More than a billion smartphones were sold across the world in 2014. One of the great things about the current rush to upsell the last smartphone holdouts and break into emerging markets is that prices are going down. According to IDC, the average selling price declined by more than 12 percent in 2013 and settled at $337, and it fell even further to $314 last year. That makes buying a smartphone outright, without being locked into a two-year contract, a realistic possibility for everyone under the sun.
Our first five smartphones come in at $400 or less. If your budget is tighter than that, you can skip to page two for five great phones that are $200 or under.
Motorola’s $400 flagship phone may be the most expensive on our list, but it’s worth it. The Moto X Style delivers all the high-end specs you’d expect to find on a $600+ phone, but for $200 less. The 5.7-inch screen sports a 2,560 x 1,440-pixel resolution, and it’s powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 808 with 3GB of RAM. A 21-megapixel camera sits on the back, and Motorola popped a 5-megapixel cam on the front for selfies. It comes in 16, 32, and 64GB storage options, all of which have a MicroSD card slot. A 3,000mAh battery with fast charging rounds out the specs. You can even design your own phone with Moto Maker.
OnePlus 2 ($389+)
OnePlus has done it again with the OnePlus 2. It may be a little more expensive than last year’s model, but it also touts better specs and offers a refined experience. A 5.5-inch Full HD screen adorns the front of the OnePlus 2, and the back plate comes with several different styling choices, including wooden options and the classic Sandstone Black. It’s powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 v2.1, which shouldn’t overheat, and 3GB of RAM. The OnePlus 2 has a zippy fingerprint sensor on the front of the device for added security and comes with either 16 or 64GB of storage. A 13-megapixel back camera and 5-megapixel front shooter round out the specs.
ZTE Axon Pro ($380)
The all-metal body of the Axon Pro from ZTE looks and feels gorgeous, and it has a set of features and hardware specs to match. There’s a 5.5-inch display with an impressive 2560 x 1440 pixel-resolution, a 2GHz octa-core Snapdragon 810 processor, 4GB of RAM, and a 3,000mAh battery. The dual-lens on the back combines a 13-megapixel and a 2-megapixel camera, but there’s also an 8-megapixel front-facing camera. It can record 4K video, and there’s even support for high-quality audio through the front-facing speakers. The only thing that isn’t top end about this phone? The price tag.
OnePlus X ($250)
With a stylish design and a 5-inch AMOLED display, the OnePlus X is tempting regardless of the price. It houses a Snapdragon 801 inside with 3GB of RAM, which will provide plenty of power for the average person. You also get a 13-megapixel rear camera, along with an 8-megapixel front-facing camera. There’s only 16GB of storage, but you can easily boost the storage capacity using the integrated MicroSD card slot. Americans should proceed with caution though, because LTE coverage for supported carriers AT&T and T-Mobile is spotty. If you live elsewhere, it’s definitely worth considering.
Alcatel Onetouch Idol 3 5.5 ($250)
This budget brand is trying to make a name for itself in the United States, and the Idol 3 is its first flagship to land stateside without carrier branding. Sold unlocked directly from Alcatel, this smartphone packs a real punch for the money. There’s a 5.5-inch, 1080p screen, an octa-core processor, stereo speakers, a 13-megapixel camera, and support for LTE on AT&T and T-Mobile. It also has an 8-megapixel wide-angle selfie cam, and it runs Android 5.0 Lollipop out of the box, with a very minimal UI on top. Storage is 16GB, but there is a MicroSD card slot for expansion.