able to unlock the bootloader, and Verizon will be handling all Pixel and Pixel XL software updates (though the company swears it won’t delay them).

If you’re in the market for a new flagship Android phone and don’t mind spending over $650, you should buy the Pixel or Pixel XL… these are two of the best Android phones out there.

Specs

Google Pixel

  • 5.0-inch AMOLED display with 1920 x 1080 resolution, 441ppi
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor
  • 4GB of RAM
  • 32/128GB of on-board storage, no microSD expansion
  • 12.3MP rear camera, 8MP front camera
  • Non-removable 2,770mAh battery
  • Android 7.1 Nougat
  • 143.8 x 69.5 x 8.6mm, 143g

Google Pixel XL

  • 5.5-inch AMOLED display with 2560 x 1440 resolution, 534ppi
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor
  • 4GB of RAM
  • 32/128GB of on-board storage, no microSD expansion
  • 12.3MP rear camera, 8MP front camera
  • Non-removable 3,450mAh battery
  • Android 7.1 Nougat
  • 154.7 x 75.7 x 8.6mm, 168g

Read more

Buy now from the Google Store

Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge

Best unlocked Android phones (February 2017)

See more Galaxy S7 photos | See more Galaxy S7 Edge photos

Samsung did a killer job with their 2015 flagship smartphones, the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge. Design-wise, many would say those two phones were close to perfect. The company forwent a plastic design and instead included glass front and back panels with an aluminum frame. They weren’t without their flaws, though. The S6 and S6 Edge didn’t offer expandable storage or removable batteries — two features Samsung has been known to include in all its smartphones for years.

Now the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge have made their way to the masses, and they fix many of the problems the S6 line introduced last year. While they don’t offer removable batteries, Samsung included expandable storage on both handsets in case the 32GB of on-board storage isn’t enough. Samsung mostly stuck to the same design this time around, though they did shrink down the camera bumps on the back and made the devices a little thicker to make room for larger batteries.

In terms of specs, these are top-of-the-line smartphones. They come with Quad HD Super AMOLED displays, Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processors, 4GB of RAM, great 12MP rear-facing cameras and run the latest version of Android. Instead of featuring the same screen sizes this time around though, Samsung kept the S7 at a smaller 5.1 inches, while the S7 Edge has been bumped up to a larger 5.5-inch panel.

Seriously, these are some incredible smartphones. They are a little pricey, but all in all, we think the high asking price is worth it.

Specs

Samsung Galaxy S7

  • 5.1-inch Super AMOLED display with 2560 x 1440 resolution, 577ppi
  • Quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor
  • 4GB of RAM
  • 32GB of on-board storage, microSD expansion up to 200GB
  • 12MP rear camera, 5MP front camera
  • Non-removable 3000mAh battery
  • Android 7.0 Nougat
  • 142.4 x 69.6 x 7.9mm, 152g

Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge

  • 5.5-inch Super AMOLED display with 2560 x 1440 resolution, 534ppi
  • Quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor
  • 4GB of RAM
  • 32GB of on-board storage, microSD expansion up to 200GB
  • 12MP rear camera, 5MP front camera
  • Non-removable 3600mAh battery
  • Android 7.0 Nougat
  • 150.9 x 72.6 x 7.7mm, 157g

Read more

Buy the Galaxy S7 from Amazon
Buy the Galaxy S7 Edge from Amazon

Huawei Mate 9

Best unlocked Android phones (February 2017)

See more Huawei Mate 9 photos

Huawei has done a great job at making its way to the mainstream over the past few years – first with the Huawei P9, and now with the Mate 9.

With a big 5.9-inch display, powerful Kirin 960 processor, dual-SIM capabilities, and an impressive camera setup, the Mate 9 may be one of the best big phones of the year. While its display is ‘only’ 1080p and its software is a bit odd sometimes, we still think the high price tag is worth it. If you’re after a smartphone that offers exceptional battery life and incredible performance, the standard Mate 9 delivers in spades. If money is no object and you want a smartphone that is unattainable to most customers, the Porsche Design Mate 9 might be worth your while.

Best unlocked Android phones (February 2017)

Specs

  • 5.9-inch IPS LCD display with 1920 x 1080 resolution, 373ppi
  • Octa-core Hisilicon Kirin 960 processor
  • 4GB of RAM
  • 64GB of on-board storage, microSD expansion up to 256GB
  • Dual 20 and 12MP rear cameras, 8MP front camera
  • Non-removable 4,000mAh battery
  • Android 7.0 Nougat
  • 156.9 x 78.9 x 7.9mm, 190g

Read more

Buy now from Amazon

HTC 10

Best unlocked Android phones (February 2017)

See more HTC 10 photos

HTC needed a saving grace this year, and the 10 just may be it. The Taiwanese company finally designed a phone that’s different enough from its predecessor yet still sports a familiar design language. With an all-metal chassis, front-mounted fingerprint sensor and a new-and-improved speaker setup, the HTC 10 easily made its way to our best Android phones list.

Under the hood, the 10 comes with some killer specs. A 5.2-inch Quad HD display, Snapdragon 820 processor and 4GB of RAM are in line with most other flagships this year, and it also comes with expandable storage up to 200GB and a 3000mAh battery that will have no problems lasting an entire day on a single charge. HTC also improved the camera this time around, which was a big flaw in last year’s One M9 flagship.

All in all, the HTC 10 is an awesome device. Great specs and a solid build quality are what you’ll get here… what more could you ask for?

Specs

  • 5.2-inch Super LCD5 display with 2560 x 1440 resolution, 565ppi
  • 2.15GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor
  • 4GB of RAM
  • 32/64GB of on-board storage, microSD expansion up to 200GB
  • 12MP rear camera, 5MP front camera
  • Non-removable 3000mAh battery
  • Android 7.0 Nougat
  • 145.9 x 71.9 x 9mm, 161g

Read more

Buy now from HTC

There you have it – our picks of the best unlocked Android phones you can buy right now. Missed anything? Tell us in the comments!

Check out our related best lists:

Best Android smartphone cameras (February 2017)

In recent years, smartphones have effectively replaced point-and-shoot cameras, and many have even outperformed them. For many of us, these portable computers have even become our main camera, making photo quality a priority when picking a new smartphone.

Are you looking to get a new phone? In this post we put together a list of the very best camera phones out there. These are all stunning performers, but there are different factors that put them on this list. Some are better in some ways, but not in others. Let’s just go through the list and find out which one is the right one for you!

Editor’s note: We will be updating this list regularly as new devices launch.

Google Pixel and Pixel XL

See more Google Pixel and Pixel XL photos

Google’s Pixel and Pixel XL are here, and they truly are some amazing smartphones.

Not only are they the first phones to ship with the Google Assistant on board, they also come with plenty of exclusive software features.

Under the hood, they sport some killer specs, too. Both devices have an AMOLED display, a Snapdragon 821 processor, 4GB of RAM, plenty of on-board storage and long-lasting batteries. The overall design of these phones may not be the most unique, but they do feel like premium phones through and through.

The Pixel and Pixel XL also have some of the best cameras in existenceUnsurprisingly, these devices really shine in daylight. Images are very sharp and full of detail, which is especially true when shooting in HDR+ mode. Plus, the Google Camera app on these phones is super fast, and it’s especially easy to access it with a quick double-tap of the power button. The app doesn’t have any manual controls, but that doesn’t stop these cameras from really shining.

The cameras also continue to deliver in low-light scenarios, although there are a few downsides when shooting in minimal lighting conditions. For starters, the lack of OIS stands out here, though the cameras do offer electronic image stabilization to help keep images clear.

To learn more about the Pixel and Pixel XL’s cameras, head here.

There are a few things about these phones that will turn some people away, though. For starters, they only sport an IP53 rating for dust and water resistance, meaning they’re not nearly as waterproof as the Galaxy S7 or S7 Edge. There are ways around that, but none that will make the devices truly waterproof. Plus, if you buy the Verizon model, you’ll have to deal with a small amount of bloatware (though you will be able to uninstall it), you won’t be able to unlock the bootloader, and Verizon will be handling all Pixel and Pixel XL software updates (though the company swears it won’t delay them).

If you’re in the market for a new flagship Android phone and don’t mind spending over $650, you should buy the Pixel or Pixel XL… these are two of the best Android phones out there.

Specs

Google Pixel

  • 5.0-inch AMOLED display with 1920 x 1080 resolution, 441ppi
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor
  • 4GB of RAM
  • 32/128GB of on-board storage, no microSD expansion
  • 12.3MP rear camera, 8MP front camera
  • Non-removable 2,770mAh battery
  • Android 7.1 Nougat
  • 143.8 x 69.5 x 8.6mm, 143g

Google Pixel XL

  • 5.5-inch AMOLED display with 2560 x 1440 resolution, 534ppi
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor
  • 4GB of RAM
  • 32/128GB of on-board storage, no microSD expansion
  • 12.3MP rear camera, 8MP front camera
  • Non-removable 3,450mAh battery
  • Android 7.1 Nougat
  • 154.7 x 75.7 x 8.6mm, 168g

Read more

Buy now from the Google Store

Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge

Best Android smartphone cameras (February 2017)

See more Galaxy S7 photos | See more Galaxy S7 Edge photos

As we mentioned in our Galaxy Note 7 entry, Samsung’s Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge have some of the best Android smartphone cameras out there. They feature 12MP dual-pixel rear camera sensors with an f/1.7 aperture, optical image stabilization, phase detection autofocus and an LED flash. The end result is a camera with noticeably faster autofocus over competing flagship smartphones, especially in low light.

To read more about these two devices’ cameras, see our full reviews here and here.

Now let’s talk about the other things the S7 and S7 Edge do well. These devices have now made their way to the masses, and they fix many of the problems the S6 line introduced last year. While they don’t offer removable batteries, Samsung included expandable storage on both handsets in case the 32GB of on-board storage isn’t enough. Samsung mostly stuck to the same design this time around, though they did shrink down the camera bumps on the back and made the devices a little thicker to make room for larger batteries.

In terms of specs, these are top-of-the-line smartphones. They come with Quad HD Super AMOLED displays, Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processors, 4GB of RAM and run the latest version of Android. Instead of featuring the same screen sizes this time around though, Samsung kept the S7 at a smaller 5.1 inches, while the S7 Edge has been bumped up to a larger 5.5-inch panel.

Seriously, these are some incredible smartphones. They are a little pricey, but all in all, we think the high asking price is worth it.

Specs

Samsung Galaxy S7

  • 5.1-inch Super AMOLED display with 2560 x 1440 resolution, 577ppi
  • Quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor
  • 4GB of RAM
  • 32GB of on-board storage, microSD expansion up to 200GB
  • 12MP rear camera, 5MP front camera
  • Non-removable 3000mAh battery
  • Android 7.0 Nougat
  • 142.4 x 69.6 x 7.9mm, 152g

Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge

  • 5.5-inch Super AMOLED display with 2560 x 1440 resolution, 534ppi
  • Quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor
  • 4GB of RAM
  • 32GB of on-board storage, microSD expansion up to 200GB
  • 12MP rear camera, 5MP front camera
  • Non-removable 3600mAh battery
  • Android 7.0 Nougat
  • 150.9 x 72.6 x 7.7mm, 157g

Read more

Buy the Samsung Galaxy S7
Buy the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge

Huawei Mate 9

Best Android smartphone cameras (February 2017)

See more Huawei Mate 9 photos

Huawei has done a great job at making its way to the mainstream over the past few years – first with the Huawei P9, and now with the Mate 9.

With a big 5.9-inch display, powerful Kirin 960 processor, dual-SIM capabilities, and an impressive camera setup, the Mate 9 may be one of the best big phones of the year. While its display is ‘only’ 1080p and its software is a bit odd sometimes, we still think the high price tag is worth it.

Plus, the Mate 9 has an exceptional camera. Huawei’s partnership with Leica continues with the Mate 9 sporting a new and improved second generation dual camera setup. Much like the one in the Huawei P9, the camera is centred around a Leica-branded dual camera, with a 12MP RGB sensor supplemented by a 20MP monochrome sensor. Both sensors are behind lenses with f/2.2 aperture and the RGB sensor also sports Optical Image Stabilization for additional stability in photos and videos.

Image quality from the Mate 9’s dual camera array has been impressive. In daylight, you get images that are crisp, full of detail with colors that are more realistic (and less saturated) than those captured by the Galaxy S7 Edge or Pixel XL.

Huawei’s camera app means Pro mode is just a tap away and offers settings to adjust the exposure, ISO and focal point to take stunning photos. The camera app is rather straight forward to use, with options for flash, wide aperture and filters found in the viewfinder.

One of the biggest improvements in the Mate 9 camera is in low light performance, with the Mate 9 now capable of taking low light pictures that are on par with the Galaxy S7 Edge. However, while low light shots are vastly improved, the Mate 9 does struggle with slight movement in low-light, with OIS proving less effective than in other flagship devices. Overall, the camera on the Mate 9 certainly doesn’t disappoint and it seems to be on par with other Android flagships. It’s not perfect – no phone is after all – but the Mate 9 takes gorgeous photos that you’ll be proud to share. Of course, there’s still a lot you should know about the Mate 9’s camera. For more info, head here.

If you’re after a smartphone that offers exceptional battery life and incredible performance, the standard Mate 9 delivers in spades. If money is no object and you want a smartphone that is unattainable to most customers, the Porsche Design Mate 9 might be worth your while.

Specs

  • 5.9-inch IPS LCD display with 1920 x 1080 resolution, 373ppi
  • Octa-core Hisilicon Kirin 960 processor
  • 4GB of RAM
  • 64GB of on-board storage, microSD expansion up to 256GB
  • Dual 20 and 12MP rear cameras, 8MP front camera
  • Non-removable 4,000mAh battery
  • Android 7.0 Nougat
  • 156.9 x 78.9 x 7.9mm, 190g

Read more

Buy now from Amazon

LG V20

Best Android smartphone cameras (February 2017)

See more LG V20 photos

The V20 is basically the phone for power users. It has a a big Quad HD display, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 820 processor, plenty of RAM and on-board storage, and a removable 3,200mAh battery. Of course, the unique Second Screen makes a return this year, along with the addition of Quad DAC, military standard durability, and it’s already running Android 7.0 Nougat.

The V20 also sports a dual camera setup on the back, with a 16MP main sensor with an f/1.8 aperture and OIS coupled with an 8MP wide-angle sensor with an f/2.4 aperture. It may not sound like much, but the wide-angle lens on the V20 really stands out here, and works perfectly in a variety of situations. Not only can you fit more into the frame at one time, but the wide-angle sensor helps make photos appear much more dynamic.

LG’s camera app is packed with features, especially when it comes to manual controls for photos and video. You have granular control over every aspect, including white balance, ISO, exposure, shutter speed, and focus, just as you would on a DSLR. One of the most useful additions to the camera is that it now has built-in focus peaking which makes it a lot easier to tell if your subject is in focus, and if you are a content creator, you will know exactly how useful focus peaking can be.

There are plenty of other details that you’ll want to check out in our full review, so head to this link to learn more about the V20’s camera.

If top-of-the-line specs and an impressive feature set is what you’re looking for, you can’t go wrong with the V20.

Specs

  • 5.7-inch IPS LCD display with 2560 x 1440 resolution, 513ppi
    • Secondary display: 2.1-inch IPS LCD display with 160 x 1040 resolution, 513 ppi
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor
  • 4GB of RAM
  • 32/64GB of on-board storage, microSD expansion up to 256GB
  • Dual 16 and 8MP rear cameras, 5MP front camera
  • Removable 3,200mAh battery
  • Android 7.0 Nougat
  • 159.7 x 78.1 x 7.6mm, 174g

Read more

Buy now from Amazon

OnePlus 3T

Best Android smartphone cameras (February 2017)

See more OnePlus 3T photos

We weren’t expecting OnePlus to release another new flagship in 2016, but it happened. If you were a fan of the OnePlus 3, you’ll certainly love the OnePlus 3T.

With its powerful Snapdragon 821 processor backed by 6GB of RAM, the 3T absolutely flies through web browsing, gaming and most other everyday tasks. It also has a bigger battery this time around (3,400mAh to be exact), which is more than enough to get you through a full day of use on a single charge. In addition, the 3T sports a dual-SIM card slot, plenty of on-board storage, and a fast front-facing fingerprint sensor on the front.

The OnePlus 3T also has one of the best smartphone cameras around. It sports a 16MP rear-facing sensor that excels in most lighting conditions. Photos are crisp and well detailed, and we really like the color reproduction the photos have to offer. You get nice, natural looking colors, and the images are sharp enough, but without looking oversharpened and artificial. If you do want some extra sharpening, the HQ mode is available, which adds a fairly noticeable amount of sharpening to the photos. However, the images looked fine in most situations, though we rarely had to use this feature.

The default camera app is pretty similar to the Google Camera, with many of the same modes to be found here, including Timelapse, Slow motion, and Panorama. The only exception is that manual controls are available if you are looking to dial in the setting yourself, but it is otherwise a very nicely laid out and easy to use camera application.

For more information on the OnePlus 3T’s camera, head here.

Basically the OnePlus 3T is a better OnePlus 3, and we’re certainly not complaining. You can buy it from OnePlus’ website in Gunmetal and Soft Gold color options.

Specs

  • 5.5-inch Optic AMOLED display with 1920 x 1080 resolution, 401ppi
  • 2.35GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 821
  • 6GB of RAM
  • 64/128GB of on-board storage, no microSD card expansion
  • 16MP rear camera, 16MP front camera
  • Non-removable 3,400mAh battery
  • Android 7.0 Nougat
  • 152.7 x 74.7 x 7.35mm, 158g

Read more

Buy now from OnePlus

Moto Z and Moto Z Force

Best Android smartphone cameras (February 2017)

See more Moto Z and Moto Z Force photos

While the Moto Z and Moto Z Force have their differences, they do have some of the best smartphone cameras around. The Z Force sports a 21MP shooter and the Z proper has a 13MP sensor, though they both come with f/1.8 lenses, OIS, laser autofocus, and 5MP front-facing cameras. Now, if you could choose one of these devices just on camera alone, go with the Z Force; it has a higher megapixel count. While that normally doesn’t matter too much when comparing smartphone cameras, you will see a noticeable difference when cropping photos. Both devices do a great job in both bright and low lighting conditions and their camera apps are very easy to use, making the cameras on the Moto Z fantastic pocket photography companions.

To learn more about the Moto Z and Moto Z Force cameras, head here.

As for the overall design, features and under-the-hood specs, Motorola (well, Lenovo actually) is doing something different with their flagship phones this year. Instead of releasing just one flagship under the Moto X moniker, they’ve decided to release two new smartphones that do things a bit out of the ordinary. The Moto Z and Moto Z Force not only bring flagship-level specs, but also support for modules.

These modules, called Moto Mods, attach to the back of both phones via magnets. There are only a few available right now, but they actually bring some handy features to the phones. You can purchase an external battery module, a powerful speaker, and even a projector!

They both have killer specs, too. Both devices come with a 5.5-inch Quad HD AMOLED display, a Snapdragon 820 processor, 4GB of RAM, plenty of on-board storage, expandable memory, and run Android 6.0 Marshmallow out of the box. You might be wondering – what’s the difference between these two phones? The standard Moto Z is super thin at only 5.2mm in thickness, but it only comes with a 2600mAh battery. The Moto Z Force is thicker, has a 3500mAh battery, and also has a shatterproof display.

These aren’t the cheapest phones on the market, but they’re certainly some of the best.

Specs

Moto Z

  • 5.5-inch AMOLED display with 2560 x 1440 resolution, 535ppi
  • Quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor
  • 4GB of RAM
  • 32/64GB of on-board storage, microSD expansion up to 256GB
  • 13MP rear camera, 5MP front camera
  • Non-removable 2600mAh battery
  • Android 7.0 Nougat (Verizon model) / Android 6.0 Marshmallow (unlocked model)
  • 153.3 x 75.3 x 5.2mm, 136g

Moto Z Force

  • 5.5-inch AMOLED display with 2560 x 1440 resolution, 535ppi
  • Quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor
  • 4GB of RAM
  • 32/64GB of on-board storage, microSD expansion up to 256GB
  • 21MP rear camera, 5MP front camera
  • Non-removable 3500mAh battery
  • Android 7.0 Nougat (Verizon model) / Android 6.0 Marshmallow (unlocked model)
  • 155.9 x 75.8 x 7mm, 163g

Read more

Buy the Moto Z from Verizon
Buy the Moto Z Force from Verizon

There you have it – our picks of the best Android camera phones you can buy right now. Missed anything? Tell us in the comments!

Next:

Best Android phones

1 day ago

OnePlus and Meizu just got busted for benchmark cheating

0

The OnePlus 3, OnePlus 3T, and Meizu Pro 6 are rigged to cheat in benchmarks, a report from XDA-Developers revealed.

XDA-Developers, with help from Primate Labs (makers of the popular benchmark suite Geekbench), discovered that the three phones are set to artificially increase their CPU performance when running certain benchmarks. This is more than just optimization – the software on the devices specifically looks for a number of widely-used benchmarks and tells the CPU to kick into overdrive whenever they are detected.

The rigging can be observed directly, by monitoring the CPU activity when regular apps and benchmark apps are run. In the case of the OnePlus 3 and OnePlus 3T, evidence of the cheating can also be found in the devices’ firmware, in the form of a hard-coded list of benchmarks: Geekbench, AnTuTu, Androbench, Quadrant, Vellamo, and GFXBench.

It’s telling that a “disguised” version of Geekbench 4 called “Bob’s Mini Golf Putt” did not trigger the high-performance mode on the OnePlus 3T. In other words, OnePlus can’t claim that the CPU kicked in due to the load generated by the benchmark – if that were the case, the phone would have behaved identically when running Geekbench 4 and “Bob’s Mini Golf Putt,” which is the same app with a different name.

CPU shenanigans

So how exactly does the rigging work? In the case of the OnePlus 3 and 3T, the CPU is rigged to idle at 1.29 GHz for the big cores and 0.98 GHz for the small cores, even when there’s no load on the processor. For non-benchmark apps, both the small cores and big cores idle at 0.31 GHz.

Meizu has a different – and curious – approach: on the Pro 6, the big, high-performance cores of the CPU are set to activate whenever benchmarks are detected. The weird thing is these big cores should be kicking in anyway, but they normally don’t do so when running regular apps. So instead of tweaking the processor to work as it’s supposed to (big cores kick in when needed), Meizu programmed the CPU to simulate normal functioning when benchmarks are detected.

The XDA-Developers report has all the technical details, and it’s definitely worth a read. We’ll just note that the results of the cheating are quite modest. As you can see in the chart below, the performance increase generated by the benchmark rigging is small, just a few percentage points.

OnePlus and Meizu just got busted for benchmark cheating

OnePlus came clean

When confronted by XDA, OnePlus admitted the existence of the benchmark rigging behavior:

“In order to give users a better user experience in resource intensive apps and games, especially graphically intensive ones, we implemented certain mechanisms in the community and Nougat builds to trigger the processor to run more aggressively. The trigger process for benchmarking apps will not be present in upcoming Oxygen OS builds on the OnePlus 3 and OnePlus 3T.”

The company said the OnePlus 3 and 3T CPUs are also hard-coded to go into high-performance mode when running games and that’s not going to change. But while that’s understandable (you want graphic-intensive games to benefit from the extra CPU oomph), there’s no good reason to have the CPU rigged for benchmarks.

To its credit, OnePlus acknowledged its mistake and promised to fix it quickly. And, according to XDA-Developers, the behavior was not present in the firmware when the OnePlus 3 launched, as it was added when the Oxygen OS (global) and Hydrogen OS (China) development teams were merged.

Nevertheless, there is no justification for deceptive behavior that ultimately hurts consumers.

Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it

It’s not the first time phone makers are caught red-handed when it comes to benchmarks. In 2013, AnandTech found that the Galaxy S4 gamed benchmarks and a following survey from the same website showed that multiple devices from HTC, Asus, LG, Samsung were rigged to fool one or multiple benchmark applications. Following the public outcry, some companies vowed to change their practices, while others, including Samsung, refused to admit any wrongdoing.

Following the 2013 revelations, some benchmark makers tried to proof their apps against manipulation, though it’s only so much they can do against a determined manufacturer.

It’s really hard to understand what OnePlus and Meizu were thinking. The risk of getting caught and exposed as a cheater has got to outweigh the small benefits of ranking a little higher in benchmark databases. And, while many publications (including Android Authority) use benchmarks in their smartphone reviews, benchmark scores are hardly the be-all and end-all of reviews. The general performance and perceived smoothness play a much bigger role in how devices are evaluated, both in media and in real life.

It’s not just OnePlus and Meizu

One last twist in the XDA report: the publication tested other devices from multiple manufacturers and found some that failed the hidden benchmark test that exposed the OnePlus 3 and Meizu Pro 6. The report did not reveal which devices are suspect, pending more analysis, but it did reveal the manufacturers that were not caught cheating: HTC, Xiaomi, Huawei, Honor, Google, and Sony. That leaves some very big names out.

Let us know your thoughts!

This OnePlus 3 kernel tweak promises 7-8 hours of screen-on time

You read that right: 7-8 hours of screen-on time for the OnePlus 3. While this may sound too good to be true, the claims seem to be backed up by the XDA community. Furthermore, those responsible for the kernel tweaks claim these times are possible “with regular, no-compromise usage habits: daytime visible screen brightness, both radios on, sync on, network location on, all the regular usage features”.

In fact, you can apparently eke out way more than 7-8 hours if you’re willing to exist on minimum brightness with Wi-Fi only and some other features disabled. While that might not be worth your while, the 14+ hours of screen-on time being claimed might be enough to entice you if you’re obsessed with reaching peak battery life.

So how’s it work? Pretty simple actually. The devs behind the tweaks say all it takes are modifications made “using an old school governor featured in practically every kernel”.

While this one has been developed specifically for the OnePlus and the Snapdragon 820, the same methodology should work for any other phone with any kernel and ROM as long as the same governor feature is present. So keep an eye out for more of the same soon.

The kernel tweaks also reportedly improve performance on the OnePlus 3 to a vast degree, eliminating stutters for “buttery smooth, lag-free performance”.

There is a wealth of information available on XDA regarding the specifics of Advanced Interactive Governor tweaking, as well as far more detailed explanations of how it all works, which I’d advise you to read if you’re intrigued.

You’ll simply need root and the EX Kernel Manager app to apply the profile you want (the most popular are listed at the top of the XDA thread linked above). The same kernel tweaks will reportedly work on any device powered by a Snapdragon 820, although you may want to read into this further before attempting it.

Don’t forget to tip your hat to @Asiier, @patalao, @Mostafa Wael and @Senthil360 for their hard work and be sure to let us know your mileage in the comments if you take the plunge.

TO THE TWEAKS!

If Lineage OS install numbers are anything to go by, OnePlus is the new Nexus

It wasn’t long ago that any new custom ROM would primarily be installed on Nexus devices. After all, Nexus was the smartphone family of choice for modders, developers and others with a penchant for deviating from the firmware norm. Indeed, part of the Nexus’ allure was the ease with which it could be modified. But times have changed – both CyanogenMod and Nexus are dead – and it looks like OnePlus is well on the way to being the new Nexus.

See also:

The current state of custom ROM development

6 days ago

Lineage OS builds have only been live for a few days, but, as with most custom ROMs, Nexuses were among the first devices to be supported. Nevertheless, it is the OnePlus One that has seen the most installs of Lineage OS so far, with more than double the installs of the next most popular phone.

The OnePlus One has seen the most installs of Lineage OS so far, with the nearest Nexus in 14th spot.

The Xiaomi Mi 5 is the next device on the list but the third place holder is another OnePlus device: the OnePlus 3. The OnePlus 2 even makes the top ten.

The absence of official Nougat for the OPO and OP2 explains at least some of those installs, but the OnePlus 3 runs 7.0, indicating Nougat isn’t the only draw here.

As for Nexus devices, the Nexus 5 – which missed out on an official Nougat update – is in fourteenth spot, with the Nexus 6P and Nexus 5X in eighteenth and nineteenth place.

Again, availability of an official Nougat build is part of it, but at least in my experience, flashing new Nexus ROMs rarely ever had anything to do with Android version. It was a simple case of “have Nexus, will flash”. Considering the historical status of the Nexus line as the go-to device for modders, this feels more like part of a larger trend.

If Lineage OS install numbers are anything to go by, OnePlus is the new Nexus

So what else could it be? Is Oxygen OS so crappy that OnePlus owners are clamoring for something – anything – to save them from an awful software experience? Maybe, but I doubt it. When Oxygen OS is stable it’s as good a ROM as that found on any other phone. Or have Nexus owners given up on flashing new ROMs just for the sake of it? Is stock Nougat so good that practically no Nexus owner wants something more?

It goes without saying that in the last few years custom ROMs have declined in popularity as Android itself has improved. These days, custom ROMs are much more about getting an updated version of Android than they are about plugging the holes left in Android by Google (just don’t get me started on Google’s shift to proprietary Pixel features).

These days, custom ROMs are much more about getting an updated version of Android than they are about plugging the holes left in Android by Google.

Sure, plenty of folks are still rooting and flashing zips, editing build.prop files for simple tweaks or running Xposed modules. But the number of committed custom ROM users is far smaller than it used to be. This trend will likely only be exacerbated by the demise of CyanogenMod, the best known and most reliable of all ROM options.

But there’s another factor to consider here: in recent years Google has been gradually shutting out the modding fraternity with the introduction of things like verified boot and forced encryption. While these are not deal breakers, they do throw a spanner in the works. And nowhere is this shutdown more evident than in the Pixel, the most iPhone-esque of any Android phone yet built.

If Lineage OS install numbers are anything to go by, OnePlus is the new Nexus

At the same time as Google has made Android less mod-friendly, OnePlus has remained just as supportive of community-based modifications as it has always been. Oxygen OS is far from perfect, but it is still better than stock Android was several years ago when Nexus ROMs were at their peak. The difference now is that it feels like Google doesn’t want you messing around with Android, while OnePlus absolutely does.

It feels like Google doesn't want you messing around with Android anymore, while OnePlus absolutely does.

In a post-Nexus world, Google is no longer responsible for the producing the reference device for Android customization. While custom ROMs for the Pixel do exist, I don’t know any Pixel owners running one. Everyone I know seems perfectly happy sticking with the official firmware with which their Pixel came. So far so iPhone, but I also know far fewer Nexus owners running custom ROMs than I used to as well. But maybe that’s just me.

These days, a OnePlus device is arguably a better bet for anyone keen on tinkering with their Android phone.

Although serving the needs of Android customization fans was never a stated goal of the Nexus program, Nexus devices were the natural choice for anyone interested in modifying their phone. That situation no longer applies. Now, I’d argue, a OnePlus device is a better bet for anyone keen on tinkering with their Android phone.

A lot of folks claimed the Nexus mantle had passed to OnePlus when the Pixel was announced. While that made for a nice headline at the time there was no empirical evidence to back it up. Sure, OnePlus was the natural choice as the heir-apparent to the Nexus line, but now we’re beginning to see real evidence of that transition in effect. If CyanogenMod belonged to the Nexus generation, then Lineage already looks to be the spiritual home of OnePlus.

Do you think OnePlus is the new Nexus for modders?

Don’t freak out when the next OnePlus 3/3T betas don’t arrive

OnePlus has posted an announcement advising OnePlus 3 and OnePlus 3T owners that open betas will be paused for a month. But before you grab your pitchforks and flaming torches, rest easy: it’s Chinese New Year and the betas will resume in a month.

See also:

This is Android Nougat on the OnePlus 3

December 3, 2016

That said, there is still reason for a little pitchfork-wielding, with the January security patch from Google still MIA. Considering the imminent holiday period (starting January 28) it seems likely it will be skipped entirely in favor of the February patch next month. We’ve reached out to OnePlus for clarification on this point and will update this post with any news.

Security patches aside, there is still quite a lengthy laundry-list of bugs in the current Nougat builds for both devices, which you can get up to speed with here. The feedback page is also the best place to go if you’re experiencing any issues with the firmware you’re currently running on a OnePlus device – as with most bug trackers, the more folks reporting a particular bug the more likely it is to get addressed quickly.

Of course, if the OnePlus 3 and OnePlus 3T aren’t getting any new builds in the next month, you can guarantee the OnePlus 2 and OnePlus X won’t either. OnePlus has vowed to get updates out faster this year and to ship devices more quickly too, so take a deep breath, relax, and save that venom for later. Knowing OnePlus, they’ll give you reason enough to spit some soon enough.

OnePlus aims to ship phones much faster in 2017

0

OnePlus has never had an amazing track record when it comes to shipping out smartphones, but that might change in 2017.

In a recent forum post, OnePlus admitted that, due to some supply difficulties, the company was slow at shipping out devices for much of 2016. Its smartphones were listed as “out of stock” for much of the year, and sold out pretty fast once devices became available again. Obviously this isn’t a good business practice, which is why OnePlus is going to take shipping times more seriously this year.

See also:

OnePlus 3T review

November 21, 2016

As part of OnePlus’ New Year’s resolution, the company says it will start things off with a bang on Tuesday, January 24. That’s when the company plans to ship the 64GB OnePlus 3T Gunmetal model immediately after it receives orders for the phone in North America and Europe, instead of waiting to ship the devices.

While OnePlus says it “can’t guarantee that this offer will be permanently available”, it does add that this is one of the company’s goals.

Keep in mind this is just for the 64GB Gunmetal version of the OnePlus 3T. If you are waiting for the 128GB version, or if you wanted the phone in a Soft Gold color, you are still out of luck as both of these options are not currently available on OnePlus’ site. As of right now, there’s no indication as to when they will be going on sale again.

Have you run into any shipping delays from OnePlus? Do you think the company will be successful in speeding things up from now on? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

Buy the OnePlus 3T here

OnePlus releases Nougat kernel sources for OnePlus 3 and 3T

This week OnePlus got some flak from folks over at XDA-Developers, as well as a number of figures in the Android development community, including Francisco Franco. The devs accused OnePlus of delaying the release of the kernel source code of the Nougat update for the OnePlus 3 and 3T and, in general, of playing fast and loose with its open-source obligations borne by the use of Android.

There was also some speculation that OnePlus delayed the release of the source code to hide the use of a debug kernel, though the company was quick to shut down the reports.

Now OnePlus made available the Nougat kernel source on its Github repository, which should please developers, as well as users waiting for improved custom ROMs for their OnePlus 3 and OnePlus 3T devices.

Thanks to the GNU General Public License (GPL) licensing of the Linux kernel (which forms the base of Android), all companies that use Android have the obligation to release the code of their kernels on the day of the release. Some companies comply or even go beyond their obligations in an effort to simplify the work of the developer community. At the other end of the spectrum, companies like Xiaomi take many months to release source code, if they even bother to release them at all. OnePlus is not, by any means, the worst offender in this respect.

Best cheap Android phones (January 2017)

There was a time, not all that long ago, that in order to own a powerful smartphone you would either need to commit to a two-year contract, or you would be expected to pay as much as $600 – $800. Thankfully this has changed considerably in the last few years. There are now several manufacturers that offer handsets that bring quality specs and yet are priced low enough you don’t need to take out a second mortgage or sign your life away to a carrier. In this article, we take a look at some of the best cheap Android phones on the market.

Now, obviously the idea of “low-cost” is somewhat subjective. For some folks it is anything under $300, for others it might mean devices that are under $200. With this in mind, we’ll bring you nine devices in all: three that are under $200, three that are under $300, and three that are under $400 — this way everyone wins.

As for how we’ll ‘rank’ the phones? Basically we are looking at a number of factors though price/value ratio is probably among one of the highest factors here. It is also worth mentioning that all devices on this list will be full unlocked, and off contract. For those US readers looking for even cheaper phones and don’t mind going with a locked-down handset through a prepaid carrier, you’ll want to check out our Cricket, AT&T, Boost, T-Mobile and Verizon prepaid lists.

Editor’s note – we will be updating this list as more devices hit the market. This article reflects things from a US/EU centric perspective, though many of these devices and pricing will apply to other international markets as well.

Best phones under $200

Moto G4 Play

See more Moto G4 Play photos

Lenovo’s Moto G4 Play enters the market with a low price tag, solid specifications and a familiar design language we’ve all grown to love.

It sports a 5.0-inch HD display, solid Snapdragon 410 processor, 2GB of RAM, and an 8MP rear camera that’s great for snapping the occasional photo. Plus, you get a removable 2800mAh battery, which is a feature many manufacturers have been leaving out of their phones lately.

Specs

  • 5.0-inch IPS LCD display with 1280 x 720 resolution, 294ppi
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 processor
  • 2GB of RAM
  • 16GB of on-board storage, microSD expansion up to 256GB
  • 8MP rear camera, 5MP front camera
  • Removable 2800mAh battery
  • Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow
  • 144.4 x 72 x 9.9mm, 137g

Read more

Buy now from Amazon

Nexus 5X (Project Fi only)

Best cheap Android phones (January 2017)

See more Nexus 5X photos

Google chose to release two Nexus smartphones in 2015 – the higher-end Nexus 6P made by Huawei and the LG-made Nexus 5X, which is the true sequel to LG’s beloved Nexus 5 from 2013. Both of these devices feature similar specifications, but they still manage to stand out drastically from one another. The Nexus 5X has a solid Snapdragon 808 processor, a 2700mAh battery and a really great 12.3 megapixel rear-facing camera. It also boasts a fingerprint scanner on the back, a front-facing speaker that provides decent audio quality and of course, this phone runs the latest version of Android.

In our full review, we had just a few gripes. While the Snapdragon 808 processor is very capable of performing just about everything you throw at it, the fact that the 5X comes with just 2GB of RAM makes us nervous for the future. It also only comes with 16 or 32GB of on-board storage with no microSD card expansion, so folks who are used to 32 or 64GB variants will need to rely on cloud storage when it comes to keeping media on the phone.
Considering that the Nexus 6P costed only $120 more than the 5X at launch, it was a tad difficult to recommend this smartphone at the start. Now Google is offering the Nexus 5X on Project Fi for the low price of just $200. If you’re looking for a solid smartphone in this price range and would like to try out Google’s Project Fi network, the Nexus 5X is for you.

Specs

  • 5.2-inch IPS LCD display with 1920 x 1080 resolution, 423ppi
  • 1.8GHz hexa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 processor
  • 2GB of RAM
  • 16/32GB of on-board storage, no microSD card expansion
  • 12.3MP rear camera, 5MP front camera
  • Non-removable 2700mAh battery
  • Android 7.0 Nougat
  • 147 x 72.6 x 7.9mm, 136g

Read more

See it at Project Fi

Best phones under $300

Moto G4 Plus

Best cheap Android phones (January 2017)

See more Moto G4 Plus photos

The Moto G series has always been among the best bang for your buck smartphones around, and things remain the same with Motorola’s latest mid-ranger, the Moto G4 Plus. It has everything you’d want in an inexpensive smartphone: a big Full HD display, plenty of RAM and onboard storage, and also a great 16MP rear-facing camera. This G4 Plus model also comes with a fingerprint sensor, which is a first for the Moto G line.

The best part? It’s available for just $250 through Moto Maker, so you’ll be able to customize the colors, engraving on the back, greeting, and more.

Specs

  • 5.5-inch IPS LCD display with 1920 x 1080 resolution, 401ppi
  • Octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 processor
  • 2/3/4GB of RAM
  • 16/32/64GB of on-board storage, microSD expansion up to 256GB
  • 16MP rear camera, 5MP front camera
  • Non-removable 3000mAh battery
  • Android 6.0 Marshmallow
  • 153 x 76.6 x 9.8mm, 155g

Read more

Buy now from Amazon

ASUS ZenFone 3 (ZE552KL)

Best cheap Android phones (January 2017)

See more ASUS ZenFone 3 photos

While the ASUS ZenFone 3 might be a sub-$300 handset, that doesn’t mean it makes many compromises.

In our full review, we told you that the ZenFone 3 is a reliable daily driver, and doesn’t break a sweat while pushing for performance or gaming. Plus, it has a wonderful 16MP rear-facing camera, as well as a battery that will certainly have no problems lasting the entire day on a single charge. Oh, and in case you haven’t noticed, this phone is downright beautiful.

When comparing the ZenFone 3’s specs with other devices in this price range, it’s worth noting that you can probably find a similarly-spec’d device for a little less money. Still, if you’re a fan of ASUS devices in general and are looking for a low-cost smartphone that offers very little compromise, you can’t go wrong with the ASUS ZenFone 3.

Specs

  • 5.5-inch Super IPS+ LCD display with 1920 x 1080 resolution, 401ppi
  • 2.0GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor
  • 3/4GB of RAM
  • 32/64GB of on-board storage, microSD expansion up to 256GB
  • 16MP rear camera, 8MP front camera
  • Non-removable 3,000mAh battery
  • Android 7.0 Nougat
  • 152.6 x 77.4 x 7.7mm, 155g

Read more

Buy now from Amazon

Honor 6X

Best cheap Android phones (January 2017)

See more Honor 6X photos

2015’s Honor 5X has been one of our favorite budget-friendly smartphones for awhile now, but its specifications and software have been aging a little bit lately. Luckily, Huawei’s sub-brand Honor is back with a successor to the 5X, aiming to win over the growing number of consumers looking for a decent smartphone that won’t break the bank.

The Honor 6X sports a big 5.5-inch 1080p display, a zippy Kirin 655 processor, plenty of RAM, 32 or 64GB of on-board storage and microSD card expansion up to 256GB. This device also comes with a feature that we don’t often see on sub-$300 phones – a dual camera setup.

Perhaps our favorite part about this phone is the battery life. While a 3,340mAh unit doesn’t seem all that big, it allowed our Honor 6X to last well into a second day on a single charge. Not bad at all!

This is basically one of the most competitive phones you’ll find in this price range. Dual cameras, a long-lasting battery, an excellent fingerprint sensor and an asking price of only $250… what more could you want?

Specs

  • 5.5-inch IPS LCD display with 1920 x 1080 resolution, 403ppi
  • Octa-core HiSilicon Kirin 655 processor
  • 3/4GB of RAM
  • 32/64GB of on-board storage, microSD expansion up to 256GB
  • Dual 12 and 2MP rear cameras, 8MP front camera
  • Non-removable 3,340mAh battery
  • Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow
  • 150.9 x 76.2 x 8.2mm, 162g

Read more

Buy now from Amazon

Best phones under $400

ZTE Axon 7

Best cheap Android phones (January 2017)

See more ZTE Axon 7 photos

ZTE’s Axon Pro from 2015 was a good phone, but it fell short in a few key areas. It came to market with only one storage option, no expandable memory, and the dual camera setup on the back of the device felt a bit gimmicky. Not only does the company’s latest flagship fix all of those problems, it brings much more to the table.

It has a big 5.5-inch Quad HD AMOLED display, the latest Snapdragon processor, plenty of RAM, multiple storage options, and yes, expandable memory up to 256GB. It also sports some killer front-facing speakers, all-day battery life, a great camera, and a sleek, attractive design. While certain parts of the software could use a little more polish, the ZTE Axon 7 goes toe-to-toe with the best in the Android market. It’s also inexpensive at only $400, making this an even more attractive option for folks looking to score a solid flagship device.

Specs

  • 5.5-inch AMOLED display with 2560 x 1440 resolution, 538ppi
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor
  • 4/6GB of RAM
  • 64/128GB of on-board storage, microSD expansion up to 256GB
  • 20MP front camera, 8MP rear camera
  • Non-removable 3250mAh battery
  • Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow
  • 151.7 x 75 x 7.9mm, 175g

Read more

Buy now from Amazon

Honor 8

Best cheap Android phones (January 2017)

See more Honor 8 photos

Huawei has brought what many have wanted from an affordable flagship for a while now: a gorgeous design, a smaller size, and a great camera. In addition, the Honor 8’s excellent performance and IR blaster are not always common on an affordable smartphone. The Honor 8’s software might not be for everyone, but we think the impressive camera performance and high-end design really make up for it.

While the Honor 8 enters the market in an incredibly competitive price segment, we can say that this is one of the better phones you can buy for around $400.

Specs

  • 5.2-inch LTPS display with 1920 x 1080 resolution, 423ppi
  • HiSilicon Kirin 950 processor
  • 4GB of RAM
  • 32/64GB of on-board storage, microSD expansion up to 256GB
  • Dual 12MP rear cameras, 8MP front camera
  • Non-removable 3,000mAh battery
  • Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow
  • 145.5 x 71 x 7.5mm, 153g

Read more

Buy now from Amazon

So there you have it – our picks for the best budget-friendly options Android has to offer at the moment. Did we miss anything? Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.

See also:

Best Android phones

2 weeks ago

Next: Best prepaid phone plans

OnePlus 3 and 3T Google Play Store bug fixed with OxygenOS 4.0.2 update

OnePlus continues to update OxygenOS for the OnePlus 3 and OnePlus 3T, after launching the big 4.0 version that introduced Android Nougat to those devices a few weeks ago. Today, the company is rolling out OxygenOS 4.0.2, which fixes a small, but important, issue on both phones.

See also:

OnePlus Bullets (V2) Earphones review

1 day ago

According to the changelog, the 4.0.2 update fixes a download bug with the Google Play Store. Obviously, if some OnePlus 3 and 3T owners were not able to download apps correctly, this could be a bit of a problem. Hopefully this OxygenOS update will deal with this issue. The changelog also notes some more stability improvements with this release.

OnePlus also says that some people might still be experiencing some Wi-Fi connectivity problems with this update. If you happen to be one of those folks, you can send a private message to the company to report on this issue via its forums.

As with previous updates for the OnePlus 3 and 3T, this latest version of OxygenOS is being rolled out to a small section of those phones, before it is released to a wider number of the devices in the near future. You can go into the phone’s settings to select “About phone”, and then “Software updates”, to see if your OnePlus 3 or 3T can snag OxygenOS 4.0.2.