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The best cheap phones in 2021

Included in this guide:

best cheap phone
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The best cheap phones will make you wonder why people spend $800 or more on a new smartphone. Based on our testing, you can get a very good phone for under $400 with all the features most buyers need, whether you're an iPhone fan or prefer Android.

Those on a budget will find that the best cheap phones offer capable cameras, big-enough displays for watching video and playing games and plenty of battery life to get you through most of the day. We're also starting to see more cheap phones with 5G connectivity. 

You do need to make some trade-offs in this price range, as you won’t always find the most powerful processors, the biggest screens or versatile zoom cameras. But overall you’ll be pleasantly surprised by what the best cheap phones deliver, and you don't have to wait for Black Friday deals to get a good value. Read on for our top picks under $400.

What are the best cheap phones?

The best cheap phone you can buy right now is the Google Pixel 4a. It has one of the best cameras you'll find on any phone, and at $349, it's $50 cheaper than the iPhone SE. The newer Google Pixel 5a is fantastic, and it comes with 5G, but it starts at $449 and is just outside the price range for this roundup.

If you want a 5G phone for less than $300, we recommend the Samsung Galaxy A32 or OnePlus Nord N200. They're both remarkable values.

The Phone SE is another great option for a cheap handset. Apple's $399 phone includes a blazing fast A13 Bionic processor, very good rear and front cameras and a bright and colorful 4.7-inch display. And it's all wrapped up in a compact design that's waterproof and supports wireless charging. An iPhone SE 3 is rumored for next year a larger display, but we'll likely have to wait a while. 

If you want to spend even less on your phone, get the new Moto G Power, which features outstanding phone battery life for less than $200. If you're looking for a cheap phone in the U.K, the OnePlus Nord 2 is a strong option at £399.

It's worth noting that the iPhone 11 now starts at $499, but that's out of the price range of this roundup. 

The best cheap phones you can buy today

best cheap phones: Pixel 4a

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

1. Google Pixel 4a

The best cheap phone you can buy

Specifications
Display: 5.81-inch OLED (2340x1080)
CPU: Snapdragon 730G
RAM: 6GB
Storage / Expandable: 128GB / No
Rear camera: 12.2MP (ƒ/1.7)
Front camera: 8MP (ƒ/2.0)
Weight: 5.04 ounces
Reasons to buy
+Best-in-class camera+Attractive design+Low price
Reasons to avoid
-Subpar battery life-Performance lags iPhone SE

At $349, you won’t find a better value than the Google Pixel 4a. Google’s latest budget phone recaptures all the things that made the Pixel 3a such a hit, but in a device that costs $50 less.

There’s just the one 12.2-megapixel rear camera as before, but Google augments that with some software smarts such as Super Res Zoom and Live HDR+. Many of the photographic features you’ll find in the more expensive Pixel 4 are on display here, and the result is some of the best photos you’ll see from a phone at any price.

The Pixel 4a can’t match the performance of the iPhone SE, but for most smartphone users, Google’s phone has enough processing power from its Snapdragon 730G chipset to handle most tasks. Throw in an attractive design, a bright OLED screen and 128GB of storage, and you’ve got a phone in the Pixel 4a that delivers a lot for a low price. The Google Pixel 5a is rumored for later this year, but that's not expected until late spring at the earliest. 

The Pixel 4a won the best phone value award from Tom's Guide.

Read our full Google Pixel 4a review.

Best cheap phones: iPhone SE 2020

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

2. iPhone SE

The best cheap iPhone

Specifications
Display: 4.7-inch LCD (1334x750)
CPU: A13 Bionic
RAM: Unknown
Storage / Expandable: 64GB, 128GB, 256GB / No
Rear camera: 12MP (ƒ/1.8)
Front camera: 7MP (ƒ/2.2)
Weight: 5.22 ounces
Reasons to buy
+Very affordable+Fast A13 Bionic performance+Supports wireless charging
Reasons to avoid
-Big bezels-No camera night mode

The iPhone SE 2020 is what happens when you make a cheap phone that isn't cheap. For $399, this iPhone offers the same fast performance as the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro, thanks to is A13 Bionic processor. And that same chip gives the iPhone SE photography capabilities that most budget Android phones lack. This includes Portrait Mode for the front and rear cameras, Smart HDR and extended dynamic range when shooting videos.

With its 4.7-inch display, the iPhone SE is best for those who prefer smaller phones, but the screen is bright and colorful. You also get a Touch ID button for unlocking the device, Apple Pay and entering passwords, as well as a water resistant design. The new iPhone SE supports wireless charging as well. 

The new iPhone SE is well made with its glass and aluminum chassis, but the bezels are on the big size. Plus, you don't get the Night mode for the camera offered by the iPhone 11. But overall this is easily the best cheap phone yet, but be sure to check out our Pixel 4a vs. iPhone SE camera face-off.

Read our full iPhone SE review.

Moto G Power (2021) review

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

3. Moto G Power (2021)

A cheap phone with the best battery life

Specifications
Display: 6.6 inches (1600 x 720)
CPU: Snapdragon 662
RAM: 3GB, 4GB
Storage / Expandable: 32GB, 64GB / Yes
Rear camera: 16MP wide (ƒ/1.7); 8MP ultrawide (ƒ/2.2); 2MP macro (ƒ/2.2)
Front camera: 16MP (ƒ/2.0)
Weight: 7 ounces
Reasons to buy
+All-day battery life+Low price +Attractive design
Reasons to avoid
-Only one Android update-Lackluster display

A really long-lasting phone endures for more than 11 hours on our battery test. The new Moto G Power blows them away with a runtime of 14 hours and 4 minutes. That's among he best phone battery life we’ve ever seen, which is really remarkable when you consider the Moto G Power costs under $250. (And there's a $199 version if you can live with less RAM and storage.) But that’s not the only reason this Android phone made our best cheap phone list.

The Moto G Power also features a large 6.6-inch display with full HD resolution, and fairly capable cameras with triple lenses, including a 48MP main camera, a 2MP macro lens and 2MP depth sensor.

At 7.3 ounces, the beefy 5,000 mAh battery inside the Moto G Power certainly contributes to its weight. And the screen on this phone could be brighter. But overall the Moto G Power is easily one of the best cheap phones around.

The Moto G Power (2021) won the best phone battery life award from Tom's Guide.

Read our full Moto G Power 2021 review.

galaxy a32 5G review

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

4. Galaxy A32 5G

The budget 5G option from Samsung

Specifications
Screen size: 6.5 inches
Android version: 11 with One UI 3.1
Processor: Dimensity 720
Cameras: 48MP main, 8MP ultrawide, 5MP macro, 2MP depth (Rear); 13MP (Front)
RAM/Storage: 4GB/64GB
Reasons to buy
+Very low price+Four years of security patches+Great battery life+90Hz refresh rate
Reasons to avoid
-Subpar HD+ display

We're starting to see more and more affordable 5G phones popping up, and one of the best of the bunch is the Samsung Galaxy A32 5G. At $280, it's one of the best bargains on this list, if you're willing to put up with a mediocre display. However, if you're strapped for cash and want a phone with decent cameras, the Galaxy A32 5G is one you should consider.

With its big 6.5-inch screen, the A32 is not a small phone. But it packs a 5,000 mAh battery that lasts a really long time — almost 12 hours in our testing with its adaptive refresh rate enabled. You can also expect the Galaxy A32 to last longer overall than many other budget options, with Samsung promising three years of Android updates and four years of security patches.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy A32 5G review.

best cheap phone TCL 10 5G UW

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

5. TCL 10 5G UW

A great cheap phone with 5G

Specifications
Display: 6.53-inch LCD (2340 x 1080)
CPU: Snapdragon 765G
RAM: 6GB
Storage / Expandable: 128GB / Yes
Rear camera: 48MP main; 8MP ultrawide; 5MP macro
Front camera: 16MP
Weight: 7.4 ounces
Battery life (Hrs:Mins): 11:07
Reasons to buy
+Inexpensive 5G phone+Excellent battery life
Reasons to avoid
-Dim screen-Exclusive to Verizon

You won't find too many 5G-capable devices on the list of best cheap phones — 5G modems can be a pretty pricey add-on. And yet, here's the TCL 10 5G UW, which can connect to Verizon's super-fast 5G network while still costing you less than $400.

There's more to 5G to explain the appeal of TCL's phone. The 6.53-inch display, while a little dim, produces great colors and gives you a lot of screen real estate. The TCL 10 5G UW has the same Snapdragon 765G processor you'll find in more expensive phones, delivering comparable performance. That 5G connectivity doesn't impact battery life, either, as TCL's phone lasted more than 11 hour on our battery test.

Read our full TCL 10 5G UW review.

Best cheap phones: Moto G stylus

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

6. Moto G Stylus

A cheap Galaxy Note alternative

Specifications
Display: 6.4-inch LCD (2300x1080)
CPU: Snapdragon 665
RAM: 4GB
Storage / Expandable: 128GB / Yes
Rear camera: 48MP main (ƒ/1.7); 16MP ultrawide (ƒ/2.2); 2MP macro (ƒ/2.2)
Front camera: 16MP (ƒ/2.0)
Weight: 6.8 ounces
Battery life (Hrs:Mins): 12:13
Reasons to buy
+Comes with a stylus+Long battery life+Triple rear cameras
Reasons to avoid
-Colors aren't very vibrant on screen-No optical zoom or ultra wide angle lens

You don't have to spend big bucks for a phone like the Galaxy Note 10 to get a stylus with your handset. The Moto G Stylus costs $299 and there's a handy stylus tucked right into the bottom right corner of the phone. While you won't get S Pen levels of functionality, you will be able to remove the stylus and start jotting down notes on the Motorola phone's screen, all without having to unlock your device. The stylus also can help you take screenshots and edit photos.

In many ways, the Moto G Stylus is exactly like last year's edition of the Moto G Power. They've got the same screen size and processor, though the G Stylus comes with more storage and a bigger main camera sensor. The biggest tradeoff, though, is battery, where the Moto G Stylus makes do with a 4,000 mAh power pack. Even with the smaller battery, the G Stylus still lasted more than 12 hours on our battery test, making this a long-lasting phone for people who want a productivity-boosting stylus.

Read our full Moto G Stylus review.

OnePlus Nord N200 5G review

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

7. OnePlus Nord N200 5G

The cheapest 5G phone right now

Specifications
Screen Size: 6.49 inches
Processor: Snapdragon 480 5G
Size / weight: 6.42 x 2.95 x 0.33 inches / 6.67 ounces
Battery life (Hrs:Mins): 10:28
5G networks supported: T-Mobile
Reasons to buy
+90Hz display+Decent battery life+5G device for less than $300
Reasons to avoid
-Cameras don't impress-Underwhelming performance

The OnePlus Nord N200 succeeds the affordable Nord N100 from 2020, but adds 5G. It delivers a lot of great features for the money, giving you a 90Hz display, 5G, and a big battery for just $240. However, you'll need to make some compromises.

Notably, the camera performance on the Nord N200 is quite lacking. And while the Snapdragon 480 5G processor gets the job done for basic task, anything intensive like gaming brings it to its knees, however. That said, if budget is your chief concern, and you want 5G, this is the phone to get.

The OnePlus Nord N200 5G won a highly recommended award from Tom's Guide.

Read our full OnePlus Nord N200 5G review.

How to choose the best cheap phone for you

Picking the best cheap phone can be tricky, because it's really all about figuring out which trade-offs you're willing to live with. But it's important to start with the basics. Do you prefer a bigger screen? Opt for a cheap phone with a display over 5.5 inches. Those who want to use a phone comfortably with one hand will likely prefer a phone under 5 inches.

Next up is the camera. Budget phones will typically feature one or two lenses, but that's starting to change. The megapixel count doesn't matter that much; pay more attention to the capabilities of the camera. See if the phone can shoot ultra-wide shots, which is becoming more common on cheap phones. But don't expect optical zoom; digital zoom is the norm under $400.

As for storage, 32GB is okay but 64GB is preferred for budget phones. And if possible see if that handset offers a microSD card slot for expansion. Battery life is a huge concern regardless of price, so check the battery capacity on the phone. In general, anything above 4,500 mAh is preferred.

While the TCL 10 5G UW means that 5G compatibility is coming to phones under $400, don't expect 5G speeds as a rule. That's likely to change in the coming year, now that 5G modems are included on chipsets aimed at cheaper phones. Lastly, check to see which carriers the phone supports. Ideally, the handset should work with both GSM and CDMA networks all the big four providers in the U.S.

How we test cheap phones

We evaluate budget-priced phones the same way we do flagships. We perform real-world testing and synthetic benchmarks over several days to evaluate it's performance and value. This includes our own battery test, which involves continuous web surfing over cellular at 150 nits of screen brightness. The devices that make our best phone battery life list tend to last over 11 hours.

In terms of performance, we use Geekbench 5 to measure overall speed and compare versus phones in the same price range. And the same thing goes for GFXBench for graphics testing. We also perform our own video editing/transcoding testing using the Adobe Premiere Rush app to gauge real-world speed.

For evaluating cameras on cheap phones, we will take multiple photos in different conditions and will use other affordably priced phones in the same scenarios in order to make side-by-side comparisons.

Image

Black Friday phone deals
Looking for a new phone? We've gathered the best Black Friday phone deals in one place. Also check out our dedicated iPhone 12 Black Friday deals hub. 

Mark Spoonauer

Mark Spoonauer is the global editor in chief of Tom's Guide and has covered technology for nearly 20 years. In addition to overseeing the direction of Tom's Guide, Mark specializes in covering all things mobile, having reviewed dozens of smartphones and other gadgets. He has spoken at key industry events and appears regularly on TV to discuss the latest trends. Mark was previously editor in chief of Laptop Mag, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc. Follow him on Twitter at @mspoonauer.

  • WILL4REAL
    Z3 Play. Snapdragon 605, 6.01 inch super amoled screen, 4 gb ram, 12 mp rear, 8mp front, mods option, android 8 out the box, 9 update available now, 10 update in april. Universally unlocked (cdma or gsm) $150 bucks at bestbuy
    Reply
  • Don Norman
    The prices and links for the Galaxy J7 Prime are actually the prices and links for screen protectors for that phone. The cheapest prices vary widely for new J7 Prime phones, from around $100 to around $200. The phone was introduced quite a while ago too, around late 2016. You can get a Galaxy J7 Crown for less than $80 now. They were on sale for $40 during Black Friday sales time at Best Buy and Walmart.
    Reply
  • Androidchap
    The mid range scene in the US is not very exciting, which may be why iPhone SE and Google Pixel 3A can get away with subpar specs they are offering.

    In UK, there are options like the Oppo Reno 2 Z, Huawei Nova 5T, Honor 20, Mi 9T. There are various excellent compilations on Youtube (i.e. for one, Tech Spurt's "Best Smartphones under 400 pounds (Spring 2020)") which set out the key features of each.

    Excellent cameras, multiple cameras, long lasting battery, HD OLED screens, high screen to body ratio, high quality bodies (sometimes metal/glass) are par for the course now. Some have flagship chipsets, but others have fast upper mid range chipsets, but should be more than sufficient for everyday use.

    Its clear that most of the phones on your above list will not be competitive in that space. Even 2 of my top picks in your list have big gaps i.e.
    Apple SE has a great chipset and decent camera, but everything else is so 2015. Maybe if the antique look is coming back, it becomes stylish again ?
    Pixel 3a has a good engine and camera, but in a $100 android phone body.
    Reply
  • HelloJelloFellow
    Ok Tom's Guide and @Mark Spoonauer... sorry to go negative here w/ my 1st and maybe only post, But I agree 100% with the words of Androidchap. The quality of choice and truly progressive "Good Looking" tech in phones in the mass USA market is boring, lame, uncreative and WAY overpriced. Maybe it's not totally your fault that you put together a list which is completely uneventful... you're only reporting what the major carriers are largely selling as well as retail chains.

    Rather, 'Tom's' could (and should starting soon) strive to separate your reviews of handsets and Smart devices by going outside the norm and telling 'The People' about lesser known brands and companies who are Truly putting fantastic value and major Bang for the buck into their devices and enlightening the people to these emerging options here in our market, and not just overseas.

    Androidchap laid down some good examples, and noted the UK market also, and I would quickly emphasise other Asian companies who are putting out Beautiful designs with awesome specs for less than half the cost of even these "mid-range" value B.S models on the list.
    Again, I'm not picking on you, your list is just like PC mags, cnet, techgurus, etc... you all have the same models but just in slightly different order as to your "best of-pick".

    So piggybacking on the manufacturer's Androidchap noted, I would additionally offer up for 'the People' to check out: Xiaomi and their entire Mi line of electronics, such as the Mi 9, REDMi 9/Note 9s/9 Pro, 10 ... you get the idea. Add to that a newish player called Elephone (who's latest offering in the "value" space can now be had in pre-sale for the apsurd low cost of $130-$170 US and is spec'd more like a "flagship" phone in our market. Crazy.

    Just look at the build quality, color choices, camera options galore (like 48 & 64 mp, 4 lens, with macro and good night vision capability) and you begin to see the vast differences out there. And did I mention the value? The bang for the buck that truly can be had if people just knew what to ask for? Oh yeah... I Did mention that.

    Here's another- ASUS, who some should recognize for their Chromebooks, laptops, tabs, etc, ...well, turns out they make really killer phone designs too! Soon to launch should be the next ZenPhone 7 plus a higher-end (they claim) option in their Logic line I believe they call it?

    Doesn't matter, the point is that you guys (Tom's) should be the ONES telling us about these alternatives, instead of just re-presenting the same year-over-year options which Anyone who's owned a Smartphone should already kinda have a feel for OR could get the same generic dialog from walking into a Verizon, AT&T, t-Mobile, or Sprint store and chatting it up with the sales kid. Just my opinion, but if I were you I would try to do something New to separate yourself from the other "big boys" in the Consumer Electronic Review space and make a name for yourselves AS PROGRESSIVE.

    Your list sucks. The phones are ugly and mostly lame.
    (sure, some of the Mi models I mentioned aren't 5G capable at the SUB-$350 range! (no duh), but who cares! Spend just a little more with them, like still under $500, $600, $700 and guess what- comes Standard with a Snapdragon 855 and All the bells and whistles to boot. That's a hell of a lot better than the stupidly ridiculous price that Apple & Samsung have "trained" most of us to expect for their "elite" models... give me a break. The iPhone hasn't barely had a 'sexy' or interesting design change in like... Forever!

    Sadly, the phone scene in the States in largely boring and homogenized like most things.
    Just take a moment to Go Look at the beautiful design Aesthetics of some models available in UK, Europe, and for certain Korea, Japan and China and you will see what I'm seeing...
    America is sadly NOT a leader or out in front in the CE (electronics) marketplace at all.
    We lag; big time.

    Anyhow, that my 2 cents and a little more for you and some readers perhaps.
    Take my suggestion and reinvent what you're bringing to the rest of us here in the USA and begin covering the "Cutting-edge stuff" and leave the lame re-runs and slow to change models and brands to others. (Obviously, you still need to cover Apple, Samsung, HTC, ONE, Moto, etc.,) but bring some new blood into the mix is all I'm getting at.

    I'm off to order a totally KIck Ass Smart (and stylish) modern handset... it just isn't represented on Your or most anyone else's "Review" lists circulating here in the States.

    It unfortunately crossed my mind that maybe you're promoting and writing about the 'regular' stuff because it helps drive your affiliate/partner advertising and links for readers to go purchase from the "Samsung's of the world" as their only or 'best' current option?

    Maybe it would be a lot more fun and add A Lot more valuable to your audience if you covered the Latest and (Less well Known) Greatest, rather than just the same-ol', same 'ol brands and models.
    Give it a thought?

    Lastly, your site or blog or forum or whatever this is happens to way too busy with large flashy Ads, pop-ups and general distractions, which also under value your potential to be taken more seriously. I know it helps pay the rent and expenses, but maybe take back some control and tone down the mass advertising on-slaught here. Thanks for the consideration.

    Take care and Best of luck starting to cover "The Good Stuff". See Ya boys and girls!
    -Jeff
    Reply
  • HelloJelloFellow
    Saurabh jha said:
    Hello,
    According to my personal experience, Samsung galaxy M30s is a best and cheap phone, as I use it personally, and I think it is the best phone at a cheap price.
    I also suggest you go for that if you are looking for cheap and best.


    Yeah, NO. That's not what i was saying AT ALL in my long post... maybe you didn't fully give it a read or failed to understand my points?

    Please Forward my message to the author of the Article: @Mark Spoonauer. and CC Tom or anyone else in Upper Management please. I would like to know how they feel towards my actual points, which include Tom's Guide stepping out of the "box" and exploring and reviewing all the other emerging Brands and offering readers a much broader and more informative review of tech and our Best Value Buys.

    I never said Cheap. The article has that title, but some of the phones I mentioned could compete as PHone of the Year in some cases, especially with OVerall Value is taken into consideration. Your list does NOT do that nearly as well as it could have if the author explored and dug a little deeper for All the options that are emerging.
    - Have them write a comment if you can?
    Reply
  • _User1
    HelloJelloFellow said:
    Ok Tom's Guide and @Mark Spoonauer... sorry to go negative here w/ my 1st and maybe only post, But I agree 100% with the words of Androidchap. The quality of choice and truly progressive "Good Looking" tech in phones in the mass USA market is boring, lame, uncreative and WAY overpriced. Maybe it's not totally your fault that you put together a list which is completely uneventful... you're only reporting what the major carriers are largely selling as well as retail chains.

    Rather, 'Tom's' could (and should starting soon) strive to separate your reviews of handsets and Smart devices by going outside the norm and telling 'The People' about lesser known brands and companies who are Truly putting fantastic value and major Bang for the buck into their devices and enlightening the people to these emerging options here in our market, and not just overseas.

    Androidchap laid down some good examples, and noted the UK market also, and I would quickly emphasise other Asian companies who are putting out Beautiful designs with awesome specs for less than half the cost of even these "mid-range" value B.S models on the list.
    Again, I'm not picking on you, your list is just like PC mags, cnet, techgurus, etc... you all have the same models but just in slightly different order as to your "best of-pick".

    So piggybacking on the manufacturer's Androidchap noted, I would additionally offer up for 'the People' to check out: Xiaomi and their entire Mi line of electronics, such as the Mi 9, REDMi 9/Note 9s/9 Pro, 10 ... you get the idea. Add to that a newish player called Elephone (who's latest offering in the "value" space can now be had in pre-sale for the apsurd low cost of $130-$170 US and is spec'd more like a "flagship" phone in our market. Crazy.

    Just look at the build quality, color choices, camera options galore (like 48 & 64 mp, 4 lens, with macro and good night vision capability) and you begin to see the vast differences out there. And did I mention the value? The bang for the buck that truly can be had if people just knew what to ask for? Oh yeah... I Did mention that.

    Here's another- ASUS, who some should recognize for their Chromebooks, laptops, tabs, etc, ...well, turns out they make really killer phone designs too! Soon to launch should be the next ZenPhone 7 plus a higher-end (they claim) option in their Logic line I believe they call it?

    Doesn't matter, the point is that you guys (Tom's) should be the ONES telling us about these alternatives, instead of just re-presenting the same year-over-year options which Anyone who's owned a Smartphone should already kinda have a feel for OR could get the same generic dialog from walking into a Verizon, AT&T, t-Mobile, or Sprint store and chatting it up with the sales kid. Just my opinion, but if I were you I would try to do something New to separate yourself from the other "big boys" in the Consumer Electronic Review space and make a name for yourselves AS PROGRESSIVE.

    Your list sucks. The phones are ugly and mostly lame.
    (sure, some of the Mi models I mentioned aren't 5G capable at the SUB-$350 range! (no duh), but who cares! Spend just a little more with them, like still under $500, $600, $700 and guess what- comes Standard with a Snapdragon 855 and All the bells and whistles to boot. That's a hell of a lot better than the stupidly ridiculous price that Apple & Samsung have "trained" most of us to expect for their "elite" models... give me a break. The iPhone hasn't barely had a 'sexy' or interesting design change in like... Forever!

    Sadly, the phone scene in the States in largely boring and homogenized like most things.
    Just take a moment to Go Look at the beautiful design Aesthetics of some models available in UK, Europe, and for certain Korea, Japan and China and you will see what I'm seeing...
    America is sadly NOT a leader or out in front in the CE (electronics) marketplace at all.
    We lag; big time.

    Anyhow, that my 2 cents and a little more for you and some readers perhaps.
    Take my suggestion and reinvent what you're bringing to the rest of us here in the USA and begin covering the "Cutting-edge stuff" and leave the lame re-runs and slow to change models and brands to others. (Obviously, you still need to cover Apple, Samsung, HTC, ONE, Moto, etc.,) but bring some new blood into the mix is all I'm getting at.

    I'm off to order a totally KIck Ass Smart (and stylish) modern handset... it just isn't represented on Your or most anyone else's "Review" lists circulating here in the States.

    It unfortunately crossed my mind that maybe you're promoting and writing about the 'regular' stuff because it helps drive your affiliate/partner advertising and links for readers to go purchase from the "Samsung's of the world" as their only or 'best' current option?

    Maybe it would be a lot more fun and add A Lot more valuable to your audience if you covered the Latest and (Less well Known) Greatest, rather than just the same-ol', same 'ol brands and models.
    Give it a thought?

    Lastly, your site or blog or forum or whatever this is happens to way too busy with large flashy Ads, pop-ups and general distractions, which also under value your potential to be taken more seriously. I know it helps pay the rent and expenses, but maybe take back some control and tone down the mass advertising on-slaught here. Thanks for the consideration.

    Take care and Best of luck starting to cover "The Good Stuff". See Ya boys and girls!
    -Jeff
    Awesome post! It's by fair the best I've read (don't really read that many) in a long while. It would be nice to see something on how to get phones not normally available here in the US. I've been getting phones from amazon and ebay too. I've been happy with most phones purchased. It might be my first phone purchased at retail, as I'm gearing up to find something this Black Friday season.

    Was great reading your opinion and I agree with you pretty close to 100%. Thanks for posting.
    Reply
  • rbtrry
    HelloJelloFellow said:
    Ok Tom's Guide and @Mark Spoonauer... sorry to go negative here w/ my 1st and maybe only post, But I agree 100% with the words of Androidchap. The quality of choice and truly progressive "Good Looking" tech in phones in the mass USA market is boring, lame, uncreative and WAY overpriced. Maybe it's not totally your fault that you put together a list which is completely uneventful... you're only reporting what the major carriers are largely selling as well as retail chains.

    Rather, 'Tom's' could (and should starting soon) strive to separate your reviews of handsets and Smart devices by going outside the norm and telling 'The People' about lesser known brands and companies who are Truly putting fantastic value and major Bang for the buck into their devices and enlightening the people to these emerging options here in our market, and not just overseas.

    Androidchap laid down some good examples, and noted the UK market also, and I would quickly emphasise other Asian companies who are putting out Beautiful designs with awesome specs for less than half the cost of even these "mid-range" value B.S models on the list.
    Again, I'm not picking on you, your list is just like PC mags, cnet, techgurus, etc... you all have the same models but just in slightly different order as to your "best of-pick".

    So piggybacking on the manufacturer's Androidchap noted, I would additionally offer up for 'the People' to check out: Xiaomi and their entire Mi line of electronics, such as the Mi 9, REDMi 9/Note 9s/9 Pro, 10 ... you get the idea. Add to that a newish player called Elephone (who's latest offering in the "value" space can now be had in pre-sale for the apsurd low cost of $130-$170 US and is spec'd more like a "flagship" phone in our market. Crazy.

    Just look at the build quality, color choices, camera options galore (like 48 & 64 mp, 4 lens, with macro and good night vision capability) and you begin to see the vast differences out there. And did I mention the value? The bang for the buck that truly can be had if people just knew what to ask for? Oh yeah... I Did mention that.

    Here's another- ASUS, who some should recognize for their Chromebooks, laptops, tabs, etc, ...well, turns out they make really killer phone designs too! Soon to launch should be the next ZenPhone 7 plus a higher-end (they claim) option in their Logic line I believe they call it?

    Doesn't matter, the point is that you guys (Tom's) should be the ONES telling us about these alternatives, instead of just re-presenting the same year-over-year options which Anyone who's owned a Smartphone should already kinda have a feel for OR could get the same generic dialog from walking into a Verizon, AT&T, t-Mobile, or Sprint store and chatting it up with the sales kid. Just my opinion, but if I were you I would try to do something New to separate yourself from the other "big boys" in the Consumer Electronic Review space and make a name for yourselves AS PROGRESSIVE.

    Your list sucks. The phones are ugly and mostly lame.
    (sure, some of the Mi models I mentioned aren't 5G capable at the SUB-$350 range! (no duh), but who cares! Spend just a little more with them, like still under $500, $600, $700 and guess what- comes Standard with a Snapdragon 855 and All the bells and whistles to boot. That's a hell of a lot better than the stupidly ridiculous price that Apple & Samsung have "trained" most of us to expect for their "elite" models... give me a break. The iPhone hasn't barely had a 'sexy' or interesting design change in like... Forever!

    Sadly, the phone scene in the States in largely boring and homogenized like most things.
    Just take a moment to Go Look at the beautiful design Aesthetics of some models available in UK, Europe, and for certain Korea, Japan and China and you will see what I'm seeing...
    America is sadly NOT a leader or out in front in the CE (electronics) marketplace at all.
    We lag; big time.

    Anyhow, that my 2 cents and a little more for you and some readers perhaps.
    Take my suggestion and reinvent what you're bringing to the rest of us here in the USA and begin covering the "Cutting-edge stuff" and leave the lame re-runs and slow to change models and brands to others. (Obviously, you still need to cover Apple, Samsung, HTC, ONE, Moto, etc.,) but bring some new blood into the mix is all I'm getting at.

    I'm off to order a totally KIck Ass Smart (and stylish) modern handset... it just isn't represented on Your or most anyone else's "Review" lists circulating here in the States.

    It unfortunately crossed my mind that maybe you're promoting and writing about the 'regular' stuff because it helps drive your affiliate/partner advertising and links for readers to go purchase from the "Samsung's of the world" as their only or 'best' current option?

    Maybe it would be a lot more fun and add A Lot more valuable to your audience if you covered the Latest and (Less well Known) Greatest, rather than just the same-ol', same 'ol brands and models.
    Give it a thought?

    Lastly, your site or blog or forum or whatever this is happens to way too busy with large flashy Ads, pop-ups and general distractions, which also under value your potential to be taken more seriously. I know it helps pay the rent and expenses, but maybe take back some control and tone down the mass advertising on-slaught here. Thanks for the consideration.

    Take care and Best of luck starting to cover "The Good Stuff". See Ya boys and girls!
    -Jeff

    I normally use forums to find answers to whatever hardware/software related problems I experience at that particular moment, rarely comment under articles and almost never reply to other comments. But, after having read this comment, I wanted to sign up & let the author know how much I appreciated what they've written - and not just in terms of its content, but also for the passionate tone that conveys that they really care. I do hope that tom's guide does also appreciate the fact that one of their readers put in the time & effort to write this well thought out, constructive criticism full of salient points & good, practical suggestions.
    I had never heard of elephone before. Just checked & discovered that they are sold in my homeland. Would probably have skipped them without a second glance, had I not read your comment @HelloJelloFellow, but will research them now. So thanks & all the best.
    Reply