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

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

The year 2020 has been a rough one for many working class consumers as the ongoing pandemic has wrecked havoc on many industries. For those who have seen their income take a dive, the thought of spending nearly $1,000 on a flagship phone sounds downright absurd. Fortunately, smartphone brands have grown skilled at making entry level phones approximate the feeling of a premium phone.

If your budget for a new phone cannot go beyond $300, here’s a guide on the best that you can get at this entry level price range. Of course, you’re not going to have all the bells and whistles of a pricier device, but these devices will be enough for your daily use.

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: Samsung Galaxy A50

Samsung Galaxy A50

The Samsung Galaxy A50 is usually priced higher than the $300 mark, but there’s a special deal at Wal-Mart right now that pushes the price below the limit. This makes this the best value on this list by default because this phone is normally over the $300 mark. With a Samsung AMOLED display and thin bezels, this is the best panel on this list. The triple cameras system captures sharp and vivid images, and the Exynos 9610 brings enough power for all daily tasks.

However, you will have to put up with a plastic back and chassis, but hey, you can’t win them all. If you want to stick to the Galaxy ecosystem, here are some other great Samsung Galaxy devices worthy of your attention.

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 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 Samsung Galaxy A50 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.