Smartphones that cost $1,000 and more have quickly become commonplace in the market, and for anyone on a budget, those steep prices can quickly induce a headache. Thankfully, cheap smartphones are still plentiful, with more great options to choose from than ever before. If you need a new handset but only have $200 to spend, our favorite one is the Nokia 4.2. Today, we’re talking about it and five other phones that bring tremendous value to the low-end space.
Best Overall: Nokia 4.2
If you need a new Android phone and only have around $200 to spend, our top recommendation has to go to the Nokia 4.2. Nokia has been dominating the low-end and mid-range markets over the last couple of years, and the 4.2 represents the best overall value you can get in this price range.
Taking a look at the Nokia 4.2, it’s rather admirable how many features Nokia was able to cram into such an affordable device. It has dual 13-megapixel and 2-megapixel rear cameras that take pretty good photos, a dedicated button for bringing up the Google Assistant, and a microSD slot for expanding the 32GB of internal storage up to 400GB.
Another big win for the Nokia 4.2 is its software experience. The phone is powered by Android One, and this results in a few huge benefits. For starters, the overall user interface is wonderfully clean and easy to navigate. It’s a similar experience to what you’d find on Google’s Pixel phones and isn’t bogged down with unnecessary gimmicks everywhere you look.
As a result of that, the Nokia 4.2 is guaranteed to receive major software updates through April 2021 and security patches through April 2022. That level of update support isn’t seen in some flagships that cost hundreds of dollars more, and if you’re someone that plans on keeping your phone for years to come, it is a huge factor to consider.
It is irritating that the Nokia 4.2 still uses the old MicroUSB port for charging, and the plastic back picks up fingerprints like no other, but overall, this is one stellar package.
- Dual rear cameras
- Google Assistant button
- Expandable storage up to 400GB
- Clean Android One software
- MicroUSB charging port
- Plastic back attracts fingerprints
- $159 at Amazon
The one to get
The Nokia 4.2 shines as an excellent low-cost Android phone. It has dual rear cameras, a Google Assistant button, and clean software.
Best Runner-Up: Samsung Galaxy A10e
The Nokia 4.2 is a force to be reckoned with in the $200 smartphone space, but if it isn’t grabbing your attention, another option worth considering is the Samsung Galaxy A10e. Depending on where your needs lie, this could be a better choice compared to the 4.2.
Right off the bat, the Galaxy A10e has a more impressive display. It’s bigger, goes edge-to-edge with the left and right frame of the phone, and has a much smaller bottom bezel. If you do a lot of media consumption, the A10e will make your movies and games stand out a bit more.
Something else we especially like about this phone is the fact that it works on all major U.S. carriers — including AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon. Compared to the Nokia 4.2, which only works with GSM networks like AT&T and T-Mobile, the A10e the defacto choice if you rely on Sprint or Verizon.
Other highlights of the Galaxy A10e include expandable storage up to 512GB, Samsung’s snappy Exynos 7884B processor, and a 3,000 mAh battery. It’s not perfect, namely with the small 2GB of RAM, single rear camera, and Samsung’s inconsistent track record for software updates, but as an alternative to the Nokia 4.2, it’s compelling.
- Infinity Display
- Expandable storage
- Works with GSM and CDMA networks
- Reliable performance
- Single rear camera
- Just 2GB of RAM
Samsung Galaxy A10e
- $170 at Amazon
Use it on any carrier
Another great handset is the Galaxy A10e. It boasts an impressive Infinity Display and works with both GSM and CDMA networks.
Best Alexa Built-in: Moto G7 Play
Motorola’s Moto G-series has long been one of the most popular for budget Android phones, and right now, the best one from the company that’s under $200 is the Moto G7 Play. Yes, it has a much larger notch compared to the 4.2 and A10e, but there’s a lot on offer here that makes the G7 Play interesting.
With every phone Motorola releases, one of the strong suits is the software experience. With the G7 Play, that’s no different. Along with a clean and snappy interface, you also get Motorola’s suite of software add-ons. This includes Moto Display (an excellent always-on-display feature) and Moto Actions — allowing you to move the phone in a chopping gesture to turn on the flashlight and twist it to open the camera. In day-to-day use, these are a lot of fun and genuinely useful.
Motorola also worked with Amazon to deeply integrate Alexa into the G7 Play, allowing you to press and hold the power button to access the virtual assistant at any time. If you prefer Alexa over Google Assistant, this makes the G7 Play a better fit than something like the Nokia 4.2.
We also love that the phone has expandable storage up to 512GB, uses a USB-C port to charge, and works on all major U.S. carriers. Motorola does have a notoriously bad history for not pushing out software updates promptly to its phones (if at all), so keep that in mind before handing over your cash.
- Push-to-talk Alexa button
- Motorola’s excellent software
- Storage is expandable
- Reliable processor
- 2GB of RAM
- Poor future for software updates
- Large notch
Best Alexa Built-in
Moto G7 Play
- $160 at Amazon
Motorola fans will want to turn their attention towards the Moto G7 Play. It has easy access to Alexa, great software, and more.
Best Cameras : Xiaomi Mi A3
The Xiaomi Mi A3 is the first international phone on our list, and when buying an international phone, there are some things to keep in mind. You don’t get a warranty with your purchase since it’s not officially sold in the U.S., and when used on T-Mobile or AT&T, some missing LTE bands mean you may not have as great of a signal in large buildings or rural areas. Those two caveats aside, though, the Mi A3 is a compelling phone.
One of the big draws to the Mi A3 is its camera package. You get a total of three cameras, including a 48-megapixel main lens, an 8-megapixel ultra-wide lens, and a 2-megapixel depth sensor for portrait shots. Low-light photos don’t have as much detail as we would like, but pictures taken with ample lighting look fantastic. The ultra-wide camera is also a lot of fun to use, and Xiaomi incorporates AI to help your images look as good as possible every single time. For the price, this is a pretty impressive offering.
Elsewhere, the Mi A3 also shines thanks to its gorgeous design, long-lasting battery, and clean Android one software. There’s even a 3.5mm headphone jack if you’re still into those!
So long as you aren’t bothered by the international quirks and the frustratingly bad in-screen fingerprint sensor, the Xiaomi Mi A3 is a solid handset.
- Premium glass design
- Great triple rear cameras
- Excellent battery life
- Android One
- 3.5mm headphone jack
- The in-screen fingerprint sensor is bad.
- Limited LTE support in the U.S.
Xiaomi Mi A3
- From $163 at Amazon
Awesome cameras at a great price
If you’re a shutterbug, you’ll love the Mi A3 and its triple rear camera package. It also has a nice design and great software.
Best Industrial Design: Nokia 3.1 Plus
Previously offered as an exclusive for Cricket Wireless customers, you can now buy the Nokia 3.1 Plus unlocked and use it on any GSM wireless provider — such as AT&T, T-Mobile, etc.
One of the things we love most about the 3.1 Plus is its incredible industrial design. The phone is made out of soft-touch polycarbonate, giving it a wonderful in-hand feel without sacrificing durability. There’s also a nice amount of heft to the phone, which keeps it from feeling as cheap as the price tag might lead you to believe.
The 3,500 mAh battery, paired with an HD+ resolution, allows you to get up to two days of battery on one charge. There’s also an NFC chip that allows for Google Pay, a trusty fingerprint sensor, expandable storage up to 256GB, and guaranteed software updates thanks to the Android One program. Performance isn’t the best, and the mono speaker positioned on the back is a letdown, but overall, the Nokia 3.1 Plus is a strong contender in this price bracket.
- Excellent build quality
- Two-day battery life
- Fast fingerprint sensor
- NFC chip for Google Pay
- Guaranteed software updates
- Sluggish performance
- Rear-facing mono speaker
Best Industrial Design
Nokia 3.1 Plus
$139 at Amazon
Nokia’s top-notch design shines through
Nokia is incredibly well-known for its top-tier industrial design, and the Nokia 3.1 Plus delivers the goods on that front.
Best Budget Pick: Nokia 2.2
None of the phones on this list are considered to be expensive, but if you’re trying to spend the least amount of money possible, the Nokia 2.2 is for you. You do make some sacrifices for reaching such a low price point, but at the end of the day, it’s definitely worth considering.
Compared to the other phones on our list, the Nokia 2.2 is on the compact side of things with a 5.71-inch display. This makes it fairly easy to use in one hand, and that’s not something you can say about a lot of phones that are released these days. There’s also a Google Assistant button and expandable storage up to 400GB.
Just like the 4.2, the Nokia 2.2 is powered by Android One. Once again, this means a clean software interface and years of guaranteed updates. Software updates will keep rolling in through June 2021 with security patches not stopping until June 2022.
The Nokia 2.2 doesn’t come with a fingerprint sensor and uses a slower MediaTek processor, and that’s where its ultra-low price makes itself known. However, it’s remarkable just how much phone you’re getting for such little money.
- Easy to use in one hand
- Clean software with Android One
- Google Assistant button
- Storage is expandable
- Cheapest phone on our list
- No fingerprint sensor
- Lackluster processor
Best Budget Pick
- $139 at Amazon
How low can you go?
Trying to spend as little as possible? Go with the Nokia 2.2. It gets the basics done and comes in at an incredibly low price.
Best International Phone: Xiaomi Redmi Note 7
Rounding out this list, we have the Xiaomi Redmi Note 7. This is another international phone, and that means no warranty and missing LTE bands. However, those are pretty much the only real downsides to this device.
The Redmi Note 7 is a darn-impressive phone. It has an incredible glass/metal design, with the Neptune Blue color being downright mesmerizing. You also get a large 6.35-inch display with a crisp Full HD+ resolution, not to mention the fast rear fingerprint sensor and dual rear cameras.
Under the hood, the Note 7 comes equipped with the Snapdragon 660 processor, 4GB of RAM, 64GB of expandable storage, and a huge 4,000 mAh battery.
Xiaomi’s custom MIUI software can feel rather bogged down at times, but in just about every regard, this is an astonishingly good phone.
- Outstanding design
- Solid cameras
- Long-lasting battery
- Fingerprint sensor
- Fast performance
- Doesn’t come with a warranty
- Lacks support for all U.S. LTE bands
Best International Phone
Xiaomi Redmi Note 7
- From $149 at Amazon
An enticing international option
If you don’t mind venturing into international waters, the Redmi Note 7 is a fantastic purchase. It’s gorgeous, powerful, and more.
Just a few years ago, $200 couldn’t buy you much in the way of a quality Android phone. In 2020, however, it’s quite surprising just how many options you have in such a low price segment. Out of everything currently available, we think the best Android phone under $200 is the Nokia 4.2.
For the average person shopping for a new phone, the 4.2 is excellent. The display looks good, performance is good enough for regular use, and you benefit from niceties like dual rear cameras, a Google Assistant button, and the top-notch Android One software experience.
The other phones on this list are certainly worth checking out, too, but if you want to keep things simple, go with the Nokia 4.2 and continue on with your life. We think you’ll be really happy with it.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Joe Maring is Android Central’s News Editor and has had a love for anything with a screen and CPU since he can remember. He’s been talking/writing about Android in one form or another since 2012 and often does so while camping out at the nearest coffee shop. Get in touch with him on Twitter @JoeMaring1 or shoot an email to [email protected]