Best Android Phones under $300: Motorola, Samsung, OnePlus, TCL, & more

Best Android Phones under $300: Motorola, Samsung, OnePlus, TCL, & more

A smartphone is just about a necessity in this day and age, and fortunately, smartphone brands have gotten so good at making phones that even consumers no longer have to pay an arm and a leg to get a functional smartphone. We here at XDA developers get our hands on a lot of phones, and here’s our list for the best Android phones under $300.

Navigate this guide:

Best phone for power users: Moto G Power

 

Motorola is responsible for some of the best entry-level phones in the US and its Moto G Power is a great option for those who don’t want to spend more than $300. You get a 6.4-inch display, a solid 16MP camera, Snapdragon 665, a near-stock version of Android, plus a 5,000 mAh battery.

You’re missing NFC, the 8MP ultra-wide camera is just okay, and the 4GB of RAM is a bit low, but thankfully the software is lean and clean, so the phone remains super fast. If you’re a heavy user and battery endurance is of high importance, then this is your phone.

    Moto G Power
    Clean Android software with arguably the best Always-On display on the market, plus a 5,000 mAh battery that will almost certainly not run out before your day ends.

Best bang-for-your-buck phone: OnePlus Nord N10

oneplus nord n10 5g product image

The OnePlus Nord N10 is reportedly selling quite well in the US, and it’s not hard to see why: at just $299, the Nord N10 offers a 90Hz, 1080p display, a solid 64MP camera, the usual clean and responsive OnePlus software, and 5G connectivity courtesy of the Qualcomm Snapdragon 690.

You do lose out on some OnePlus trademarks such as the alert slider and OLED display, and the 8MP ultra-wide angle camera is a bit soft on details, but at this price point it’s hard to complain too much. The 4,300 mAh battery is enough to give this device all day battery life too.

    OnePlus Nord N10
    The OnePlus Nord N10 is no flagship killer, but it is a very respectable entry-level phone that still provides steady performance and a good display.

Best phone for those who love a big and bright screen: TCL 10L

A TCL 10L in white showing off its four cameras.

Television brand TCL entered the Android space with this debut handset that packs quite a punch, offering a quad-camera array, hole-punch screen design, and an impressive 6.5-inch, bright LCD screen at a very reasonable price. Like many phones on this list, you get a Snapdragon 665 processor, but the software zips around thanks to strong optimization from TCL.

The quad-camera system on the back houses a 48-megapixel primary shooter that produces good shots, but the other three lenses — an 8-megapixel ultrawide, and a pair of 2-megapixel macro and depth sensors — are just average. The Snapdragon 665 processor and a clean and light UI make for a good combo. And this is perhaps not surprising considering its roots in making television, but the TCL 10L is one of the last phones left (other than Xiaomi) to offer an IR blaster which allows it to double as a TV remote control.

    TCL 10L
    With a bright and vibrant LCD screen and a versatile quad camera array, this is quite the solid smartphone debut for Chinese television brand TCL.

Best for Samsung fans on a budget: Samsung Galaxy A51

Samsung Galaxy A51 5G in pink

For fans of Samsung phones who unfortunately can’t spend more than $300, the $250 Galaxy A51 is your best bet. Featuring a 6.5-inch OLED screen with a modern hole-punch design, a solid 48MP camera, and an Exynos 9611, there’s a lot to like with this device, which was selling at $399 until a recent major price slash.

You also get Samsung’s One UI Android skin, a headphone jack, and at least three years of Android support. However, the body is very plasticky, and the screen refreshes only at 60Hz, which feels slow in 2021.

    Samsung Galaxy A51
    The Galaxy A51 is on major discount, making it the most affordable Samsung phone yet.

Best phone for stylus lovers: LG Stylo 5

LG phone with stylus, named LG Stylo 5

If you sign a lot of digital documents, or like to sketch on your smartphone, and you don’t want to pay Samsung Galaxy Note levels of money, the LG Stylo 5 is for you. It’s got a clean, no-notch design, a bright LCD display, a headphone jack, and of course, that stylus. Unfortunately, the Snapdragon 450 here is a bit long in the tooth, but it is still enough for productivity tasks. Ultimately, if you’re getting this, it’s because you want and need a stylus, and this one performs fine, with respectable software that prevents palm rejection and acceptable latency.

    LG Stylo 5
    Tired of poking around with your fingers? Use a stylus for finer control of your smartphone. The LG Stylo 5 is the cheapest phone with a stylus on the market right now.

Best phone for Nokia enthusiasts: Nokia 5.3

The Nokia 5.3 isn’t just light in cost, but software too, with a near-stock version of Android that’s guaranteed to get updates for at least two years thanks to it being part of the Android One program. The outside of the device also stands from the sea of slab phones with a circular camera module housing a reliable 13MP camera and 5MP ultra-wide camera.

Inside, you get a Snapdragon 665 with a 4,000 mAh battery that should be enough to power the 6.5-inch screen with ease. The waterdrop notch is a bit outdated by now but we think at this price point, it’s acceptable.

    Nokia 5.3
    One of the original big mobile phone brands is back with a $200 smartphone. None of the specs will pop off the spec sheet but its affordable price, near-stock Android software, and a 4,000 mAh battery give it plenty of appeal.

Best phone for those open to importing: Poco X3 NFC

If you are open to importing and the risks that could come with it (such as difficulty getting it fixed if it breaks), Xiaomi’s spin-off brand Poco has a jaw-droppingly good value device. We are talking about a 120Hz FHD+ display, Snapdragon 732G, 5,000 mAh battery, and a very good Sony IMX 48MP main camera. There’s even IP53 water and dust resistance and some great haptics. We’ve confirmed the Poco X3 NFC works fine on AT&T and T-Mobile, but not with Verizon. Also note that if you’re importing, you’re for sure paying a marked up price anywhere from $50 to $80 over the official retail price — but it still falls under $300.

    Poco X3 NFC
    The Poco X3 NFC offers truly impressive specs at this price point; too bad it doesn't sell officially in North America.

Conclusion: So which one to get?

If you’re open to importing and potentially using a phone without warranty, the Poco X3 NFC offers the most bang for your dollar. However, we know most buyers will want some protection or peace of mind with their purchase. So with that in mind, we like the OnePlus Nord N10 the most here, as it’s the most polished of the bunch.

About author

Ben Sin
Ben Sin

I'm a senior editor at XDA Developers. I have been a journalist for a decade, the last five years covering the mobile tech scene closely, reviewing just about every phone and attending trade shows and launches. I also run a gadget review channel on YouTube.