Android phones under $400
If you are looking for an affordable, mid-range smartphone, we think the Google Pixel 4a remains the best Android phone under $400 — assuming you can still find it. You get the same software, features, camera experience, and software updates as the higher-end Pixel 4, much less than the new Pixel 5a. The only shortcomings come in the hardware and a couple of the specs — a fine trade-off to save hundreds of dollars.
Best overall Android phone under $400: Google Pixel 4a
Source: Andrew Martonik / Android Central
With the Pixel 4a, you get a Snapdragon 730 that doesn’t lag too far behind the 765G found in the Pixel 5, 6GB of RAM, and a guaranteed, immediate update to Android 13 next year, plus security updates through 2023. It’s not “powerful” by any means, but it still holds up today — even if Google is discontinuing it.
As with any Pixel phone, the best thing about the Pixel 4a is its camera. The 12.2MP single rear camera certainly isn’t impressive on paper, but it’s outstanding in actual use. Pictures are detailed, colors are great, and low-light photography is a piece of cake. As we said in our Pixel 4a review, this is one of those phones that you can whip out of your pocket, press the shutter button without too much thought, and get a great-looking photo every single time.
While the camera is undoubtedly the main draw to the Pixel 4a, it has many other things going for it, too. The AMOLED display looks nice; you can easily get through a full day on a single charge; the 128GB of storage is very generous, and at $349, it’s not a bad price for at least two years of use.
- Flagship-level camera
- Reliable battery life
- Lots of storage
- Simple and useful software
- Guaranteed software updates
- Cheap plastic build
- No secondary cameras
- No 5G
Best 5G Android phone under $400: OnePlus Nord N200 5G
Source: Jeramy Johnson / Android Central
To start with, the N200 5G shares the same design language as the much more expensive OnePlus 9 series and continues OnePlus’s tradition of beautiful blue gradient finishes. It may be made of plastic, but you’d never know it, thanks to the coloring and matte texture on the back. The screen is a full HD+ LCD with a 90Hz refresh rate, and it even comes with NFC for contactless payments and 18W fast charging (though not OnePlus’s Warp Charging). You also get a fast and responsive side-mounted fingerprint sensor and 3.5mm headphone jack, though you lose out on the alert slider on higher-end OnePlus devices.
By far, the best thing this phone has going for it is its 5G connectivity for such a low price. That and the build should make this phone last a long time in your hand, though it is limited to one major Android platform update.
- One of the most affordable 5G phones
- Beautiful design
- 90Hz refresh rate
- Fantastic battery life
- No alert slider
- Middling cameras
- Only one Android update
Best mmWave 5G Android phone under $400: Samsung Galaxy A42 5G
Source: Ara Wagoner / Android Central
As we noted in our Galaxy A42 5G review, this phone has decently powerful specs for this price bracket. Its 6.6-inch Super AMOLED display is very easy to read even in direct sunlight. It has the same Snapdragon 750G chipset as the more expensive Galaxy A52 5G. Its battery life rivals the Moto G Power (another pick on this list), lasting our reviewer multiple days with active use. Outside of its merely average cameras, the A42 5G never let us down.
What makes the A42 5G unique is that it’s a Verizon-exclusive phone, giving you access to its Ultra Wideband network with both mmWave and sub-6 5G bands. Plenty of 5G phones are stuck with sub-6, including the OnePlus Nord N200 5G. So if you use Verizon and live in the right area to take advantage, the A42 5G will prove an affordable game-changer.
If you don’t use Verizon, then the A52 5G is an excellent upgrade with a 120Hz screen, more RAM, better cameras, and water resistance — but it’ll take you up to $500 at full price.
- Both mmWave and sub-6 5G networks
- Unyielding battery life
- Massive, bright display
- Great mid-range processor
- Only works with Verizon
- Average cameras
- Only 4GB of RAM
Best cameras on an Android phone under $400: Nokia 5.4
Source: Jeramy Johnson / Android Central
The big upgrade from its predecessor, the Nokia 5.3, is in its cameras. The primary sensor made a massive jump from 13MP in the 5.3 to 48MP in the 5.4. In addition, Nokia’s AI and the Qualcomm Snapdragon 662 allow for a snappy camera app experience, with good colors and cinematic video recording.
The other three cameras didn’t appear to change much from the 5.3, at least on paper. You still get a 2MP depth camera, a 2MP macro camera, a 5MP ultra-wide camera, and a 16MP selfie camera. You can take or leave the 2MP shooters, but our testing found the 5MP ultra-wide very usable. Sometimes the shots could appear a little washed out, but that was nothing that a basic touchup in Google Photos couldn’t fix. All in all, we were very pleased with these cameras — especially for the price!
- Android One software is clean and simple
- Guaranteed software update future
- Quad-camera system
- Sleek hardware with interesting colors
- Big screen and suitably large battery
- Slow fingerprint scanner
- No official waterproofing or wireless charging
Best battery on an Android phone under $400: Moto G Power (2020)
Source: Joe Maring / Android Central
The Moto G Power (2020) impresses with its long battery life right out of the gate. Thanks to a massive 5,000 mAh battery, the Moto G Power (2020) gets up to three days of use on a single charge. That’s among the best battery life you can find on a phone right now, making the Moto G Power (2020) an excellent choice if endurance is a top priority for you.
There are plenty of other areas in which the G Power stands tall, including its fast performance, triple rear cameras, clean software, and the presence of a 3.5mm headphone jack. The lack of NFC is a bummer, as is Motorola’s policy of only delivering one major software update, but they’re not enough to diminish the overall package.
Moto released an updated 2021 version of the Moto G Power (2020), but in most respects, we see it as a downgrade to the 2020 version and are sticking with our original pick here, for now. The Moto G Power (2021) has a lesser processor and lesser screen, it costs the same, and it also still ships with Android 10.
- Up to 3-day battery life
- Reliable performance
- Triple cameras are good
- Clean software with great features
- Has a headphone jack
- No NFC for Google Pay
- Only promised one software update
Best value Android phone under $400: TCL 20S
Source: Derrek Lee / Android Central
For starters, the TCL 20S has an excellent display. It’s a 6.67-inch Full HD+ LCD panel, with its secret weapon being TCL’s NXTVISION technology. This allows for a sharper image and more vibrant colors, creating a great canvas for games, movies, and more. The internals for the TCL 20S are just as great, with the phone offering good performance, 128GB of expandable storage, and a large 5,000 mAh battery. Its 64MP main sensor dramatically improves the 48MP shooter on the 10L, and the 20S is guaranteed to get updated to Android 12.
We’re happy that the TCL 20S includes an NFC chip, which allows for contactless Google Pay payments, and you can also summon the Google Assistant via a dedicated key. It’s available in two gorgeous colors, North Star Blue and Milky Way Black. It will be updated to Android 12 and should get security updates through mid-2023.
Our TCL 20S review praised the phone for its stylish design, long-lasting battery life, clean Android 11 software, and audio features. He was much less bullish on its 60Hz display, last-gen Snapdragon 662 chipset, and lack of 5G or water resistance. For its low price, you’ll have to accept lower performance.
- Crisp and vibrant display
- 5,000 mAh battery
- Has an NFC chip
- Improved primary camera
- No 5G
- No official IP water-resistance rating
- Snapdragon 662
Best international Android phone under $400: Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro
Source: Apoorva Bhardwaj / Android Central
Looking at the spec sheet, the Note 10 Pro has a lot going for it. The phone has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 732G processor, 6GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, and a 5,050 mAh battery — even bigger than the one found on the Moto G Power. It also has a large 6.67-inch AMOLED with slim bezels, along with four cameras on the back.
Similar to the Galaxy A52, the Redmi Note 10 Pro has similar international quirks. Not only does it lack a U.S. warranty, but Xiaomi’s custom Android interface also takes some getting used to. Plus, the device only works on GSM networks, so you’re out of luck if you are on Verizon. Assuming you’re fine with those things, however, this is one heck of a deal.
- AMOLED looks very good
- 5,050 mAh battery is ginormous
- Fast and reliable performance
- Tons of RAM and storage
- Quirks of owning an international phone
The sub-$400 market is both extremely competitive and a little confusing, but there have never been more options in this price point among the best Android phones readily available. The Google Pixel 4a clearly stands out as the best possible value for the money under $400 because it’s based on the same principles as Google’s higher-end Pixels. That means it has the same software, features, and camera as the Pixel 4, but at a considerable discount.
Sure it’s made of plastic, and the screen isn’t as nice, but at this price point, you expect those shortcomings. However, when it comes to the experience of using the phone on a day-to-day basis, those missing specs and features fade away, and you experience Google’s fantastic software and flagship-level camera. Just make sure to snag whatever’s left in stock while you still can! By 2022, you’ll likely only find one refurbished.
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