Smartphone prices have steadily increased, making an $800 budget nowhere near the top of the market. But there are still tons of great phones in this price bracket, and we test them all to pick the best ones.
Once you step down from the absolute top end of the market, under $800, the Galaxy S10e is the best phone you can buy for the money. It’s an exceptional phone overall that marries great hardware with crowd-pleasing features and creates a total package that’s tough to find anywhere else. It draws on strengths from the rest of the Galaxy S10 lineup, but pulls it all together for a far more affordable price.
$750 at Amazon
The full core Galaxy S10 experience at a $150 discount.
Solid hardware, an industry-leading display and a mountain of features make the Galaxy S10e an easy choice. It does everything you can want from a flagship phone, but does it at a reasonable price.
Who should buy this phone?
The Galaxy S10 series is a known quantity, because it’s entirely standardized across three models. But when the Galaxy S10 and S10+’s price tags make your eyes water, you can always turn to the Galaxy S10e for just $750. You lose out on some extra screen real estate and battery life due to the S10e’s smaller size, but elsewhere in the daily experience of using the phone it’s indistinguishable from the more expensive models.
The specs, screen, hardware and cameras are all worthy of a higher price, and that helps make the Galaxy S10e such a great value for under $800.
Is it a good time to buy this phone?
Absolutely. The Galaxy S10e launched in March 2019, and isn’t due to be replaced until the same time in 2020.
Reasons to buy
- Excellent screen
- Fun wide-angle camera
- Compact size
- Stereo speakers
- SD card slot and headphone jack
Reasons not to buy
- Battery life a step down from flagships
- Photo quality not up to Pixel 3’s level
- Screen smaller than most
There are other great phones in this price range
Google isn’t the only company making a great phone for under $800. Samsung, OnePlus and more have really good competitors for a bit less that are worth considering.
Google Pixel 3
-$799 from Google Store
-$799 at Best Buy
Google’s best-ever phone, in a compact size.
The Pixel 3 has a streamlined Android software experience many will love, paired with the best camera quality you can get. The rest of the hardware isn’t shabby, either, now adding wireless charging, stereo speakers a much better display. But inconsistency in performance and battery life are weak points.
Google’s phones are all about simplicity and offering a smaller set of extremely powerful features. But as of late, they’ve gotten expensive. Thankfully the Pixel 3 still lands under $800, offering a good counterpoint to Samsung’s Galaxy S10e in the space.
And counterpoint it is. The Pixel 3 doesn’t have nearly the number of features, in either software or hardware, that the Galaxy S10e does. But in turn it has a very easy-to-understand and clean experience that isn’t going to be overwhelming to anyone. It may have some shortcomings, but for certain people it’s the only Android experience that works the way they want.
Best for less
$549 at OnePlus
A flagship-like experience for a couple hundred dollars less.
The OnePlus 6T gives you everything you want in a high-end phone, and doesn’t charge you extra for it. Great hardware, top-notch specs and an excellent software experience combine at a palatable price.
Sure you can spend $800, but you don’t have to if you buy a OnePlus 6T — and yet, you still get basically the same phone experience. For well under $700, the OnePlus 6T offers great hardware, a packed spec sheet and excellent software, and isn’t saddled with any of the bloatware or unnecessary features you find on most other phones.
It has a few shortcomings, namely in its display and cameras that really feel like they’re a step below (or a generation behind) the competition. But you’d be doing yourself a disservice not considering saving a bunch of money getting a OnePlus 6T.
If your maximum budget is $800, you can’t go wrong with our top pick the Galaxy S10e. It has a great well-rounded overall experience of features and capabilities that’s worthy of a higher price but comes in for less. If you prefer a simpler software and hardware experience that Google offers, the Pixel 3 is also a great choice. For even less, the OnePlus 6T is a fantastic all-around phone that will save you a couple hundred dollars more.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Andrew Martonik is the Executive Editor, U.S. at Android Central. He has been a mobile enthusiast since the Windows Mobile days, and covering all things Android-related with a unique perspective at AC since 2012. For suggestions and updates, you can reach him at [email protected] or on Twitter at @andrewmartonik.
Daniel Bader is the Managing Editor of Android Central. As he’s writing this, a mountain of old Android phones is about to fall on his head, but his Great Dane will protect him. He drinks way too much coffee and sleeps too little. He wonders if there’s a correlation.